Live A Big Life Ride

living big to create opportunity

Day 44: April 17, Pensacola FL to Andalusia AL

We are cutting North towards Atlanta, where we hope to arrive on Monday, so today we headed back into Alabama. But first we went out to breakfast with Jeb, a tradition of his so that he can swap biking stories with the cyclists he hosts in the Methodist Church. It’s fun to be able to sit down with other people who have done trips like this because they understand what it is to live on your bike in a way that is hard to describe to others. We enjoyed another one of our giant breakfasts at the cafe across the street with Jeb, and just before 9am we peddled out for another day of riding.

Before we turned to the North we had to go East for about 45 miles, and low and behold, we headed directly into yet another aggressive headwind. We assume that somehow karma will even itself out and the world will do something really nice for us one of these days, since we’re putting in so much time with these freaking headwinds. It was slow going, and it was 2pm of basically non-stop riding by the time we turned North.

We went through miles of pine forest in Florida and back into Alabama which was really beautiful, and we had a shoulder for about half the day but not the other. Going this way took us off our Adventure Cycling Associationmaps, so we are now in the land that’s not used to seeing cyclists all fully loaded up with their gear. At one gas station this very nice and toothless gentlemen came up to us and inquired what on earth we were doing, and when we told him, he said “Damn, y’all are gonna be in the book of World Records!” We hope he’s right.


Pam, one of our hosts for the evening, regaling us with stories from their cycling adventures

Our home for the evening is very homey, another Warm Showers set up with Pam and Guy W. in Andalusia, AL. It turned out to be a very long day of riding, 95 miles in total, and we were really tired when we rolled up to their house. Pam and Guy are bikers themselves, so they know exactly what we wanted: a beer, snacks, a shower and then a hot and delicious meal. They’re a great couple who love to laugh and share stories from the road, and they also have the world’s largest variety of chocolate sauces that we heaped on ice cream afterwards. We spent a really fun evening cracking up with these two, who provided the most comfortable home we could have asked for for the night. Big thanks to Pam and Guy!


Pam and Guy, shown here with the amazing breakfast spread the fixed for us in the morning including HOMEMADE BISCUITS.

A Guide to How to Drive When Cyclists Are Around


Ah, what life would be like if we had the road to ourselves

The biggest concern for cyclists is always how on earth the cars on the road are going to deal with the fact that we exist. Is there a shoulder for us to ride in, or is it filled with rumble strips that makes it unridable? Or maybe there’s no shoulder at all. Are you an open back pick-up truck with crap flying out? Well that’s annoying to us because we could get hit by your crap. Are you drunk? Because not only is that stupid and illegal, but it makes us feel iffy about sharing the road with you. These are only some of the topics that we think about when considering another day of riding our bikes on roads occupied by cars. So here is a brief How-To Guide for How to Drive When Cyclists Are Around.

Rule #1: Give us some room. Whether you have one lane or two, it is definitely DEFINITELY worth the effort to swerve a little to your left so that you don’t come within inches of our elbows. Interestingly, 18-wheelers tend to be the best at this because they’re driven by professional drivers. Most, though not all, swerve all the way into the other lane so they don’t get all up in our business. How nice! On the other hand, nothing is more terrifying than feeling a car whiz by and brush the hairs on your forearms. Cars, do you realize that we are unprotected? Do you know how much it would hurt to get swiped by a car and flung through the air only to land on our uncushioned bodies? Clearly that hasn’t happened to us, but my impression is that it would hurt. A lot.

Rule #2: Don’t Honk. It’s startling and it scares the bejeezus out of us. Even if it’s meant as a supportive honk, it makes us jump out of our skin which is disruptive because we need to stay in our skin in order to continue riding our bikes. And if you’re honking because you want us to get out of your way, then consider Rule #1 and go away.

Rule #3: Don’t shout weird things at us. Particularly outlandish and unnecessary name calling and obscenities. Is our environmentally friendly and impressive physical exercise really that offensive to your gas guzzling way of life?

Rule #4: Don’t pull out into our lane and then just sit there. Mostly because it’s annoying and it makes is have to swerve into traffic which is dangerous and could easily be avoided if you would just stop at the actual stop sign.

Rule #5: Don’t drink and then drive your car. Doing this impairs your ability to drive between the lines and avoid hitting nice folks like us. It’s also illegal and stupid and although it doesn’t seem to be as rare as it should be, it’s still illegal and stupid.

All that being said, most drivers have been incredibly gracious and courteous to us and every other cyclists we’ve met, so thank you for that! Keep on following Rules #1-#5 and maybe one day we can all be friends.


Day 43: April 16, Dauphin Island AL to Pensacola FL

There is one bakery that’s open early on Dauphin Island, and needless to say we found it this Wednesday morning. After some cinnamon rolls, muffins and coffee, we rode to the ferry on Dauphin Island to cross over the Mobile Bay. A half hour later we were on the East side of the bay and riding on towards Florida.


Enjoying the fact that we were moving without having to sit on our bikes

It was a pretty unremarkable day of riding. 58 miles, completely flat, much of it right on the coast. It was beautiful riding along the gulf, all the houses raised up because of frequent flooding. So we peddled from beach community to beach community to strip mall to strip mall. The highlight of the day was the video concept that Madeleine came up with for our Border Crossing video:


Click the photo for our best Border Crossing video yet – with sound.

