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STORIES FROM THE ROAD


August 31, 1999

LAST DAY

I had a pretty rough night at the motel in Phenix City, Alabama. I wasn't able to get any sleep. All night long, I woke up hacking and coughing. I couldn't find the right temperature for the room. It was either too cold or I woke up sweating so much that I soaked the sheets of the bed. I gave up trying to get some rest around 5 a.m.

Ever since Mississippi and the encounter with the crop duster, I was sick. It might have been because of the pesticide spray that I got caught in or possibly my staying in a too cold room at the volunteer house of the Habitat affiliate in Clarksdale, MS. About every five minutes while on the road, I had to stop because of major coughing fits. The coughs seemed to come in sets of threes. Some of these coughs were so hard that I bent over in pain. All I could think about and pray to make sure that I wouldn't have one of these fits when I couldn't stop and crash. That's all that I needed.

It was around seven in the morning when I left the motel. I had about a two mile ride to the bridge across the Chattahoochee River and then into Georgia for the home stretch back to Americus. The bridge was also the crossing between the Central Time Zone and the Eastern Time Zone. I crossed back into Georgia at 8:37 a.m. EST.

I started the ride through Columbus on US 270 going eastward. There was a headwind of about ten to fifteen miles per hour with stronger gusts. This was the last straw for me. I had hoped to be back in Americus Sept. 1st so I could say good-bye to a close friend at Habitat who was heading back to Ohio.

My strength seemed to be all tapped out. The distance between Columbus and Americus was around forty miles. This could have been one hundred forty because I didn't have any reserves left. Maybe, I could have made the distance if there wasn't any wind or the wind could have been behind me giving me some assistance.

I had to get off the bike and walk it up a hill on the Southern edge of Columbus because of the coughing fits. Five miles from downtown Columbus I pulled off the highway into the parking lot of a gas station to rest. I tried to call the local Habitat affiliate in Columbus but I couldn't get hold of anybody. I decided to go ahead and call some friends of mine in Americus at the Habitat headquarters to see if they could possibly come and get me.

I didn't think that I could last another day. I didn't want to end this year's trip like this but there was no way that I could have lasted another day because of my health condition. I was really grateful when my friends arranged for me to have a ride from Columbus back to Americus.

A special note. -- Several days after I got rested up some, I was able to get into a health clinic. I found out that there was no problem with my lungs but there was some irritation in my throat but some antibiotics cleared it up. At least, I could say that I had bicycled nearly 9000 miles for the year and had visited or phone contacted 304 Habitat affiliates along the way.




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