TRIP 2014

Update #22 - September 25th
Taylorsville, Illinois
Trip : 1,099.42 miles (1,759.07 km)
Year: 9,412.16 miles (15,059.46 km)

The past couple of Mission Trip 44 have been okay. I've gone from riding in the Deep South to riding in the Midwest. I'm about a week away from Sabula, Iowa on the Mississippi River. I'm no sure whether this will be the end point of this year's riding. More than likely, I will be in the Sabula area for at least a month.

September 08 : McDonough, GA to Clem, GA : 77.47 miles (123.95 km)

It was an okay night at the motel. I didn't rain muh during the afternoon and night. There was a lot of thunder. The motel wasn't as busy as it was Saturday night.

I got on the road around 7:30 a.m. I walked passed the interstate before getting on Alice for the ride to Hampton. The sky was pretty overcast so it wasn't as hot as Friday. The ride to Hampton went okay. I rode passed the Atlanta Motor Speedway. I thought that GA 3 was going to be a separate highway but it was on US 19. Most of the way was a divided 4 lane highway but there wasn't much of a shoulder because of a rumble strip.

At Griffin, I got on GA 16. The ride to Senoia went okay. I got into Senoia around 1:30 pm. I didn't feel like stopping so I decided to go on to Newnan. Between Turin and Sharpesburg, the rear tire was starting to go soft. I found a small piece of wire stiking up inside the tire. What concerned me was that I found a spot on the sidewall that looked like it might tear. I glued on a piece of patch on over up the spot. It took about 35 minutes to get the repair done and get back on the road.

This delay hurt me when I got into Newnan. Instead of getting into downtown Newnan before 5 pm, it was around 5:20 pm when I arrived. I didn't think that I was going to find anybody around the churches but I thought that I would try. At the First Baptist church, I met this guy coming out of one of the back doors. At first, the guy was friendly towards me but then he changed. He got really defensive like I shouldn't have bothered him. Even thought I told him that I was minister and that I had spoken during one of the servies at the First Baptist hurh just yesterday morning he was trying to send me to a shelter butt the nearest one was in Atlanta. The guy didn't even want to tell me who he was and what he did for the church. He didn't want to tell me if there were any numbers that I could all to get connected to the pastor. There were several buildings in the area that was part of the church complex but he told me that all of them were on a security system. He didn't like it when I asked him who was really in the head position of the hurh. He didn't like it when I asked him if he knew anything about Matthew 25. What a direct opposite reception from what I had gotten from the Baptist church in McDonough. Here was an example of group of people playing church and just being a country club.

I went over to the Methodist church a block away. I saw a guy coming out of one of the church doors and I caught up with him before he got into his car. He didn't really want to help me. He was more concerned in getting his cat out of the vet's office before it closed. The police station was a couple of blocks away. I was hoping to have as good of an experience as what I had at the police station in McDonough but it wasn't to be. There wasn't anybody there who expressed a christian demeanor but there wasn't. The department didn't have a chaplain. There used to be a ministerial association but it was disbanded several years ago. There was a social center in town but they only could provide a shower and some food but it would only be tomorrow morning. Nobody that I talked to knew a loal minister. There wasn't anything that I could do but to head out.

It was almost 6:30 pm when I headed out. The next town of Carrolton was around 30 miles (48 km) away. There wasn't much in the area but private land and hills and trees. I rode through the small town of Whitesburg but there wasn't muh there and really too late to try and connect with anybody. I got through Whitesburg a little before dusk. I had to stop to get my lights working. I hit a long streth of riding along a ridgeline. Most of the time I had a hill to my left and a steep valley to my right. There were some hills to climb. I couldn't ride them very well since there was a rumble strip. I had to walk up some of the hills and carefully went down some.

It was almost 10 pm when I came across a church outside the small town of Clem. The church was up on a hill. I didn't really want to camp out near the church so it took a while finding a spot in the woods behind and to the south of the church. It was almost 11 pm when I finally climbed into my tent. I had been on the road for a little over 15 hours. I'm about nine miles South of Carrolton and maybe sixteen miles East of the Alabama state line.

September 09 : Clem, GA to Carrolton, GA : 10.12 miles (16.19 km)

It was an okay night camping out. I thought that it was going to rain some during the night but it didn't. I didn't get too cold so I left the sleeping bag and sleep sack in the bag. There wasn't much of daylight in the morning so I didn't know what time it was. I thought that it was at least 6 am when I woke up but it was almost 7:15 am. I was still zonked from the 15+ hour day yesterday so I took my time getting Alice packed up. Even with crossing into the Central Time Zone and gaining back an hour, I didn't feel like going very far. The sky was overcast.

It was almost 9 am when I got back on the road. There were a couple of hills to climb over on the way into Carrolton. I stopped at a BK for some sweet tea and to get on the web. It was around 11 am when I got into the downtown area. I decided to see if I could connect with a pastor. I stopped at the First United Methodist church. Both of the ministers were out for the day, but I did get to talk with the music minister. It turns out that he had recently moved from McDonough back in February and used to be a teacher in the school district and used to be the part time music director at the Methodist church that was next door to the First Baptist church. Scott didn't know of any of the policies. There wasn't a way for me to stay in the church for the night because there was a preschool but he told me that he needed to make a few phone calls. After about 15 minutes, he came downstairs to tell me that the church was going to get me a room at one of the local motels.

