Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Big Test Part Two - Electric Boogaloo

Well, I woke up from a night of sleep.  Not good sleep, just sleep.  My camp neighbors were pretty loud and it was all I could not to go over there and piss on their fire.  Instead, I yelled, "SHUT TF UP" from the comfort of my hammock.  It worked, but then the thoughts in my head wouldn't shut TF up.

I was tired, no doubt.  Sleepy?  Not so much.  I drifted in and out of consciousness throughout the night because I was full of anxiety.  Why?  Because I had just ridden a bicycle far, far away and had no idea if I could make it back home.  At least I was comfortable.  The new, compact sleeping bag?  Perfect.  I felt like I had the hammock camping thing worked out to my liking.

I didn't set the alarm on my phone, instead relying on the rays of the sun to wake my up.  As daylight slowly creeped up on my campsite, I was out of the hammock and packing up.  I ate a little food and drank some coffee stuff I'd bought at that "restaurant" the day before to get me going.  And if that wasn't enough, I had my son there to cheer me on.

Well, Lunchbox isn't one for the cheering.  He supports me though.  

Anyway, with everything packed up just like I had it on the way out there, I hit the gravel road in the early morning hours while it was still cool.  I really enjoyed the solitude, even though my legs were a protesting.  Oh look, more climbing!

The sun was starting to warm everything up and my legs were slowly coming to life.  I knew I had a long ride ahead and the goal was just to pace myself and take it easy.  I did that by enjoying my surroundings.

Once I left the campsite, my route home was quite a bit different.  Basically I think I was trying to ride every gravel road between there and Charlotte.  Gravel grinding is for roadies, but this was bikepacking so it's okay.

Besides, dirt roadies don't want to mess up their Strava times by stopping for pictures and shit.

I felt pretty okay.  My legs were a little tired, but the main issue was that my ass was pretty sore from siting on the saddle for so long the day before.  I just kind of ignored the pain and made sure to enjoy myself while I was out there.  At one particular point I remember looking over my shoulder and seeing a neat view..

Small mountains so you don't usually get views like that out there.  I really dig it though.

I did less planning for the return trip and I'm not sure why.  Did I think I would be on autopilot the whole time?  Did I think I wouldn't make it back?  Am I stupid?


I was definitely moving slower during the first part of the day, but as the miles ticked off I felt better and better.  About 25 miles into my day I started to get hungry.  I mean really hungry.  Luckily I spotted a shopping center with a Subway in it, so I rolled up and ordered one of everything.  Not really, but pretty damn close.  I sat for a bit, trying to get my body to understand that I wasn't giving up and I would be riding my bike all the way back home.  Once we had that understanding, I connected to the wifi there and let everyone know that I was on the way back and doing just fine.

And most of all I was having fun...

It's really big, right?  You know you wanna touch it.

Just like the day before, I was looking for little victories.  There weren't really any to be found though, other than not dying.  The heat was getting to me and I had no idea if I would run out of food/water before I had a chance to fill up again.  I just kept rolling though, because that's all I could do.  And then, a small victory...

I was closer to home for sure.  After I took that photo I texted my cousin (who is a Purple Heart recipient by the way) for some motivation and he did not disappoint.  Back in the saddle and I started heading towards a place for food.  Any place.

I ended up at another convenience store of course, and I had a pretty decent meal.  I put down some sugary cola, a couple of chicken and cheese quesadilla thingys, and some chips.  I topped off my water bottles and prepared myself for the last 25 miles home.  I was so tired, but I was starting to feel like I might actually complete my journey.

Once I started rolling again, it didn't take long before I hit a long downhill that cut back into the greenway.  At that point I knew I had only about 20 miles to get home.  I'd consider that another victory.

The greenway is mostly flat and more importantly, well shaded.  While I normally love hot weather, it was draining me that day.  The shaded path was a nice respite from the sun's glaring rays.  Once I reached the end, I zig zagged across powerline cuts, parking lots, and back roads.  I was almost out of gas and wondering if I had it in me to finish.  Like someone flipping a switch, I was suddenly so full of doubt that it scared me.  I was struggling, both physically and mentally.  I'm not sure what happened, because only moments earlier I was feeling great and full of motivation.

I guess that's how it is sometimes.  I dunno.  I tried not to let it get me down, but I was seriously considering calling anyone for a ride even though I knew I was close to home.  And just when I needed it most, I got one more victory..

