194 Mile Round Trip

Today’s ride had several firsts of firsts. I planned the ride the capture two Tour of Honor sites and take pictures of two local Veteran Memorial sites that could possibly be used for future Tour of Honor sites. All told, I rode 194 miles today and even did about 60 of them on the Interstate.

The first stop was just 15 miles south of my home. I figured that since I’d passed it on several of my previous rides and it could be used in the future for a Tour of Honor site, I figured I’d go ahead and get a shot of it. Since I’ve seen several pictures of sites just off a curb, I thought I’d take a picture from the highway side. The speed limit at the point is 35 MPH and traffic is normally light on Sundays. I haven’t ridden through here during a weekday, so I can’t speak about what would be normal. I did go to the center turn lane to take the shot (no traffic!).

Memorial site in Ludowici, Georgia

After taking this shot, I headed east for the Tour of Honor site at St. Simon’s Island east of Brunswick, Georgia. I’d ridden part of Hwy 57 during my local 30-minute plus loops to work the skills, but not all the way to Hwy 17. This really was going into uncharted territory. Although I had gone down 17 to Brunswick before, it was a ride-along (Captain, My Ride Captain) and we avoided a lot of the heavier traffic (until we found it all on the “Peached to Beaches Yard Sale” along Hwy 25).

I had driven to St. Simon’s Island before, but forgot that there were three left-turn lanes going to the island. My first “lesson learned” moment for this trip was that I was in the middle lane with cars all around me. It would have been better to be in the left-most of the lanes turning rather than the middle. At least I was not in the right most lane. That one merged left just after the turn and would have been bad news if I were not seen by the pickup in that outside lane. Thoughts from my riding course came back loud and clear: “Ride as if you are invisible.” Even wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket and being as big as I am, I fully understand that I am mostly invisible on the bike.

The next trick part of the ride was the wind (more like turbulence) at the top of the bridges. I’ve driven in some heavy cross winds before, but this was really nerve-wracking. All I could think about was being blown off the bridge. Not a good way to go!

Once I got onto the island, the ride was wonderful! The scenery is what I ride for and this was the best yet. Although traffic to the beach was heavy, it flowed well. I did have to pull over to consult the phone (map) because I do not have an energized mount for it. Yet… Anyway, I could see the tip of my target (the lighthouse), but had to circle around to get to it. To easy! I learned that slow-speed skill during the Riding Academy course. Only without the sand! I have been really good about watching for loose gravel and other debris on the road. Trust me, sand is EVERYWHERE!

Tour of Honor Site GA006 at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia

A while back there was a story about a car carrying ship that had flipped over on its side. There are several theories on what happened. I tend to lean towards a U-turn in the middle of the channel gone wrong. Here a shot from near the where I took the picture of the lighthouse. The news stories showed the bottom, this is the top, or side now.

Did you have to make that U-turn so fast?!?

Just as I got back on Hwy 17 heading north, the fuel light came on (another first for a planned ride). No problem. I have about a 40-mile reserve and only went into it by about ten. I filled up just before getting on I-95 North. When I had crossed it going south towards Brunswick and seeing it as I paralleled it, traffic seemed to be fairly light. Well, we all know Murphy. Traffic runs in packs. And Murphy is usually in a slow car from Florida in the left lane.

Getting onto the Interstate was as smooth as silk. No bump, no wiggles, no problems. Driving at the speed of the flow of traffic is quite different than riding at the same pace on a bike. Again. Riding Academy rules: “Stay out of your own head!” Basically, just enjoy the ride and let the skills see you through. And for God’s sake, DON’T LOOK DOWN!!

The next bit of difficulty was having to go all the way across Hwy 80 after exiting the Interstate. No traffic coming made it easy, but if there had been traffic, I would have had to stay in the right lane, and make the right and circle around at a gas station or something and then wait to go across at the light. Coming back out from the museum wasn’t much better, either because just past the light is the on-ramp to the north bound lanes. And I needed to go south, which meant having to again cut across all lanes to make a left. Mission successful, but not until after I got the GA005 shot at the Might Eighth Air Force Museum. This site is right of the entrance road or back of the parking lot (depending on your perspective).

Tour of Honor Site GA005 at Pooler, Georgia

After another short stretch on the Interstate, I was back to familiar roads heading home. I did stop briefly at the Harley place to see if a friend were taking the course riding part of the course. No such luck. But I did see a possible solution to getting my coffee on the way into work while riding the bike. My brother had warned me about adding a cup-holder to the bike, but I really do need a way to carry a cup of coffee when I ride to work in the mornings. As I was getting back on the Interstate, I did see exactly what Gary feared: a biker taking a drink from a travel cup while riding in the left lane passing traffic! Not my style. All I want is a way to CARRY the coffee!

I could have stayed on until Hwy 17, but I like riding Hwy 144 through Ft. Stewart. People keep saying it’s one of the deadliest roads, but I you don’t ride or drive like a jerk, it’s fine. I did pull over to shed the jacket because, as I had learned from my Ride Captain, you dress in layer and adjust for the temperature. It was time to cool off and shed a layer!

As I rode back through Hinesville, it stopped at Bryant Commons Park to take a picture or three of the Memorial site there. I had to make a left off of Hwy 84 into the driveway where most drivers have a tendency to think it’s all theirs. Lucky for me I don’t need much room. The main problem with driving into and around Bryant Commons is that the roads are little more than wide golf cart paths and not meant for two-way traffic. I do think there is a traffic pattern in the works though as the park is a work in progress.

Memorial Park at Bryant Commons in Hinesville, Georgia

So, there you have it. 194-mile round trip, in a about four hours. Sure, there are some dull moments during a ride, but the places you’ll go and things you’ll see are worth every single minute and mile!

Jeff Allmond

17 May 2020

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