TRIP 2013

Update #27 - October 26
Alexander City, Alabama
Mission Trip 34: 9,127.45 miles (14,603.92 KM)
10,477.18 miles (16,763.49 KM) - Year Total

October 14 : West Winona, MS to Eupora, MS - 37.54 miles (60.06 KM)

I had an okay night. I left the motel a little after 8 AM. The way East went okay. I got 23 miles (37 KM) in by noon. I got into Eupora around 1:30 PM. I rode around town to check out the churches. I didn't think I could find anybody because today was Columbus Day. I found some cars at the First Baptist Church. The secretaries were in the office. The ministers were out on visitations. One of the deacons had offered to let me stay with them but they were going to a meeting tonight. Instead, an offer was made to get me a room at the local motel.

I'm about 28 miles (45 KM) away from Starksville. I got the addresses for two bike shops so I should be able to find a new rear tire.

October 15 : Eupora, MS to Starkville, MS - 32.79 miles (52.46 KM)

I had an okay night. I left the motel a little after 8 AM. It was a little cool so I had to get my jacket on. The way East went okay. I got 23 miles (37 M) in by noon. It was a little hard because there was a rumble strip and narrow shoulder to ride along.

About 9 miles (14 KM) out of Starkville, I got stopped by a state trooper. He said that they had gotten some complaints about me being on the road. I tried to stay off the main part of the road but the rumble strip was wavy. Before he left, he tried to explain to me that it was illegal for me to be on a divided 4-lane highway in the state. I didn't think that this was right. I've been on US 82 most of the way across the state and no other law enforcement stopped me. The only places that I can't ride along are interstates and limited access highway.

In one place, I lost what shoulder I could ride along. I switched over to MS 182. I think that this was old 82 before the 4-lane was made. MS 182 went into downtown Starkville. As I was trying to find one of the town's bike shops (Boardtown Bikes), I got stopped by a reporter from the local newspaper (The Dispatch). He interviewed me. From where I was, it was about a 4 block walk to Boardtown Bikes. They didn't have a new tire my size but they did have a Kenda 100 psi 26x1.5 tire that somebody had switched over. Since the tire was used, they gave me the tire for free. I used one of the floor pumps to put the tire on.

I went back to the First Presbyterian Church that I had passed to see if I could connect with a minister. I was able to talk with somebody in the office but they told me that I had to go to some social service agency to see if they could help me. There was another large church in the downtown area. I went to the First Baptist Church. The people there were so much friendlier towards me than what they were at the Presbyterian church. I got to talk with one of the ministers. The campus ministry minister took me to a nearby motel and got me a room for the night.

Tomorrow might be a wet day. If I can just get to Columbus, that would be a goal for me.

October 16 : Starkville, MS to Columbus, MS - 33.61 miles (53.782 KM)

I had a really cold night. The air conditioning unit for the whole building was turned up really high. There wasn't any way to directly regulate it. I had to go to the office to see if I could get another blanket because there was just a comforter on the bed. I was able to get some rest even though it was a lot colder. When I started the chore of getting everything downstairs from the second floor, I found that it was at least 15 degrees warmer outside than what was in the room. It took me five trips.

I left the motel around 7:45 AM. The sky was overcast and it was lightly misting. The rain was coming but the majority of the storm was traveling Northeast. About two miles (3 KM) down the road, it started to lightly raining. It kept on raining most of the way to Columbus. I followed MS 182 and then I got on frontage roads that went along US 82. About 3 miles (5 KM) out of Columbus, MS 182 started up again. According to Microsoft Streets and Trips, I was supposed to follow MS 182 to cross over the Tombigee River but it didn't happen. There wasn't any bridge. I had to backtrack about two miles (3 KM) back to US 45.

I was concerned about getting on US 82 because it was like an interstate now. I tried hitching a ride but I wasn't able to. I called 911 to get some advice. I got transferred to Highway Patrol. I was told that I could get across the Tennessee Tombigee Bridge and get off the first interchange. There was a wide enough shoulder to ride along to the bridge but whenenver I had to cross a bridge the shoulder disappeared. There was a shoulder wide enough on the bridge so I could ride over. Once over the bridge, I had a mile (1.6 KM) to ride to the first interchange.