I know this place well, since I pass by it on most of my rides these days.  And I knew it was only about three miles from my house and that three miles ain't shit. I got this.  And wouldn't you know it,  two pretty shitty climbs later I was rolling into my driveway.  I couldn't believe it.  I really had no idea if I could do this, but like most things I tried it anyway.  I was pretty worn out, my ass hurt, and I was an emotional wreck.


I didn't know if I was proud of myself, or upset that I would even try such a thing.

Maybe not a big deal to you, but a huge deal to me.  I'd accomplished a goal that was set only a few months prior, and this should lead to a bigger goal.

Am I ready to ride across Florida?

Who gives a shit.  I'm doing it anyway.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Big Test

Since it was only just last May that I decided to be a bikepacker and set my sights on riding across Florida in December, but Summer my "training" was in full swing.  I'd been doing longer rides every weekend, and even one overnight trip.  I learned a lot from the last overnight trip and I was ready for another.  It came sooner than expected.

When I set a goal of participating in the Cross Florida Individual Time Trial, I somehow decided that I would need one final test to see if I could actually handle something of that magnitude.  And for some strange reason, riding from my house to the Uwharrie National Forest for the night (and returning home the next day of course) seemed like the logical choice.  I still don't know why I picked that particular destination, but I was set on it for some reason and I wouldn't budge.  At 140 miles round trip, it wasn't the same distance as the Florida event (250), but I figured that with the elevation it would be sorta equal, if not even more difficult.  When I started this whole bikepacking thing, such a trip seemed impossible.  I put it in my head that if I could build my way up to that before December came around, I would feel better about my chances down in the Sunshine State.  I knew it would take a while o build up to it, but before I knew it the time had come.

I had a free weekend and my route was planned.  While it would be super hot during the day, nighttime temps would be cool enough to sleep comfortably with the proper gear.  Since I got a little chilly on the last overnight trip, I decided to buy a compact sleeping bag that would fit on the handlebar roll of my bike.  I was ready, for the most part.  My route would take me mostly on back roads, with a couple of stretches on some busier roads (I couldn't help it.)  And to keep from getting bored, the return trip would be a little different than the ride out there.  I had 73 miles planned on the first day, with 67 the next to get home.  Piece of cake.

Saturday morning I loaded up and left my house pretty early.  I figured it would take about eight hours to make the trip east of Charlotte to our little mountains, which would give me plenty of time to set up camp in daylight.  I rolled down the hill and set off on my adventure, meandering through some neighborhoods to get to a greenway.

Just like the Florida adventure I have planned for next month, my trip to Uwharrie would have me on mixed terrain.  Roads, greenway, gravel, and my favorite, singletrack.

A little over twenty miles in I was still feeling good, but I had to hit a stretch of busy highway that I somehow couldn't avoid.  Luckily there were super wide shoulders to keep me out of harm's way.

A few miles on that road and it was time for lunch.  Since the rules for CFITT say that I can only use commercial establishments for food, etc. (in addition to packing some snacks), I decided abide by that on this ride and grab a bite to eat and resupply my fluids at a gas station, of which there will be plenty on the Florida route.

I was still feeling pretty good, despite the daunting task of riding 40+ more miles.  I ate a pretty decent sandwich, bought some water and snacks, and rolled out towards Concord.  That section of my route was mostly out in the open, so I was baking in the sun.  I like the heat, but I could feel the energy draining from my body.  I tried to keep my head right and look for little victories, and soon I had one.  I was in Concord.

Oh, and here you can see that I have my new sleeping bag attached.

The next part was a little bit of a blur.  After cutting through their little downtown area, the roads turned country again.  I had to keep checking my printed cue sheet to make sure I was going the right way and I (mostly) was.  Once in a while I would look at the map and it really looked like I was in the middle of nowhere.  That made me extra tired for some reason so I decided I would avoid doing that unless it was necessary.  With nothing around except the occasional house and lots of farmland, I resorted to conversing with myself to keep my head in the game. 

And I also made new friends along the way...

While I was deep in the middle of nowhere, every once in a while the road would change from shitty pavement to gravel.  Back and forth.  I actually enjoyed that.  And then I got another small victory in the form of a new county.

I sorta know Rowan County, but obviously not well enough since I was surprised to be riding through it.  I stopped at a small store for some drinks and chatted with a local dude that told me I was indeed in the middle of nowhere.  Awesome.  Back on the road...

I didn't think I had very far to go at this point.  I actually felt pretty good and I had been keeping myself hydrated in the hot sun.  After a small navigational error I was back on some shitty (for cars) but nice (for me) roads.  And I found another small victory.

