Posted by: twistsoffeet | May 25, 2011

I Got My Chamois in a Knot

My brain is numb, my body is numb but I am safe behind doors and grateful.

A wild 24 hours since my last post, but it is over now.  Apparently, the guys from the park in Germania Springs followed me back to Piedmont last night. I was awoken around 11:00p by a crash outside my tent.

I looked out and saw one of the guys who had tripped and fallen over a swinging bench seat.  He was trying to get my bike, which I fortunately had secured very well.  When I got out and confronted him, he did not back off so we started to have a little interaction.

Then his three friends got out of their car to help him, but fortunately, I had made a friend also, and my friend came to my aid, so the others got back in their car and drove off.

Obviously, I did not sleep after that.  I also did not report it to anyone, because I just wanted to get away and have it over with. I did not want to fill out police reports or involve my friend.

I started riding about 8:00a this morning.  It was fairly cool, and at least at the beginning it was fairly level.  Some hills, but nothing to get excited about.  Then the headwind came along, and soon I was pedaling straight into a 20+ mph headwind that just got stronger.

I started on Hwy 278.  Much of this ride was right through the middle of the path of the tornado that had devastated this area three weeks ago. Forests were destroyed and many homes just obliterated. Several people lost their lives in this area.

I finally arrived in Gadsden, AL.  The first part of Gadsden was not too bad, but I was fried and to top it off, my chamois slipped and was in a knot under my left cheek. Let me tell you… if you have never had your chamois in a knot under your left cheek it is an experience you never want.

I honestly don’t know how it slipped and knotted up, but it felt like a stone grating on my cheek right where it joins the back of my thigh and it really was painful while riding. I hope I have been able to put it back in the correct position. Anyway I soon found myself in a not so desirable neighborhood.  I was also on a very busy highway with unsympathetic drivers. The police officer in Anniston had warned me that I would be in a very rough area on my planned route.

I received some comments from drivers and looks from others and to be honest, it was unsettling. I didn’t want to ride through a city the size of Gadsden, but I did not have other viable options. I still had over 25 miles to ride to find an area where I felt I could comfortable and safely pitch my tent.

I did try some churches, but all were empty. Finally, I decided to get a hotel room. I do not want to be to harsh so I will just say that the Gadsden Inn and Suites looked like a very nice place, and the assistant manager was friendly, but the manager who happened to be the daughter of the owner was a cold hearted B-individual.

Beyond that, I will say that the Gadsden Inn and Suites is a decidedly bicyclists unfriendly place.  So… if you happen to be riding your bike in this area on a tour and need a hotel room, they may not be your best option.

Anyway, eventually I went on my merry way, riding up Hwy 431 through Gadsden.  I began receiving more verbal taunts and many eyes watching me. What is sad is that it is a place I probably would not have any difficulties in if I was not riding my bike and hauling a trailer.

Finally, I found some more hotels, which is good because I was hitting the wall very hard.  A man whom I had stopped to speak to was both friendly and helpful, but who also had asked what kind of fool I was for riding through that area, had told me about these motels. He suggested I bypass the first motel and try the second motel.

He also told me there were others better a block or two away, but also more expensive.

I took his advice and went to the second motel and found the management very friendly.  I can say my mother would not stay here, but for a touring cyclist on a budget the Econolodge is just fine with me.  I am in an area where I question my safety of spending the night on the street with the equipment I have on this tour.

I have a secure room and am able to sleep in a bed for the first time in two weeks. I also get a shower and am able to shave, which I have not been able to do for a few days due to the lack of running water.

Tomorrow, I will start the day with a chamois that no longer is in a knot, I will be refreshed from a good night’s sleep.  I also will be comfortably clean shaven except for my goatee and mustache, will be well re-hydrated and well fed.

I hope to ride Hwy 431 north and hopefully find a place to camp about 10 miles south of Huntsville, AL. That will give me Thursday to ride through Huntsville and get into Tennessee, around Fayetteville.

After that, I should be able to stay in the much friendlier rural areas of TN, KY and IL. It will get me through most of the mountainous– or at least very hilly areas for a while, and by the time I get to mountains again my load will be much lighter and I will hopefully be stronger from my riding.



  1. My friend Jay, who rides bikes, recommends Chamois Butt’r.
    Also, having read a book called “Hurt City,” he recommends avoiding Louisiana and going up north through Mississippi, because LA is worse off than AL.

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