Authenticity is Paramount!
It was brought to my attention that “You also need to highlight the roads are not what we have today which leads to the next problem, people aren’t going ‘wow from Alabama to Virginia’ – they can do that in an easy day on the Interstate – they don’t get how big a deal this is. So they are not grasping the back road nature of the ride or why it would be difficult for you to do.”
The heart of the ride requires that I attempt to ride only roads that existed on or before 1916.
There are what I call Original Roadbed, that is roads that have not moved, been widened or graded more than a tiny bit.
Then there are what I call Original Path roads. These are road courses that have existed on or before 1916 and have been markedly modified through widening, 4 laneing or largely shifted off of the original roadbed.
That said, over 89% of the entire route falls into one of those two categories. The other 11% are on roads built after 1916.
“Why it would be difficult for you to do?”
I can see that.
In fact, the ride is not difficult to do for me. The difficulty has been in the research, something they cannot see, and I don’t know how to show them.
Things like making 3 trips to lake Hartwell to knock on stranger’s doors and asking to ride a motorcycle on their dock.
Or showing up unannounced at a retired Judge’s home in Newnan, GA on Easter Sunday, to ask permission to ride across his property. He invited me in for dinner with his family and we talked for 3 hours.
Or GPS locating 1105 springs in TN only to not find the ONE I’m looking for.
Or meeting with the descendant of the Ingalls Ferry in Radford, who still lives in the 200-year-old home and having him agree to meet me on the ride to share his story.
Or making lots of rides and drives going to every state archive, 100’s of libraries, dozens of historical societies and riding all over back roads knocking on the doors of strangers asking about local knowledge. Many of those were after I worked, got off at midnight, rode 540 miles one way, in 35 degrees just to have the chance of looking at a map in Nashville. On average, I’m only getting 5 hours of sleep in 24 and I generally stay wake 30 – 37 hours 2+ times a week. (i.e. I’ve been awake since yesterday at 9am and won’t see a bed until I get home from work tonight after midnight)
Or the 10’s of 1000’s hours searching the web for maps and I have completely lost count of the number letters I’ve mails and emails I’ve sent.
Or going to Tampa to spend 2 whole days digging through 37 plastic totes of family history dated back to 1850 to learn all I could about who Charles was and see the original 1916 diary he wrote for myself.
Or re-conning the entire route at least twice and more in some places to find blocked roads I didn’t know about, old bridges that are passable and old roadbed on private property and asking permission to cross their land.
Authenticity is paramount!
Sure, I’ll not get it all correct, but God knows I’ve given it everything I got including time with my husband, child and parents, my health has suffered, I don’t have ANY social life what-so-ever and I’ve broker than shit for it all.
I’m utterly overwhelmed by the scope of this project, but doing it is a worthy thing. It’s greater than myself and will bring delight to those reading of Charles’s adventure and life.