We had originally planned to leave early and cycle with Earl and Karen, but, having not gone to bed until late the night before due to memorial day cookout and repacking C’s bags, didn’t. That meant we had a lie in, then a very lazy breakfast and didn’t leave until 10, 3 hours later than we had planned. It was glorious.
The road took us over Arthur Ravenel Bridge, a lovely bridge connecting Charleston with Mt Pleasant. There is a wide space for cyclists and pedestrians to safely cross the bridge although we must have missed the entrance for it and went on the road instead. It is 4km long and according to wikipedia has “the second longest main span of bridges in the western hemisphere”, whatever that means. It wasn’t too bad to climb over, the traffic gave us lots of space and I could fly down the other side although as we had to move over to the left hadn’t got too much over 35mph before I had to slow down.
As with most days, we made a stop at Walmart. We go there to grab lunch and possibly dinner for the day as well as some snacks. Earl had suggested fruit and sour cream so we decided to pick some up. While I was inside a staff member spoke to me and asked me if I was riding up to Boston too. Apparently Earl and Karen had been through a couple of hours earlier. It was amusing to know that although they were far too far ahead for us to possibly hope to catch them before we got to McClellanville.
As we rode down a small road, as opposed to riding down the main one, I noticed my back wheel start to go a little wobbly and knew I had a slow puncture. I was annoyed as it meant that we were going to be spending the whole afternoon cycling. There’s a good reason we try to be on the road by 7am. Riding between 1 and 4pm can be brutally hot. I was unable to find a cause for the puncture so after swapping the tube left it for 20 minutes to see if it would re-puncture. It seemed to hold so onwards we went. I wasn’t in the best mood and so the next few hours saw me turn my iPod up and just keep going on with my head down.
We rode non-stop other than a quick stop at a rest area to refill our water until we got to McClellanville. I had been told that we would need a permit to wild camp so we tried to find the ranger station. I had thought it’d be easy to find and forgot to write the address down. It took lots of internet browsing on my kindle to find an address that didn’t give me a PO Box address as obviously they can’t really be typed in to a GPS.
At the ranger station we met Randy the ranger. He mentioned having spoken to a couple of cyclists earlier and it sounded like Earl + Karen would be staying at the same place as us. Randy assured us that as a cyclist the camp place he was recommending would be easy to access by bike and that while there would be a little bit of off road it’d be nice stuff. Hmm. Well he did say he rode so why not trust him. We found out the next day he wasn’t quite right.
It wasn’t too far to the place to camp that he recommended, but the night before Earl had planted several ideas i my head about asking people to let you camp with them and I wanted to try it. I figured that if we took a small detour to ask at a church the worst case scenario would be they’d turn us down and we’d have to ride another couple of miles. As it was late afternoon the worst of the heat had gone so riding further wasn’t too bad and we had plenty of water left anyway. I looked on my GPS for nearby churches and found the Lily Pond Baptist Church was only a few miles away so we rode over and I worked out what I’d say.
Upon arriving we dropped our bikes down and knocked on the door and got invited in by Pastor Levi who was leading bible study. We explained ourselves and how all we wanted was a place to put our tent up. Levi spoke with the trustees and they all seemed to think it was fine. We thanked them and went outside to put the tents up. C put insect repellent on as mosquitoes seem to love her and I put on a little bit because I’m lazy.
20 minutes of organising our things and putting up tents and C was making less than positive comments about the things having a feast on her. Apparently they can bite through bike shorts, the one place that hadn’t gotten lotion put on. Later she would count and say that she had 60 bites marking the perfect outline of her bike shorts. In the time it took us to sort everything out bible study had finished and so they came out to talk to us. They asked us how we were and lots more questions about our trip. I mentioned that all was great other than the mosquitoes that were having a feast on C so they all huddled up and invited us to stay in the fellowship hall, which we gratefully accepted and had a much better sleep than we had been expecting.