Scott took me over to the motel to check me in. The motel was about two miles away. It might be a little bit of a rough night because it looks like the motel is being used as a welfare motel. Some of the rooms are also being remodeled. There was a smoke detector close by my room that was making a loud chirping sound because the battery was going dead in it.

My goal tomorrow is to get as far as either Anniston or Oxford, Alabama. This would be my turning point to start the ride North to Iowa. 884.12 miles to Sabula.

September 10 : Carrolton, GA to Oxford, AL : 62.24 miles (99.58 km)

It was an okay night at the motel. I was able to drown out the chirping from the smoke detector with the battery running out. I got on the road around 7:20 am. The ride North to Bremen on US 27 went okay. In Bremen, I had to find cover for about twenty minutes because of a brief rain shower. After the brief shower, I got on US 78 and headed West to Alabama.

The ride to the Alabama State line went okay even though there was a couple mile section of road construction. It was around noon when I got to the state line but I gained back an hour when I crossed into the Central Time Zone. I had ridden 24 miles by noon EST. During the extra hour, I got another 8 miles (13 km) in so I actually got 32 miles (51 km) in by noon. I stopped at a church between Edwardsville and Heflin for some lunch off Alice.

The ride in the afternoon went okay. I got into Oxford around 4:30 pm. I rode into the downtown area and stopped at the First Baptist Church. I met with the interim minister. I got invited to take part in the family meal. During the Bible Sudy, I got introduced and given the chance to share. This is my 51st church for the year. After the service, one of the deacons took me over to a local motel and got me a room for the night.

Tomorrow is the 13th anniversary of 9/11.

September 11 : Oxford, AL to Leeds, AL : 51.87 miles (82.99 km)

Today is the 13th anniversary of 9/11. I had an okay night at the motel. The only problem was that the room that they assigned me was too far away from the motel's wifi routers so I didn't get a strong signal to get on the network. I woke up early around 4:45 am.

I got on the road around 7:30 pm. The ride westward went okay. There wasn't much traffic because I-20 was close by. I got into the Pell City area around noon. I didn't find a place to stop for lunch. I rode to the spot West of town where US 78 joined I-20. The joining was less than four miles and there really wasn't a way around the gap. I tried getting a ride for about a half hour. Traffic was pretty light at the interchange. I had about a dozen trucks go past me until this guy in a truck stopped to pick me up and took me to the spot outside of Chula Vista where US 78 split off.

Between Chula Vista and Leeds, there were several good downhill coasts. I got into Leeds around 4:30 pm. It took a while finding the Methodist Church. There was a car outside. I found a door open. I ducked into the church long enough to see if anybody was around. I didn't find anybody but I did find a card with the pastor's cell phone number. I called up the pastor but he told me that he couldn't allow me to stay inside because he had to get special permission from the board. I was concerned that it looked like it was going to rain. Before the pastor hung up, he gave me directions to where the First Baptist Church west of town. I got there around 4:50 pm. There was a sign that said that the office closed at 5 pm but there was nobody around. There wasn't any contact phone number. I went back into the downtown area to see if I could find the police station but I found out that it was actually west of the First Baptist church.

I talked with a friendly black guy in the police station. He didn't know of any ministers and he didn't have any contact information. He told me that usually they refer people to one of the shelters in the Birmingham area about ten miles away. When I asked him if there was any place where I could camp out, I was told about some woods that were on the edge of the city park South of town on AL 119. The park was a couple of miles away.

September 12 : Leeds, AL to Jasper, AL : 57.56 miles (92.10 km)

I had an okay night camping out. There wasn't any more rain. Once I got out of the wet clothes into dry ones, I felt a little better. I woke up around 5 am. I got Alice ready a little after 7 am. The ride West to Birmingham went okay. There were several ridge lines that I had to cross over. There was also a four miles section of road construction where the highway surface had been ground down for repaving.

I got into downtown area around 11 am. The ride through the downtown area went okay. I stopped in Pratt City for some lunch. I had a scare when this semi truck rushed onto the shoulder in front of me with a blown out right front tire that was shredding it's tread. The truck missed me by just several feet. The rubber from the tire was flying but nothing hit me.

Around 2:30 pm, I had to stop and find some cover to avoid being in a thunderstorm but the storm passed over me without much rain. US 78 became a divided 4 lane highway west of Forestdale. There were signs saying that this section of US 78 was going to be a future interstate. I didn't see any signs saying that I was on a restricted access highway.

About 12 miles out of Jasper while I was going up a hill the rear tire went soft. I was concerned because it was getting close to dusk. It took about 20 minutes to get the tire up. I found a small piece of glass in the tire. I had to put a large pacth inside the tire to cover up a spot on the tread where it was getting thin. Before starting on the repair, I called up my friend in Saltillo to see if they could come and get me but they didn't. All I got was a cheap prayer.

About a mile or two down the road near an interchange, two police cars pulled up behind me. They told me that they had gotten a report that I had been possibly hit. I was told that I couldn't continue onto Jasper because the highway was in fact an interstate. I didn't know what to do. The road map that I had was pretty scarce in detail. I was thinking that I would just have to find a place to camp out and then try and find a way to get into Jasper tomorrow but this guy stopped and took me into Jasper. I wasn't taken all the way into the downtown area but I was close.

