The morning ritual begins. Rummage through your bag looking for dry shoes and dry clothes. Wonder why all your clothes are wet, and realize the wet ones fused with the dry collection. Do the sniff test. Everything smells gamey. Open the hotel door to check the outside temperature, and watch the humid steamy air roll in. You feel your body temperature rise, and you instinctively wipe the steam off your forehead. Close the door, fast. Staying dry is out. It’s all about the nose. Choose the least gamey outfit and hope your bike-mates won’t draft too close.
We departed Myrtle Beach shortly after sunrise, with a light ocean breeze. Soon we had pedaling down to a rhythm and the smell of salt air was enough to take the edge of your pungent clothing, and all was glorious in the world. The travels between Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet were along low volume roads, beach fronts and trails, and we couldn’t help but to think we were in paradise. We missed the exit to our planned stopping point, but that was OK, because we were off-the-busy-highways, enjoying travels fueled only by pedal power. And then, we arrived onto Route 17, the Business Section. Route 17 is all about business. Busy-I-ness. And then the rains arrived. And our mouths gaped wide wondering how in the world we would navigate those roads, especially in the rain.
We ducked into a Dunkin Donuts for a few moments to let the downpour let up, and indulge on a coffee. We watched the clouds bust-a-seam — apparently normal in the Low Country — and if you think you can wait these rains out, plan on plenty of waiting. The drops became buckets and after an hour of waiting we wondered if it might be time to order a donut. Several cyclists double-checked their phones — the accurate-weather apps — and assured us that the rains would be diminishing. The skies darkened. We waited, and waited, and I surmised that our collective refusal to ride in the rain had more to do with riding the Route 17 Business Section- the final 15 miles. We watched the traffic splash water 20 feet high and I considered eating a jelly donut in case it might be my last.
Finally someone suggested that their weather app was showing a clearing, and it was time to make a go for it. I spotted a trail on the opposite side of Route 17, so we all crossed the busy 6 lane highway, just to ride on the sidewalk. What we didn’t notice, was that low-country-lakes had returned.
Pools of water appeared, and we rode on thinking they were merely inches deep. Imagine the surprise, finding yourself in thigh deep depths. Or riding into a submerged sinkhole (pothole) and not coming out the other side. This particular vintage took several of us by surprise — wipe outs, trashed wheels or just awkward body collisions with your handlebars. Maybe it would be better to ride on the busy highway?
Here is what we learned about Route 17, something that one might not ordinarily learn from a car – unless your car wanders. There are rumble strips — a little shake when your car veers off the road — and the Low Country’s version of rumble strips. Deep-sleep-shake-the-wheels-off-of-your-tires grooves that could be considered pre-fabricated potholes. We guessed the meandering shoulder was designed by someone new to the SC road team, as it varied in size from 2 inches to 12. With pouring rain, 18 wheelers and 70 mile per hour vehicle traffic, our peloton of riders abandoned the idea of taking a full lane, and opted to hug the tiny come-and-go shoulder bracing for impact with the rumble-n-tumble-strips.
Someone yelled 5 more miles to go, and our thoughts focused on when we would hear the next message. “Four”, and we pedaled on hoping that we would make it to three. “Three” was yelled out, and we pedaled faster until we arrived upon our road angel – the ECG Sag Support vehicle driven by Bob. With 2 miles to go, he followed our peloton into busy Georgetown – with everyone arriving safely. Some, bruised and battered, but safe.
In the search of food, we landed onto historic Georgetown, where our wanderings left us in awe at the working shrimp boats that delivered fresh shrimp and daily catch. We sat outside under an umbrella, the rains now just a mist, eating fresh local shrimp in the form of sushi rolls, and the scary roads of Route 17 faded away, We had traveled by bicycle, and were now relaxing eating sushi. Brought in by a shrimp boat 2 blocks away. It doesn’t get any better than that.
A fellow cyclist and blogger shares her perspective on this day.