I am usually a vegetarian but it is very difficult to stick to such a diet on the ride. I do allow myself small amounts of fried chicken each day.
It is so important to get at least 80-100 grams of daily protein. This morning I just have protein powder, dried milk and instant coffee and start off on my way.
We know that our ride today takes us through the swamp country south of Charleston along the coast. Services are very limited.
I stop at the cross roads of Dale 12 miles out at a small convenient store. I am the only white male for miles around. Sudden silence engulfs the store as I enter and all look down. No one gives me eye contact.
I ask about breakfast from the grill to be told not allowed, Covid shut everything down. I’m not quite sure that is accurate as others seem to be eating at chairs and tables there. I buy Twinkies and coffee and eat outside not feeling welcome .
I pass by swamp shanties …hard to believe people live there.
10 miles down the road I pass a massive plantation, miles long with green pastures full of thoroughbreds.
Not much has changed here in the South.
Ahead I see a sign for a small town ,Catholic Hill ,and low and behold there is indeed a long gradual shallow hill that I start to climb.At the top a sweet church, the center of Catholic Hill.
A sign tells the story of Irish settlers from the mid 1850 who decided to settle on this hill in a swamp. Not many years later the church burned down but the community remained and rebuilt the church.
As I rest by the side of the road I see Flossie returning from a visit with local kin.
“Want to her the real story of what happened? “With a grin. I wearily nod yes, you never know about a Flossie’s tail.
“ Well Father Fiore, a kind old soul , was in the middle of his weekly Sunday sermon preaching the extent of human guilt. Almost everybody was asleep. Unbeknownst to the congregation crocodiles had crept up from the swamp for a Sunday Feast. They burst into the church and gobbled down a few unlucky souls. The priest, beside himself, threw lit candles at the crocs with wide open mouths. The beasts turn and scampered out not so much from fear but from the foul taste of Catholic Guilt. Needless to say the wooden church burned down to a crisp.
I thanked Flossie for the info and decided to ride on.
As the morning progressed I recalled I was supposed to answer a few emails and had forgotten .I stopped near a beautiful swamp to deal with my work.
Suddenly Angel tapped me on the shoulder and whispered “ look there in front”.
Two big croc eyes and a long hunger snout.
Having been dealt a blow by dogs last year I was not about to let a croc end my ride.
“ Hey croc, you don’t want to eat me! I’m Catholic and full of bitter tasting guilt”
Immediately the snout and eyes sink deep beneath the muck.
As I ride on I look back to see Angel and Flossie pondering the fading ripples on the slimy green water and hear Angel say “ I wonder what would have happened had he said he was Kosher instead?”