I had to turn my lights on the rest of the way into the downtown area. There was some loud noise nearby. I found the police station. I was told that there was a festival going on nearby and I might be able to find a minister there because some of the local churches had booths. I stopped at the booth of the Woodland Trace Church of Christ. They were pretty friendly. One of the guys was an elder of the church and he told me that if I ould wait till after the festival was over for the night he would take me to a motel near the church where they had an account and get me a room there. I had about a 90 minute wait but I was really close to the stage.

September 13 : Jasper, AL to Hamilton, AL : 59.37 miles (94.99 km)

I had an okay night. I left the motel around 7:50 am but it wasn't until 9:45 am that I left Jasper because I wanted to find a new rear tire tube.

I got on AL 5 for the ride to Natural Bridge. The ride went okay. I got 24 miles in by noon. I stopped for a short lunch break. I got on US 287. The ride to Hamilton went okay. Around 3:30 pm, I got a call from my contact in the Tupelo, MS area telling me that they will not be available to come and pick me up.

The rest of the ride to Hamilton went okay. I got into downtown Hamilton around 5:20 pm. I stopped at the police station. I missed the police cars heading out on patrol by a few minutes. I called up the sheriff dispatcher. Instead of a law enforcement officer, a person with the fire station came over to talk with me. He was able to connect with a local minister and a room at a nearby motel was offered.

September 14 : Hamilton, AL to Hamilton, AL : 01.26 miles (02.02 km)

I had an okay night. I woke up really early but I was able to fall back asleep till 6 am. I left the motel around 8:45 am. I got to the First Baptist Church around 9 am. The church service had started a 8:30 am so I just missed the music at the beginning of the service. The sermon was pretty good. During the invitation at the end of the service, I saw something that I hadn't seen in a very long time. There was a Proclimation of Faith. A little girl came up front with her father wanting to tell the pastor that she had accepted Jesus. I met with the pastor after the service. Instead of letting me stay in one of the church buildings, he offered to get me a room at the motel I stayed at last night. I sat in on the Sr adult Sunday school class that the pastor led. I was given the chance to speak and share. This was my 52nd church for the year. Before going on to the motel, I stayed for the full second service. Before I left the church, the pastor talked to me again and he also slipped me a GH.

There was a laundromat a block away from the motel. I got on my sweatpants and t-shirt and took all of the dirty clothes there. There wasn't a change machine or a soap machine at the laundromat. I had to go to the adjoining gas station to get quarters. As I was walking around the building back to the laundromat, I was stopped by his lady and a guy. By the way that I looked, they thought that I might have been a homeless person. The lady asked me if I was hungry and if I needed a place to stay. She would have probably gotten me something to eat out of the gas station but I told them that I was okay and that I was a minister on tour and I had a place to stay at the motel. The lady introduced the guy as being her pastor. Before they left, the lady slipped me a GH.

Instead of heading North to Florence, I'm going to be riding to Fulton, MS and then head North from there.

September 15 : Hamilton, AL to Fulton, MS : 36.11 miles (57.78 km)

I had an okay night. I woke up really early but I was able to fall back asleep till 6 am. I left the motel around 7:55 am. About a couple of miles down AL 278, I got stopped near the Hamilton City sign by this guy who said that he worked for the city. He had heard about me and wanted to take a picture of me and put it on the city's Facebook page. We talked for a couple of minutes, Before he left, he slipped me a GH of $20.

I finished up AL 278 at the intersection of US 78/I-22. On the other side, I got on Cnty Rd 94. I rode it for about 9 miles. The road name changed to Kent Road. This was at the MS State line but I didn't know it because there was no sign. I made a mistake where Kent Road came to US 78. I should have crossed under US 78 and gotten on US 78 Branch that would join MS 178. Instead, I stayed on Kent Road. Kent Road headed Southwest and went up and over a ridge line. I thought that I was going way out of my way South away from US 78. After riding about 5 miles, I finally got on MS 23. I headed North 2 miles to get back to US 78 and I then traveled about a half mile to get on MS 178 in Tremont. By noon, I had ridden a little over 22 miles.

I stopped at a small country store in Tremont for a short break. About five minutes into my break, this cycle tourist stopped. He had left the Pell City, AL area Saturday morning and was going to Texarkana, TX. It turns out that I ridden past his house Thursday. His bike was a really fany bike with Presta tubes. He had every electric gadget you could have (2 GPS's, a Go-Pro camera, and a wireless tracking device on the back of his bike). We talked for about five minutes and then he sped off. I was really surprised because he was a little overweight. He only had rear panniers and his gear was a lot lighter than mine but he said that he was carrying a full sized laptop.

The ride to Fulton went okay. I got into Fulton around 1:30 pm. My first stop was at a discount ding-and-dent grocery store. I bought quite a few things to fill up my food pannier. I did go passed a Methodist Church but I just saw one car there. I decided to keep on going into the downtown area.

As I was finishing up a circle around a church where I didn't see an office, I got stopped by his friendly lady who had come out of the Mississippi State University County Extension Office. She was going to the bank across the street. Ramona had a cross necklace on. Ramona invited me into the office. She got on the phone and she called around to some of the offices of the churches. After about five calls she connected with the secretary at the Methodist church. It was her car that I had seen. She told me that if I would come to the church office she would arrange for a room at a motel that I had gone passed before getting to the Methodist church. Before I left the extension office, Ramona told me that I should call her to tell her what room that I was in because she wanted to go out and get me a hot meal for supper.

