Friday, July 17, 2015

Day 14: North Charleston to Hilton Head Island

Route: North Charleston, SC to Hilton Head Island, SC
Mileage: 118 miles (longest day!!)

We aimed to leave at 6am because we knew we had 'miles to go before [we] sleep, and miles to go before [we] sleep.'  Lisa and Liberty were up already making us gluten-free pancakes (yum!!!).  Zander woke up and joined us as well, but Kim had already left for work (he leaves at 4am!) and Amelia was fast asleep.  We ate breakfast and finished packing up and were ready to head out the door around 6:20 or so.  We loaded the bike and Liberty and Zander put on their helmets to ride us out of the neighborhood!  We have had so many escorts this trip, but this is the first time we have ridden with someone else with juvenile arthritis (Liberty has JIA).  How exciting!

So by 6:30 we were off and running.  It was quiet and peaceful at that hour on some of the roads.  But eventually, we got back to our old pal, 17. Well, actually, it was Alternate Route 17.  Keegan gets a gold star for his impressive navigation skills.  He worked hard to keep us steady as he had to maneuver in and out of the shoulder because of the grooved areas.  Our close call of the day came from a pickup truck that was coming in the opposite direction and was trying to tractor trailer.  So the pickup picked up their speed to zoom past the truck in the opposite direction lane, and there we were, which they clearly didn't see/account for.  I only saw it as it went by, but Keegan must have seen this truck accelerate towards him, scary.

Alt Rte 17 is north of 17, and we needed to end up on that, so Google directed us to take a road to cut between them.  We turned onto a dirt road (red flag) and started our way down it.  It wasn't before long that we had to get off the bike and walk it.

This continued on for what seemed like forever.  This dirt road was the same sort of horrible silty sand we had avoided the day before.  I actually don't know why we committed to this route for so long.  Keegan would try to steer us and keep us stable, but we were just sliding all over the place.  Between our own body weight, the bags and the bike, we are around 400 lbs.  And we have super skinny road tires.  So if anyone remembers their physics, force/area=pressure, so we were too much to just float down this dirt road, as a lighter person on a mountain bike might do.  After several miles of trying to ride, getting off and walking, then trying some more, crashing, walking, trying, etc, we realized this was madness.  I looked at the map to see another way out or how long we had to go.  I was afraid to tell Keegan.  He asked should we turn around, but we were stuck in the middle, we had gone about 7.5 miles of this horrible 15 mile sand road.  The only way out is through, I guess.  So we trudged on.

Biking in this was a true test of something.  Keegan said when we started to wobble, the best thing I could do was to pedal harder.  So that's what I did.  He worked his tush off to keep us stable.  The mental capacity that took was exhausting on its own.  But as we would really start to wobble, he would unclip one foot (our feet are secured to our pedals) and bail us out physically by skidding along and stopping us with his leg.  It was exhausting just being on the back and watching!

And for me, it actually was difficult too.  Whether it was actually necessary or out of protection, I was gripping the handlebars hard, in an effort to keep my body in check and my center of gravity in the right spot relative to the bike.  Because of this, my hands really ached and eventually froze to the handlebars (I couldn't really let go of the bars, they became stiff and rigid).  And when we fell, we fell to the right.  Now granted, it wasn't pavement, so it definitely wasn't as bad as our first crash, but we fell on my right elbow.  My right elbow is probably my most deteriorated joint, which happened only more recently when I flared horribly a few years back.  In that split second falling, I tried to protect it, but didn't manage to it well enough.  So for the rest of the right my right elbow either ached or shot pain through my arm.

But regardless of that crazy road, we kept our spirits up.  It would have been very easy to get agitated and take it out on each other, but we both worked hard to get down the road, and ended up laughing more than anything.  We thought about if a country dog came out of nowhere (there were a couple houses in the beginning) that there would be no way we would be able to get away.  But on second thought, we would probably be moving too slowly to even interest them.  After all the houses had disappeared for miles, randomly in the trees we saw a real estate sign that had a number to call if interested in the property--right, just in case some idiots were lost and riding by to see that.  Why yes!  We would love to build a house here!  And really--of course this would happen on our longest day, of course!

Finally, after 15 treacherous miles on this road, we saw pavement! Google directions told us to keep going on that road rather than ride swiftly on pavement, but Google was fired.  Pavement it was.  Sure it added more mileage, but less time and anguish!  When I looked at the paved road we were turning down, turns out it also links between Alt Rte 17 and 17--are you kidding me Google!? Ugh.

Footprints because we're walking it...

Evidence of our spill
Paved road we could have been on the whole time
By that point it had been 3 hours or so, so we stopped for a snack and to reapply sunscreen and to get ourselves jazzed up for the next leg. There was really no place to stop between North Charleston and Beaufort, so that's where we had our sights set--70 miles into the day.  Not much terribly exciting before we got to lunch.  We had brought extra water with us from Lisa's house, and that was tremendously helpful and we went through all of that.  My hands hurt at this point so it was hard for me to even squeeze my water bottles.  Luckily I wasn't steering so I could use two hands (I know my mom reads these blogs and its probably hard for her to read that--but don't worry, Mom, I managed alright and am feeling better now!).

We actually biked through some pretty areas and found some nice bike paths along the ride (that Google didn't even tell us to get on).

Abrupt bike trail end :(
We had just stopped for another sunscreen reapplication when we started back off to the bike feeling funny.  Somehow we had a flat.  Being in direct sunlight, we walked back to our shady patch to fix it up.

As usual, I searched for a stopping place on Yelp, which told me Duke's BBQ in Beaufort was the place to go!  All you can each BBQ buffet also sounded like just what we needed after an already grueling day.  We got there to see they are only open Thursday and Fridays, so felt lucky we happened to come on one of their open days!  Keegan got two rounds, he earned it!

It was also crazy hot out.  115 with heat index?!  Ugh.

After lunch, it was only another 40 miles to go.  From this point onward we started to enter into the island/mash area, so at least it was a change of scenery (and roads!).  We had many bridges and found our way to Hilton Head, which to our excitement, had a fabulous network of bike paths.  We certainly deserved those. So we let Google direct us over to the smoothie shop that our hosts for the evening, Genia and Marty, own.  They greeted us with smoothies, juice, kombucha shots and fresh kale and banana chips!  YUM.  Genia's daughter had even made a sign about our trip which they put in the shop.  We wish the wheels were more full!! (help fill the wheels and donate!

Fill 'er up!
While we were in the shop, I learned that the folks that were helping to get us media coverage had been successful with WSAV (NBC Savannah) but were trying to get more, and said that if we had photos of us in Hilton Head-y places, our chances may increase.  So Genia became our tour guide and took us to the beach and had us pose in front of appropriate markers and scenery.  Unfortunately it didn't get us any extra media, but it got us great memories and a little bit of exercise ;)

We then went back to their house, where we showered off a LOT of filth.  Genia had invited her family and friends over for dinner to meet us and enjoy the delicious dinner they had prepared.  It has truly been so wonderful to get to meet so many new folks on this trip and instantly feel like family with them.  This crowd was no exception and made us feel right at home.

After dinner, we were super duper beat, and I just didn't have any energy to blog.  Furthermore, we had to get our beauty sleep!  Because a reporter from WSAV was coming at 5:30am to interview me live as we were leaving.  So I quickly examined the next route (though not very thoroughly) and hit the sack.  Longest day: in the books.

It stopped recording and restarted all together, total was 118 for the day.

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