A wonderful day for a cycling adventure in Southwest Georgia
Today I wanted to ride 100 miles and use rural churches to replenish my water. Normally on my longer rides, I would stop into local convenience stores typically at gas stations to get water. During this time of social distancing because of the Corvid-19 pandemic, I have been using my back-up plan for getting water as a primary strategy for long-distance cycling, get water from a hose bib where you can find it.
I had already planned a route that you take me through the town of Morgan so that I could ride Highway 37 to Camilla. I have not taken a cycling ride to Morgan in several years.
I carry 4 water bottles when I am cycling. Two on my bike and two in my Arkel bag attached to my bike rack. In Southwest Georgia, there are a lot of wonderful country roads to ride on. Sometimes the towns are about twenty to thirty miles apart. Usually, there are also a lot of churches scattered in these towns and along the road outside of towns. It is at these rural churches that I will use to get water. Most of the time these churches have a hose bib that is connected to a well.
During the warmer months in Southwest Georgia and Florida where I have done most of my long-distance cycling, it gets hot and humid in the summer months. I have made it a practice to keep hydrated during my rides especially when the humidity is high and I am perspiring at a high rate.
This cycling adventure is the first time that I have used a water filtering system to get water. In the past, I would only get water when I was running low from on the fly sources in an emergency. Now that I am making it a regular practice to avoid public stores when I am cycling I wanted to make an attempt to eliminate as many of the health risks from these free water sources. I purchased the MSR Home Water Filtration System for Emergencies and Disaster Preparedness water filter that easily fits in my bag and filters the water that I will drink.
The MSR filter uses quick connections that allow the united to be assembled and disassembled quickly so that it can be stored as small as possible. The unit easily fits inside of my bike bag.
Blackburn Bike Bag Failure
I have had many bike bags in my cycling life. I will not go through that history in this post, but I will discuss my last bag and why it failed. One of the reasons that I purchased the bag was the fact that at the time of purchase I did not have a rear rack on my bike. I was using a removable seat post rack to secure the Blackburn bag to my bike. I had to modify the attachment of the bag to the seat post rack several times before the seams failed. The straps that were sued to attach the bag to the rack were the biggest design failure. I could never get the bag positioned right on my rack.
The seam and zipper failure forced me to purchase the rear bag that I should have purchased originally. Over the life of using the Blackburn bag, I was frustrated with only having one large compartment and never being able to easily find the items that I wanted to retrieve out of the bag. Items would slide around and rattle when I orde if I did not have padding int he bag to prevent these issues. Overall the bag worked for what I used it for and it was not expensive but was not designed for what I really needed.
Arkel Bike Bag
The Arkel Bike Bag is perfect for long-distance cycling. The Arkel Bike Bag is not a touring bag like the ones used for camping. It can be used to compliment full touring panniers, but I use it for long all day or night rides. My bike is equipped with a lightweight rack that is secured to the seat post collar and the rear axel. My bike has disc brakes, so this rack allows for shoe clearance for the disc brakes.
The Arkel bag easily attaches securely to my rack without any tools. My Blackburn bag was attached using zip ties and could not be easily removed. The Arkel uses long strong velcro straps to attach to my rack. The Arkel bag can be easily removed when you want to lock your bike and take the bag with you. The Arkel bag has lots of pockets inside to organize items. On the outside are watertight pockets with zippers to store items that you can get without opening the main bag. The main flap expands so that when you slightly overstuff the bag the two zippers will still close. There is a top handle that doubles as a strap so that you can stow a jacket easily.
My bike is not a full touring bike designed to carry a lot of weight or four heavy pannier bags. It is a bike designed for long rides and cycle cross riding. I intentionally had the custom frame designed without eyelets so that I would not attempt to carry too much weight on the bike. The Arkel bag holds just enough to ride a few hundred miles so I can resupply at a store or restaurant for food. I plan to use this setup for randonneuring events. I also switched my Garmin to metric so I can get used to thinking in kilometers for measuring distance.
Calhoun County Line
Time 12:28 Distance 22 KM
I started this adventure at 11:30, which is unusually late in the morning for me to start a long ride like this. Normally I like to start before daylight so that I can enjoy the cooler weather and use my night lights. Today however I had the benefit of walking 5K in the morning with my wife Sylvia. After that, I made one of my wonderful lunch salads before heading out on my bike.
The first leg of this ride is from my house to the town of Morgan. morgan is the county seat of Calhoun. Albany is the county seat of Dougherty. When I first arrived in Albany the bridge that I crossed when I was bike commuting was really old. the new bridge is only a few years old. A lot of the old bridges in this area are being replaced.
Ichawaynochaway Creek HWY 234
Time 13:34 Distance 34 KM
Time 13:50 Distance 40 KM
Time 14:00 Distance 42 KM
Time 14:26 Distance 54 KM
Georgia HWY 37 south of Leary Georgia
Time 14:45 Distance?
Baker Calhoun County Line
Time 14:55 Distance 65 KM
Chickasawhatchee Creek HWY 37
Time 15:20 Distance 70 KM
Time 16:06 Distance 84 KM
Baker Mitchell County Line
Time 16:14 Distance 85 KM
Time 16:30 Distance 100 KM
I decided to stop and ride though the Burger King to get dinner. At this point I knew I would be getting home late, so I called Sylvia and confirmed that she was already eating dinner. It was good to take a break and sit for a while.
The Dixie HWY 3
I have a love-hate relationship with the Dixie HWY. While I love the beautiful vistas. The shade that it provides on long rides is wonderful to ride in the late afternoon when it is hot. I hate the bumpy surface between the unincorporated town of Flint and the Dougherty County line. The road surface is the worst after Baconton. I figure if I can ride strong on this section of road, sometimes with headwinds, then I can ride on anything.
I was planning to ride 200 KM which is the shortest randonneuring event. At 162.2 KM I came up short, but I started later than originally planned, so a 100 mile ride is pretty darn good for me. My goals were met as I wanted to test getting water from free sources without going into a store and I wanted to test my Arkel bag on a long ride. I am pleased with how everything thing worked.
When I do rides like this I really get confirmation why I enjoy riding by myself. When I ride solo, I am never in a hurry, but I do not like to ride slow and I do push myself a little. I also like to stop and observe my surroundings and take pictures. For me getting out on a bike instead of sight seeing from a car is liberating. In a vehicle my views are limited to windows and the roof blocks my view of the sky. On a bike I have access to 360 degree views and I can stop almost anywhere to take pictures and enjoy the scenery and wildlife