Wednesday, October 4, 2000


This is a historical archive of my daily writeups of Pactour Central 2000. To start reading from the beginning click here. To see other reports of the trip click here. Enjoy!

Orangeburg, SC to Folly Beach, SC - 105 miles

After a first and only French toast breakfast, we pledged to not go fast. We even said we were going to hammer today, just so we could trick ourselves into thinking we would be doing the opposite of what we always have been doing lately. Well, the first couple of miles we soft-pedaled it through and out of the forgettable town of Orangeburg. Keith jokingly said all he wanted to do was not have to pull today. Pulling is something riders do to help other riders. Taking a "pull" means you are in the front of a line of riders breaking the wind. This requires exerting an extra amount of energy, and is only done for a short distance before you pull off and go to the back to recover and let the next person "pull". As the traffic abated, a blur when by my left side. It was Alex. Alex does NOT like anyone in front of him. Keith, Gerald, Nigel, and I jumped on. Some others were on our wheels as well, but there were multiple surges by Keith, Alex, and I and we dropped them. As we passed riders, some tried to jump on, but we surged past them. This pace was out of hand. The terrain was flat as a pancake. We pulled into the first rest stop at 29 miles with an average of 22mph. We stayed for a bit, no one showed up. Larry whizzed by us without stopping.
Back on our bikes we toned the pace down a bit. We were still tooling along around 22-24 mph, but there were no more 27-30 mph surges because we already had passed everyone (except Larry). We were on some lightly traveled back roads. Swamps were common, as were moss covered trees over hanging the road. The sun was shining brightly.
Our consistent pace finally brought Larry into our view. He hopped onto our paceline. At the second stop at a Baptist church, some of the ladies came out to meet us and Jameison got a picture of us with them. Jameison was sagging today and was being his usual entertaining self. We left as a group of six - Alex, Keith, Gerald, Larry, Kimberly, and I.
The sky gradually got cloudier. The air was getting more and more humid. We were nearing the sea. At lunch, which was at a pretty crappy crossroads, we took our time again. More sandwiches.
We left as a group. It was starting to drizzle a bit. The pace had knocked back another notch. We entered the Charleston area and traffic increased. The last sag was going to be a staging area for all the riders. We waited for all the others. They came in one by one.
We all left as a group of 60 to head to the beach. The hotel is right on the beach. Pictures of the bike in the ocean then a group picture. Pacific to Atlantic on a bicycle. I finally have this out of my system. What is next?
I hope everyone enjoyed my messages.
Thanks everyone for the support.

Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Greenwood, SC to Orangeburg, SC - 120 miles

Again we were the last out of the parking lot. Both Nigel and Alex had flats they fixed after breakfast. We got going down the wide lanes of Greenwood - your typical Generica (Generic America) town. All the standard stuff - McDonald's, Walmart, strip malls, etc. After a whole bunch of turns we got into a rhythm. Keith pulled us along. He is an excellent rider and is so smooth it is like he is on rails. Everyone, including the "other fast guys" were at the first rest stop. We made the stop quick and left with them. Alex, Keith, and I picked up the pace to get some time on them. But not too much time. Jay was manning the second checkpoint. We made it quick again, and the other guys pulled in as we left.
We rolled up and down the gently graded hills. For the most part, we went through pine tree forests. As we neared (but did not go to) the town of Aiken, there were more and more horses out in the fields. Large slated wood fences held beautiful green fields and horses within them. I've heard that this area is popular for racing horses to winter.
Lunch was sandwiches again. Some pears and another excellent chocolate chip cookie for dessert. The other guys pulled in while we were eating. There were lots of pesky gnats bothering us.
We got to the next rest stop and had some snacks. Average speed on the bike was 20.3 mph for 120 miles. Had dinner at Pizza Hut. I had a whole medium pizza. Orangeburg is kind of a dump. The dog situation in South Carolina is a lot better than the days we've had since Missouri, where it seemed like every yard had a loose dog with a penchant for chasing bicycles.
Tomorrow's motel is supposed to be at a nice place on the beach. Tomorrow is the last day! We are all going to regroup at mile 100 and ride the last five miles in together. We may have to get a six-pack of beer to kill the time as the slow riders come in. Or we may just tone it down.
Tomorrow is the end.