The first interchange took me into downtown Columbus. I was cold and wet and it looked like it was going to rain for a little longer. I decided to try and stop for the day. I went over to the Episcopal Church. I saw some ladies in the office but nobody responded to my calls on the intercom. The next church was the United Methodist Church. The entranceway was also locked and there was another intercom. I was told that the lady minister wasn't in the office. The next church that I stopped at was the Presbyterian. The secretary let me into the office. She told me that she was a Baptist. I got to speak to the minister but he passed me off. Next to the Presbyterian church was the First Baptist Church. As I was talking the intercom, this older gentleman came up. It turns out that he was the business administrator for the church. He invited me inside to his office. After we talked for a few minutes, he wrote me a letter so that I could get a room at a motel that was a few blocks away. Before I left the church, he took me across the hall to the church's small food pantry and gave me a small bag of food to take along.

Tomorrow morning, I've got about ten miles to ride to the Alabama state line.

October 17 : Columbus, MS to Reform, AL - 32.29 miles (51.66 KM)

I had an okay night. I was surprised that the room was as quiet as it was being that it was on the Main Street side. It took a little longer getting things downstairs because there were several long walkways. I left the motel grounds around 8:50 AM. On the way out of town, I stopped at a grocery store to get some bread and also at several thrift stores to see if I could find another jacket. The one that I've got now is way too big (2x) and fits like a tent on me. At the last thrift store, I found a jacket that fits better. It's just a windbreaker but it will be okay. Hopefully, I'll find another jacket that is thicker before Winter comes. I can start layering up again.

I followed MS 182 to the Alabama state line. It was about a ten mile ride to the state line. The road became CR-30 in Alabama. The ride was okay even though there were several hills that I had to walk up and the road was a little longer than I expected. About 6 miles (10 KM) out of the town of Reform, AL. I had to get on US 82 but there was a wider shoulder to ride along.

I got into Reform around 1:40 PM. I rode around the downtown area to check out the churches. The First Presbyterian Church was quite small and there wasn't an office. I went over to the First Baptist Church. There was a sign on the door that said that the office was only open in the mornings. The phone number was just for an answering machine. I went around the downtown area to see if I could find the police station.

There was a library so I thought to go inside to see if they might know one of the ministers. The lady at the desk was quite helpful. She was the former mayor and her son was the librarian. Patsy was just watching the library because her son was at a seminar. She also went to the Presbyterian church. The minister lived in Tuscaloosa and commuted. Patsy made a few calls and was able to get me a room at the local motel. Before I left the library, Patsy slipped me $5 so I could get something to eat at the fast-food place Jacks.

October 18 : Reform, AL to Duncanville, AL - 49.09 miles (78.54 KM)

Another night of a malfunctioning air conditioner/ heater unit. There was heat during the beginning of the night but I woke up to a cold room because the unit was just blowing cold air. I got on the road around 8:15 AM. The ride to the Northpoint/ Tuscaloosa area went a little slowly because there were a couple of hills and a small shoulder because of rumble strips.

I got about 23 miles in by noon time. I stopped at a church for a lunch break. I got into Northpoint around 1:30 PM. Northpoint was just on the outskirts of Tuscaloosa. I didn't think that I could connect with a minister because it was Friday. Usually church offices on Fridays are even open till noon or not at all. It was a slow ride through Tuscaloosa. It was almost 3:45 PM when I hit the Southern outskirts of Tuscaloosa. I decided to head South on US 82 towards Montgomery instead of heading East towards Birmingham. I decided not to go check out SIFAT outside of Lineville. Most likely it was just some kind of conference center on a farm. The main reason was that it was possibly in the foothills of the Southern Appalachians. It would be better to go check out the ministries in the Auburn/ Opelika/ Tuskegee areas.

The ride South on US 82 was kind of slow because of some hills and I had to ride my mirror a lot because there was no shoulder. I got into the Duncanville area around 5:00 PM. I didn't want to go any farther because there wasn't much between Duncanville and Centreville. I stopped at the Duncanville but the parsonage next to it had been turned into an office and a day care center. I saw the sign for the Methodist church.

There was a pavilion shelter at the church. I stopped to talk to this young guy and his small son across the street. He told me that the pastor was bivocational but he knew how to connect with him. After a phone call, I got permission to camp out in the pavilion. The guy that I talked to offered to bring over a plate of spaghetti for me.

