David Freeze column: A good day, but very challenging

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I knew that today would be challenged with Alabama hills, but found at least one more issue as the day developed.  I had spent the night in Bay Minette and got a wonderful night’s sleep. Rain and storms were in the forecast, some potentially hazardous.
Out at 6:30 a.m., the early going went well. I followed Highway 59 to Stockton. Stockton, Alabama was once the dividing line between the United States and Spanish American territories. The morning was cool and I had lots of shade as I rode north.
I spotted the very unique Red Hill Spring. It was right beside Highway 59 and appeared to be privately maintained with beautiful landscaping and a pipe with free flowing spring water. I was intrigued with the sign that said “Dedicated to the wayfarers who, for unknown generations, have passed by this way and refreshed themselves with a drink from the spring, and to those yet to follow.” It felt good to be one of those wayfarers. The water tasted great.
All day the road was sparsely populated. There were quite a few churches, one was the Latham Methodist Church, established in 1847. I couldn’t help but wonder about the significant events that had happened within its walls.
After Latham, I passed through Tensaw, Blacksher (home of a water tower and nothing else that I could see). Then it was on to Little River. I talked to three women at the Ferguson Store, including Jennifer Allred. All were interested in my trip and one said that several cyclists have passed through over the years on the way to Canada.
Next, I passed through Chrysler, and turned onto County Road 8. It was listed on my map as unsigned and so was CR 1 which I was supposed to join next. I never saw anything depicting the proper road, so I just kept riding north. Just after noon, heavy clouds had blown in and the rain started to pour. I took cover under the front overhang of a church in Rocky Hill. I waiting about 10 minutes till a guy drove up and told me to find shelter, that the area was under a tornado watch. I told him, “This is the best I have.” It all passed and I rode on for the next several hours under moderate rain.
The next stop was in Perdue Hill, Alabama, home of William Travis who commanded the Alamo. Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and about 180 other men died there during a battle with the Mexican Army.
Roller coaster-type hills had already been trying enough, but they took on a vengeance for the rest of the ride. I constantly rode up and down hills that eventually reached an elevation of 450 feet. It was a very trying day with lots of low gear riding and the rain and tornado issue. I am whipped pretty well tonight and will try to hit the bed even earlier than last night. The bad thing is that I will give all the elevation gain up by descending once again to 50 feet in elevation within the next 24 miles. That means plenty more climbing tomorrow.
Two more sponsors that are helping with the trip are Partners in Learning Child Development Center and Vac and Dash of Albemarle. PIL is one of my employers and does a great job working children, many of them special needs, up through kindergarten while developing skills that aren’t often found in a daycare center. Vac and Dash prints just about all the race shirts that we use in Rowan County. They are a big advocate for all things running and vacuums in Stanly County. They just moved to a new store on First Street in Albemarle.
I am spending the night in Grove Hill, Alabama in the heart of the logging country. All three of my bike rides have started in major logging areas, including Oregon, Maine and Alabama.
After 84 miles on challenging terrain, it’s time for bed. Two more days in Alabama before heading into Mississippi. See you tomorrow.