Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 4: Near White Springs, Florida

Another perfect day of riding in northern Florida. No humidity today. The skies were blue with a few pretty clouds. There was a little wind, but it felt nice and wasn't too strong. One of those perfect days were nothing goes wrong and there is nothing to complain about. Leaves less to write about, but more to enjoy. It was also a short day with only about 31 miles travelled. After we settled into our rooms, Ace, Jo, and I drove Bill back to his car in Gainsville as today was his last day of riding. We also did some shopping and some errands before returning to our motel for the evening. Just a few pics and nothing more!

May and Bill

Roger, May, and Bill
31 sweet miles

Day 3: Gainsville to Ichetucknee Family Cabin and Canoe

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
We had a new rider with us for the next couple of days, Bill Erwin from Orlando. Bill knows Roger, May, Ace, and Jo from previous bike trips. It was a pleasure to meet him. He drove down to Gainsville the night before and will be with us for two days.

Gainsville is easier to exit than enter. We had a brief ride along busy 8th Avenue, before we found quieter roads. The scenery was lovely and the day nice though a bit warm.
Florida Backroads
We stopped in High Springs to look for a bike shop. A local couple recommended a shop downtown and gave us directions for some quieter roads to get there. We arrived to find the shop closed. A local businessman told us the owner lived down the street and to check his house. We did so, but found no one home. The businessman, a local realtor, also suggested a good restaurant for lunch, which was just down the street. Such is life in small town America.
Great Outdoors Restaurant in High Springs
Lunch was in High Springs at Great Outdoors Restaurant. I'm not sure but I may have had my first fried green tomato. I had a BLT sandwich and there was no red tomato, but something deep fried and vegetable-like. Whatever it was, it wasn't bad. Altogether a nice lunch stop. One more check on the bike store, still closed. Oh well, off we go.

Once again we were on the road to our next destination. More nice roads with an abundance of wildflowers. The nights stay was at Ichetucknee Family Camp and Cabin, a cute little family run campgound with charming cabins. Once we were checked in, a few of us drove down the road a short ways to the Ichetucknee State Park to visit the spring. There was a short walk along an elevated board walk, and trail to the springs. It was a pretty setting and you could see the current of water coming up from the spring.
May at Ichetucknee Springs

Ichetucknee Springs
Back at camp, we had a cabin that would sleep all of us, but Jo and Ace elected to sleep in their tent, which they sat up beside the cabin. We had a little rain pass through in the evening, but they stayed dry and cozy. That evening we met several other riders finishing up their cross-country tour along the southern tier. Mark and Julie Lovegrove, and Evan Derickson. We had no wifi and barely any cell service, so out of contact for the evening.
Our cabin at the campground
42 miles

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 2: Palatka to Gainsville - A Long Day

Today was a long day 60 plus miles to Gainsville. The bonus: much of the ride was some wonderful bike paths. We planned to start the day's ride around 9:00 am. We were concerned about predicted rain, but the whole day it was a no-show, except for a few drops. 

We had some nice roads on our exit out of Palatka. Roads with decent bike lanes, and some short bike paths here and there. No complaints from me. 

We knew that there would be a nice bike path later in our ride today, but we found a bonus path on the route before Florahome. It kept us off the highway for a good 12 miles and was very pleasant riding. We were often treated to a canopy of grand old oak trees draped with spanish moss. There were glimpses of neighboring homes nestled under the trees. It looks like there are intentions to extend this path in both directions.

We rejoined the road in Putnam Hall and rode on through Melrose and on to Hawthorne where we stopped for lunch at a Subway. After refueling we rode through Hawthorne to the trailhead of our next bike path that would take us all the way into Gainsville. This was yet another wonderful path filled with beautiful old trees, spanish moss, pretty wildflowers, and wetlands. I saw my first alligator on this path. Jo, Ace, and I were riding a ways behind Roger when we all heard a loud splash. Something fairly big had jumped into the water. In the distance we could see something, but no one could make out just what it was. Finally it moved closer to the surface and we could see his golden eye and scaly back sticking out of the water. He wasn't terribly large, but he was pretty cool for us. I tried to get a photo, but he they came out to fuzzy to see anything at all. 

Up until Gainsville we had been having a perfectly wonderful ride. In Gainsville things were not so pleasant. This was a busy town and it was close to rush hour. The streets we needed were narrow with no shoulder, and filled with fast moving traffic. We spent much of the time riding on bumpy sidewalks. The plan for the night was to stay with a warm showers host, but upon arriving at the house we realized that it probably wouldn't work for us. It was student housing. The kids we met were very nice, but for us seniors it just wasn't our cup of tea. We decided to find accommodations at a motel. We continued a few more miles on Gainsville's awful roads until we ended up out at strip-mall hell along the interstate, where we found an America's Best motel for our evening stay. 