Around 5:30 pm, Ramona came by with a very good chicken dinner, with tea, and a large piece of chocolate cake. I told Ramona that I was planning to ride to Boonesville tomorrow. Ramona told me that she had some contacts at the First Baptist Church in Boonesville and she would make some calls tomorrow and call me if she found some place for me to stay tomorrow night.

September 16 : Fulton, MS to Booneville, MS : 53.72 miles (85.95 km)

I had an okay night. I woke up really early but I was able to fall back asleep till 5 am. I left the motel around 7:30 am. I backtracked for about a third of a mile and then I headed South a couple of miles to US 78 because this was the only way that I could get across the Tom-Tom Canal and the Tombigee River bridges. US 78 wasn't restricted access as it was in Alabama. Before getting on US 78, I stopped at a BK for a light breakfast.

The ride on US 78 went okay. The ride across the bridge over the Tom-Tom Canal was a little hard because on the shoulder there was a lot of wood chips from logging trucks. The shoulder on the Tombigee bridge wasn't cluttered by anything. Traffic was pretty light. I was on US 78 for about 4 miles till the first exit. I got on old MS 78 for a short distance and then I got on MS 361 for the ride to Saltillo.

The ride along MS 361 went pretty well. For most of the way, the road was pretty winding and there were some hills. I got down into the Granny gears and the miles went by pretty quickly. I got the first 20 miles in by 10:40 am. The next ten miles went faster than I had expected. It wasn't that long when I rode passed the Natchez Trace and into Saltillo. I got into downtown Saltillo around noon. Just before coming to US 45, I turned Northwards on MS 145.

Right after I had made my turn, I was surprised at getting flagged down. It was my friend Romona from the extension office in Fulton and another lady from the office. They had gone to the Salvation Army store in Saltillo to deliver some clothes and other things from a store front that they had in Fulton. The clothes were from donations that they had collected after the Spring tornadoes. Romona told me that she had contacted the pastor at the First Baptist Church in Booneville and he had offered to help in finding a place to stay tonight. I needed to contact him when I got closer to Booneville.

The road surface of MS 145 was pretty rough and wash-boardy. I stopped for a break at a gas station in Guntown. The rest of the ride to Booneville went okay. I thought that I was going to get caught out in the open in some rain because the sky got really dark around Baldwin. About seven miles out of Booneville, I got a call from the pastor telling me that he had arranged for a room a the motel across the street from the community college.

I got to the motel around 4:40 pm. Around 6:30 pm, the pastor came by to meet me. I was pretty surprised when he slipped me a McD's giftcard for $50. He also told me that if I wasn't able to find a place to stay tomorrow in Selmer, TN he would try and help me out if I called him. This is if my friend Romona wasn't able to connect with anybody.

I'm hoping to make it to the Ohio River by Saturday. Saturday night, I want to be either in Paducah, Kentucky or across the Ohio River possibly in Metropolis, Illinois.

September 17 : Booneville, MS to Selmer, TN : 41.74 miles (66.78 km)

I had an okay night. It was a hard night to fall asleep because there were some college kids outside drinking and playing loud music. When I woke up, I was surprised that it was 6 am. I got some clothes on and got some breakfast.

It was around 7:30 am when I headed out. The ride North to US 45 was okay. There was some traffic but it wasn't that bad. The ride North on US 45 was kind of hard because there was a small section of paved shoulder to ride along. There was a rumble strip almost 7 inches wide. The free section ranged from just four inches wide to a foot wide.

About 12 miles down the road, I stopped at a gas station/ truck stop for a short break. One of the ladies from the restaurant came out to talk to me. She got the owner of the restaurant out to meet me. I could have gotten a full hot meal for free but I just asked for a couple of biscuits with butter and jelly. I got the first 20 miles in by 10:38 am. I rode through the Corinth area. The shoulder was a little better from Corinth to the Tennessee state line.

At the state line, I stopped to take the traditional pictures of Alice. The shoulder in Tennessee was so much better than what it had been in Mississippi. The shoulder was paved and at least seven feet wide and there were signs designating it as being a bike path. By noon, I had ridden almost 30 miles. I stopped for a break at a gas station in Guys. I got a call from my friend Romona to see how I was doing.

I got into Selmer around 1:50 pm. I rode through the downtown area to the First Baptist Church. The pastor wasn't in but there was a friendly secretary in the office. She called one of the deacons. There was an offer to get me a room at one of the local motels that I had passed coming into town.

September 18 : Selmer, TN to Gibson, TN : 72.22 miles (115.55 km)

I had a pretty good night. The wifi signal was pretty good. There wasn't much of a hot breakfast even though one was advertised. I left the motel around 7:30 am. The ride North went okay. I rode back through town before getting on US 45. I got about 25 miles in by noon time. I stopped for some lunch in Henderson. Right after lunch, the sky was getting really dark. There was a storm geting ready to come through the area but I didn't know where it was or going. I was pretty strange seeing it looking like dusk at 1 pm. Every vehicle pretty well had their lights on.