Monday, October 2, 2000

Dahlonega, GA to Greenwood, SC - 140 miles

Once again today I pledged I would take it easy. I started out a little early to find a mailbox to mail a letter. I found one in a Walmart parking lot; unfortunately a few other riders followed me in! Back on the road, the sight of Keith, Alex, and Brian's wheels whizzing by me prompted me to hop on. Just up to the first rest stop I told myself. This is faulty logic however, because if by the first rest stop you have passed everyone, you just cannot now let any of them pass you. You have to make the lead even bigger. The section up to the first rest stop was awfully crowded with morning traffic. Herds of us cyclists were taking up the road and not letting cars pass. Keith took off with Brian in tow. Alex and I held back - Alex commented we do have 120 miles more to ride. After passing all the other bicyclists, the traffic situation got better. We started hauling to catch Keith. We passed by Brian, apparently Keith was on a tear. We picked up Gerald as we neared the stop. Keith was there waiting for us. He said the traffic had got him going and he just wanted to get past it all. We left as a group of four - Keith, Alex, Gerald, and I. The hills were gradually getting shorter and less steep as the day progressed. One town of note was Homer - home of "The World's Largest Easter Egg Hunt".
We got into the second checkpoint. A playful black lab puppy came over and was acting like a puppy - wagging his tail, rolling to show his belly, etc. Lon tried to teach him some tricks using beef jerky as a reward. Next stop was lunch. We had some grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches. Some four-inch high chocolate chip cookies were for dessert. Lunch was at a beautiful park on a lake along the Savannah River. The weather was fabulous - mid 70's, sunny.
Two-minute lunch Larry pulled up and ate. We left with him, but since he is crew, he brought along a paint can to mark the road. After we crossed into South Carolina, he peeled off our pace line to attend to the road markings. We worked together nicely as a unit, each of us pulling for 3-5 miles each. The miles melted away. The next stop was at a collection of five or six dumpsters. I suppose they are public dumpsters, we saw more of them along the road during the day. Maybe this stops people from dumping their garbage on the side of the road? Who knows?
We kept the pace geared up to the motel in Greenwood. We averaged 20.6mph on the bike for 140 miles. Keith averaged 21 on the bike because of his tear earlier in the day. We got in first at 3pm. Mexican and a large 32oz mug of Budweiser for dinner. Tomorrow is the second to last day. Only 121 miles and less climbing should be an easy day.
Then the last day. The smell of salt will soon be in the air...

Sunday, October 1, 2000

Dayton, TN to Dahlongela, GA - 134 miles

We started out last to leave, as always. More fog this morning. We passed over the Tennessee River, it was framed with fog on either end, and it misted off of water. The first checkpoint Keith, Alex, and I pulled out onto the road. We had passed everyone again. Being in the front is a good feeling, even though this is not a race (and I don't think I want to keep doing). We made it to the next stop with Larry posting it. Some others pulled in as we left.
We started to climb up Old Copper Road gradually up through a valley. This is TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) country. We passed by a dam holding back an enormous lake. We stopped and got a good picture. As we snaked up into the valley, a river started to form next to us. There were riverboats and kayaks in the rapids below. It was very neat to have the river on our right as we snaked up through the valley. They release the water from the dams to control the water flow. This was the Ocoee recreation area. We missed the next stop, as it was not yet set up. The stop would have been nice; it was at a cool waterfall where rafters started out their ride through the rapids. Above this were the rapids (no water flowing) where the 1996 Olympics were held.
After the climbing, we passed through a dirty forgettable copper mine town with multiple awful slanted railroad crossings. Slanted railroad crossings are very dangerous because a bicycle wheel can get caught and a rider can go down (I watched three people go down in Kansas). This was our entry point into Georgia. Kudzu, a prolific groundcover brought over from Japan, but has gotten out of control, coated the sides and ditches along many roads.
More climbing up to lunch. We had to wait for the pasta to finish cooking, so we filled up with sandwiches. The follow pack was pulling in as we left. Alex pulled us up some longer hills. We were climbing and descending constantly. We were in a beautiful country here. We passed two locals riding red Cannondales while climbing a longer stretch.
The last stop was at an abandoned store doubling as someone's vegetable stand and cat refuge. There were six or seven lazing around, yawning, munching on a bowl of food. Looks like we have a cat lady here.
One more climb up to the head of the Appalachian Trail and a spectacular view. After a picture stop, we started a great descent. There was lots of traffic, in particular motorcycles. Since it was Sunday, this automatically makes everyone in so much more of a rush. Hey bonehead - it's Sunday - what is the rush? Sheesh. Anyway, we made it down the hill in one piece. Pulled into the small town of Dahlonega. It is on the historical register. We went to a nice restaurant called Wylie's and found out no beer on Sunday! Had a pretty good dinner (good biscuits) anyway.
Into South Carolina tomorrow, only three days left till we hit the Atlantic.