64 miles - Others had 65/70. My garmin often gives lower numbers.

Roger, Ace, and Jo on our found path
Interesting little shop along the way
On the road again 
Cypress Trees

Tomorrow we will ride to Ichetucknee Canoe and Cabins in Ft. White, Florida.

Monday, April 27, 2015

St. Augustine FL to Palatka FL

Today was Day one of our Trans-am Tour. The first official riding day. We planned for a 7:30 am start and pretty much made the mark. This was to be an easy day.

At times we rode on busy roads with narrow shoulders. Drivers were generous about sharing the road and passing with reasonable speed and clearance. I don't think we had any issues with drivers that I can recall.

At other times we were on quiet backroads that were quite pleasant. Spotted a few white egrets that were feeding along the ditches or out in pastures. The foliage in many places was quite lush. Reminded my of Oregon, except here there are, among other things, palm trees growing amongst the greenery.

One rider, Ace had some trouble with dizziness and was feeling weak, so we kept a comfortable pace, checking to be sure he was doing okay. There was some head and cross winds, but occasionally it swung around to become a tailwind from time to time. Nothing that was unbearably strong. Overall the riding conditions were quite nice.

We took to the main highway on the last leg to Palatka. It was busy and noisy, but we had a reasonable shoulder and again, drivers were courteous. One tall bridge to cross over the St. John River and we were in Palatka.

By general consensus of everyone, we decided Ace should go to urgent care to be checked over by a doctor, just to be sure nothing serious was going on. Roger drove Jo and Ace to the medical facility and eventually to a local hospital where many tests were run.

In the mean time May and I went for a walk about town. We had lunch at the Magnolia Cafe, then strolled through town admiring some of the many murals. Some were exceptional. We strolled down to the St. John River before heading back to the motel. Roger returned from the hospital with an update on Ace. He and May then went back to the hospital to await the outcome. Ace's tests didn't reveal any problems and it was decided that dehydration was probably the culprit. With Ace's clean bill of health everyone returned to the motel.

Dinner was at Angel's Dining car as recommended by one of Roger and May's friends. Come prepared for huge portions and a very friendly staff.

We all met in the evening to go over tomorrow's plans. Looks like we're going to get rained on no matter what, so no need to bother with getting an early start. :)

35 miles
2:54 time
11.7 average
226 ft gain - yeah, that's flat.

600 year old Oak with spanish moss.
Bridge over the St. John River
Palatka town clock

St. John River

Sunday, April 26, 2015


We have arrived in St Augustine, Florida, and met with the other riders. Bikes are getting repaired and prepared for the big start tomorrow. Today we switched motels in order to be closer to our start location. We packed all the gear into the car, and us cyclists rode into St. Augustine.

We happened to meet another cross country rider while crossing the Bridge of Lions. Stephen was from England and had just finished riding the southern tier.  Lunch was at a little restaurant in downtown St. Augustine. Afterwords, Ace, Jo and I toured the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th century fort with drawbridges. Roger took the car to be serviced and May was off to see about accommodations. Weather is warm and humid but tolerable. Tomorrow is the big day!

Roger, our ride leader has a journal at Crazy Guy on a Bike. He does an outstanding job of journaling rides and has some wonderful pictures to share.

A few pics from today:

St Augustine Inlet

Castillo de San Marcos

Historical reinactment

Detail work on one of the cannons

Intricate doorway

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Canyon Lands and Arches National Parks

Sunday at the Parks
It was a perfect day to visit Canyon Lands and Arches National Parks. Roger and May have visited before, but this was my first visit. I have to go back again sometime. Gorgeous!

Well worth the added mileage and time, but we did arrive to our next destination late in the evening.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pre-trip: Driving to Florida for the big ride.

Friday and Saturday

Roger, May and I are on our way to Florida, the start of our cross country bicycle tour. It hasn't even started yet, but I'm already behind on posts. Friday we crossed Oregon to Boise Idaho.

The drive was long, but I love the rugged remote region of Eastern Oregon. Roger and I bicycled about 20 miles along the highway to keep the legs and lungs somewhat in shape for what is to come. We had a great tailwind and an even greater average.

We met another bicycle tourist out in remote Eastern Oregon. She had a big load and a long way to go. We offered her a ride to Boise where she could catch up on some chores, take a rest day and plan the next leg of her trip. Happy Journeys Chelsea!

Chelsea, on her way to New York state.

Saturday was strictly a driving day. We were on the interstate all day with no suitable place to bicycle. Roger and May thought it would be great to put in some extra miles putting us closer to some of the national parks in southern Utah. With that in mind we drove as far as Price Utah, where we spent the night.