Day 5: To Savannah, GA - Atlantic Coast 2017 - CycleBlaze

April 20, 2017

Day 5: To Savannah, GA

I feel better today. I still have a terrible cough but my energy level is close to normal. Good thing because today is the first long day of the tour.

I was up at 7:30 but somehow didn't get on the road until 9:30. First I had to backtrack 2 miles east to US 17.

Development drops off very quickly north of Darien because the land becomes so swampy. There are surprisingly few services on US 17 between Darien and Savannah.

First halfway decent view of a cypress swamp. Usually bushes obstruct the view.
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Traffic was light because this section of US 17 is unpopulated and very close to I-95. All the traffic is on I-95.

US 17 passing through a former plantation with many live oaks shading the highway.
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Today's weather was different because there were morning clouds and the wind was nearly calm. High of 86F. Warmer than yesterday with less of a cooling breeze.

At first glance the marshes look like grassy fields. The bridge crosses a marsh. The surrounding forest is mostly swamp.
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There aren't any real towns between Darien and Savannah. A few villages so small that they didn't even have a gas station. Apparently the surrounding swamp land isn't a great place to make a living. The only lunch option was Subway.

Alleged smallest church in the U.S.
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Interestingly, the Gullah people are famous for making a decent living in the coastal swamps. Today's Gullah people are descendants of freed slaves who settled in the coastal swamps in the 19th century. Unlike most African Americans at the time (or now), they lived an isolated life that allowed them to retain many traditional African customs. They are best known now for a distinctive style of basketry.

The Gullah people are descendents of freed slaves who settled in the coastal swamps. They retained many traditional African ways.
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I passed many small country churches today. Most of the churches are in the middle of nowhere, with no surrounding village.

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I remember seeing Gulf stations when I was young.
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The village of Midway was the most interesting stop today. Founded in the 18th century with an impressive church and museum.

Midway Congregational church, built in 1792.
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Midway museum.
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Rare forested river. Most rivers were surrounded by grassy marshes.
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For much of the day I enjoyed low traffic, but traffic was heavy for the last 25 miles to Savannah. No surprise because Savannah has a metro population of 384,000. The second largest city I cross during the tour.

Riverfront homes near Savannah.
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I didn't take any pictures coming into Savannah through 20 miles of suburban sprawl that could be any city in the U.S. Partly on an expressway during rush hour. It was not the highlight of the tour.

I crossed south suburban Savannah going east on GA 204. That was a mistake. It's an expressway under construction to add lanes. Much of it is signed No Bicycles. I should have stayed on equally busy US 17 a few more miles before cutting across Savannah. Because of rivers and swamps there are surprisingly few east-west routes across southern Savannah.

At 6:40 PM I finally arrived at Quality Inn Midtown, 5 miles south of downtown Savannah. My 2 night stay costs $251.82. This tour is turning out to be much more expensive than I expected.

Today seemed like two separate days. 2/3 rural swamps and low traffic. 1/3 suburban sprawl and high traffic.

Today's ride was more difficult than expected because of the lack of tailwind and traffic congestion at the end. Fortunately tomorrow is a semi-rest day to tour Savannah.

Distance: 64.0 mi. (102 km)
Climbing: 451 ft. (137 m)
Average Speed: 10.1 mph (16 km/h)

Today's ride: 64 miles (103 km)
Total: 179 miles (288 km)

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