Home > Bicycle Touring > Southern Tier Day 14 – Dauphin Island to Vancleave

Why does it always seem like there is the perfect stealth spot just after the campground where I stop for the night? This one was in Cadillac Square on Dauphin Island, just behind the bathrooms there was the perfect little space for my tent.

Maybe God just hates me.

If so he was making it plainly obvious with the battering headwind he served up that morning. My legs and knees hurt from the headwinds the day before, more than they have on this entire bike ride, and now, if I stop pedaling for the briefest amount of time the bike would roll backwards.

It’s cold too but at least the fog is burning off fast. The bridge out to Alabama Port is a brutal climb, the roadside littered with debris. Broken bottles and small car parts have to be dodged. The climb is so steep, and because my legs hurt and the headwind keeps my speed so low that I dont make it without walking the bike. Even riding down the otherside requires me to keep pedaling, it’s the kind of headwind where you have to pedal to go downhill.

It takes over an hour to make it the 10 miles into Alabama Port where I’m hoping that the trees on the side of the road will act as interference for some of the wind. Then a change of direction, a new road, and the wind hits me from the right side until I get to Bayou La Batre, then it’s back into the wind again.

As the day warms up the wind seems to lighten up a little. I never do find a place to pull over and change out of my long johns, by the time it’s warm enough I decide to put in a few more miles. Be done with the day.

Just outside of Vancleave I’m climbing a hill after crossing the Pascagoula River and want to just get off the bike and walk it, only that’s too embarrassing, even out here, all by myself. I have no energy left, I know that but the cars that might pass don’t. Just then, coming in the opposite direction are two girls on fully loaded bikes who want to stop and chat.

South Africa and the Netherlands.

“We are plus 3,” Netherlands says to me and I’m not sure if she is telling me they are traveling with more people because I make her nervous or just as a way of introduction to their group. They have been out 7 weeks and are doing the Southern Tier from west to east.

“Wow, you are traveling light,” South Africa says and I tell them that I am without a sleeping bag because of the mail mishap and so maybe it just looks light.

“So, you sleep in a tent without a sleeping bag?”

“Yeah.”

“You need more gears. How old are you?” South Africa asks.

“Well we can’t just chalk it up to youthful indiscretions,” she adds when I tell her how old I am. “Are you trying to make it harder for yourself?” She asks.

“Sort of,” I say from across the road as another SUV goes by.

At White Sands Campground they tell me to tent anywhere near the storage room, which isn’t anywhere near the tent sites.

“On the deck, under the deck, in the storage room if you want,” the campground manager tells me.

Maybe I wont even have to unpack my tent. Only the storage room is crowded with vending machines and the deck already feels cold before the sun has even set.

Maybe if I had my sleeping bag…

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