Saturday, September 30, 2000

Lebanon, TN to Dayton, TN - 126 miles

Today we again were greeted with morning fog for the first ten or so miles. It is quite a spectacular site - low waves of mist cascading down on us, other bicyclists emerging out of the fog as we pass them. The sun shines through like a golden plate in the sky. At times the top of the fog is visible and you can see he blue sky above. Slowly the sun melts the cloud cover away.

The group was Brian, Alex, Keith and I up to the first stop. Another group formed as we pulled into lunch. Grilled chicken and potato salad for lunch. We had some great white stone picnic benches to eat on. Alex, Larry, and Gerald started off without everyone. Keith and I pulled out together. We had three major climbs ahead of us. Each was about four miles long. The first one Keith paced me, then the next one I paced him. The climbing was actually pretty nice, the road was graded well, and the pavement was good. We pulled into the last rest stop with Lon and had some more junk food. Yellow Spinergy Bob showed up and we took off as a trio to do the last climb. We pulled in as 4-5-6 after Alex, Gerald, and Larry.

Before the climb, however, we had a gorgeous descent into a beautiful valley. The town at the bottom was Pikeville. The other side of the valley came closer and we had to climb out of it. Bob set the pace for the climb. At the top we hit a few rollers then a nice screaming downhill into Dayton.
The days climbing was 7000 feet, the last valley we went through really made the day. We basically started at the top of one ridge, descended for miles, the climbed back out up the other side. The climb out was awesome because we climbed along the ridge and to our left was the valley slowly getting smaller and smaller.

There seemed to be a dog in every yard and they all liked to chase. There were also quite a few mountain families in pickup trucks and vans that just looked plain scary. This is Deliverance country.
We have two tougher climbing mountain days ahead of us. Almost all of the climbing tomorrow starts after mile 100. The next day isn't supposed to be any easier. Then we will start to get blasted with the headwinds blowing off the Atlantic. We are getting close to the end; the smell of saltwater will soon be in the air.

Friday, September 29, 2000

Madisonville, KY to Lebanon, TN - 131 miles

Today we started out shrouded in fog. We went through field after field of low misty clouds. The sun was slowly burning it off, its yellow shimmer slowly rising up over the hills all around us. Alex, who finishes in the top five everyday, pulled ahead and sat on his wheel. We passed everyone slowly but surely. The first rest stop had just opened and we filled up and got out quick. Up and down we went. The hills were a lot less steep than previous days. As we rounded a corner there was a barn with smoke coming out from under the eaves of the roof. Hmmm, this farmer is about to be minus one barn as soon as this fire gets going good. However up the road, another, and another barn was smoking. We had also seen several non-smoking barns with tobacco leaves hanging from them. The smoke smelled of sweet silky tobacco wafted across the road. The barns were not on fire, they were curing tobacco. We saw these smoky barns all day long. At the second stop we filled up again. Through the town of Elkton we missed a turn and we were lost. Alex got out his map and we cut over to get back on course, but not after adding on seven or so miles. As we pulled into lunch, we still were at the front. Steve and Dave pulled up ten minutes after us, but they commented others got lost too. We had a quick lunch. I had a hot dog, roast beef sandwich, potato salad, chocolate pudding, and a chocolate Zinger. We hammered it to the next rest stop. Larry was just setting up and assured us everyone was well behind. We cut back the pace, as we were the first two into the motel. It felt good to be first in. Alex does this everyday, but I will be taking it easy the next couple of days. We are climbing over the Appalachian Mountains for the next three days, and also doing some big mileage. Five more days and we'll be at the Atlantic Ocean.