October 19 : Duncanville, AL to Brent, AL - 24.46 miles (39.15 KM)

I got some rest but it was kind of hard because there was a security light at the front of the pavillion. The inside of the tent didn't get completely dark. It was cool enough that I had to climb into my sleeping bag.

When I looked outside the tent around 6:30 AM it was lightly sprinkling. I took my time packing up. It was around 8:50 AM when I headed out. It lightly rained for most of the way to Brent. On the way, I listened to Alabama Public Radio. The weather report said that there was the chance for more rain in the afternoon and possibly tomorrow might be a wash out.

I got into Brent around 12:15 AM. I met up with a police officer who was on patrol in Brent. He didn't know of any minister. He did tell me that he saw some cars at a church on the outskirts of Centreville about a mile away. Brent and Centreville join each other.

I stopped at the Four Points Baptist Church. There was a lady in the office working. She was the secretary and her husband, Jamie, was the music director. He was in the sanctuary practicing. I was told that they were between pastors. Jamie offered to take me to a motel that I had passed up the street in Brent and get me a room for the night. There was also an offer for tomorrow night's lodging if I needed it. Also, Jamie offered to go out and get me a meal from one of the local fast food places. He came back with a meal from Wendys and also a bag of food for the road. He told me that they would be coming to the motel tomorrow morning to pick me up for church.

October 21 : Brent, AL to Selma, AL - 44.41 miles (71.06 KM)

I had an okay night. I left the motel around 8:20 AM. The sky was overcast and it was a little cool. I headed South on MS 219. The ride was okay even though there were a couple of hills. I got about 29 miles (46 KM) in by noon time. I stopped for a short lunch break alongside the road. I got into Selma around 1:45 PM. I decided to go ahead and get a motel room instead of trying to connect with a local minister since most church offices would be closed. I was able to find a motel with rates in the upper $30s. I think that I might have stayed here before.

October 22 : Selma, AL to Pratteville, AL - 41.56 miles (66.50 KM)

I had a somewhat of an okay night. Around 8 AM, I had a bit of a scare. Somebody used a key card to open the motel door. I thought that I had used both security locks. I left the motel around 8:20 AM. The sky was overcast and it was a little cool. I headed East on MS 14. There were several hills to get over. Two of them were a little steep so I had to walk them. I still was able to get 23 miles (37 KM) in by noon time. I stopped for a short lunch break at a gas station in Autugville.

I got into downtown Pratteville around 1:30 PM. I thought that it would be best to try and find a place inside because it was going to be in the 40s tomorrow morning. I stopped at the First Baptist Church. I was able to talk to Rev D Burns (the sr adult and pastoral care minister). Rev Burns offered to help me get a room at a local motel that the ministerial association dealt with. Before I left the church, Rev Burns surprised me by slipping me a green handshake. The green handshake was almost the amount that I had to spend on last night's motel room.

October 23 : Pratteville, AL to Tuskegee, AL - 65.31 miles (104.50 KM)

I had a somewhat of an okay night. The room was a little worn down but it was warm. I do wish that there was wifi. I left the motel around 8:20 AM. I was looking at going East and then go around Montgomery but I couldn't do it. I got as far as the interstate when I saw a sign saying that the road that I was going to take was a parkway that had a toll bridge over the Alabama River. I stopped at a gas station to get out my laptop to check my mapping software. I found out that I needed to backtrack a couple of miles and then head South on US 31. This would take me into Montgomery in the downtown area and then I would have to find my way East to US 80. I wished that I would have known about the toll bridge and I would have taken the Southerly route at the beginning. It was almost 10 AM when I headed South. The temperature was a little warmer than what I had expected. It was supposed to be in the 40s and have a high around 70.

The ride South into Montgomery went okay. There was a wide shoulder the most of the way and I had a tailwind to push me along. I rode passed Maxwell Airforce Base. I had to take the time to switch the disc pads around because the rear ones were getting worn down and I wasn't able to completely stop without rolling.

I got into downtown Montgomery around 11:30 AM. I stopped at a BK for some lunch. I had to take a layer of clothes off. The ride East went okay. When US 80 connected with the interstate, I had to stop at a gas station to get directions to the service road which was actually the old US 80.