About 4 miles out of Jackson, there was a real shift in the wind and it felt like it was getting ready to rain real soon. I pulled off the road to get my jacket on. It was a few minutes after that it started to rain. I needed to find over really fast so I went off the highway on the west side to get under the awning of a thrift store that wasn't open. I wasn't that long before the rain started to come down really hard and it started to thunder. The storm was coming from the west so the building was a windbreak. The awning was wide enough so I didn't get wet. About 10 minutes into the storm, there was a loud crack of lighting. I must have hit something really close because the noise of the lap was really loud and I felt the concussion of the eletrified air hitting me. The storm lasted almost an hour. Once the storm had passed, the sky got light again. I waited about 10 more minutes to make sure that the storm had really gone past.

The ride into downtown Jackson took a while. It was around 3:30 pm, when I got into downtown Jackson. I stopped at a couple of churches but there were no ministers available. It was a really long and slow ride through the rest of Jackson beause of all of the traffic and traffic signals.

About 4 miles north of Jakson, US 45 split off into two branhes. I took US 45W towards Humboldt. I got into Humboldt around 5:30 pm.

I stopped at the police station to see if anybody knew how I could connect with a minister. This lady officer started to help me but this group of black people came in to see if they could see his lady's son who had been recently arrested. They were pretty rude beause they weren't able to see the man because the crime was under investigation but the investigating officer was gone for the day and the man had to be held overnight. One of the black ladies tried to use a religious ploy and also told the white lady officer that she was a racist and she mentioned Ferguson, MO. It was a tense ten minutes. They had to call in a blak officer to calm the people down.

I found out that the department didn't have a chaplain and there was no ministerial association. There was a homeless shelter in town but I was told that it wasn't a very safe place. From the station, I went aound the downtown area to see if I could find anybody at one of the churches or some contact information. I happened to find this guy coming out of the Methodist church. It turns out that he was the pastor. He wasn't really helpful. He gave me excuse after excuse. He mentioned the homeless shelter but I told him what I had learned at the police station about it. He got really defensive when I started to quote scripture to him from Matthew 25. He started to yell at me and then he sped off. I wasn't going to try another church. It was almost 6:30 pm and it was going to get dark soon.

I got back on US 45W. It was passed dusk when I got into Fruitland so I had to get my lights turned on. Instead of continiuing on Northwards, I decided to head East to get on US 45E because that is the highway that will go to Fulton, KY. I took a county highway to Gibson. On the ouskirts of Gibson, I came aross a church that was set off away from the highway. Instead of camping out close to the church buildings, I found an opening in a clearing on the edge of the church property where I could be able to put my tent up and not be seen. It was almost 8:30 pm when I got everything into the tent.

September 19 : Selmer, TN to Pryorsburg, KY : 62.32 miles (99.71 km)

I had an okay night even though there were some loud barking dogs nearby. It was cool enough that I had to crawl into my sleeping bag. I woke up a little before daylight and got on the road around 7:30 am. It was less than a mile to get into Gibson. I had to stop at a railroad crossing to wait for a freight train to go past. A lady pulled up next to me in an srv. Through the loud noise of the train going passed, I heard the lady calling out to me and asking why I was on the trip. I told her that it was for G-D. She called out again and told me to come over to the window. I put Alice's kikstand down and walked over to the car. The lady told me that I had give her a good answer and she slipped me a $20 in a GH.

Before getting on AL US 70 to take me to Milan where I could get on US 45E, I stopped at a gas station to get some milk. The ride to Milan went okay and I started my ride to Martin and then on to South Fulton, TN. I got about 29 miles in by noon. Somewhere between Greenfield and Sharon, I stopped at a gas station for a break. I was going to get a small soda but they wanted a dollar for the can. I told them that it was too much and I put the can away back where I had gotten it. I bought some donuts instead. As I was sitting down in the parking lot, eating the donuts, and reading one of my paperbacks, a lady ame out of the store with the can of soda and told me that they had bought the soda for me.

About a mile from the gas station, I started to go up a rise. About three quarters of the way up, the rear tire blew out with a bang. I was really happy that it didn't happen while coasting down a hill. I pushed Alice up the hill a bit until I came across some open grass. I found a hole in the tread the size of a nickle. If it had been a sidewall blowout, I might have been able to do some temporary repair on it but I couldn't repair a hole in the tread. I was expecting that it was going to happen because I had first notied a wear spot when I had gotten the flat tire back on Sep 11th when I almost got stranded about ten miles out of Jasper, Alabama. I was hoping that the tire could have lasted a day or two longer because I was waiting for an online donation to get transferred into my bank account. I had expected too much out of the tire. I had gotten the tire back on July 7th in Paducah, KY. I wasn't sure how long the tire would have lasted because it was only a 40 psi tire. The tire had lasted almost 2,800 miles and it had gone through a lot (bad roads including road construction, and the off road riding along the GAP Trail and the C&O Towpath. Less than a tenth of a mile from me was a restaurant and one of the guys in the kitchen came by with his truck to see if I needed any help. I told him what had happened. We loaded Alice and my gear into his truck and we went to the restaurant. The guy told me that he was going to get off in a half hour and he would then take me into Martin where there was a Walmart. The guy told me that he was a volunteer with the emergeny ambulane servie. When we got to the Walmart, I rushed in to buy a tire. They had a 26x2.125 tire rated for 65 psi that was folded up in a small box for $19.92 before tax. I was going to buy another tube but they were out. I did have a new tube to put in. Before heading out, the guy dropped me off at the back of the store where there was some shade.

