This tour started when I was driven down to South Carolina by my friend
Michael Davis. Michael picked me up at 7 AM on a Saturday morning. I loaded
my commuter bike into the trunk of his car - I couldn't take my touring bike because, with full fenders and racks, it wouldn't fit in his trunk. Roughly
four hours later, in Bamberg South Carolina, I discovered that I hadn't
loaded my helmet or my bags! I just don't function well that early in the
morning! I planned to ride with Michael and a friend of his, Woody, that
day, then ride down to Savannah the next day, spend several days with a
friend there, and ride back to Asheville.
Day 0, Ehrhardt, SC to Savannah
Lightly loaded touring!
I had no helmet or no riding clothes, but I did have my bike, my riding
sandals, the set of travel clothes I was wearing, a silk undershirt I was
wearing that I could wear as a jersey, two vests, a rain coat, wool socks, Seal Skinz sock, winter riding,
gloves, a basic multi tool, two cameras ;-}, a tube, a patch kit and a pump.
Could I do my tour? Michael had a helmet, some riding pants, and leg warmers I could use, so I decided, with a little trepidation, to do the day ride and then ride on
Woody, Michael and I rode a loop through Ehrhardt that afternoon, and ate
supper in Bamberg that evening. Then Michael drove me to a B+B in Ehrhardt
where I spent the night. The nice folks at the B+B, gave me basic toiletries
including a toothbrush, toothpaste, a razor, and some shampoo. I had a good
nights sleep and a hearty breakfast before heading for Savannah.
My route to Savannah was simple: US 601 to US 321 to US 17. There is one
real town on 601, Hampton, about 20 miles from Ehrhardt, and I stopped at
the McDs there to get two hot apple pies and eat a small burger. That was
all I needed to get to Hardeeville, about 60 miles from Ehrhardt and 15
miles from Savannah.
Leaving Ehrhardt at about 9:30 AM
Riding on 601 was great. It was mostly flat, with only a gentle hill or two,
and had little traffic. I had a nice tail wind, so I was able to average
about 16 mph. I stopped once, a few miles before 601 reached 321, to rest
and eat one of my apple pies.
Riding was not as much fun on 321. There was a significant amount of truck
traffic and the pavement was a bit bumpy. I'd also lost the tail wind and,
as I got closer to the coast, had to fight a bit of a headwind. My speed
dropped to about 14 mph on this part of the ride. The countryside was not as
interesting as it had been on 601, but I did get to see an osprey (?) catch
a fish in one on the canals that ran alongside the road. After catching it,
he flew down the road ahead of me for several hundred yards with the fish in his talons.
Redbud tree against the pine trees on 601
I stopped at Wendys in Hardeeville for lunch. Hardeeville is right on I-95.
After lunch I crossed the bridge over 95 and headed for Savannah.
This part of the ride started out on four lanes, changed to two wide lanes
with no shoulder and then to two narrow lanes with a rough shoulder. That
last part is after the road, 170, from Hilton Head joins 17 and the traffic
there was pretty heavy, even on a Sunday afternoon. 17 goes into Savannah
over two bridges. The first is low and flat with small, dirty, shoulders.
The second is high and fancy with good shoulders. Bicycles are forbidden on
both bridges, but this is the way most bicyclists get into Savannah from the
On 17, heading for Savannah
I got off the expressway at the Oglethorpe Ave. exit on the other side and
rode into downtown Savannah. Riding in Savannah was easy and very pretty. It
took me five, mostly easy, hours of riding to get there from Ehrhardt. That
is an average speed of 15 mph for 75 miles. There is a lot to be said for
touring on flat roads with gentle tailwinds!
Climbing the big bridge
Near the top of the big bridge