Oops Google Did it Again... - Riding in Circles - CycleBlaze

October 16, 2020

Oops Google Did it Again...

Day 16: Friday Oct 16 2020

Pulaski TN to Bankhead Ntl Forest AL

Distance: 70 miles

Weather: 44 in am, 70 in afternoon and sunny

Woke up at 730 this morning and boiled water for coffee and oatmeal this morning.  I was on the road by 830.

The route today was fraught with imminent peril as Kerouac once remarked.  Or as another feller' once said, "Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you."  The bar most certainly ate me this morning.  As for who said this I haven't the remotest of ideas.  But the bar most certainly ate me this morning.  

In order to fully understand what happened this morning I must give some precursory details.  Since southern Indiana I have been riding 31 South.  31 runs from  northern Michigan to Mobile AL and hits every major city in between.  Technically speaking 31 is an interstate and used to be the preferred route of travel by car. But since the construction of Interstate 65, 31 now allows cyclists on it. 
After hitting Pulaski on 31 yesterday I began routing my next section to Moulton AL. I realized there was a couple issues with staying on 31.  First, it briefly links up with I65 in Alabama.  I can't ride on 65 legally.  Second, it also goes directly through or near Birmingham and some other city that slips my mind. These are two urban areas I'd rather avoid.  So, I reluctantly used Google bike directions for routing to Moulton.  Well, thanks to Google I am once again screwed, blued, and tattooed.  

First, Google bike directions has a couple names for roads that no longer exist. The signage for the road posts a completely different name.  This led to an extra  3 frustrating miles of riding today. Then, second, it took me on the Rich Martin Trail for 10 miles.  

The Rich Martin Trail
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The Rich Martin trail is suitable for mountain bike or gravel bikes only.  It is semi gravel and is currently covered in leaves and sticks.  So, I rode 10 miles at 8 mph praying I didn't damage my wheel, get a flat, or worse fly over the handlebars by some stick getting caught in the spoke that was camouflaged by leaves.  Add to the sticks, rocks, and leaves the occasional horse dung and you've got the Rich Martin Trail. 

 As if this weren't enough apparently I was going to fast at 8 mph because a female horseback rider reprimanded me for not announcing myself as I came up on her and her horse.  I wanted to tell her to get off her high horse, pun intended.  But I just smiled and kept my focus on not damaging me or the bike.
At some point along my ride along the Rich Martin trail I passed into Alabama.  

I went through two towns today.  The first town was Decatur.  Coming into Decatur I went over a large bridge over Wheeler Lake and the Tennessee River. 

Wheeler lake
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 I didn't stop in Decatur except for water at a gas station though it struck me as a large heavily populated town.  The second town was 13 miles southwest of Decatur called Moulton.  Moulton is just 10 miles from the northern boundary of Bankhead National Forest.  While there I bought two days worth of groceries for my time in the national forest, grabbed a meal at McDonalds, and made tracks getting to the northern boundary of the forest. 

 When I arrived, some 70 miles into the day, it was after 6 PM.

At northern terminus to Bankhead ntl forest along AL33
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  I quickly set up my tent just off the road about 20 feet beyond the sign that welcomes you to the national forest along Route 33.  I'm certainly not ideally camped tonight as I can hear the cars and trucks go by me along highway 33 and I'm sure if they look closely they can see my tent and bike.  My pepper spray and knife is close at hand tonight and the bike is attached to my tent so nobody gets the bike without waking me and battle royale.   

A side note or two: First, the accent is different in Alabama then Tennessee.  It is more of a deep south accent.  A couple times today I really had to pay close attention to understand what they were saying.  Second, demographically speaking, the number of African Americans increased dramatically as soon as I realized I was in Alabama and got off the blasted Rich Martin trail.  I point this out only because I find it personally interesting how a geopolitical boundary within the same country can cause such a demographical difference.  If you dont find this interesting, I write for myself as well as you.  

Tommorow I explore Bankhead Ntl Forest provided I can get reception here.  Wifi is quite spotty right now and I failed in researching Bankhead prior to tonight. 

Today's ride: 70 miles (113 km)
Total: 861 miles (1,386 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Jacquie GaudetYou might want to try RideWithGPS.com for route planning. It has its quirks too, but is better than Google for cycling routes. I checked, and it seems rwgps would have routed you on roads in that area--including the road parallel to the Richard Martin Trail.
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1 week ago
Rachael AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetWe also use ridewithgps using the cycling option, just be sure to zoom in and use the satellite option, if it puts you on a small road because it could be a gravel road. There also is a ridewithgps app to use for navigation. Sorry about your ordeals. No matter what you use for navigation you’ll always run into surprises.
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1 week ago
David AlbertTo Rachael AndersonThanks Rachael. I will check it out over the next couple days.
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1 week ago
David AlbertTo Jacquie GaudetThanks Jacquie! I will check it out over the next couple days.
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1 week ago