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Tuesday 5 July 2011

Day 56 - Back on the Road

Todays mileage: 55
Total mileage: 2,673
End point: Pine Bluff, AR

The mini vacation had to come to an end sadly. I could have easily spent longer in Little Rock, but with everyday I was slightly losing my rythmn and I felt 3 days was enough to let my body recover. I now have two weeks to make it to Jacksonville Beach and so I need to get moving. I've gotten rid of even more stuff, its unbelievable how little I am carrying in comparison with Seattle. My coat, long sleeve t-shirt, 3 maps, spare water bottle is all being shipped off. If it rains now I get wet, although really I was getting wet before anyway.

Before leaving Little Rock I had planned to drop in on all the guys racing this morning. Tim, Jim, John and Casey were all competing in critereons - known as a 'crit'. For those of you not into cycling this involves a closed road loop of around a mile or so. Roughly 30 racers then cycle for a set time period, after which a bell is rung and then three mad laps with a sprint to the finish. The period of time can vary from 20 minutes for beginners to an hour for the more serious. The key is to stay with the pack for to gain from drafting, if you get lapped you get hauled off the course. Tim proudly managed to stay with the pack in his race and John and Jim were both in the final sprint. It is quite exciting stuff and something I would like to try when I don't have a bike made of bricks. Following the races John ensured I had a good public embarrassment over the loud speaker system and then I said my good byes. Thanks again.

My route south had been much discussed over the previous days, with lots of mentions of guns and poverty. I will say one thing though, poor rural black families seem to own a lot less aggressive dogs than redneck families - and this is a good thing. I have seen lots of very run down houses and as John G suggested, some of this looked third world. Every now and then a town would have a couple of immaculate houses surrounded by more shacks, bizarre inequalities. My main shock of the day came from one wild driver, he obviously saw me right at the very last minute, although I had already planned to get off the road. He did an emergency swerve, lost the back end completely, went off the road, manged by a miracle not to hit anything and the slided dramatically back on the road. I knew cycling today would be dodgy given its the 4th of July and more than one driver would have had some beers. Fortunately no damage done.

I made it 55 miles today to Pine Bluff, apparently a hole of a town but I am in a nice campground a few miles north of the town. I manage to wangle the rate down to $10 which is just as well as there are no facilities here, well a portaloo (portapotty!) I'm completely shattered and am going to get an early nights sleep and get up early to try and avoid some of the heat. I'll probably fail on this front as there are going to be a lot of fireworks including an official display. The police were out and about preparing for this as I rolled into the park. Lots of thunder overhead at the moment so fingers crossed I don't get rained out because my tent is not so far from the ditch!

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