I took me about a half hour to get the new tire on and Alice loaded up. The new tire had a white sidewall. I stopped at a nearby McD's for a break before heading out on US 45E. From where I gotten on US 45E, I had about a 11 mile ride to South Fulton. South Fulton is right on the state line of KY and it is a twin city to Fulton, KY. It is just like Texarkana, AR/TX.

They were having some kind of barbecue cookoff in South Fulton. There wasn't any real division (marker) between South Fulton, TN and Fulton, KY. It was around 5 pm and they were having some kind of festival. Instead of having a regular festival, they called the festival the Banana Festival. Sometime during the town's past most of the bananas shipped around the country came through the town in refrigerated box cars. There were kids wearing banana costumes. I stopped to take a picture of Alie at the town sign. As I was doing this, this police sergeant came over to ask me what I was doing. I told him that I was on tour and was just passing through the area. He wanted to put on a show for some people around him so he demanded that I give him my ID card so he could do a background check on me. I told him that I had never had this happen when I crossed into another state before. Once the officer was sure that I wasn't a wanted criminal he let me go on my way. This really soured me against the town. I was going to see if there might have been a Christian church booth but I decided against it. I saw signs for the Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and the Jehovah Witnesses but no Christian booths.

I rode out of the downtown area and stopped at a gas station for something to drink and to fill up my water bottles. US 45 paralled a busy restricted access highway (the Purchase Parkway). I got through the small town of Water Valley okay. In Wingo, I stopped at a Dollar Store that was still open to get some new batteries for my lights. A couple of miles out of Pryorsburg, I found some open woods to camp out in. The only problem was that I was really close to the restricted access highway so I heard all of the vehicle noise. I am about 37 miles south of Paducah, Kentucky.

September 20 : Pryorsburg, KY to Mermet, IL : 55.23 miles (88.37 km)

I had an okay night even though there was a lot of loud noise around me. I woke up a little before daylight and got on the road around 7:20 am. I was about a three mile ride ino Pryorsburg.

I had a good ride to Mayfield. There was a festival going on in the downtown area. There were all things gourds. I never saw so many gourds. The people were a lot more friendlier to me than what they were down in Fulton. There wasn't any police. A guy a one booth gave me a free cup of iced tea. There was a wagon hay ride. What was so interesting about the festival was that there was a group from Murray State College that were playing music using instruments made out of gourds. I took a short video of them. I spent about a half hour at the festival.

From Mayfield, it was a good ride to Lone Oak. There was a good tailwind to push me along and a very good smooth shoulder to ride along. With the wind behind me, I was cruising around 18 to 20 mph. Just before getting to I-24, I stopped for a late lunch at a McD's in Lone Oak. I stopped a police officer and asked him if he knew anything about the bridge across the Ohio River at Paducah. He told me that I had to be a little careful because there was an open mesh bridge.

It was about a five mile ride into Paducah. I rode passed the bike shop where I had gotten the old rear tire. I was a little turned around because the signs for US 45 disappeared. I was going to stop at the bike shop but I met one of the mechanics who was riding to the nearby park to check out a cyclist who was bonking out. The mechanic took me into the park and I was directed to a paved bike path (Greenway) that would take me to the Blue Bridge (the bridge across the Ohio River to Brockport, IL). The Greenway was being developed. I was a little tricky getting from the bike trail to US 45 and the bridge.

The approach to the bridge was okay. There was a bridge and there was a small shoulder. When I got to the bridge, it was a narrow two-laned bridge that had an open mesh road bed. Traffic seemed to be light so I hoped to just take my time and walk across it. It was a little windy and I was having some problem with the big flag. I knew that there was traffic behind me because there was the rumble of the tires on the bridge floor. The motorists were pretty courteous. About two-hirds over the bridge, it got really quiet behind me. I got a glimpse of a police car going slowly behind me with it's lights flashing. I didn't think that I was in any trouble and they were just there for my safety. I tried riding but the front wheel wasn't tracking right so I had to get back to walking.

When I got off the bridge, I got stopped by the police car. It turns out that there were three police cars instead of one. The officer in the front car was pretty upset. He told me that he was almost getting ready to arrest me but since I was across the River and in Illinois he had no jurisdiction over me. I told him that I had been directed by an officer in Lone Oak and the information had been confirmed by the mechanic from the bike shop people. After checking my ID and doing a background check on me, I was let go after about 15 minutes.

A block away from where I had gotten stopped, I saw signs for a bike route that was part of the Ohio River Great River Route. After about a couple of miles riding on roads, I got on the George Rogers Clark Discovery Bike Trail that took me through the Fort Massa State Park. I met up with a guy who was on a cat-trike. He told me that he only rode it up and down the bike trail. He told me that because the trike was so low to the ground he was too scared to ride it on roads.

There was supposed to be a campground near the fort in the park but I probably thought that this was going to be a regular campground with expensive rates. I was going to check it out but I was scared from it by what I found on the bike path about a tenth of a mile passed I-24. Lying in the middle of the bike path was a young racoon. It looked like it was sick. It was splayed onto the pavement and it looked like it was maybe foaming at the mouth and it was using it's paws to clear something away from the mouth. It didn't look up when I carefully rode around it. I was concerned that it was sick with rabies so I called 9-11 to report it.