The ride to Tuskegee went okay. I got into downtown Tuskegee a little before dusk. I found the First Baptist Church but it was dark. There was no indication that they were going to have a Wednesday night service. I stopped at the police station to see if somebody knew of a low costing motel. There was one East of town on US 80. I stopped at the Macon Motel. The office was in a liquor store. I got a room in the mid 30s. The room was a little run down but the motel wasn't a roach motel and there was heat but no wifi.

I've got about 30 mile ride to Opelika to check out a ministry there. From Opelike, I'll be riding North to Lineville. I'm going to check out the SIFAT ministry that was supposed to be on a farm East of Lineville.

October 24 : Tuskegee, AL to Opelika, AL - 29.31 miles (46.90 KM)

I had a somewhat of an okay night. The room was a little worn down but it was warm. I do wish that there was wifi. I left the motel around 8:20 AM. The temperature was cool in the low 50s but it was supposed to be up in the low 70s in the afternoon.

The ride East to Auburn was kind of slow because there was some hills to climb over. There wasn't any shoulder most of the way and I had to walk up a couple of the hills. When there was a shoulder, most of the surface was taken over by a wide rumble strip. I had to get off the road a couple of times because of wide loads.

I got into Auburn around 11 AM. It was a long ride into the downtown area. I stopped at a BK for lunch. I had a hard time finding the right road to Opelika. Along the way, I stopped at a Salvation Army thrift store. I wanted to find a coat that fit me better. I found a size Large coat that was in decent shape that fit me. It wasn't really a thick coat but I could layer up. The cost of the coat was $3 but I actually got it for just $1 since it had the right colored tag.

I got into Opelika around 1:30 PM. I found the ministry that I wanted to check out but it was in the far East section of the city. It was a combination soup kitchen/ food pantry/ and clothes closet. They didn't really need any volunteers.

Since it was too late to head out to the next town, I decided to see if I could find someplace to stay tonight since they were talking about evening temps in the 30s. Tomorrow, the high was only supposed to be in the low 60s and there was supposed to be a cold wind blowing from the North because there was a dip in the Jet Stream allowing cold air from Canada to come down. .

I rode back into the downtown area to see if I could connect with a minister. There was a motel that had very decent rates in the upper $20 but it looked like it was closed since there was no cars in the parking lot and there was a tape barrier across the entrance. I stopped at the First Presbyterian Church but there was nobody around it. There was a Methodist Church across the street. The secretary was in but neither of the two ministers was in. The secretary told me about this rescue mission. Because of what happened at the last rescue mission that I stayed at, I avoid these places. The secretary told me where the First Baptist and the First United Methodist Churches were.

The First Baptist Church was a multi-building complex and the office was really ritzy. It didn't look like a church office. I didn't get passed the gate keeper secretary. She told me that they send everybody over to the rescue mission.

The First United Methodist Church was a couple blocks away. I got to come into the office. The people there were pretty friendly. I got to meet with the pastor. There was an offer to get me a room at the motel that I had thought was closed. They had recently gotten the parking lot resurfaced.

October 25 : Opelika, AL to Dadeville, AL - 15.46 miles (24.74 KM)

I had a somewhat of an okay night. The room was a little worn down but it was warm. At least, there was wifi. I left the motel around 8:20 AM. The temperature was really cool in the low 40s. The high for the day was only going to be in the upper 60s and I was going to have to deal with a tailwind. I backtracked a little over a mile and I headed NW on US 280. Once out of the city limits, the shoulder went from smooth to really rough from chip sealing. I haven't seen this bad chip sealing since Texas. I was really bumping around. About 8 miles (13 KM) down the road, there was a 4 mile (6 KM) section of repaving and the shoulder became smooth. The ride didn't get smooth. The front tire was bumping around. I thought that it was from some tar and stones sticking to the tire but it was something worse. There was tread damage. There was a twisting in the bead and a slight bulge. I stopped on the side of the road to check it out. There wasn't any problem with the tube but I found a couple small pieces of wire sticking out of the tube. I decided to switch innertubes. I had a hard time getting the tire reinflated. The pump was acting up. I had to take the pump apart to get it to work.

I was concerned about trying to ride on the tire so I decided to walk for a while. About 4 miles (6 KM) down the road, this lady in an SUV pulled up a little far from me and opened up the back of the van. I thought that she was waiting for me but she just took out a box and placed it on the shoulder and drove off. When I came to the box, I found out that it was a shoe box filled with flip-top cans of food, a tract, and a New Testament. This was a car package for the homeless. Since it was close to noon, I stopped on the side of the road to have the can of peaches and the can of pineapple juice.

