Trip Summary

Day 52: 2929 miles completed, 8 states, 7 flat tires, 4 flat mattresses, 40 new friends and Bruce #1, 8 rest days

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 41: Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Sixty-nine mile ride to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi  The route was mostly through the DeSoto National Forest which was reminiscent of Northern Wisconsin where we hope to be biking later this year.  Out early and missed the rain, which seems to be threatening every day.

Jeff says:  I am ready for this to be over.  The seven week mark seems to be the limit of my threshold. At about the same time on the tour in 2013, I was having similar thoughts.  The bicycling is the only thing that keeps me sane, so I grabbed some breakfast food, stuffed two burritos in my jersey pockets, left early, and rode alone all day - outrunning a half dozen dogs that thought I was prey.

There are always a few shining moments each day that serve to re-energize you.  For example, the Ramsey Creek Baptist Church provided our midday nourishment, for body and soul, and asked for nothing in return, just for us to accept it.  We gratefully did and are so thankful to the members for this generosity.
People say bad things come in groups of three.  Here are my three:
  1. My only pair of waterproof gloves disappeared from the laundry table before I could get there.  I confirmed with the staff that they saw them and they remembered removing them from the dryer.  Someone must need them more than I do.
  2. The overhead lighting at the hurricane evacuation center could not be turned off.  It was as bright as daylight.  We had a light right above our assigned sleeping location. Fortunately, we both had buffs that we were able to use as eye shields.  It was too warm to cover your head with a pillow because the A/C was not working.
  3. The Verizon smart phone that I am using on the trip fell out of my pocket while riding.  It was inside a waterproof bag to protect it  and my wallet from the elements.  My thought was it will also be easy to collect all the pieces after crashing to the ground at 20 mph.  However, the phone survived with only a scratch.
The other thing you can always count on is someone else always has it worse than you think is your worst.  One of our riders had an eye problem since San Diego and let it go, thinking at his age it was a new cataract forming.  Then he had a bad fall on this ride in Achafalaya swamp, OTB (over the handlebar) and a day later woke up with no vision in that eye.  He had to see 4 doctors in one day and the next day was scheduled for eye surgery.  Most of those doctors told him he could come back to the bike ride as long as he kept up follow-up appointments.  He has not ridden again as yet, but went to a followup today, and this doctor told him "you're a damn fool for trying to ride a bike" with his eye problem.  So, sadly, we are saying good-bye to Woody tonight.  His daughter will pick him up tomorrow and hopefully with consistent care from his own doctors he will be able to bike again some day.  He already had a north-south ride planned for after this one.  We are all hoping he can ride it because he is a warrior through and through.

Another rider, Sam, was nearly hit by a car today while trying to cross a highway relying only on his rear view mirror.  Thank goodness, no one hurt.

Our friend Udi, and Lisa's main riding partner, is from Israel and is riding to fund raise for Holocaust survivors and today was a day of remembrance ( ) of the beginning of the Warsaw Uprising. Many Holocaust survivors are living in poverty, unable to pay for medicine, food, etc., after all the horrific and barbaric things they survived, and now they are having a hard time just living.  It is hard to complain, yet sometimes we do.

We also bid a sad farewell to Stretch and Carole who had joined us for 3 days of riding.  It was great to see our 2013 friends again and catch up.  Stretch is nursing his feet back to health after extensive clawtoe surgery on both feet.  He did great, but his feet were tender and swollen after each day's ride.
Not sure there is a moral in all of this, but it has left us very pensive today to contemplate all of it.  I am sure we will find the silver lining and, at the very least, learn from this and hopefully it will make us better friends and more compassionate to others when they have bad days.

We have a long 82-mile day tomorrow, but we end on Dauphin Island for a rest day.  Lisa is still hoping to find a Snoball stand that is actually open when we pass through--there is one on the island open at 3 PM tomorrow if we can time it right.  Sometimes simple pleasures are the most satisfying.


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