Day 0, Ehrhardt, SC to Savannah

Lightly loaded touring!

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.

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 to Savannah.

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.

Leaving Ehrhardt at about 9:30 AM

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.

In Hampton

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.

On 601

Redbud tree against the pine trees on 601

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.

On 321

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.

On 17, heading 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 north.

Climbing the big bridge

Near the top of the big bridge

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!