Scottsboro to Rodgersville, AL

US 72 heading east from Scottsboro

I needed to go down to US 72 to get breakfast this morning, and, since I wanted to save my GPS' remaining battery power, I decided that I would try to rid US 72 all day if that looked practical. When got on US 72 in Scottsboro, it had rough, but rideable shoulders and light to moderate traffic at 8:30 AM on Sunday. Not a perfect road for bicycling, but OK.

After breakfast at McDs - the Deluxe Breakfast which is pretty good and big enough that, with my tummy trauma from yesterday, I couldn't eat it all - I headed west on US 72. Riding improved about 5 miles west when the shoulders were like extra lanes on the road.

The view looking north from US 72 half a dozen miles west of Scottsboro

In addition to a great road, I had great views of wetlands to the north, and little traffic to disrupt my enjoyment of the easy riding through beautiful country. After about five miles, the great shoulders went away. The traffic increased, and the road climbed up, about 300 feet vertical, onto a plateau.

Looking back at the climb up to the Plateau
Note the rough shoulder and the, still pretty light, traffic

Riding was still good, even though I had to ride on the white line. The trucks, especially the big ones would move over the other lane a quarter of a mile behind me. Almost all of the cars did that too, and no one passed me close enough to cause discomfort.

A narrow, but rideable shoulder was there most of the time after the plateau and before Madison County

Flat land riding along the railroad tracks after the plateau

The shoulder became unrideable in Madison County, which started well before Huntsville, but riding without a good bailout place was not a problem. I stopped at a small shopping center in Madison County to snack and rest in the shade. It was in the high 80s well before noon. The wind, which was from the north really helped me keep cool, but it also slowed me down several miles an hour when the road ran north.

It was still before noon when I stopped, at a Subway just before Huntsville. I stopped because I was hungry and tired - I'd ridden 40 miles in about three hours - and because the 'after church' traffic was getting bad. Very soon after that stop, the shoulders became great again and then there was a 'controlled access highway' sign. US 72 exits west as the road was on heads south as an interstate.

Riding US 72 through Huntsville was, as I expected, much more difficult than riding it from Scottsboro to Huntsville. It is a, hilly, ten mile long, multi lane divided highway with no shoulders, lots of traffic, and lots of stop lights through a strip of malls and other stuff. Because of the traffic, the hills, and the stoplights, it took me almost as long to ride the 20 miles to Athens as it did to ride the 40 miles to Huntsville. Ugh!, but I never felt that this part of the ride was dangerous. It was just unpleasant, urban, riding. Near the beginning of that stretch, I stopped at a Staples store and replaced most of the important things I had lost yesterday, something I could only do on Sunday in an urban area.

Riding the last ten miles to Athens was, despite the lack of shoulders, not too bad

I stopped for a second lunch at a Wendys in Athens, then, using my GPS since I now had a way to recharge it, I figured out that I could ride another 20 miles and stop for the night at the Economy Inn in Rodgersville. Athens is the place where US 72 crosses a north-south interstate, which explains there is so much traffic between Huntsville and Athens. It was good to get past that interstate and have a more peaceful riding for the last part of the day! It is very pretty country here, which now means that it is being developed ;-{, so I was lucky to get to ride it before it all becomes like the strip in Huntsville.

This morning, riding out of Scottsboro, I remembered that Ken Kiefer lived up here. When he told me about his cabin in northern Alabama, I had no idea what a beautiful area it was. Now I understand why he loved this area.

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