From the state park, it was a short ride into downtown Metropolis. Near the courthouse, there was this large statue of Superman. Back in 1972, the Superman tv show made Metropolis their home. One of the ladies in town was Louis Lane on the tv show. There was a museum. I stopped at the sheriff station. I talked with the lady over the intercom. She told me that there was no department chaplain and she didn't know any of the local ministers. I went around the downtown area to check out the churches. I found the parsonage of the Methodist church but there was nobody home. I was getting late. The only thing that I could do was to head out and hope to find some place to camp out. It was close to dusk. I found the police station on the way out of town. I stopped there but the officer that I talked to didn't know any of the local ministers. There was a ministerial association but it had been closed down several years ago.

It was about a 20 mile ride to Vienna. A couple of miles down the road, I rode passed a steel plant. There was a strike going on and some of the union members were locked out. There was a railroad on the west side of the highway. I had to turn on my headlights. A couple of miles out of Mermet, I found an open area of free woods. I pulled in to find a place to camp out. I might be a rough night because there was a low rumble from the steel plant and some loud barking of dogs. It was around 8 pm when I crawled into my tent,

September 21 : Mermet, IL to Vienna, IL : 16.97 miles (27.15 km)

I had an okay night even though there was a lot of loud noise around me. I woke up a little before daylight. I was hoping to get on the road a little after sunrise but it started to rain some. The rain didn't last long. I was able to pack up the tent dry but the ground tarp was wet.

It was around 7:20 when I got back on the road. The ride to Vienna went okay. I stopped for a short break and then I started to look for a church. The first church that I saw a sign for was the Methodist Church. I got there the middle of the Sunday school class. I got to meet the pastor. He was prey friendly. The people made me feel welome. This was "National Go Bak To Churh Sunday". Before the sermon, the pastor introduced me and I got to speak for a few minutes. This was my 53rd church for the year. After the service, I got permission to spend the night in the church. There was a wedding at the church yesterday, so the pastor took me to the kitchen and told me that anything was open was fair game and I could pack some things with me.

September 22 : Vienna, IL to Marion, IL : 33.97 miles (54.35 km)

I had an okay night even though I had a bit of a scare around 4 pm. I had crashed on the floor of one of the downstairs Sunday school classrooms. The room was dark but around 4 pm the light in the room came on. The janitor was emptying out of the trashcans. The noise lasted around fourty minutes. I fell back asleep for another hour. I stayed up for about four more hours and then I fell back asleep.

I left the church around 7 am. It was really cool in the low 60s. I headed West for about four miles and then I headed North on IL 37. I hit some really hilly country. Right after the hilly country ended, I rode passed a very large stone quarry and an asphalt plant. From these two places, there was a lot of truck traffic. I was really careful staying lose to the white line to avoid getting hit.

About 10 miles farther down the road, I got flagged down by a state trooper. He told me that they had gotten reports about me riding in the middle of the road but by observing me for a few minutes he told me that I was a very cautious cyclists. For a change, he didn't request my id for a background check.

The rest of the ride into Marion went okay. I got into Marion around 11:30 am. When I saw the population sign of 17,000, I pretty well knew that I wouldn't connect with a compassionate minister. I had the money from the online donation so I figuered that I would try and find a motel room that I could afford. It's been five days since I've slept on a bed and had the chance to take a shower.

The first thing that I wanted to do was to find a McD's to get some lunch. I had lunch and stayed on the internet for a while answering emails. There was an outside patio and I went out there to make a call to a friend. Alice was on the patio. I was getting ready to leave when these two guys came around the building. They both looked like they were under 30 and they looked like they had been through Hell and back. One of the guys had his right arm in a makeshift sling and he was carrying a very large and heavy backpack. The other guy looked like he was injured as well. It turns out that they had been in a car wreck yesterday. They were traveling Westbound on a country road and the sun glare prevented them from seeing that the road ended at a "t" and they didn't stop and hit the embankment on the other side of the road. It was Travis's car. He's 26 and from Georgia. The other guy was Brett who was 19. The car was totaled and the accident was life threatening but the guys walked away from it. I don't understand why they were not in a hospital because Brett's right shoulder was badly injured and Travis might have had a cracked rib or two. Travis's auto insurance didn't want to do anything because there wasn't the right waiver for a one car accident. Both of them looked like they were hungry so I bought them something using my gift card. I also gave them some food from my food pannier. I talked with them about 40 minutes. Travis asked me to pray with them but before I started, Brett's case worker showed up and they went to her truck to talk with her.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to check out what would happen if I stopped at a church and asked for some assistance. The large First Baptist Church was close by. The church took most of a city block. There was a sign on the office door saying that if a person needed some assistance they should call the ministerial association. If it was after business hours, the person should contact the police. There was a camera and an intercom by the locked door. I talked to a secretary and she told me over the intercom that the pastor wasn't in the office. I was thinking that the secretary was going to contact the ministerial association to try and connect me with another minister but a guy came out to talk to me. He told me that I should go to a homeless shelter that some church members ran. I didn't discuss with the guy if he thought that this is how his pastor should be treated if he was in another town and needed some assistance. What a showing that this church wasn't a compassionate church.

I rode over to the interstate to check out the motels. I stopped a one that I thought would have reasonable rates. The motel was a little run down but it was in the process of being renovated. The only problem was that the room was on the second floor. I'm about 400 miles away from my friend's house.

September 23 : Marion, IL to Du Quoin, IL : 40.53 miles (64.85 km)

onsidering how run down the room was, I had a bit of an okay night. I took my time getting everything downstairs. I was on the road a little after 8 am. It was cool but not cool enough to put on my jacket. I headed West on IL 13 to Carbondale. It was a little tricky because there was road construction. There was at least a yard drop to the right side of the road where they were making another lane. About halfway through, I stopped for a break.

