Day 43 Beaufort, SC to Savannah, GA 53 miles 745 feet
Today was slated to be a short ride so the gang left at a civilized hour. I spent an hour or so after breakfast wondering around the historic area around our hotel. Beaufort was chartered in January 17, 1711, as the second oldest city in South Carolina.
Many original buildings from the 18’th and 19’th centuries are still standing and in use along the waterfront.
I found an amazing place for Hobbits Second Breakfast
Unfortunately it wasn’t open yet. I hopped on my bike and road out of town to meetup with the gang at mile 37 where the guides were planning to shuttle us through a 5 mile stretch that was considered unrideable. Apparently it was an elevated road with one lane in either direction, no shoulder, a steep embankment, and a steel grid bridge at the end. At 5 miles it was too long to block the single lane of traffic with a bike convoy, so the plan was to load the bikes on the roof rack and shuttle the riders across. I was not convinced that I would need a shuttle but chose, a la Captain Ron, to wait till I got out on the water to figure it out. The ride out of town wrapped around the Beaufort River and passed under many trees covered in Spanish Moss.
We would ride across no less than 7 bridges along the route. The longest bridge, at over a mile, spanned the appropriately named, Broad River.
We road mostly on SC-170, a 4-Lane, high speed highway with little to no shoulder. What does South Carolina have against putting shoulders on highways? Under these conditions, I rarely took my eyes off the road to enjoy the scenery, not that there was much to see but swamps and marshland. Occasionally the highway wound through some farmland and I was amazed at the conditions of some buildings apparently still in use.
I only had 2 water bottles with me as I was planning to meet our van at mile 36 to grab food and water then assess the need for a shuttle. I had just passed mile 30 when I received a text which changed those plans. Our van needed to divert back to mile 25 to help a rider with a flat. I could wait around or continue on my own. I didn’t much feel like waiting and felt I could make it the remaining 23 miles on the water I had with me. I still did not know what to expect on the elevated road but figured I would somehow manage. As I approached the beginning of that section I noticed the road was called Alligator Alley, which I thought was quite appropriate for a causeway over a swamp. It reminded me of Shark Valley in the Florida Everglades, which has no sharks but lots of alligators right on the bike paths.
When I was all done riding this section I wondered what all the fuss was about. It was flat as a pancake, straight as an arrow, and you could see a mile in each direction. Back home, when I ride Highway 1 from Carmel to Big Sur, you climb and descend a few thousand feet on twisting roads with hairpin turns and limited visibility. Along Highway 1, instead of the “steep embankments” you have sheer cliffs that drop 1,000 feet to the Pacific Ocean. I rode the way I always ride in these situations, I took the lane, pedaled hard, and kept my line to force cars and trucks to pull around me, which they all did. Not a single one even complained. I did have a semi driver coming from the other direction honk at me in disgust, I kept my feelings about him to myself. I crossed the Little Black River into Georgia and rode around a mammoth wood processing mill.
I turned onto GA-30, a four lane high speed road and immediately noticed what Georgia had that South Carolina lacked, SHOULDERS, praise the lord. The route had us on this road for about 5 miles with a few gratuitous turnoffs to “avoid” the highway. I chose to stay on the highway and just ride the shoulder, it was full of gravel and truck debris but quite wide. It turns out that the final turnoff was not gratuitous, it prevents you from entering an elevated freeway. By the time I realized this it was too late to reverse course so I simply rode the freeway, something I have done many times before, till the next exit which dropped me fairly close to the road I was supposed to be on. I arrived to the hotel too early to checkin so I asked for a good lunch recommendation. They suggested the Crystal Beer Parlor, 301 W Jones St, just two blocks from my hotel, what could be wrong with that. It was a crowded “locals place” so there was a 20 minute wait for a table but the bar was open so I grabbed a cold Blue Moon while I waited. The 20 minutes vanished in a heartbeat as I quaffed my wheat beer. In addition to their regular menu there was a special Oktoberfest menu. I went with the Jagerschnitzel, a breaded pork cutlet topped with smoked ham and Swiss cheese, slathered with Hunter Sauce and mushrooms. After over 50 miles on 2 bottles of water and a couple of peanut bars, I could eat a horse. The schnitzel was much better, very rich and a bit on the heavy side, but full of the calories my body craved. We would go back for dinner as a group where we ordered much more variety.
After lunch I set off on foot towards the Savannah River, about a mile away. I stopped at Franklin Square and noticed a statue commemorating the October 9, 1779 Battle of Savannah.
I walked through the North Historic District where many tourists were out and about.
I passed a bakery I’m sure my Jack Russel would have loved to visit.
It was quite hot and kids were romping in the fountain in Ellis Square.
As I approached the riverfront I had to choose between some very ancient, very steep stairs, with a warning sign, or a block long cobblestone ramp. I chose the ramp.
The riverfront park contained many restaurants facing the view of the river as well as the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, and many nautical sculptures.
Walking back to my hotel I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the early 20’th century architecture and buildings of the same era in New York City’s SOHO District.
In spite of, and directly in front of highend shops catering to well healed tourists, is the evidence of the ravages of drug addiction and homelessness.
Thirteen states down, 2 more to go.
Feet Climbed 80,647
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia
For more details on my route, see my Strava Link