Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bicycling from Ridgeway, SC to somewhere near Leesville, South Carolina( November 24, 2014)



61.29 miles in 5:46....(199.93 total miles this trip)....I woke up on Monday morning, after resting, waiting out a record rainfall that occurred yesterday. It rained nonstop, all day, into the night, and almost two inches of rain fell on us. The good side of all this is that my legs got some rest, and the weather front brought in above average temperatures, for the first time since early November. It was a nasty cold streak that broke records all over the east, but now IT finally broke. At eight in the morning, the roads were still wet, but it was above 60 degrees. It was supposed to go to 75 degrees, but it didn't make it to much over 70, but I will take that! It was great to ride in shorts and one top, rather than three or four layers of tops. I was prepared to do battle with the 15-25 mph headwinds that we were supposed to have, which is why I wanted to get on the road early. There was a breeze, but it never materialized to the brisk speed that they predicted. What a difference a day makes, as I climbed about 2500 ft, just like my last ride, and I supposedly had wind that was stronger than my last ride, and I went further, but my legs felt really good for the first time. I guess it only took three days to shake out the rust. I hope that the worst is over, because the first three rides of this trip had me thinking that I might be too old for this stuff. The temperature hovered between 63-70 all day, and there was constant cloud cover. The frustrating thing is that for most of the day, I could see blue skies to the north, over my right shoulder, but the sun only popped out on me for a total of about five minutes. It did come out for a few minutes as my ride was winding down, only to be followed immediately by thunder, lightning, and a very wet last half hour of pedaling. It had spit rain about four times during the ride, but only that one dousing.
As far as the trip itself, US21 brought me about 25 miles, all the way into Columbia. It was a nice, rolling, ride, through small town after small town, passing a Baptist church about every three miles. We are obviously in the heart of southern Baptist country. There were also a couple of historical markers that I stopped to read, that had to do with the civil war, and segregation in this area.
Once I got into Columbia, I found the University of South Carolina Gamecock campus, which was only a mile or two out of my way. I was surprised that there were no bike lanes on the roads of Columbia, like there were in Charlotte. Maybe I was just unlucky, or maybe Columbia is just not as biker friendly. The campus of USC seemed to be enclosed by a wall, separating it from the town, the campus has winding brick trails everywhere, through landscaped gardens and open spaces, highlighted by the original campus, called the Horseshoe, because of its shape. It's a 300 yards long and 100 yards wide open space, with a brick horseshoe  shaped sidewalk, surrounding a grassy area with old trees. I'm sure it is beautiful in the spring, but now, in November, the grass is brown, with fallen leaves covering everything. I found the baseball and basketball arenas, but I guess the football stadium is off campus, and I didn't see it. I spent about an hour cruising around aimlessly. 
As I crossed the surprisingly wide Congaree River, a nice bike lane  appeared on the road leading to the bridge, and I followed it through the town's of West Columbia and Cayce. When I came into town, north Columbia was the older, more run down area, but West Columbia and Cayce seemed to be the newer suburbs. I eventually rode on Platt Springs Rd, for about 15 miles as I headed away from Columbia. It was a nice five lane road, with the bike lane that I previously mentioned. Eventually, it was reduced to two lane, right about the time traffic was picking up because high schools were getting out. Then, Platt Springs Rd veered to the left, off the main road, and became chip seal. Not a good thing. After about a mile of chip seal, the pavement suddenly ended, and the road became sand. I had a few stern words for my GPS girl, because she led me there intentionally, when she didn't have to. I would have ended up walking through the sand, so I stood up for myself, and refused to follow the road. When I turned around, GPS girl didn't say a word, which makes me think she knew I was pissed. When I got back to the asphalt road, she gave me the proper directions, and we were on our way. Totally unnecessary for her to pull that crap, but she is a brat. From that point I rode about five miles until I found the other end of the sand road where I would have come out. I probably would have ended up walking about four miles in the sand, in my bike cleats. Thank God I refused to go into that sand. The sand road was not the only one I saw, as it seemed that most of the roads that left the main roads were sand. Not dirt and sand, but serious beach sand. That is really surprising to me, considering we are so far from the ocean, and hadn't seen sand like that anywhere else. 
As I mentioned before, the last few miles of the ride were done in a downpour, and as I approached the campground, I did start to see some farm land. Most was fallow, but there was one field where they were harvesting something, either cabbage or broccoli, but the field was sand. Crazy.
The day was topped off with an incredibly unique campground that Pam had pulled into. She told me that she couldn't get out of the RV because a pit bull was growling at the front door, so she called the owner. The owner came over on a gator (yea, the John Deere type), and showed her a buck (the deer) that was on a dog chain and tied to a tree at the camp hosts trailer. That is a new one on us. The host trailer had broken windows in it, and some windows had rebel flags for curtains. Many trucks and tractors littered the yard. All in all, a rednecks paradise. $25 a night. We'll take it. I do have to make a comment about the interstate roads around Columbia - they are terrible!  They are bumpy, pitted and a very rough ride.  Just saying.....

Ridgeway has plenty of civil war history

Beauregard's headquarters is now town hall

US 21 went through one small town after another

Best gasoline price in the USA!!!  Filled up the bike!

Leaves are still falling!  All the Bermuda grass is brown.

Columbia, SC is home to the University of South Carolina

Looks like Obama has a back-up plan!

US 21 coming into downtown Columbia

Yep!  We are in the South!!!

The entrance to the "other" USC

Campus is filled with brick paths and landscaping

The "Horseshoe", contains USC's original buildings

Mike saw a game here in the early 80s

Baseball is king right now!

Inside the stadium

South Carolina state flag

TIGGER IS DEAD??!!!  NO!!!!

GPS girl did it again!!!

This is where I would have come back onto the pavement.

There are alot of lakes in this area


A common sight

Our campground

Walking around the pond at Cedar Pond Campground


The campground deer on a leash!

Ever see a deer with a collar????

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