I definitely know Stanly county, and I knew that meant I was much closer to my destination.  I texted the little lady and said I had maybe an hour to go and that I was feeling good.  One of those was a lie...

At this point I had been climbing here and there, but now it was getting tougher.  I was nowhere near civilization, until suddenly I saw a restaurant that looked more like a roadhouse (not the chain restaurant, either.)  I was hungry, but I had a planned food stop coming up soon so I skipped out on a potential bar fight to keep moving towards my destination.  And then out of nowhere, I got a much bigger victory...

I had reached the Yadkin River, and those are the Uwharries in the background.  My campsite was over there somewhere, so that gave me some extra energy.  After taking that picture I hurried across the narrow bridge and had yet another victory...

I've seen that sign a bunch.  However, this was the first time I'd ever ridden a bike to it (the trails we ride out there are nowhere near it.)  Man, I was feeling good.  Until...

Ugh.  It got really climby.  I had been feeling great with all the "victories", but all of a sudden I was super tired and my mental state was fucked.  "

Where the hell is that restaurant/store I'm supposed to see up ahead?" 

I kept repeating that question to myself over and over, hoping that would make it appear out of thin air.  I guess it either a) did not exist, or b) it was much further away.  The latter would turn out to be correct, but it gave me much disappoint.

You see, that was supposed to be my next victory.  One last stop before I rolled into the forest to camp for the night.  In my hasty research, I found this "restaurant" on the map that looked like it had everything I would need.  A meal consisting of real food, and supplies for me to take to camp (for breakfast and such.)  I spotted an intersection up ahead.  After double checking the map and seeing that it was indeed my planned stop, I found some extra energy and made the climb to the "restaurant."

I'm an idiot.

It was a goddamn gas station.  The reviews talked about the food and the service, so I guess I thought that meant it was a restaurant.  I mean, they did have "food."

I grabbed the most edible things I could see and hoped like hell I wouldn't get food poisoning. I paid for my "food" and walked out to the parking lot to have a little picnic dinner.  Remember earlier when I said I thought I only had an hour to go?  That was two and a half hours ago.  I know the little lady was probably wondering if I was dead so I figured I should text her.  That didn't work because I had zero service.  Well, I thought, I'd better keep rolling.  Maybe I'll hit a pocket of signal and be able to tell people I'm okay.  So I rolled on...

Oh look, another county!

I was deep in the Uwharrie National Forest and it was hilly AF (of course.)  I was tired.  I didn't have far to go but my legs felt like concrete and I didn't have much energy.  And it felt like I was constantly climbing.  Maybe because I was.

No more victories (other than my campsite which was who TF knows where) so I just started taking in the scenery.

But the sun was going down.  Fast.  In the woods it was even darker, and that made everything look the same.  I resisted turning on my lights, riding the gravel roads "Jedi Style."  I was doing anything I could to keep motivated.  I had a campsite reserved, but I started thinking about just rolling into the woods and setting up my hammock wherever the hell I was.

And then, out of nowhere, I saw a familiar road.  I was in the part of the forest that I'd been riding for years.  I got a nice little burst of energy from that and hauled ass to the campsite.  I set up in a hurry and snapped a picture before it got totally dark.

I made it.  It took a little over 10 hours to go 73 miles.  Two hours beyond what I thought it would take, but I wasn't upset about it.  I was able to connect to the camp host's wifi and let everyone know I was okay, then I sat down to have a snack, re-hydrate, and get some rest for the night. 

That would turn out to be one of the more difficult parts of my trip.

Part two tomorrow...

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Long Weekends

So at this point, it's no surprise that I've been spending every one of my weekends doing longer rides.  I really just need lots of miles to keep/increase my fitness level so that's pretty much what I've deemed worthy of my focus from now until December.  Most weekends I make a plan to ride somewhere far with my fully loaded bike, then return.  Pretty simple.  But this past weekend was different.  I had a couple of rides scheduled that I have been doing every October for the last couple of years.  It's with a group called Honor The Warriors and if you click that link you'll see what they are all about.

To sum it up though, they take veterans out on bikes throughout the year and the weekend in October is the big one.  As an Army Veteran, their cause is near and dear to me.  So like every year, I took that Friday off and met the group near a park just a few miles from Uptown Charlotte.

Even though this is a "fun" ride, I still used it as training.  So I brought my full bikepacking setup.

