We biked a final 56 miles on the East Coast Greenway on Friday and crossed one state line (an unmarked spot between South Carolina and Georgia) to reach Savannah.
The day started with a ride to the end of the delightful (and expanding?) Spanish Moss Trail in Beaufort and ended with — what else — a rain shower while we were grabbing lunch in Savannah.
The route included a stretch on a no-name side path of a trail along the Okatie Highway (maybe SC 170). Nothing scenic but definitely utilitarian, and we encountered plenty of cyclists going the other way. Hey South Carolina, that’s a sign of hidden demand. How about a bit more?
Alligator Alley has a scary name, but in the end I found it not that fearsome. No alligators sighted, for one. Traffic didn’t seem horrible, or maybe that’s because we had a support vehicle behind us. The road surface, though, was pretty awful, and of course there was no shoulder. Let’s see … lowest gas taxes in the nation, so little cash + road where poor people live = low on the priority list?
We continued our habit of riding in packs, sometimes splitting into a faster group and everyone else, in part to make it easier for motorists to pass. In this group, I can qualify as fast. The slower group got a police “escort” for a few miles once we hit Georgia, though from what we heard, he was pretty far in front.
So where did that crazy smell like rotten bananas come from? Is it somehow related to the paper mill we passed in Port Wentworth? The sugar refinery? And wow, those shipping containers piled seven high or more as we passed the port. But sorry, pack riding means skipping the photo ops.
But it means we took the back entrance into Savannah and didn’t really see its beauty. Next year?
Final tally: 320 or so miles in six days, plus 60 on Day 0 and my 70 or so over two days on the Virginia Capital Trail. Given the amount on crud on the shoulders — chunks of blown truck tires, nails, bolts, wood and more (plus road kill), it shouldn’t be a surprise that 13 riders — more than one in three — got flat tires, some more than one. And eight took a spill at one point, also way more than normal. Fortunately I was not in either camp.
One pleasant surprise: I saw very few Confederate flags, maybe one a day. I know we were on main roads for a lot of the time, but we did go past plenty of homes and businesses. And I saw many, many U.S. flags. Maybe times are finally changing.
I’ve now ridden the www from Newark NJ to Savannah, plus 350 or so miles in Maine and good chunks of the route in Connecticut and New York. The truth is that this was the least scenic of them all, given the need to stick with your pack, and definitely more of an assessment of the existing (mostly interim) route. There are definitely prettier places to ride. We saw two touring companies in Savannnah — Backroads and VBT — and those riders do a lot of shuttling and not much riding in their week between Charleston and Savannah. Now that sounds like a gussied-up sightseeing tour.
As for me, do I do the next two rides and reach Key West?
Oh, and the excitement wasn’t over just because we boarded a bus to head back to Wilmington. A hawk hit the windshield and cracked it into hundreds of pieces. Pro tip if this ever happens to you: slow down and buy a big roll of clear tape to hold everything in place. That got us back safely.