Day 22 Kosciusko MS to Livingston AL

Sweet Home Alabama

Today we rode 116 miles from Kosciusko MS to Livingston AL.

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First, the weather. Yesterday the forecasters blew it and it never got warm. Today was supposed to start cool, then the sun was going to come out mid-day and warm us to 70 balmy degrees. Didn’t happen. I started with arm warmers and a vest in 52 degree weather – fall has come to the south. When it got over 60 I left my vest in a PAC Tour van and quickly regretted it. Overcast and low 60’s makes for a chilly ride.

Next, the motel flat. The bad news is that my rear tire was flat when I took the bike down to the start. The good news is that I could use my stash of tubes to fix it, and the PAC Tour pumps to inflate, so I hardly minded. Much better than the flats in the middle of nowhere.

Most of today was going up and down the hills of eastern Mississippi. It seems that there is not a flat spot in this half of the state. Very few steep or long hills, just the same thing over and over, rolling past pine trees and kudzu spilling down hillsides like a flood of green.

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At the first water stop we got to meet the local sheriff who ask Susan who all these cyclists were cluttering his back roads. Luckily he didn’t spot any of us “emptying the coffee” by the side of the road. Susan told us that she hoped we got thrown in the pokey, and hopefully our roommate too so that she wouldn’t have to pay for our hotel room. Lovely woman.

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Not all the cars in the state looked as shiny and clean. I think this is a 1963 Impala.

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We rode through Philadelphia, MS.

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This is the city where three civil rights workers were killed in 1964. We stopped at the courthouse where . Ironically, this is the only place where I saw the MS flag with its Stars and Bars.

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The city is also the seat of Neshoba County, including the local high school. Click on the photo below for a larger image.

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The roads in this part of the start were not only hilly but also covered with chip seal, which is a layer of tar and rocks. Big rocks. The type of rocks that hammer your hands, feet, and backsides for dozens of miles. My legs were sore from the constant vibrations, not the repetitive climbs.

I rode with Jim S, Jim M, and Lynn until lunch, when we became separated due to limited facilities. Jay from Sleepy Hollow was heading out so I took another ride on the Jay Train. Unlike my previous time, we talked for 15 miles then hammered the last few miles in. This is NOT the Jay Train, just the first time I have seen this maintenance vehicle.

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We passed a house with the Ten Commandments displayed in the front yard. This is a sign that we were getting close to Alabama. (I asked several people if they took a photo, and all were concerned about agitating the owner.)  About 50 feet later, with little notice, we crossed the border. Nothing special, really.

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But on the other side of the street was the matching MS sign, which was a real collectible as there was no sign when we entered the state.

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Jay immediately put on “Sweet Home Alabama” as we pedaled away on smooth roads without chip seal.

Now that we have left MS, I can bring up the topic of dogs. Jim S had a book about a guy who rode solo following much of the same route as us, and he was literally hounded by dogs across Mississippi more than any other state. When I rode in a group, a half mile behind Jay, the dogs were all lethargic and not interested. Jay said the reason was that they were all tuckered out from chasing him! I guess the dogs prefer to chase solo riders instead of a pack.

In western states we often followed a road for 40, 60, or even 80 miles during the day. Now out east the roads have more twists and change often, so the PAC Tour has started spraying arrows on the roads. Keep them from having to find lost riders scattered across several counties.

Lastly, I had a nice dinner at Pizza Hut with cousins who are circumnavigating the US, and re-arraigned their trip to meet me in Livingston. It was nice to see a friendly face and catch up on family. (Their names are being withheld until they return home, safe and sound.) Only 5 more days until we finish in Savannah!

Please support my ride to raise money for the Pan Mass Challenge and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Chris Spear

P.S. Check out Jim Salvie’s blog