It was a rough day. It was a cold headwind that made my hands stiff through my gloves. Days like this suck the life right out of you. I made lousy time, too.
It started out in the low 40s and didn't warm up until after noon. It only got up to the low 60s. My plan was to follow the Adventure Cycling route through Jacksonville to Callahan, FL, and then cut straight up to Folkston, GA, where I would spend the night, and be back on the route. By the time I got to US 17, it was apparent that there was no way I was going to make Folkston today. I sat down and fired up the computer to make an alternate plan. This was a couple miles from the airport, but there was still a couple hours of light left, and it would be lame to stop so early. Besides, I stayed by the airport on the way down, and there was nothing interesting there.
There were also no motels between the airport and Folkston noted in my Delorme StreetAtlas USA software. No campgrounds either, and it is supposed to get pretty cold tonight. So with great trepidation, I headed north on US 17 to Kingstown, where there were many motel options.
I've ridden US 17 before, pretty much the whole way from Wilmington, NC to Savannah, GA. That part of 17 was not very bike friendly or scenic, and this part of 17 didn't look much better. It turned out OK, with a good shoulder, all the way to Georgia, where you have to cross the St. Mary's River. I'm almost there (which I know because I rode by a weigh station for trucks) and there is a big sign: Bridge Out, US 17 Detour I-95 to GA 40.
This really sucks. The only other bridge is 30 miles upstream by Folkston. If I turn back, there are no motels for 20 miles, and the sun is going down right now. Riding the shoulder of US 17 in the dark for an hour is a bad plan.
While I'm sitting by the ramp to I-95 contemplating my options, this guy wearing a baseball cap comes walking up the road. I asked him if he knew anything about the bridge on 17. He didn't, but he asked me if I noticed whether the weigh station was open. I looked and saw a semi truck with a load of used cars parked about a quarter mile up the road. This is great. This guy is walking a mile down the road to sneak up on the weigh station to see if it's open or not. I told him it was open. "Darn. Now I'll have to think up another plan."
I-95. Had to do it. Sure hope there's a shoulder on the bridge. But before the bridge, there is an agricultural inspection station, and they are open too, with about a dozen police cars parked out front. Somehow they didn't notice me as I rode by, mentally rehearsing my excuses for why I was riding my bike on I-95.
Right after the bridge, there was a visitor's center, where they gave me a nice Georgia map and instructions on how to get to the cheap motels on back roads.
Here's the route for today. The road ahead is US 17 to Savannah, which is not inspiring.