• gfeldstein

Day 40 Myrtle Beach, SC to Georgetown 46 miles 666 feet

This morning started off downright frigid, much colder even than our rainy days in Maine over 5 weeks ago. It was so warm yesterday that I packed all of my warm clothes into dead storage in our trailer, figuring that I would no longer need them. Luckily I kept one wool base layer and a pair of lightweight leggings. There was some disagreement last night as to todays wind direction, with 2 of us convinced it would be a NNW tailwind, and 1 willing to wager a bottle of wine that we would suffer a strong SW headwind. The tailwind contingent won the bottle of wine, unfortunately, along with the strong tailwind from the north, the temperature dropped over 20 degrees. At our breakfast pre-ride meeting we came up with a strategy for a particularly sketchy section of the ride. The total ride today was only 46 miles but the last 6 would be on US 17, a high speed divided highway and bridge crossing into Georgetown. The highway was reported to have minimal if any shoulder and deep rumble strips cut into the white fog line. Some folks simply preferred to ride in the van while the rest opted to ride as the van followed closely behind to protect us from overtaking vehicles. This is a strategy that is used extensively in RAAM and RAW where thousands of miles are ridden on high speed highways. We agreed on a time and place for all riders to meet for the convoy. We had one additional surprise at breakfast, our hotel was directly on the path of the Myrtle Beach Marathon, with all traffic, included bikes, prohibited from riding on our street. We made some minor changes to the early part of the route and the slower riders headed out first so we could try and arrive at our rendezvous point at about the same time.

As I rolled along our detour around the marathon, I rode past a miniature golf course filled with life size zebra statues. We had a saying back in Medical School, “When you hear hoof beats, think of horses, not zebras!” In my case I had a real life experience that showed the exception to that rule. Around October of 1999, shortly after my family moved to Ojai, I was barbecuing an early dinner as both kids were home from school with one bug or the other. As I was flipping the burgers on the grill I noticed a guy, dressed like the Marlboro Man, riding a horse on the road in front of our house. He was leading a mule and a zebra behind him. I called out to my wife, the real animal lover in the house, who said it was way to early to be drinking. I insisted that there really was a zebra and I had had nothing to drink but an espresso a few hours ago. She ran out to the driveway and hopped in our Jeep to investigate. At that point the rider along with his herd crossed off the road onto the trail that ran through our property. I knew that my wife, heading down our driveway, would not cross paths with the zebra, and she would never believe me. I had no choice but to abandon my burgers to burn on the grill and chase the rider down the trail. I caught up with the rider and asked if he could bring his herd up for my kids to see and even offered to feed him and his animals. He declined the offer of food but was happy to follow me back to my house. Rather then walking back up the trail I had him follow me up the embankment to the main road. I was about 50 feet ahead of him as I saw my wife driving back up the road and waving her fist at me. As soon as rider and herd crested the embankment and into my wife’s view, her expression changed from anger to hysteria. My children came running out of the house in their pajamas to pose with and pet the zebra. I later came to learn that it was quite common to encounter usual animals in Ojai.

Today’s route criss crossed east and west over US 17 to limit our exposure to the high speed traffic. Several of our trips on the eastern side had us riding along the ocean. The prettiest stretch was on Pawleys Island where large private homes were squeezed between the Atlantic Ocean and a tidal estuary that flows into the Intercoastal Waterway. They all had hundred yard long wooden walkways over the estuary to docks perched on open water for boating.

We must have ridden through at least a half dozen golf courses with folks busy pursing Mark Twain’s least favorite pastime.

Many of the roads today had the type of shoulder we were concerned about on US 17, not the kind you want to ride on.

We all congregated at the rendezvous point over about a half hour period and cued up for our escort on US 17. A few folks decided to ride in the van while the bulk of us lined up two abreast to ride directly in front of the van. As they would say in the Tour de France, we were riding “grupo compacto.” We rode at a calm 14mph pace, which required almost no pedaling given the brisk tailwind, but enabled us to ride together safely. Over our 4 mile escort we must have been passed by several hundred cars and trucks without a single complaint. A few drivers slowed down and gave us cheerful honks or waved and congratulated us as they drove by. In reality, as I examined the shoulder, it was not as bad as had been described and could have been easily ridden with caution, it was still fun to ride two abreast on the highway.

Georgetown was originally settled by Spanish explorers in the 16’th century. It was the first European settlement in North American to have African slaves. The settlement failed due to a fever epidemic compounded by a slave revolt. By the 18’th century Georgetown had become an agricultural center, initially with indigo and ultimately with rice. By the mid 19’th century, the region around Georgetown produced 1/2 of all the rice produced in the United States. Rice production is extremely labor intensive so the Civil War began to hamper production and the reconstruction period decimated it when the enslaved peoples were set free. In the 20’th century the region switched to lumber, steel, and eventually chemical production. There were no major Civil War battles in Georgetown, so many of its fine period homes still stand.

I rode through town today in search of lunch and as luck would have it, arrived for the final day of a wooden boat show.

The crowning event of the boat show was the annual cardboard boat race. Entrants, mostly high school students, came from upwards of many hundreds of miles away, to race their homemade cardboard boats in the competition. The entires were fist judged for their appearance but ultimately they had to be raced on the Sampit River which runs right through town. A crowd of several hundred huddled on the boardwalk at the Harborwalk Marina to witness the competition. The students donned life jackets and climbed onboard their entrants to race one another. Several sank as soon as they hit the water but all the students survived and a grand time was had by all.

Dinner was at Graham’s Landing On Front, 929 Front St, Georgetown, a seafood restaurant, the food was actually pretty good, the service was abominable. We were the only guests and it took nearly 2 hours for our dinners to arrive.

Twelve states down, 3 more to go.

Cumulative Totals

Miles 2,097

Feet Climbed 77,707

States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina

For more details on my route, see my Strava Link

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