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A man who is cycling to all 50 state capitals in the space of a year has hit his 10,000 mile mark in Peach State – where busy freeways have actually led to a “close call” during his bike ride.
Bob Barnes, 52, of Syracuse, New York, had previously cycled through Georgia to Florida and returned to reach his 32nd capital, Atlanta, on March 23.
Cycling over rough terrain posed a challenge, but that didn’t stop him from pushing forward and meeting some memorable Georgians along the way.
“They thought I had been hit”
Barnes had been optimistic about his trip through Georgia. He told Fox News Digital that the state turned out to have “the toughest terrain of any state so far.”
“They took it to a whole new level,” he said.
Georgia didn’t always have a shoulder Barnes could ride on, so instead he pedaled down the road.
Unlike Mississippi, which Barnes originally thought was the toughest country to drive, motorists in Georgia weren’t as willing to change lanes and give Barnes room to ride safely, said he discovered.
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“I’ve never had a close call in my cycling life, but I did in Georgia,” Barnes said. “I was in control, but it was still close.”
As Barnes cycled through southern Georgia, he heard a car coming up behind him. He looked back several times to see if the driver was going to move to give him space – but the driver never did.
“I’ve never had a close call in my cycling life, but I did in Georgia.”
“The car didn’t move so I had to abandon it,” said Barnes – describing how he was forced off the road.
“It was so close the car behind chased the car, got the license plate and then came back to see if I was okay,” Barnes added. “They thought I had been hit.”
Barnes turned out to be fine. He said, “I was in control, so it didn’t really bother me.”
As he got closer to Atlanta, the challenges for him continued.
Barnes hit the road at 4:40 a.m. He said that in his first few hours he rode “30 adrenaline-pumping miles of biking” in the dark, amidst wind and driving rain.
“It was crazy, even for me,” he said.
“At one point I was on a five-lane highway with no shoulders,” he added.
Atlanta’s famous traffic made it harder to ride, as well as slippery pedals; he hadn’t changed his bicycle chains.
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Bike chains are supposed to be changed every 2,000 to 3,000 miles. Barnes’ bike chain, however, had about 7,000 miles on it before he changed it at a bike shop in Atlanta, he explained.
“It was irresponsible of me,” Barnes said. “And that put me in even more danger on that trip to Atlanta. I could have even slipped and hit the road, even. But everything turned out fine.”
“I’m guilty of not doing maintenance until something goes wrong,” he added.
“At one point, I was on a five-lane highway with no shoulder.
Barnes was able to get a replacement chain, a new cassette on his bike, a new tire, a new pin in the front wheel and a brake adjuster.
A paying moment
Although the cycling was a challenge, Barnes said the Georgians were “friendly” and “fun”.
As he cycled around the state, he said he had four favorite places: Barnesville, Thomasville, Conyers and Washington.
“They just invite,” Barnes said. “They all have a great vibe. You ride around town, and you feel like you’re at home and you’re snooping around and everyone’s nice. I think the weather might have something to do with that as well. But they’re all well maintained, maintained towns.”
Barnesville was his town of choice, Barnes said, partly because of the shared name and partly because it was so “picturesque.”
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In another Georgia town, Barnes even had time to “pay it forward” to someone at a grocery store.
As he stood in line for the cash register, Barnes noticed a teenager in line behind him holding flowers, so Barnes let him pass in front of him.
The teenager then realized that he had forgotten his wallet.
As he was walking back to his car, Barnes approached him and offered to pay for the flowers.
Barnes said the cashier and the teenager were surprised by the offer.
“It impacted the kid, the cashier and the people in line, so maybe they’ll think about doing better things later,” Barnes said.
“In my mind, if you think of something, you have to act on it.”
“I felt like a castaway”
For Barnes, a memorable stay in Georgia was the night he spent in an abandoned barn in Colquitt County.
Barnes said he decided to sleep in the abandoned barn that night because of a severe thunderstorm.
“I felt like a castaway,” Barnes said of his time in the barn. “The barn was like my island, and I stuck my head out there every once in a while.”
“It was weird at first, but I felt comfortable in it,” he added.
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Days later, Barnes stayed at a home on a dairy farm after contacting relatives of some of his “Bibbery Travels” Facebook followers.
Barnes had an entire house to himself, and his host lit a fire pit for Barnes to enjoy that night.
A 10,000 mile milestone
Reaching Georgia meant that Barnes had reached his 10,000th mile.
Barnes said it was surprisingly “anticlimactic”, but he had “a sense of accomplishment” when he reached the marker.
When he spoke to Fox News Digital about his trips to Georgia, Barnes still had about 5,500 miles to go.
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“It’s really not [far] more, given what we have already done,” he said.
Barnes reached another milestone in Georgia; he has reached his GoFundMe goal, which he says will fund his trip to Alaska, which is a peninsula bordering Canada.
Barnes will cycle to Juneau after taking a ferry from Canada.
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From Juneau, he will fly to Hawaii and rent a bicycle which he will drive to the capital of Honolulu.
Next stop: South Carolina
After leaving Georgia, Barnes headed to Palmetto State for its 33rd capital, Columbia.
Fox News Digital has followed Barnes’ journey across America and detailed it for readers in this unique Lifestyle series. To catch up on his previous three trips before the one featured here, read on below:
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