Thursday, April 17, 2014

The scorching sun, the friend, the unicorn bus

~90 miles to Greenwood, SC
~90 miles to Athens, GA

When I was leaving Columbia, I had one goal in mind: make it to Athens in two days so that I could see my friend from Philadelphia who was on tour in Athens that same day (Check them out: That would mean two 90-mile days in a row. And, by now, the sun was out for a vengeance.

Day 1 on the stretch to Athens... my goal was to get to Greenwood, SC. I didn't have a place set up to stay as I usually do, but I felt confident that something would come together. I biked the first 30 miles (or so) and stopped at a gas station to take a break and refill my water bottles.

A woman (Ellen) approached me to ask what I was doing. We chatted for a short while, and she invited me to come to her lake house several miles away to swim and eat lunch before I continued on the rest of my ride to Greenwood. I biked to her home and immediately jumped in the lake to cool myself. She said that usually people around here don't swim in the lake until May because of how cold it is, but I was craving for my body to be immersed in a body of water. It was cold, it took my breath away, and it was exactly what I needed.

I came back inside to join Ellen for lunch; she fixed me a delicious salad and sent me on my way with a ton of snacks, worried for me about where I'd sleep later when I arrived to Greenwood. We had only known eachother for an hour, but you would have never known.

Feeling rejuvenated, I hopped back on the bike to continue the rest of the way to Greenwood. It was a long day of biking, but I eventually arrived and spent the night in a motel (never was able to find another place to sleep).

In the morning I was to head towards Athens. I was so excited about the prospect of seeing a familiar. I'd do anything to make it to Athens that day.

The sun was truly painfully hot. It would be 90 miles to Athens, and I knew that if I didn't take my time, the sun would get the best of me.

I stopped often to refill on water, take a break, and put more sunscreen on. It seemed that no matter how often I drank water or used sunscreen, my body was still being penetrated and destroyed by the sun. I wanted to get to Athens as quickly as possible; I wanted to be out of the sun; but I knew that the most intelligent decision would be to take my time, even if that meant it would take all day to get there. Self-care is important. Respecting boundaries is important. Listening to your body is important.

I stopped at a gas station-- somewhere in Georgia-- feeling totally destroyed by the sun. I layed down on a bench to relax and rehydrate, and a man (Mario) came up to me to see what I was up to. People see my bike and my two bags, and they know I'm not just traveling from around the corner, and they approach me to see where I'm coming from. I'm always so grateful when they do, because it gets tough to bike alone all day, and it is so nice to engage in a dialogue with a human. They're always so surprised that I came all the way from Philly. I think I am too.

When I was ready, I got back on the bike and continued yet again towards Athens. I had left Greenwood at 9 AM, and I arrived to Athens at 6:42 PM. It was a long day and perhaps the most rewarding ride yet. The next day I would be able to see my friends from Philly.

In the morning I awoke early, feeling excited to see Jaron and the rest of the crew from Amos Lee. We had planned to meet for breakfast and coffee. Afterwards, I was fortunate enough to be able to join them in their touring buses and backstage to The Classic Center, where we enjoyed a delicious catered lunch and dinner. After dinner, Amos and the crew would hit the stage, and I'd join the audience in watching these amazing human beings pour their hearts out on stage. I felt proud. I needed this night in a way that I was unaware of before.

After the show, I met my friends backstage and congratulated them on their performance. Woody Harrelson was there with several people from his crew; they had just finished filming Hunger Games and True Detective in New Orleans and were headed next to Atlanta. They took a bus to see Amos Lee's show in Athens. After the show, it was late, and I was exhausted, and I knew I should head to bed to leave early the next day towards Atlanta. I needed to make it there again in two days in order to arrive on time for my classes there.

Woody Harrelson (and crew) invited all of us to come hang out on his bus (painted in unicorns and rainbows, running entirely on hemp. seriously), but I had to leave to go to sleep.

I'm not sure whether that makes me dedicated or crazy. But I parted ways with them all to head to bed.

1 comment:

  1. If I were Woody Harrelson, I'd want to hang out with Amos and Jaron, too! Glad for you that you could enjoy the show.