Day 4 - Sept. 19, 2016 - Gunter Hill ACOE > Columbus, GA
After waking up feeling pretty good the past few days, with the exception of wax face and puff lip, I was surprised to wake up dead tired after a good night's sleep. Maybe I'd gotten too much sleep. Was I so well rested that my body was confused and thought I was tired again? Or had my body in days prior been trying valiantly to protect my mind from the truth this whole time? Hiding from me the truth that riding long summer days in the Deep South is a terrible idea and that the heat and humidity were going to be my undoing, leaving me dead in a ditch, succumb to heat exhaustion. Nah, probably just slept too much.
The sky above was still crystal clear, but the clothing I'd set out the night prior didn't seem to be any less damp than when I'd initially hung them from the picnic table to dry. Come to think of it, those clothes were about as damp as the air that hung all around the camp. If that summer sun couldn't dry the air, how was it supposed to dry anything else? Clearly, the sun was broken. With the state of the Southern economy, though, there was no chance it was getting fixed any time soon.
Humidity wasn't going to get me down today, though. Sure, my chest was as rashy as ever and the best adjective to describe my body was chafed, but I had an ace up my sleeve. I was going to be sleeping in a motel tonight. My next stop was a Motel 6 that was 108 miles away in Columbus, GA (I couldn't find any camping in the general area). It was going to be a long ride, but at least it was going to end in the glory of climate control.
Three nights of ACOE campgrounds had been great, but I really needed a chance to wash and properly dry my clothing. The damp shirt, socks, and drawers that were laying out on that table had a dank basement smell to them that just wouldn't go away. The clothes I'd put on that morning weren't much better. Everything was just getting funky. I still had about 300 miles to my midway layover in South Carolina. If I didn't dry out at least once before then, I might have a real problem on my hands. And every other part of me covered in skin. I would be a giant fungal infection.
It was another long day of mostly highway. Aside from the weather, the riding options were another big reason I wouldn't recommend a Southern tour. I was either stuck on busy highways with tiny, rumbly shoulders or on poorly maintained side roads guarded by unleashed dogs. I was happy to be riding, though, if only to never have to wonder again about what it's like to ride in the South.
The only highlight of the day was a one-man dance party (OMDP) outside of Tuskegee. He had more moves than teeth, and when I rode by he greeted me with a huge, gummy smile and a "hey there!" I said, "hey, dancing machine!" He said, "alright," and that was the highlight of my day.
As I approached Columbus, I realized two things. 1) Georgia is in the Eastern Timezone. I was about to lose an hour, and 2) I was really tired. Instead of riding to the east side of town, I cut about ten miles off of my ride and bagged it at an Econolodge around mile 97. It was midnight and I was dead tired. I was already going to have a big day ahead of me tomorrow, why not tack on another ten miles to it? Well, because that would make tomorrow harder is why not, but "today" me was only looking out for number one. Also, my nipple bandaids had fallen off about an hour ago and I was not feeling great about that.
That night I hung clothes and equipment on every available hanging surface in the hopes that the stank of the swampy summer south could be aired out. Then I cranked the AC and fell asleep hoping for the best.