After talking about the route, we got ready to roll.  This ride is unique in a lot of ways, but one of the best things is that the local Sheriff's department provided an escort and blocked off traffic along the route.  These guys were awesome.

We took off just after rush hour, so as not to cause too much of a traffic disturbance.  We rolled through the usual Charlotte neighborhoods...

And eventually we ended up at a school right in Uptown.  While we were rolling up, you could hear the kids screaming to welcome us.  We made our way inside...

The students (5th graders) put on a presentation for us, which included the Pledge of Allegiance, a song, and some poems that thanked us for serving our country.  It was touching, and I'm sure there were some tears in the room.  We eventually moved outside, where the kids spent time with us asking questions and looking over our bikes.

We had to say goodbye to our friends so we could head into the heart of Uptown Charlotte.

Then we meandered through the streets towards the local community college, where a catered lunch was waiting for us.  We all sat back and enjoyed the food, conversation, and views of the city.

After a few group photos (I can't find them yet), we gathered up and headed towards the Sugar Creek Greenway.  I had the honor of being asked to lead our group down the greenway towards Freedom Park, which was an awesome experience.

For some reason I didn't take any photos at Freedom Park, even though we hung out there for quite a while.  We gathered up again, taking surface roads (with the police escort of course) back to the park where we started.  Even though the distance was only around 18 miles, it was an absolute blast.  It was like being in a five hour parade around Charlotte.  I got to chat with some old friends and I made a few new ones.  And the best part?  I would get to hang out with them all the very next day.

Since I don't post on here every day anymore, I'll just get right into day two...

I was up Saturday morning at the crack of dark.  I had to be at the Veterans Memorial Park in Mint Hill by 7:30 a.m. for the 8:00 a.m. departure.  I grabbed some coffee and hit the road.  I was rewarded for being up so early on a weekend...

There were three routes scheduled that day, a 15, 32, and 66 mile.  I usually do the 32 since road riding bores me, but since I need to keep up my mileage I opted for the 66 mile route.  I had this thought that it would be easy, since I'd been doing rides this long (and longer) on a fully loaded mountain bike.  With a road bike, I knew it would be a piece of cake.

We took off early and I ended up in the front.  While that wasn't unusual when I was doing cross country mountain bike races, it was kinda odd on a road ride where I was outfitted in baggy shorts alongside kitted up Strava dudes.  Plus, we were pushing 20 plus miles per hour.  Who gives a shit.

I kept up that pace for a while, then I remembered that I'm training for endurance, and more importantly, I was out there to have fun.  I backed off of my ridiculous pace and let the super serious crew roll on by, no doubt with them laughing about how the baggy shorts dude couldn't keep up.  I don't use Strava, unless it's in my truck.  They can have that nonsense.

Anyway, once I eased into a comfortable pace I started looking around.  The route was beautiful, taking us out towards the Uwharrie Mountains.  I really was having a great time, which is rare for me when I'm on skinny tires.  I only stopped twice, and used one of those stops to take a photo.

The route was well planned on quiet, country roads.  There were two fully stocked aid stations, as well as a couple of convenience stores if I needed anything (I didn't.)  A few hours later I rolled into the finish, feeling much better than I normally do when I come back from a bikepacking trip.  It wasn't easy, but I felt pretty good.  After that I sat with a few of the warriors from the other rides and had a delicious lunch and watched as more people came through the finish.  I guess I wasn't going that slow, but it didn't matter.

I love this event and hope to keep doing it for years to come.  Riding bicycles with fellow veterans and sharing stories, food, and making memories was a great way to spend my weekend.

Now, it's back to bikepacking.  In case you hadn't heard, I'm doing a big ride in Florida.

See y'all next week sometime.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Overnight Alright

When I left off yesterday, I was settled into my hammock for the night.  The ride to the campsite that day was hot.  Real hot.  It wasn't really an issue since I like the heat.  Once I was setup for the night I did everything I could to cool off though, which mostly consisted of drinking fluids and a wonderful wet wipe whore bath.  I was comfortable in my hammock for sure.  Even though it had been hot all day, once the sun went down the temperature was quite pleasant.

My setup was pretty simple.  I had my hammock with the rain fly over it.  There was a zero percent chance of rain, but I wanted to set it up anyway for "practice" since I know that December in Florida can be wet and I will most likely need cover down there.  I had a little inflatable pillow that packs away small and is very comfortable.  It wasn't supposed to be too cool that night so I had no sleeping bag, instead packing a couple of those emergency space blankets in case of you know, emergencies.  Besides, at this point the only sleeping bag I owned is a big bulky one that I got in the Army sometime back in the 90s.  Not ideal to pack on a bicycle at all.  And other than some fleece pants and a t-shirt that I wore as pajamas, that was it.  I figured I'd be good.

