Total Mileage – 81.3 miles
This was our penultimate day of riding and after a pleasant day off yesterday in Savannah it was good to get back on the road again. We left the hotel at 07:30 this morning and Dan and I agreed to ride together during the day. Dan had unfortunately hurt his knee a couple of days ago and had to take a ride in the van but was determined to try to ride again today. We agreed that we would ride a sensible and steady pace to ensure that his knee held out for the remaining two days of tour.
It was a few miles to get us out of Savannah before we hit Rte 17S which we would basically stay on throughout the day. Coming out of town the roads were quite busy and Rte 17S was similar for the first 15/20 miles before the road quite need down quite considerably. For the first 17 miles or so there was a bike lane on the side of the carriageway but then this petered out although there were quite wide shoulders in places with rumble strips. We cycled along at between 16 and 18 mph and made it to the first SAG in good time which was at mile 33.8. Dans knee was holding out OK after some initial pain but the more he cycled the better it appeared to get.
In between the two SAGs we hit some windy sections and although not a direct headwind it wasn’t far off and appeared to swirl around which meant it was quite hard work. Harry was now a third member of our group and he and I took it in turns to lead. The three of us were joined by Jim and Bob shortly before the second SAG and after a quick break we headed out for the final 16 miles to the hotel in Brunswick. We passed Mike taking photographs as we crossed the river bridge after the SAG and continued along at a good pace. Not far up the road we both spotted Mike and Karen approaching from behind and as they passed at a slightly faster speed than what Dan and I were cycling at I decided that we should try to hold their wheel for maybe a short period of time just for a bit of fun. Both Mike and Karen are really strong and very impressive cyclist and having just completed a cross country ride prior to our tour were in great shape. Getting into a pace line saves about 30% of energy so holding onto their wheels for as long as possible was a good game plan. They were motoring at ~ 20mph and we managed to get towed for the best part of the way to the hotel. We all stopped at Wendy’s just before reaching the hotel for refreshments before cycling the remaining couple of miles to the La Quinta hotel in Brunswick.
Tonight was officially the last night of tour despite many of us staying tomorrow night in Jacksonville before heading our separate ways. We had a nice meal together at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store before heading back to the hotel. At the hotel we watched the photographs that Mike had taken on tour before we were each presented with our RTE 2018 certificate and asked to say a few words about our experience of the past three and half weeks. Watching the photographs that Mike had taken reminded us all just how far we had come together, the scenery we had seen, the weather we had experienced and the comaradery and friendships made. One final act was that the map that had been in the lobby each day on our arrival was to be presented to one of the riders. Mike said a few words about how this rider had impressed him with his cycling skills and road safety from day 1 and that the ABB staff had agreed that it should be presented to me. This came as a complete surprise to me and after the presentation all the riders got to sign the map as a memento of the great time we had had together.
We still have one final day to ride tomorrow, 74 miles to our destination of Jacksonville and it will be sad to reach journey’s end. We’ve had a lot of fun together, some great cycling, amazing scenery (albeit a little flat over recent days) and we have enjoyed one another’s company. In addition I have had the added bonus of seeing several of my XC16 friends throughout the tour and it was so great that we were able to meet up once again and rekindle our friendships. I love cycling in the USA, the traffic is lighter and the drivers are more respectful of cyclists. In addition you can sometimes cycle for miles without seeing another vehicle giving you the time to enjoy the countryside and just let your mind wander. I’m so glad that I got back into cycling just over 4 years ago.