Ouch! Another bad one. I wound up in Smallville a.k.a Raeford, N.C. last night without a place to stay. I didn’t know what I was going to do and I had already had a pretty action-packed, strenuous day up to that point on the bike and on the ziplines with ZipQuest.
Not many photos today since I traveled from about 12am -9am (off and on…you’ll see!).
No Place to Stay
I wound up at the Days Inn in Raeford. There was a pool just outside the lobby and it was fenced in, which meant I could stash my bike poolside, get online, update the website, and keep an eye on the bike and bags.
I ate someone else’s leftover room food: unopened graham crackers and a cup of Ramen noodles for dinner. There were also a few packs of instant grits (southern US breakfast dish) and oatmeal that I stashed in my bag, for later, just in case.
The night clerk was signing off at 12 and closing shop, which meant I had to bounce. Two options: Roll to Micky D’s and leave the bike up against the window, visible yet exposed, or hit the road jack.
Hit the Road Jack
I had been mentally prepping myself for this second option and since I knew I was either going to be awake at McDonald’s all night or on the road, I was extremely alert. Spending the entire night in a McDonald’s, to me, is just as scary as being on the highway in the wee hours of the morning.
As soon as I took off, I knew I made the right decision. Despite the time, there was still a moderate amount of traffic on the road. Strange for such a small town in the middle of nowhere.
When the 3 lights of the town faded (McDonald’s, Days Inn and the stop light) the road was pitch black. I could make out the white lines and center yellow ones. That was about it. Every time my eyes started getting acclimated a car would pass, usually with the bright lights BEAMING and mess them up again. It might have helped if my piece of crap front light was working, but…NOOOOOO, someone was being an ass this morning.
The ride to the next tow was only 20 miles but it took me about 3 hours. I took my time. Every time a car would come up from behind, I pulled over. I did have my back, red light flashing and that thing is BRIGHT. Nonetheless, I knew if I rushed it I would just end up waiting at the next town anyway, so I just enjoyed the silence of the night.
In actuality, the night is noisier than the day. the sounds of cars drown out nature’s song during the day, and without their constant buzz at night, the creature take over.
Another beautiful thing about riding at night was the smells. Not the cow shit and farm smells. there were patches of dense woods that I passed. Sometimes a mile or two in length. The honeysuckle flowers grow in patches and each one I reached, stretched out to alert me of their presence well before I got there.
The shadows on the road and in the trees play wicked games with your head. Shapes during the day that are just tall slender trunks with a head of greenery at the top end up stretching their fingers over the road at night and dancing through the darkness in shapes of evil dolls, or bad comb-overs.
I arrived in the next town, Laurinburg around 2:40am. There was nothing to do but ride around town. That’s what I did. I did that and got bored.
I stopped at a church that was very well lit, propped the bike against a tree, and sat Indian legged on the grass. My iPod poked me in the hip, so I pulled it out and started thumbing through music. Then, I saw the wi-fi signal pop up and realized I was picking up the church’s wi-fi. I played for 10 minutes and got bored.
I got on my bike and found the community baseball field. The field looked lonely and sad, so I walked up to home plate. In my best sportscaster’s voice, I called the pitches. Ball one. Ball two. Strike one. Ball three. Strike two.
The bases were loaded and I was at home plate. A girl with a huge chest and my name on each..side, was yelling at me. I tore the cover off and made my rounds. When I got back to home plate, the girl was gone and my bike was staring at me with those two big bags on each…side! Oh well.
I went back to the Church and looked for B&B’s in the area on my iPod. I found one and then got bored again.
I took my bike and we walked around the town. I was tired of riding. I was tired period. 75 miles and I hadn’t slept in almost 24 hours. Nice! I got bored of walking and went back to the church.
I checked the website of the B&B again and found that you could check to see if there were any vacancies. Nice! Better check to see if I am waiting for nothing.
I checked. I was waiting for nothing.
Next town, another 20 miles.
Homer Simpson Strikes Again
For my trip I packed three pair of shorts. All of them are cargo shorts. I did this so I would have extra pockets in the front for phone camera, and to get my wallet, which is just about useless at this point, out of my back pocket so I wouldn’t be sitting awkward on the seat. I don’t need any help in that department because after 75 miles, any way you sit on a stupid bicycle seat is awkward.
One of the pair of shorts has very shallow back hip pockets and my wallet always sticks out. This would be there pair I chose to wear today. Yippee!
I’m telling you this because, when I was at the church I was bored. We got that out of the way already, but i’m reiterating the point because when you have nothing else to do, you think of the most menial tasks to keep you busy.
Today’s menial, I’m bored-out-of-my-mind task was to clean out my wallet: old cards, receipts, ticket stubs from who knows what…Gone. Trash-a roo! See ya!
In my state of delirium at 4:30am I did what most of us do at that point. I went through the motions and did things out of habit. I put the wallet in my back pocket.
Knowing that this town was not an option for a place to stay, either, I got on the bike and pressed on. It was about 6 miles to the South Carolina border. I made it in good time.
I sat down after I crossed the border and took out a pack of instant oatmeal. I poured a mouthful of water in my mouth and then some oatmeal. Swish it around and…instant oatmeal. I did this until I finished the packet, got up and brushed my hands off on my shorts and the Homer Simpson came roaring down the street. I patted my front pockets, my back pockets, my coat pockets, I looked in my bike bags and around where I was sitting.
I wanted to curse but all I cold do was laugh. I got on the bike and pedalled furiously back to town. I was riding on the wrong side of the road, staring at the ground the whole time.
My wallet was about a mile from the church on the side of the street. It was laughing, too. After our reunion I was spent/tired/beat/humiliated ( no one knows, though..hahaha lucky me).
I pedalled back to the South Carolina line angrily remembering each landmark I was now passing for the third time.
Devilish Beast Creatures
About three miles outside of town I was ready to collapse. I was ready to sleep on coals as long as I could lay down. There was nothing around me but barren cotton fields ready to be seeded or maybe they already had been. I had no idea and didn’t really care.
In the middle of one of the fields was a group trees. A beautiful oasis of lush, green grass covered in the shade of these three large trees, standing together like a happy family waving in the wind, beckoning me to pedal over to them and lay down for an hour or three.
I biked over and startled 4 horses that were grazing at the back end of my little paradise. I propped my bike against one of my wooden friends and took out my jacket. I walked around in a circle like a dog does when they are situating a place for themselves to rest and then laid my jacket on the ground to get a little shut eye.
30 seconds didn’t go by before I felt a little sting on my leg. I was 5 seconds from being passed out. I rubbed my legs together to stir the grass and lay it down under my legs, as that must have been the culprit.
A second later, like a microwave bag of popcorn in the middle of its furious bursting cycle, a colony of fire ants from hell ascended from the fiery pits from which they heat those damn instruments of destruction and made my legs the target of their demonic fury, sending me flying off the ground doing the…. get the hell off me you devilish beast creatures dance.
I got them all off me, found that I was now awake, and rode into town itching.
Finally, a Place to Relax
I was borderline delirious and crazy when I arrived in Bennettsville, S.C.. I’m surprised my hosts let me stay. Not sure if I made any sense when talking to them. Obviously, I did or I would not be here, but it didn’t did not feel that way.
Total Miles 47 ( the past 24 hours 99 miles)