I was tired from being out on the bike in the hot sun all day and my setup was awesome for relaxing.  However, I wasn't sleepy.  Since I was sort of in civilization, I ended up watching Netflix on my phone until I got sleepy.  That took a lot longer than I thought, but I finally dozed off somehow.

Sometime in the wee hours of the night I woke up chilly.  Not freezing, but very uncomfortable.  Even though I didn't think I would need a blanket or sleeping bag I'd neglected the fact that I needed a liner in my hammock.  All of my body heat was escaping through the bottom and I couldn't go back to sleep.  While that was a dumb mistake, somehow I had the foresight to put one of those space blankets in the pocket of my hammock.  I grabbed it, and in the darkness of night I'd managed to remove it from the package, unfold it, and wrap myself up like a burrito.  If you've ever unwrapped one of those things, you will understand how difficult that was.  Anyway, I figured that I would be good to go and would fall right back asleep.

That did not happen.  I tossed and turned (normal for me anyway), but every move I made in that blanket sounded like I was in a fight with a potato chip bag.  I was so annoyed and couldn't stop thinking about how I needed at least a lightweight sleeping bag from here on out.  Lesson learned.  Eventually I fell back asleep and didn't wake up until daylight peered through the opening in the rain fly.  I woke up, answered the call of nature, and started tearing down my campsite.

Whatever chill I fought in the darkness was gone with just that little bit of sunlight.  I wasn't too tired and for some reason felt like I'd managed to get a decent amount of sleep.  While not an ideal night in the woods, I already had several things upon which I could improve.  As I munched on some shitty, processed breakfast pastry thing and a large can of coffee/energy drink combo I finished packing up everything and rolled out of the campsite towards home...

It was only a little over twenty miles to get home, and I was pretty excited about the route I had planned.  Lots of gravel roads through beautiful forests.  As a bonus, it was so early in the morning that I had those roads to myself.  Definitely the best kind of ride.

My biggest concern before my first overnight bike trip was how my legs would respond after riding all day, sleeping in a hammock, and riding again the next day.  It turned out not to be a big deal.  Sure, my legs were a little tight and my ass was sore from the saddle, but spending time in a hammock with my legs elevated made for a good next day bike ride.  The first part of the ride home was pretty hilly with some punchy climbs thrown in for good measure, and I had no issues at all.  I was exploring the woods in the early morning hours on a beautiful day, having a blast trying to figure out where these mystery roads would take me.

Trespassing?  Who gives a shit.

Eventually my time in the forest came to an end and I wound up near the airport here in Charlotte.

I don't live too far from there which meant that my adventure would soon come to an end.  I was a little disappointed, but very happy that I'd done something like this.  As I spun through the last couple of miles towards the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters, I starting going over what went wrong/right for my first overnight bikepacking adventure...

Distance:  I had really underestimated the amount of mileage I could do for this trip.  I've been spending every weekend since May putting in big miles, but for some reason I was afraid of not being able to get home if I pushed to hard before I camped for the night.  What a crock of shit.  Next time I do an overnight trip I'll push myself harder.

Gear:  During each ride I'd done up to this point, I've been carrying everything I needed for an overnight trip, even though this was the first one.  Weight is not an issue since I'm used to it now, but I realized that after waking up cold in the middle of the night I should probably invest in a lightweight, pack-able sleeping bag of some sort.  And it wasn't just about the cold either.  The emergency blanket should be used for just well, emergencies.  The noise from that shit was irritating AF and it slid around so much during the night that it barely kept me warm.  That was the biggest lesson learned.

The actual ride:  I had no issues with the ride and total distance whatsoever.  I felt good the whole time, and that's no doubt because I've been riding so much with all my shit on the bike.  I know my body pretty well at his point too, so staying hydrated and fed is something I don't even worry about anymore.

Overall, it was an awesome trip.  Even though the end game here is to drag my ass across Florida, I think I may have found a new hobby as well.  I really like camping anyway, and riding my bike to/from makes it moar better.  

The next step in my "training plan" is to build up to even longer distances as I begin planning the next big overnight trip..  

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Getting Prepared

So, now that you know why I've been doing the amateur homeless person thing, I can start getting into more of the specifics.  My friend James from down in South Carolina does the bikepacking thing quite regularly, so I've been hitting him up with random questions and soliciting advice for things that I hadn't figured out on my own.

