Biking Over The Cooper River On The Charleston Bridge—A Three Humper

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Charleston, South Carolina

Atlantic Coast Bicycle Trip

May 21 ‘77

Hustling, stop and go traffic, as the shimmering heat lines rise off the trunk of the car stopped in front of me. Exhaust fumes choke; as I turn and watch the sweat pour off the faces of the black city folk walking on the sidewalk. Ahead of me are minor concrete rises, and then the monstrous steel colossus. Steep, not just an incline–the highway rises straight into the sky. I’m picking up speed now, trying to make every inch of free ground count before the drudgery of the incline.

On hot pavement, I’m in 10th gear, 8th gear, slower, switching to low range, pump, pump, and finally 2nd gear. Get a comfortable grip because you aren’t going anywhere for a while. Zoom, Swwissh, GrrrrroooooM, one after the other, the cars and trucks pass on my left. Beads of sweat group and fall off my forehead. The sun bakes my already well-baked body. It’s getting congested now. Rra, Rra-u, Rrauuuw, the trucks are inching past me, but I’m still going up and I’m almost there.

Wa-la, from the top of the first incline, 3rd gear, 5th gear, still going up, but it doesn’t seem like it. The bridge is large, high, and I wish I had time to look around, but the traffic is frightening. Here goes high range. 10th gear and I’m bent over the handlebars, picking up speed. Move over fellows. I have just declared equal rights. Faster, faster, hot air hitting my face, shirt billowing in the wind–the now eye-squinting wind. Wobble, wobble, stay true front wheel; this is your first test—Hell—this is your first test! Down, leveling off, and a new incline to begin.

Pump, pump, pump, pump, 8th gear, pump, pump, low range, 3rd gear, pump, pump, and 2nd gear; it’s steady as she goes, with burning, sweaty eyes for company. It’s up and over for a second time. High range, 8th gear, 10th gear, and its not over till its over. No excuses; I’m on my way down again. Make room for daddy! Coast, red rocket, coast; I need some rest time. Up ahead, more metal giant, and more burning eyes–one last time.

Pump, pump, pump, 8th gear, pump, 3rd gear, pump, pump, pump; arrived and waiting for the downhill, move over cars, I’m about to be reborn again. 10th gear, pump, pump, and its all down and away from here. Fast and getting faster, hot air, wobbling tire, and more glaring, hot pavement; if I had wings I could fly. Oh God, no traffic jams please! I will not brake.

Down, faster, faster—oh no—Highway 17 left lane. Nanoseconds look over my shoulder and thank God there’s no traffic; merge, merge—all the way to the left lane. Honk yourself you asshole; at 50 mph I’m as much a car as you’ll ever see. Honk, honk; go fuck yourself. You can pass on the right, left, or stay where you are. I don’t give a damn! I’m coming through. Move now oh lightening fast ten-speed. Let the chips fall where they may.

Shoo—ah, on Highway 17, and I’m still alive! Okay, pee-brains, the road is yours again; you can have it, just give me my six inches, and get out of the way. Swisssh, Zoooom, GrrrrrroooooM, I’m on the other side of the Cooper River and heading north.

Dave And George Told Me I Probably Mistook Sharks For Dolphins

Inter-Coastal Waterway, South Carolina

For the past three days I’ve been doing about 90 miles per day. All in all, things haven’t been overly good. The highway has been cracked and potholed (and likewise with the maniac drivers). Nobody in their right mind would plan to ride their bicycle here. I have seen the ocean once since I began this trip, and I had to pedal twenty-five miles out of my way to do it. Anyway, at my last store stop, the lady told me about this free park, so I have been camped here, on the inter-coastal waterway, since yesterday. The place is really beautiful. Large South Carolina pines surround me, the bustling waterway is in front of me, and best of all, there’s not a whole lot of people camping here. It’s hard to believe that I’m in a state park, and the camping is free.

Last night, I saw a pair of dolphins swimming down the waterway. Dave and George (my closest neighbors) told me I probably mistook sharks for dolphins. If they were sharks they had to be 12 to 16 feet long–not a pleasant thought since earlier in the day I had been swimming almost in the same spot. I shared some dinner and some good smoke dope with Dave and George before going back to my own tent. It was a very pleasant evening.

In the morning I went fishing with the guys in their canoe and caught the only fish, a catfish. After I said goodbye (they left for another park), I washed my clothes and body with well water and started preparing dinner. Boy, this R & R was just what the doctor ordered. I think my skin and the sun have stopped fighting. I’m pretty brown now. The memory of being sun burnt while biking in 90 to 100 degree weather, bogged down in heavy blue jean wear, makes me want to puke. I’m sure the edge on that memory will stay for a long, long, time.

George and Dave decided they didn’t want to leave after all. When they returned in the evening, we partied one last time. Early morning however, found me on the highway traveling hard. I camped in the welcome to South Carolina roadside picnic area, a stone’s throw from North Carolina, and met a nice retired couple from Victoria, Canada. We talked for a long time, and then they got back in their motor home and took off down the highway. They confirmed what I had already suspected. The carefree and courageous way old people have taken to the open road is reminiscent of the ‘60’s young people. It could be the beginning of a new rebellious movement. As one knowledgeable old fellow said to me, “I’m just a high class bum.” Anyway, the Victoria couple had been all over the U.S.A., Canada, Mexico, and Australia. They said they would send me information on how to fly to Australia for half price.

Camping in the rest area wasn’t bad. I worried a bit about the local authorities, and I had to tell a gay desperado to find another trick, but other than that it was okay. I had been traveling in overcast weather for the last couple of days, and this morning it was particularly gloomy. When I pulled into a restaurant for morning coffee, and this fellow eating breakfast asked me if I wanted to throw my bike in the back of his truck, I quickly agreed. The next 40 miles were a breeze. When I got dropped off in Wilmington, North Carolina, I went to a bike shop to get some advice. The bike guy told me, “You’ve got some baring problems, but its not bad. You probably should have a steel hubed wheel.”

After Wilmington, I rode all day, and had a rather difficult time finding a campsite. I also stopped in Jacksonville for a beer break. One footnote worth mentioning—every time I get close to a military base, I encounter one or more assholes who go out of there way to make my bicycling as difficult as possible.

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2 Responses to “Biking Over The Cooper River On The Charleston Bridge—A Three Humper”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    You will never have prove you courage too me. I tremble crossing that bridge in a car, would probabley faint if attempting on a bike. ~peace~love~light~

  2. dave Says:

    Thank you for the comment. Actually, if I knew how dangerous crossing that bridge was going to be I probably would have found another way to cross.

    Take care,
    dave

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