81 Miles - Battle Mountain Climb; Cullman, AL; Ride Through Rain In North Central Alabama - March 30, 2011
With yesterday's disappointing mileage, all night I thought about having a better ride.
In fact, while in bed, frequently I said this prayer, "God, let's go really far tomorrow. Come with me." :)
Torrential rainfall (left photo) pounding on the motel's roof woke me up at 6:15 a.m.
The official forecast called for rain in the morning but for it to stop by the afternoon.
By 8 a.m., it hadn't rained for 90 minutes, and so I gave it a go.
Now, if yesterday my negative attitude had me thinking the worst about the weather, today was the opposite.
I was so driven and determined to ride far that it had me believing the best.
The sky was dark and gray ...
... and about ten miles in, it began to rain.
It was a light drizzle for 15 minutes, then it came down harder.
But I didn't care. I was mentally tougher and had more energy.
Unlike yesterday, I didn't eat anything that would slow me down. The rain be damned!
A blurry shot as I cycled up Battle Mountain in rain.
A beautiful waterfall beside the road.
And then there was a climb.
A local told me I'd go over a place called Battle Mountain,
and I'm certain he spoke of this. For about 2-3 miles, I grunted up this massive hill like
I was climbing a mountain pass in Colorado.
The rain fell even harder as I suffered in "granny gear."
Soaking wet, I noticed drivers in the oncoming lane looking at me. No doubt, I was a spectacle.
At the summit was the town of Battleground, and I took cover at a convenience store on the right.
After 15 minutes, the rain's intensity dropped and I went on my way.
My bike against a window at Jack's with a bright yellow covering over the trunk box.
West Point, Alabama
Once I was back on the bike, the rain seemed to come down hard again,
and my speedomoter and odometer stopped working - a common occurrence when it becomes wet.
Seven more miles brought me to West Point, AL. Again, I stopped
to take cover, this time at a Jack's Restaurant.
Well, the rain continued to fall, and after about 30 minutes,
I mustered the courage to go back outside and ride. The rain didn't matter anymore,
as I was so wet as it was, and Cullman wasn't too far.
Cullman Liquidation Center - Cullman, Alabama
At the time, I didn't realize it, but somewhere on Highway 157 between
West Point and Cullman, I passed Cullman Liquidation Center, a mobile home business.
I am a big fan of YouTube sensations Rhett and Link and weeks after my trip,
I discovered this hilarious and semi-serious
commercial they did about Cullman Liquidation. If I had seen this video before,
maybe I would have stopped by to say "hi," although I'm sure they get a lot of
frivolous communication because of the popularity of this epic and honest ad! :)
If you live in north Alabama and you're looking to buy an affordable home, you might want to check them out:
My bike on the bridge over Interstate 65.
The rain stopped for good when I reached Cullman.
Now today's date was March 30, 2011. This was
only weeks before a tornado hit downtown Cullman on April 27
as part of the April 25-28 tornado outbreak that hit the southern states,
the worst damage happening in Tuscaloosa. Then, in the next month, Joplin, Missouri was hit hard by
a massive EF5 tornado on May 22.
I rested, ate lunch and used the restroom
at the Piggly Wiggly on the north side of Cullman, at 35 miles.
The skies were dreary, the air damp and cold. I'm certain the average cyclist would not have been riding today,
but I wasn't in an average mood. I was determined to make this a longer riding day.
Gadsden was the next town with lodging at 45 miles ahead, and I went for it.
By the way, do you know what you get when you mix orange and light blue Powerade? You guessed it.
Forest green Powerade! :)
Looking back at a sharp "up and down" I biked through.
Onward I went, traveling east on Highway 278. The road's shoulder was narrow
on this two-lane road all the way to Gadsden. Plenty of
tractor-trailer traffic whizzed passed me, including a few smelly chicken trucks.
Although the rain stopped in Cullman, road puddles and droplets coming off the front wheel sprayed my shoes.
My feet and socks were very wet, and I made a critical mistake:
Over my cycling socks were my other pair, my thicker black socks,
meaning both socks had become soaking wet.
Thus, I bought a 2-pack of thick black
construction socks at a Dollar General in Holly Pond. The dry socks helped, but only for awhile.
Near the end, the humidity made my toes feel just as cold as before.
All in all, this was a long, cold and miserable ride.
Somewhere on Highway 278, my odometer started to work again.
At one point, I noticed the grand total at 4,999 miles, the total since buying the bike in 2008,
but I didn't bother to stop at 5,000. I was too focused on ending this ride and
another stop would only prolong it. That was the kind of mood I was in.
Near Walnut Grove, I remembered my overnight prayers about asking God to come with me today. I chuckled and
gave a follow-up prayer, "Nooooo. Stay inside, God.
There's no point in both of us being wet and cold." :)
My camera took a beating from the rain and dampness.
The lens had fogged up, making a number of shots fuzzy like this one.
When I reached Attalla, a town adjacent to Gadsden, I knew I had arrived. Relief!
A plate of food at a Chinese buffet near the motel.
When I saw a cluster of motels and restaurants at the intersection with
Interstate 59 in Attalla, I was done.
81 miles. 25 miles of it in rain. This may have been the craziest
ride of my life.
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