Near the downtown area, I turned Northwards on US 51. By noon, I had only ridden 23 miles. The ride was a little tricky because there wasn't much of a shoulder.

Six miles out of Du Quoin, I passed the 70,000 mile mark on Alice. I got into Du Quoin around 1:30 pm. I stopped at the First Baptist Church. The pastor told me that there was a ministerial association and I should go to the police station to get a motel voucher.

September 24 : Du Quoin, IL to Vandalia, IL : 82.69 miles (132.30 km)

It's been a while being in one but this motel was most definitely a "roach motel". As soon as it started getting late, the roaches started to roam. A really big one came out from underneath the tv set. There were a couple of them in the bathroom. They weren't nearly as bad as having the room catch on fire. The light behind he bed was unplugged so I plugged it into the electrical outlet next to the bed. Right after I put the plug into the outlet, there was a loud bang and a puff of smoke coming out of the outlet. I unplugged the light quickly and hunkered down to see if there was any evidence of a fire. There wasn't. To get the room reasonably dark, I had to hang one of the bath towels on top of the venetian blind in the door.

My bioclock woke me up early around 4:30 am but I was able to fall back asleep till around 5:30 am. I left the motel around 7:20 am. I backtracked into town. Along the way, I stopped at the McD's for a light breakfast.

The morning ride on US 51 went okay. I got the first 20 miles in by 10:00 am. I stopped along the way, to check out some sheep. There were 20 or so sheep that were scattered around the fenced in enclosure yard. By "baahing and maahing" like a sheep, I was able to get them all together in a group and within nine feet of where I was. There was this one alpha ewe that looked like it had gotten sheered on one just one side it's body and on the other side was a really large piece of fleece hanging down.

By noon, I had ridden 32 miles. I was going to stop for the day in Centralia but I decided to keep on going because I had a good tailwind to push me along. Another reason was that I had seen a sign telling me tha the population of the city was over 10,000. Usually, I'm happy to get 40 miles in by a least 2 pm but I had them done by 1:20 pm. I stopped alongside the road near Junction City to get something to eat off Alice. I took about a 20 minute break. About a tenth of a mile from where I had stopped, I spotted a nice small flashlight that still worked in some tall grass on the edge of the road.

Somewhere near Vernon, I found something more better than the flashlight. Right before going passed a high school, I spotted a pair of white tennis shoes. Usually, I only spot one of them (the right one because sometimes people lie back in their seat and have their feet sticking out of the window and one of the shoes fall off). They were under a railing. Out of curiosity, I stopped to check them out. I was really surprised at finding out that they were my size. They looked pretty good and there was just a little wear near the toes. They were a lot better than the shoes that I had on. I had gotten them from a thrift store between Poughkeepsie and Lake Katrine, New York way back in mid April. I had put almost 6,000 miles on them. I did a road side swap after taking out the new shoe laces that I had put on my old pair.

The rest of the ride into Vandalia went okay. I got into Vandalia around 6 pm. I stopped at a Dollar Store to get a few groceries. I went around town to check out the churches to see if they were going to have an evening service. I stopped at the Methodist Church first. They were just having choir practice. I was told that the pastor was new but he wasn't there. I was given directions to the First Baptist Church. Instead of a regular church service in the sanctuary, they had this prayer time - Bible study in one of the classrooms. Before the Bible study, I was given the chance to talk. This was my 54h church for the year. The Bible study was on James. The pastor wasn't around. The people who led the Bible study invited me to spend the night with them.

September 25 : Vandalia, IL to Taylorsville, IL : 55.24 miles (88.38 km)

I had an okay night at Walter's and Mary's house. I was able to get all of my dirty clothes and sleeping bag washed. I was able to fall asleep around 10 pm and I woke up around 4:40 am. Mary packed up a bag of small goodies for me to take along. I got on the road around 7:40 am. It was really wild that Waler appeared in front of me about eight blocks from their house. He wanted to give me an envelope that had a GH in it.

I got back on US 51 for the ride to Pana. The ride went really well. I got the first 30 miles in about 11 minutes after noon. The rest of the ride into Pana went okay. I stopped at a McD's for lunch and to get on the web. As I was getting ready to leave, this guy on a bike showed up. He told me that he was from Taylorsville and he came to Pana on a paved rails to rails route. It was a little tricky getting to the trailhead so he offered to take me here and then rode with my to Taylorsville. The trail was a little rough in places so it was a little slow. Even with the condition of the trail, it was a lot better trying to ride on the highway with all of the grain truck traffic. The corn harvest was well underway in the area. Halfway down the trail, the guy asked me if I wanted to have some more PR. He knew somebody at the newspaper in Taylorsville. We had to get to the newspaper before 5 pm. We got to the newspaper office around 4:40 pm.

After the interview, I tried to connect with a loal minister. I stopped at the sheriff offie but the corrections officer that I talked with didn't know of any local minister. I went over to the police station. I talked with a friendly sergeant. He was able to connect with the minister who was in charge of the ministerail association. The only problem was that he was out of town and he wouldn't be back until till a few hours later. When the minister met me at the police station, he led me to a local motel and got me a room for the night.

The next trip update should be posted sometime between October 03rd and October 10th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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