Day Five: Eufaula, Alabama to the Kickback Ranch (Near Ramer, Alabama) - Deep South - CycleBlaze

April 23, 2021

Day Five: Eufaula, Alabama to the Kickback Ranch (Near Ramer, Alabama)

I was up early this morning with all the fishermen, who apparently went to  bed as early as I did last night. It was cool again - low to mid 40s. 

After an unsuccessful search for a Diet Pepsi at the motel, I rode through town, stopping briefly at the first Piggly Wiggly supermarket I've seen on this trip. Unfortunately they weren't open yet at 6:30.

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The pavement ended and I started ten miles of dirt on Old Bassett Road.

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The road was mostly hard packed and dry, so riding was easy, but hilly. I saw three cars on the road while I was riding, and the two of them were at the very beginning. There were only a few homes along the road (presumably the reason the county hadn't paved it), and several abandoned structures.

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Trees hugged both sides of the road for long stretches. I couldn't believe that bugs were not an issue here. (And in fact haven't been an issue the last four days on this tour - Was I fortunate in starting just early enough in the Spring to avoid them?)

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My progress was slow because the road repeatedly dropped down to creek crossings, and then of course I had to climb back up. This would be the pattern most of the day, in fact. Very different than the first couple of extremely flat days leaving the coast.

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After a while I turned onto a quiet paved country road, and rode into Clayton, population 3,008.

Clayton seemed pretty depressed (and depressing). I got off the bike and walked around the downtown, with its mix of open and closed businesses. A police car circled the block a few times as I looked around. I felt self-conscious, and didn't take many photos. Was I engaging in what is apparently called "Poverty Tourism"? Hopefully not.

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I went into the cluttered downtown Dollar General and bought a Diet Pepsi and Snickers Bar for breakfast, and sat outside on the concrete by the front door and the display of cheap clothing.

It was still cool and overcast. I felt a little gloomy, and decided I needed to "ride it off", something which usually works for me when I'm in a bad mood.

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I rode out of Clayton to find I had a great tailwind, and the fourteen miles on reasonably quiet AL-239 went quickly. The relatively few drivers on this stretch were considerate. The sky began to clear. 

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I turned off the state highway and onto the first of a series of empty paved county roads.

I stopped at the volunteer fire department in the tiny, oddly named community of Smuteye.

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I retrieved a bag of M&Ms from my handlebar bag, and not realizing I had already torn off the corner of the bag earlier, proceeded to dump them all on the ground. My earlier bad mood had improved to the extent that I wasn't bothered too much by this mishap.

It's too early in the bike tour for me to have reached the point where I would pick these up off the ground and eat them.
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There's not much in Smuteye except an ancient store that has probably been closed for as long as I've been alive. This would be the first of several old, decaying country stores I'd see the rest of the day.

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After spending some time examining the store, I continued on to. Except for a few hundred feet on a busy highway, there was virtually no traffic at all.

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I stopped for a while in Inverness, too tiny to have a population listed on Wikipedia, and looked around for a while, then sat on the front steps of the pretty church.

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A small dog noticed me sitting there, probably the most exciting thing that had happened to him all morning, and his yapping eventually drove me away.

I notice all kinds of things lying on the ground as I ride by at 11 mph, and occasionally stop to inspect them. If this "mix cd" hadn't been cracked, I would have taken it with me and listened to it when I got home. Too bad it was broken!
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I arrived at a crossroads with an actual open country store!

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I went in and had my first old-style (pre-pandemic) bike touring interaction with some locals in a long while. The girl working behind the counter, and the store's owner, a man about my age, were both very friendly. I bought some snacks and ate them while sitting at a counter, and  answered the Usual Questions about what I was doing.

An overweight, wheezing man came in. He seemed astonished, - actually offended - that I wasn't carrying a shotgun with me. He was very specific in his advice that I carry a shotgun (on the bike!). Apparently a handgun would not, in this guy's opinion, be sufficient to protect myself against the multitudinous dangers I would surely encounter while riding a bicycle through rural America.

I've heard this kind of thing on every bicycle tour I've ever done, but what was different this time was the man's actual taking offense that I would even consider traveling unarmed. I just smiled, and when he left the store carrying his two large take-out pizzas he gave me a disgusted look that clearly intended to communicate a message of "What a fucking idiot you are!"

I talked to the store's owner, a nice guy, for a while longer. Amusingly, he was shocked when I mentioned that I was married. I guess he thought it was inconceivable that a wife would allow her husband to go off for six weeks on a bicycle by himself.

Back on the road, the sun was out, it was in the high 60s, and the roads were utterly empty. Great riding.

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I saw many "Jesus 2020" signs in yards. When I saw one lying in the ditch, I briefly considered taking it and attaching it to my rear panniers for the rest of my tour. But I didn't do it.

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I rode onto the nicest two miles of dirt of the trip so far.

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I briefly stopped at a little community, Ramer, population unlisted, and then I rode six miles into the country to my destination for the day, Kickback Ranch.

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I obtained a "Cowboy Cabin" (electricity and a bed, but no running water or bathroom), and after confirming that thunderstorms were expected on and off all day tomorrow, decided to take a day off. 

Today's ride: 88 miles (142 km)
Total: 397 miles (639 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 1
John EganI do try to give you empty roads.
Thunderstorms and tornados are another thing.
Sorry you are stuck in the middle of nowhere -
With just a c-store back at Hwy 331.
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1 year ago