We stayed at a Warm Showers that night in Pensacola, at a local Methodist Church. The Director of Communications and Worship Arts at this church is a guy named Jeb, who biked cross country on the Trans America Trail last fall, and upon returning to Pensacola convinced the Church to let him use it as a Warm Showers host. It was quite spectacular. The Church is enormous and has multiple buildings, so we had an entire building to ourselves (which while living in a tent is extra special).


Jeb, our awesome host for the night


Day 42: April 15, Moss Point MS to Dauphin Island AL

There was a torrential downpour / dramatic lightning storm / monsoon the night we stayed in Moss Point, fortunately 100% dry in our motel room. When we woke up it was 40-something degrees and still blowing cold wind, and the storm had caused the wind to shift so that it was coming straight out of the north. We had plans to make it to Mobile, AL this day, which is North of where we were, so we headed out with that plan in mind.

About 10 miles down the road we saw a big colorful sign that read “GATOR RANCH” so we screeched on our brakes and went in for a $5 self-guided tour, and it was AWESOME. They had some baby gators in cages, but more impressive were the giant adult gators roaming around the bayou/marsh, with little walkways that you could explore on.


I got to hold a baby


One of the big ones! Click the picture for a video.

When we left the Gator Ranch the wind was still blowing at uncomfortable speeds from the north, so we held a miniature roadside powwow and decided screw it, we never get the wind at our backs, let’s take this as a sign that we’re supposed to go south and just do that. So we did! And it was FABULOUS. We covered 50 miles in no time at all, flying at 16-18mph the entire time. We stopped for the best pulled pork sandwich in the world in Bayou La Batre, also the home of Forrest Gump, and wound up on Dauphin Island on the Alabama coast.


Crossing the border – click the photo for our Border Crossing video

We got to the one campsite on Dauphin Island and set up camp – it was cold and was getting down to the mid-30s that night, so we tried to make a camp fire. Unfortunately everything was a little wet so it wasn’t going so well, so both of our neighbors came over with their gallons of fire starter fluid and torched us up. Making friends everywhere.

New Orleans to Moss Point, MS

We left New Orleans reluctantly on Saturday. Having had such a great time we were inclined to stick around through the weekend but a reasonably priced hotel room proved elusive. Our sendoff meal was at Cake Cafe, my new favorite place on earth. Riding out of the city ended up being complicated as we navigated some incredibly poorly paved roads and confusing one-way street situations. We rode up through the Ninth Ward and had almost cleared the city when we came to a railroad crossing. A train was coming through slowly and eventually just rolled to a halt. We sat waiting for it for at least 30 minutes. It was crazy. I took it as a sign that we weren’t meant to leave but eventually we got through and rode east on Route 90 toward Mississippi. A few miles out of town we saw a big sign warning of traffic delays the following day because of the Ironman Triathlon that would be running. We thanked our lucky stars that we avoided getting stuck in that. On 90 we noticed a couple guys erecting a “ghost bike,” a bicycle frame painted white as a memorial to a cyclist who had been killed in that location. It turned out that a firefighter from Atlanta was in town training for the Ironman and had been struck and killed by a car the previous day exactly where we were then riding. We were informed of this by several locals at a gas station/restaurant/bar where we had stopped to rest. They were all telling us about the accident and how we should be careful out on the roads. They were all also very clearly loaded and we watched several of them hop in their cars and drive off. I even sat and watched as one guy drove in, went into the store, came out with a 22oz. beer, got in his car, opened it, took a swig, then drove off. Unbelievable. So yeah, that was a pretty gnarly experience. Back on the road, keeping a watchful eye in our rearview mirrors, we rode through the bayous and eventually over the Mississippi border. Dumbfoundingly enough, it is apparently legal to drink and drive in Mississippi (according to both my brother and the internet). As long as you don’t blow a 0.08% BAC, you can operate a vehicle while consuming alcohol. Whoa to that.

Our first couple nights in MS we camped at state parks where there a a million jillion kabillion gnats and I now have an equal number of bug bites. We also visited the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and historical home, Beauvoir, in Biloxi. Yes, such a thing exists. After getting our history on we hit a local joint which was packed with (mostly drunk) locals having all-you-can-eat crawfish. I decided to join them and, after struggling with the little critters for a while, a local guy came over and said, “You’re not from around here are you?” He said he knew because “No one from around here would ever take a fork to a plate of crawfish.” Then he proceeded to pick up several crawfish off my plate and show me how to peel/shuck them. Southerners are VERY friendly. Anywho, now I know how to eat crawfish like a southerner. On the menu for tomorrow, a swamp tour where we will allegedly get a chance to feed some alligators. Stay tuned!

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Riding out in style in our beautiful new STOKED jerseys

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The tree lined neighborhoods of New Orleans

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Hitting the Gulf shores

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Crossing into Mississippi!

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Fixing our very first flat tire just over the Mississippi border

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Number 1 rated breakfast joint in Waveland, MS: Da Kitchen

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Welcoming everyone to Jefferson Davis’s home, Beauvoir

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We visited his “Presidential Library”

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Going to town on our first crawfish experience