Daily mileage: 9.34 Segment 206.8 Total 709.0
Route: Ride the bike from the hotel to the Memphis bus station, Greyhound bus back to the car.
My free ride didn’t work out, so my ‘back to the car’ option is Greyhound bus from Memphis to Fordyce, AR. It turns out that the bus from Memphis to Fordyce leaves at 03:05 a.m. Hotel checkout is 11:00 a.m. I probably should have just travelled from the I-55 bridge crossing to the bus station and not checked into the hotel. I was told that the bus station was on Main Street in the Northern part of downtown Memphis. Research on the web gave me departure times and the updated address, near the airport. I got my bike and gear together, checked out of the hotel, and rode to the Greyhound station on Airways Blvd. Right when I rolled out of the hotel property, it started to rain. I didn’t need to be in any hurry, but I went straight from the hotel to the bus station. I bought a ticket, and was told that my bike needed to be in a box; the shipping department around the corner would help me. I had all the time in the world, so I took my time and packaged the bike as well as I could with the resources available from the shipping department – a box for $10 and all the packing tape I could handle. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about the driver rejecting me or my bike after waiting all day for the dang bus.
I then waited in the bus station for 14.5 hours until my bus arrived at 03:05 a.m. I was a bit taken aback at the slice of society that I observed in the bus station. The station was never empty but yet never really all that crowded, as buses arrived and departed from various destinations. I figured that I might be able to catch an earlier bus to Little Rock, where I had to change buses anyway, and do some of my wait time there instead of Memphis, but the few buses going there were all full or nearly full. I ended up waiting the full time in Memphis. My bus arrived about 30 minutes late, departed almost full about 60 minutes late, and I was concerned that after waiting the majority of the hours in a day, I might miss one of my connections in Little Rock and/or Malvern. But connections were there and the SCAT bus in Malvern was waiting for us. It was a 12 passenger bus with 7 of us on board. I was tired, and hadn’t slept, but I somewhat enjoyed the trip back to Fordyce on the roller coaster road. The bus driver dropped me about a half mile from where the car was and I had all gear loaded in the car about 10:30 after some creative cargo movement. I had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and I was on my way. The trip was done.
Daily mileage: 8.78 Segment 197.4 Total 699.5
Route: West Memphis to Memphis TN (Super 8 at Crump Park). Today’s mileage is a lot lower than average; I was unsuccessful in stopping earlier yesterday, but I wanted to allocate a lot of time for today since I had to find the route across the Mississippi River. It is not straightforward.
I left West Memphis about 11:20, and headed to the river crossing route I scoped out the week earlier. I was here in my car about a week earlier, and spent about 8 hours finding the bicycle route to the I-55 bridge. I only have the bike today; hopefully it will be a lot simpler today.
I am hurting from the saddle sores, but I pushed through it all and survived. The previously locked red gate was unlocked and open. I stopped for a break after the gravel road/paved road change, stopped at the BASF factory, told them about the mislabelled MRT sign. They were friendly and happy to get the info this time.
The time I spent last week was quite worthwhile. I was quite relieved that I was able to find my way to the I-55 bridge without any trouble. Crossing the bridge was no problem. I pushed the bike through the grass, up the embankment and for about 50 feet after the concrete bridge walkway started, and was able to ride all the way across the bridge, arriving in E.H. Crump Park on the Memphis, Tennessee side. When I visited by car the previous week, the bridge railing did not look that high and I thought that I might have to walk the bike across the bridge, but I was able to ride the bike all the way without any confidence problems or vertigo. The side clearance changed every 15 feet or so due to the bridge structure, and I did not hit anything in passing. On the other side, I rolled down the grass embankment, across the park’s parking lot into the hotel parking lot without getting off my bike. This was much easier than I had thought it would be. I was quite amazed at the amount of shaking and vibration on the bridge. I somewhat expected a little seismic activity from all of the heavy trucks, but even passenger cars made it shake. The bridge is quite old and I don’t see how it stays together like that. I suppose that it is appropriate that the bridge to Memphis has a “whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on”. Sorry Elvis.
Well, I made it to Memphis.
Daily mileage 41.05 Trip 188.7 Total 690.75
Route: Forrest City to West Memphis AR (Quality Inn).
I was fighting a fairly strong cross wind all day (8 to 10 o’clock). I was well rested but got exhausted early for some reason. I went about 8+ miles before my first break. After a cloudy start, the sun came out, and I struggled the rest of the day. I had numerous
I missed out on breakfast, couldn’t find a restaurant or otherwise reasonable place to eat until about 13:00, when I stopped at a gas station in Shell Lake. There were friendly people at every stop I made. Before the gas station lunch, I stopped at a house under construction, and owners/builders gave me an iced bottle of water topped off with some nice conversation.
The lunch (I suppose it was really breakfast) rejuvenated me and I was able to make it to West Memphis without any issues. I thought I would run into a hotel (any hotel!) before making it to town, but the nearest one was more than half way through the city at an I-55 exit. I spent a little time trying to figure out how to get to it without interacting with freeway speed vehicles, and I made it to the Quality Inn by crossing an old overgrown parking lot. The nearest restaurant was a Cracker Barrel that I had to get to by walking along freeway access road about a half mile. Challenging route, good meal after a tough day. I had some serious saddle sores in Djibouti, soothed a bit in the hotel pool.