SnR UGRR Tour 2011 ~ June 17 Ride Day 3
The morning started as it normally does… with me awaking early. 4am to be exact trying to cram in updates from the Youth Cyclists, a few nods to pass out while typing. You’ll notice that the list of individual conductors has been removed. That happened a couple of days ago with the slip of the hand while dosing and walah! your whole list is deleted. No worries, Suepinda found the written list.
So, here it is. 4AM on June 18, a time to collect my thoughts and hopefully upload some photos. Yesterday we encountered spotty cell phone reception as we were seemingly in the middle of Alabama.
I awoke everyone at 5AM. They seemed reluctant. But who doesn’t at 5AM? We quickly packed our clothes and bedding and dressed for the day. Eating granola bars and bananas for breakfast. The night before while sleeping at the Iron Man Ministries campgrounds some of the boys slept in the van because they didn’t think to turn up the thermostat on the air conditioning unit. The temperature reached the low 60’s in the small trailer. Most did not sleep well, to say the least. This night we all slept together behind the courthouse of the city of Jackson, AL. Mr Brogden held the remote that controlled the temp but while he slept I tweaked it up a not to 78*. This was tolerable for me and everyone else. hehehe
We decided to ride to Coffeeville, AL instead of driving. The night before the Sgt and police chief suggested that the route was too winding and a large number of truckers use the route. This is a big timber area. They suggested SR 84 but Bob and I thought that even with it being a 4 lane Hwy it would not be good for us. We decided to stick with SR 69. It was a good choice.
Because of our early start there was little to no traffic. We were able to take in the scenery and enjoy the cool weather (78* is cool, believe me!). It was like one of our morning training rides. The terrain was typical for this area with rolling hills, one after the other, and winding roads. We would hit a very rural area for miles. The consensus on when we reached a destination was the posting of signs that either said “Entering Police Jurisdiction” or “School Zone”.
On this first leg just before Coffeeville there was this HUGE Rottweiler on a thick rusty chain. It was like a scene out of Kujo (which I thought was a stupid movie, by the way, up until now). As he jerked and pulled on the chain I could only wonder how much adrenalin would kick in if he got loose as I was already tired. Suffice it to say that the chain held but my legs were ready to fall off if they had to.
We reached Coffeeville just after Bob and Marshall. Marshall is doing a very good job of keeping up with Bob. I’m impressed at his ability. The speeds are generally 13-15mph. But its soon discovered that one slip, one delay can quickly put you a good distance behind the group. Once that happens you’re playing catchup the rest of the way. No worries, because that’s my role to ensure that no one is behind me.
With breakfast in Coffeeville over we decided to get to the next town of Campbell to do our live video feed via Skype with the National Park Service. They are having their “Underground Railroad Network to Freedom” conference this week and Dr. Lowe and Diane Miller invited us to speak to the congregation. We were scheduled to speak anywhere from 11:30 to 1PM. Our ride to Campbell would only be 18 miles and take us 40mins. so we decided to do the interview there. Problem was, while Campbell is on the map it has to be a one house town. Literally.
We blew past Campbell and was almost headed to the next town (20 miles away) if Bob hadn’t stopped to look for alligators in the creek below (he also knew that we were well past the 18 miles we needed to cover). Suepinda came back in the van with the same concern that she was unable to find the town and there was no cell phone reception on ANY phone so there was no way to alert our NPS friends of our delay. Quick decisions. We’re due on in 30 mins. It takes us 40 mins to pack up the bikes but the Youth Cyclists rose to the occasion and got the job done in record time. A flagged down motorist told us that we could get cell phone and internet reception in the city of Thomasville, 18 miles away. Off we go.
New problem. The batteries on mine and Suepinda’s laptops were low and would not hold up for the length of the call. What to do, what to do? Itza suggested we use Houston’s. What a wonderful idea. Houston’s laptop started up, I logged in and the conference attendees greeted us with applause. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see them too well as I had to set the laptop on the hood of the van in the bright Alabama sun. The glare was “overwhelming” but we were well lit for them!
Diane Miller introduced us to the attendees and we were greeted with warm welcomes then Dr. Lowe asked us questions about our group. Each Youth Cyclists was able to speak on a subject and questions were asked from the audience. The video feed was a success. Thanks to quick thinking from Itza and the use of Houston’s laptop!
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More to come later of the never ending hills with photos. But right now, its 4:55AM and I have to awake the cyclists. Be sure to check back for tales from the rest of the ride this day and photos.