About a couple of miles down the road this older couple in a van stopped. They were going through Dadeville and they offered to take me into Dadeville. The ride was okay but it was kind of scary because the guy was chugging beer while driving. I got dropped off in the Methodist Church parking lot. I didn't check everything before my ride took off. I found out that I had lot the cyclometer unit and a water bottle.

I checked out the churches in the downtown area but they were all closed. It took a while finding the police department. The officers were kind of friendly. They called the department chaplain who was the Methodist minister. He was pretty skeptical. He thought that I had faked my letters of reference. He was hesitant in wanting to help me out but since the night temperature was going to get down to 34 he offered to get me a room at the local motel. When he heard me talk about SIFAT, he told me that he was a friend of the director and had gone on a couple of their mission trips. He told me that it wouldn't be worth it for me riding to Lineville and try and see them. It turns out that they had a closed campus policy and they had a screening process before they allow people on to be volunteers. I didn't know this.

The chaplain loaded up Alice in the back of his truck and took me to the motel. The Heart of Dixie motel was kind of run down and operated by some people from India. About an hour and a half after I was in the room, the chaplain came back with a chicken nugget meal from McDs. I was able to call my friend in Murfreesboro, TN to see if he knew of anything going on up there. I was about 260 miles (420 KM) from Murfreesboro. The chaplain told me that I had to turn in the key and tv remote control because there was supposed to be a returning of a $5 key deposit.

October 26 : Dadeville, AL to Alexander City, AL - 17.12 miles (27.39 KM)

I had a somewhat of an off night. Around 2 AM, I got woken up by what I thought was a bug crawling on one of my legs. I checked the bed but I couldn't find anything. I spent the rest of the morning tossing and turning not really getting back to sleep. I checked out of the room around 8:20 A. When I turned in the key and the remote control, I wasn't given a deposit back. The Indian owner told me that the chaplain didn't do it. I don't understand why the chaplain told me that he had done so. I couldn't leave the motel grounds because the rear tire was flat. I checked out the tube and I found a pinhole leak. I was able to get on the road in twenty minutes. I decided to junk the large rear flasher that I've had on the bike since April 15th from Palatine Bridge, NY because it didn't work any more from having it drop on the road quite a few times too many. It was a couple of miles walk into downtown Dadeville. I got back on US 280. After a couple of miles of walking, I stopped alongside the road for a break. I wasn't there less than 10 minutes before two police cars stopped with lights flashing. They had gotten a report that I was sprawled out along side the road from a crash. They told me to move on.

Instead of trying to walk and maybe hitchhike, I would try and ride to Alexander City. I walked up the hills and I rode down the hills and the flatlands. I was surprised that the tire made it but towards the end the bump became a lot more intense. From US 280, it was about a two mile (3 KM) ride into the downtown area.

I got into downtown Alexander City around 2:30 PM. I stopped at the police station. The officers on duty were quite friendly and they invited me into the office. They called their chaplain. He came to the station around 3 PM. He was a lot more friendlier than the chaplain from yesterday. He didn't question my letters of reference. While we were talking, the police officers came out and checked out my problem. I found the front tire flat. I found a long piece of truck wire embedded in the tire. The officers took me to their fenced in area of stolen and found bikes. They wanted to see if any of the tires would fit. We found a bmx that had 20x1.95 tires. Before I had the chance to take one of the tires off, the officers offered to go out to the local Walmart to see if they had any new tires for sale. I was quite surprised when they came back with a brand new 20x2.0 tire and a new thorn-proof tire that had puncture sealant in it. One of the officers loaded up Alice into the station truck and took me one to the motels on US 280 where the chaplain had gone to acquire a room. I can't complain about how many miles I got on the old front tire. I bought it back on July 21 in Essex, Vermont and I had 3,869.03 miles (6,190.45 KM) on it.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to be going back into the downtown area for church. I'm going to see if I could take tomorrow rough. Even though I had ridden under 220 miles (352 KM) from Brent, Alabama, it was a rough week. I'll be riding to Sylacauga and Anniston. When I get to Anniston and I don't hear from my friend in Murfreesboro, I'll be heading East into Georgia, go around Altanta, and check out a ministry in the Augusta area.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between November 02nd and November 09th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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