Bike & Build

June 20th - Van Buren

Church at dawn.
The usual church at dawn. I love how the lighting works, and how even dim sources spill light everywhere.

We continued our long stretch of rides today, biking 88 miles to Van Buren. This stretch totaled 380 miles in 4 days, and somewhere over 500 miles in the complete week. 

Everything about this trip is absurd and a little larger than life. 

June 19th - Tropical Storm Bill

Tropical storm Bill moved out today. After some overcast rain yesterday and some overnight thunderstorms, not much was left in the morning and the squall line we were forecast to bike through never materialized. 

Not that I'm complaining. 

The day started off rainy but cleared around 7:30. I'd expected more rain, so the camera sat the day out. 

The route took us along a quiet highway for a few miles then ducked down onto a riverside trail. As with everything else around here, the river was flooded a little above its banks and the trail was wet. 

Later in the day, we climbed to the overlook at Petit Jean, part of a national park. (I'll try to get pictures from my phone up here). The van met us at the top with lunch, and we hung out, admitting the view over farmland and flooded fields. 

A few miles after lunch Helen and I stopped at a small Amish country store for ice cream and chatted for a while with the locals about geology, poverty, and woodworking. The descent from Petit Jean was long, winding, and gorgeous. 


June 18th - Day Off!

Breakfast at a diner
A bunch of us went out to a local diner for breakfast. It was charming, even if the locals thought we were a soccer team. (There was some southwest championship going on in the area.)

Little Rock hosted our first day off. As I mentioned, it was asks the first non-church host, so we were in a real house. Our hosts were a couple who had both ridden SC2SC in different years. 

I caught up on my photo journaling, Helen played with watercolor and writing in her journal. It was a really pleasant break from the physical exertion of Bike & Build. 

Other notes, in no particular order:

  • We slept in until 6:45!
  • I replaced by camelback's mouthpiece with one that didn't leak. 
  • Helen and I boarder visited the Purple Cow, a small dinner chain that presumably sent the C&D letter to Easton's Purple Cow (now the Bank St. Creamery)!
  • A tropical storm blew through, so we had one extra excuse not to go to far. 

June 17th - Visiting a Cropduster

Leaving Stuttgart.
Leaving the Episcopal Church in Stuttgart. The folks there were all really inspired by our trip, which touched me. They also took lots of photos of us.

The route today was very pretty. We wandered through an assortment of cropland, leaving behind Stuttgart's rice paddies for soy, corn, and other crops. (Riceland, a major rice processing company, is based in Stuttgart, but I didn't get any pictures of their facilities. It's a shame.)

Along the way, we ran into a small cropduster airstrip. As we approached, one of their planes landed, all of 50' off the road. We pulled over for a bike to chat with the employees. A few facts: each of the planes cost around a million dollars (an older style with radial engines are more like $60k but lack the payload capacity.) They can carry three to five thousand pounds of dry fertilizer, but need nice weather to safely approach the higher end. The airship only served a five mile radius: flying that far takes 10 minutes, and the fertilizer tanks are only good for 15 minutes of dumping, so the further away the field, the less airtime is actually spent dusting. They have a relatively short season (May-September) of long days, and around four months annually with next to no business.

Our evening host was a bike and build alumni who invited us to stay in his house. He and his wife have both ridden the SC2SC route in different years and were very interested in comparing our experiences to theirs. Especially since the 18th is a day off, it was nice to stay in a real house with a non-industrial kitchen. 

June 16th - Into Arkansas

Our trip has been maintaining a blog at Each of us is assigned to write a journal entry once a month (ish) and the 16th was my day. Without further ado, here's the cross-posted journal entry. Sorry about the formatting...

Today held a laundry list of accomplishments. It’s the longest day so far – at 95 miles, it beat out our prior record holder by 7 miles. We crossed another state line into Arkansas, our 5th state so far (we cross 13 in all). We stayed a really funky canoe outfitter instead of a church. And we crossed the 1000 mile mark. We have ridden 1000 miles. On bikes. From South Carolina to Arkansas.  It’s a little crazy.

Since today’s ride was 95 miles, we started early. Wake-up was 4:30, well before dawn. We packed quickly and headed outside for air, brake, chain checks and then breakfast. I enjoyed watching the sky gradually illuminate.

June 15th - Into the Breadbasket

Church at dawn
We stay almost exclusively at churches, and they're almost always pretty at dawn.

We transitioned scenery today. The Appalachian mountains came to a gradual close and have been replaced by farmland. (It's also been a few days since anyone fed us grits and the southern accents have been getting stronger.)

Our evening host was a canoe outfitter that custom built 33' canoes and ran excursions down the Mississippi river. 

June 14th - Oxford and its town square

Our Oxford host
The church that hosted us in Oxford

The forecast called for rain today (which it does every day down here). For some reason, I spooked today and decided to leave the camera packed for the ride. 

We rode to Oxford, spending only 60 miles on the bike. It's so funny to say "only 60", but after days of 70 and 90 mile rides, 60 feels short. Most of the group arrived relatively early and wandered out to explore Oxford. The town had a cute little central square, not unlike Easton, PA's circle. Helen and I split a frozen yogurt to help cool down. 

June 13th - Rebuilding

Painting trim.
A bunch of the group painting trim for the house

Habitat doesn't usually rehab houses. It's hard to tell what sort of shape they're in before taking them apart, and they're often more trouble than they're worth. 

This house was a rehab. Wells Fargo had foreclosed on the house 3 years prior. After failing to sell the failing structure, they donated it to Habitat. 

During our build day, we started replacing the roof, painted trim, and cleaned up the property. 

June 12th - A Whole Building for Youth

Youth room
The youth room we started in. The next few photos take you through the room.

Pictures for today start in the evening because the host set aside an entire building for us. We were in a dedicated youth building, with amenities including ping-pong, a piano, a drum set, and a small theater setup. 

The ride took us across yet another state line into Mississippi. For whatever reason, we never actually saw a state line sign. There was a sign for a Mississippi visitor center, so there's that. To get to the sign, we had to crawl up a highway overpass and onto the shoulder. 

June 11th - Hamilton, AL

Paceline riding
Biking in a paceline. If I'm careful, I can pull out the camera while riding.

Today's ride took us around 75 miles into Hamilton, AL. Early in the ride, we ran into a bunch of friendly old folks hanging out at a gas station. A sign hung over their seats pronouncing "LIARS BENCH". They'd seen B&B come through in past years and were curious what we were all about.