Bankhead Ntl Forest and Northern Alabama - Riding in Circles - CycleBlaze

October 17, 2020

Bankhead Ntl Forest and Northern Alabama

Day 17 Sat Oct 17 2020

Northern terminus of Bankhead Ntl Forest to Berry AL

Distance: 68 miles

Weather: 36 in am, 70 in afternoon with sunny skies

Gosh, it was cold last night for northern Alabama.  36 degrees cold!  I was wearing my cycling Jersey, fleece jacket, rain coat, cycling shorts, rain pants, wool hat, and was under my sleeping bag and emergency fleece blanket and stayed nice and toastie!  I also have a compatible down jacket that I have yet to wear and have been saving for mornings that hit the 20's like in the desert in late November.  Anyhow, I was up and on the road by 830 this morning.

On a totally different note, I heard coyote, owls, and woodpecker last night.  And I'm pretty sure I heard the howling of wolves.  I dont know if they are in 'bama but it definitely was not coyote.

After doing some research I realized most of the sightseeing in Bankhead is in the Sipsee Wilderness area which are known for amazingly beautiful waterfalls.  However, they are all down gravel roads and involve hiking.  I just don't feel comfortable leaving my bike behind with 2000 dollars worth of gear on it.  So, I decided to stay on course and enjoy the forest from the roadway.  And I did just that. 
The ride on highway 33 through the forest was beautiful.  Dense forest land covered both sides of the roadway for miles and miles. 

Highway 33 through Bankhead Ntl Forest
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 I definitely intend to come back to Bankhead and do a camping and hiking vacation here. 
When I arrived at Bankhead Ranger Station in Double Springs they were closed due to it being Ssturday.  Though a man arrived who also realized they were closed and we started chatting.  The man, named Jimmy, was a history teacher by profession and specialized in local history.  He gave me a plethora of information about the area.  It turns out I was travelling through the black warrior area of the forest which is a translation of a famous Cherokee warrior and chief named Tuscaloosa.  Many battles occurred in the area between the Cherokees and the Spaniards. 

Even after leaving the forest, northern Alabama remained heavily forested with non stop rolling hills that are for the most part graded nicely except for the occasional steep climb.  

If you can enlarge that's an enormous Confederate flag roadside at the entrance to a church!
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I ate dinner at a place recommended to me by the teacher called Smokey Hollow.  As I approached the place the smell of smoked bbq meats were heavenly.  I had pulled beef and pork slathered in sweet bbq, coleslaw, and sweet potato fries.

  After eating I stopped at a gas station and asked a couple younger guys if they knew where I could camp.  The one, Rudy, was a shorter Mexican man who was a transplant from Texas.  He suggested I camp in his grandmother's backyard.  So, he gave me directions.  I did have to ride about 5 miles out of the way but I cant complain about free camping.  So, here I am currently in my tent behind a trailer of a very friendly Mexican family that lives there.  In fact, I think it is three generations of the Mexican family that live there.  Next to me is another trailer with fenced in yard and what sounds like 12 very sad dogs that have been whining most nonstop.  It should be an interesting night.  Though with how hard I work during the day very little can keep me awake at night.

Tommorow I may try to push into Tuscaloosa.  Alabama plays number 3 ranked Georgia tonight in Tuscaloosa.  It would have been cool to have made it there tonight and experienced the game.

Today's ride: 68 miles (109 km)
Total: 929 miles (1,495 km)

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