30th May 2016 Columbia, SC to Florence, SC 140.8 kms - 87.5 miles Up = 493m - Down = 534m
30th May 2016 - Columbia, South Carolina to Florence, South Carolina.
After “Bonnie” wrecking yesterday for us we watched the weather forecasts closely last night and this morning – hoping that the tropical depression would move away and let us have a good day of cycling. Seeing the red sky late last night gave me hope, and I was pleased to wake up and see a grey overcast morning, but no actual rain. The weather forecast said we were in for showers with the likelihood of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. We needed to head off as soon as possible to try and get in before a thunderstorm.
We were away in good time – heading off on the 378 for 54 kms! I was under the impression that today was a public holiday – Memorial Day, so I was surprised to see many School Buses out and about on the streets in the eastern suburbs of Columbia. Apart from it being Memorial Day, schools had ended in Georgia last Thursday and it was now summer break. I had been a little concerned as school holidays usually means more traffic. In my research before the trip I had found out when North Carolina schools close for summer break and worked it that we got there before that time. Obviously it is a bit like Australia - different States have different school years - I still don't know why school buses were out today - but South Carolina and North Carolina schools didn't have summer break until after we finished the ride.
We saw threatening clouds in front of us after about 8 kms and we thought we had caught up to Bonnie already – yet somehow, we seemed to sneak along under the heavy cloud until about the 25 km mark. Pat caught up to us and we exchanged our light tops for our rain coats. Just as well, as we had pretty steady rain for the next 30 kms. The road was pretty good with only about 10 of these kms not having a shoulder. The road was 2 lanes in each direction, and reasonably busy, yet I am sure not as bad as normal with the holiday. It was through this bit that Annie and Don (who were riding 1,2) spotted what they thought was a large Goanna – what it turned out to be was an alligator!!!
Eventually we turned left off the 378 to do a sort of zig-zag across to the 401 which would take us all the way to Darlington. The zig-zag section was a wee bit frustrating with non-existent signs at 2 of the 4 corners. At one corner – and I have to say on this occasion thank goodness for all the churches – the Lord hath mercy on us and led us not into temptation to take the wrong turn!! We were looking for Jefferson Rd – and Pat spotted a sign saying Jefferson Rd Baptist Church with an arrow in its direction – so we took it!!
At the last of the zig-zag roads as we were to turn on to the 401 – it pelted down – but luckily there was a run-down service station on the corner so we took shelter, and had a few nibbles from the van. The rain eased a bit – so we decided to continue on. I must admit it reminded me of the day we rode from Whangarei to Cable Bay in Northland, New Zealand – we were all soaking wet – the only thing missing this time was our paparazzi followers of Irene and Shona!!
We reached the small town of Lamar, and to dry out a bit – we had lunch at Subway. Oh – since the zig-zags the road had been almost dead flat so it was pretty good biking. At times when there were no trees along the sides the wind would hit us rather strongly – but it was great when trees were present for the shelter they gave.
After lunch the flat roads continued and we headed to Darlington – where there is a popular Nascar Track and apparently a great museum. It seemed a nice sort of town as we cycled through, and there were some beautiful homes on the eastern side. We had enjoyed a good stretch of weather and had almost dried out – but there were still threatening clouds all around. A bit of a down and up – then more flat roads brought us to the eastern edge of Florence and our camp for the night.
Just as we turned into the road the campground was on - it started to rain - so we were just a little wet when we got in. With the weather still “iffy” Don and Annie opted for a cabin, while we parked in the van down under huge trees amongst the huge RV’s!!!
So Bonnie is still around - still being called a tropical depression - but we didn't let her stop us today!! Despite the weather, I actually really enjoyed today's ride through the countryside and small towns.