Spoiler alert, I usually make my own decisions and then tell him what I'm planning to do.

One thing I didn't really think about for the whole "suffer across Florida thing" was the camping aspect of it.  I've been camping quite a bit, and I've even used my hammock sometimes.  For the Big Florida Bike Death, I figured all I would have to do was ride a bunch and build up to some crazy mileage... and camp at night.  Easy AF.

Then James hits me with, "You need to do some overnights."

For some reason, that clicked and I didn't even question it.  I mean it makes sense to practice for the way I would be riding down there but that wasn't really what I was thinking.  What I really needed was to see how my body would react to riding all day, sleeping in a hammock, and trying to ride again the next day.  Doing back to back rides from my house after sleeping in my comfy bed wasn't going to cut it.  I needed to really camp.

Since my last long ride was out to Crowders Mountain, I figured that would be a good route to do again (but camp in between of course.)  I didn't want to have my sleep interrupted by camping someplace I shouldn't though so I looked for a campsite to reserve (for safety or some shit.)  The weekend I had planned didn't have anything available.  I looked at nearby Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina, because the smart guy I am said I could add some extra miles no problem.  Well, they were all booked up too.


I found another campsite here in Charlotte (at the McDowell Nature Preserve) that fit the bill, except that it was only a twenty mile bike ride away.  I really needed to ride a much longer distance that would test my body and camping setup so I had to come up with a plan.  I started looking at some of my past routes and got slightly creative.  I figured I could just ride a really long distance the first day, camp, then ride the twenty plus miles home the next day.  It wouldn't be a death march for day two but at least it would be a big enough ride to see what kind of toll riding the day before and sleeping in a hammock would take.  I reserved my spot and planned my route.

I was ready.

I knew it wouldn't take all day to ride the forty five miles I had planned for day one, so I left around noon.  The heat of the day would add to my suffering and could be beneficial to my "training."  It was still summer when I did this (last month), so it was plenty hot.  I meandered along my route and made it to Gaston County...

Even though I end up on the road quite a bit, I'm getting really good at finding shit off the beaten path.  The combination of roads and not so roads will be similar to Florida anyway, so it's all good.  Anyway, I finally made my way back to the little greenway over there and took it to the end.

Then, more roads.  At least I manage to find lightly traveled roads, and it's not like I'm taking the most direct route anyway.  A couple of hours in I decided that food was required.  I carry some snack stuff with me, but in Florida I will be "living off the land", which means stopping at commercial establishments is okay.  Piss poor planning at this point in my journey (I was sort of in the middle of nowhere) left me with two options... Random Mexican Restaurant or Subway.  Usually Mexican food and bikes pair well together, but that would be a shitty idea for a bikepacking trip.  Pun intended of course.

Who gives a shit.

Subway it is.

They also sell water and that popular sports drink, and as you can see I stocked up.  I still had a long way to go but plenty of time.  With a full belly I pedaled through the southernmost part of the county looking for anything to keep me motivated.


And then I finally did see something that kept me going, but ironically I had to stop to get a picture of it.

I crossed into South Carolina, and at this point my superior Google Maps scouting led me to some more off the beaten path type stuff.

I may or may not have been trespassing.  I'm not sure.  I didn't see any signs so it's okay.  Well, except this sign...

After I popped out of the woods I was in "civilization."  And let me tell you, it sucked.  I was in the Lake Wylie area and it's busy AF down there.  Drunk boaters driving all over the place looking for post-lake food would normally make for a dangerous situation for some dude riding a bike piled full of bags of things.  Luckily there were sidewalks to keep me safe.  I tried to quickly get through that mess, but not before grabbing some provisions for the night.

All stocked up, I grabbed a picture of the lake and saw the woods where I would be staying.

One big final climb and I made it to my destination.

Riding into the park, I felt a little sense of accomplishment.  I had to stop at the gate to check in, and the lady there said, "Where is your car?"

"I rode my bike here."

"From where?" she asked.

"I don't know.  I've been out for hours."

She just kind of shook her head and walked away.  It was a boring conversation anyway, and I needed to get my camp setup before dark.  It didn't take long before I had a home for the night.

I felt pretty good but I was tired.  I'd ridden a little over forty five miles and I was hot, sweaty, and hungry.  I cleaned myself up (wet wipes are awesome), ate some food, and just relaxed in my hammock hoping to fall asleep.

That would prove to be more difficult than I thought...