Palatka to St. Augustine 45 Miles

10/29/18

Last day of riding. Finally made it to St. Augustine Fl. What a wonderful day of riding.

The route leaders fixed us a vey nice breakfast. It started out with cereal and muffins. Followed by pancakes, some with chocolate and some regular and sausage. They did a great job and we all enjoyed it.

This was a prefect day for riding. A little cool at the start but it was in the upper 50s so not bad. Our first rest stop was at the Riverdale Park and Boat Launch at mile 25. The ride to that point was easy. Since this would be our last official rest stop I took some pictures of it.

We did not push hard today since we didn’t need to be at the meet up point until 12:30 p.m. and it was 15 miles we took it easy and enjoyed our last ride together.

Then at 12:30 p.m. we started our last 5 miles as a team to get to the beach in St Augustine.

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It is always a bitter sweet time at the final Tire Dip. Everyone knows it could be the last time you ever see these people who have become like family in the last 53 days. You have enjoyed great joy as well as pain and agony. You have shared your life experiences with them and they with you. When you have that much time on the road, you remember things you have not thought about since, in some cases, your youth. You also share your work life experiences, and over time realizing you have more than biking as a common thread.

As in everyone’s life you promise to stay in touch with each other always hoping that will be true. With some you make some commitment to ride together again, going back to the common thread.

In this case there are two that have made a commitment to ride the Northern Tier for MS next year. This is the grand daddy of the MS rides, in that it is 4295 miles long. I hope I can honor my commitment to the goal. Time will tell.

I want to thank all of you that have followed my journey. Knowing you are out there inspired me to continue to ride hard and sometimes fast. I never wanted to let any of the followers down and I hope I accomplished that.

Until next time????

High Springs to Palatka 82 miles

10/27/18

Today was the coldest morning of our trip. It was 44 degrees when we started riding the 2.5 miles to McDonalds this morning.

I wore a long sleeved T-Shirt under my jersey as well as my rain coat over that. Then I wore my full fingered work gloves to keep my hands from getting as cold. I kept all this on until we reached our first rest stop.

Today we were fortunate enough to ride on 3 different bike trail sections. The first one was in Gainesville. It was 2 miles long and ended at Rest Stop One and picked up again after Rest Stop one for another half mile.

The second bike trail was the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail that ran for 15 miles. There was a local charity ride on the trail but it was going in the opposite direction so we just had to watch for on coming traffic. I could tell the difference between cross county riders and local riders. Cross country riders have more confidence on narrow areas. Along this trail we came to an area where the water went across the trail. All three of us rode across without any trouble. Some chose to walk across and get the shoes wet.

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At rest stop two we saw a McDonalds about a quarter of a mile down the road so we went to grab a hamburger. While we were eating a gentleman asked if we took donations. Frank responded that we did. The gentleman said his son has MS and he wanted to donate. Frank accepted the donation and we all got our picture taken by the manager at McDonalds.

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The third and last bike trail started at Putnam Hall and ran 20 some miles to just outside of Palatka, where we were spending the night in the St Mark’s Episcopal Church.

This was a garden hose shower night and it was the coldest shower I have ever taken. It would actually take your breath away, but after 82 miles it still helped.

Madison to High Springs 95 miles

10/27/18

Today was a long ride. Since we are now in the Eastern Time Zone the sun doesn’t rise until about 7:45. So we took off in the dark to a restaurant the was supposed to open at 7:30. Problem – today is Saturday and that restaurant doesn’t open until 10:30 on the weekend. So back to McDonald’s again.

We hit the road a little after 8:00 a.m. for this long journey. Counting today we have 3 more days of riding. Where did the time go?

Today the weather started out in the 50s and the temperature never got out of the 60s . At the start it was cool even with my rain coat on. One of the good thing about today was we had a 5 to 8 mph tail wind. At times we were hitting 20 mph and in a 5 mile stretch we averaged 17 mph. It can’t get any better than that.

After rest stop 2 we stopped at the Blue Hole Springs. This spring has an average temperature of 72 degrees, has a water discharge of 67 million gallon of water per day and has an Aquatic cave length of 580 feet. We were surprised by it since no one seemed to know much about it.

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The roads were fairly good until we reach highway 441 at which time they became bad due to so road construction. The shoulder, where we normally ride, was rough and potted so it forced us to ride in the traffic lane. We hate to do that but the shoulder was too dangerous to ride on.

Night we are staying at Fellowship Church, in their gym. The gym has 3 very nice showers which helped us recover from this long day.

Tallahassee to Madison 63 miles. We were supposed to go to Suwannenee River State Park.

10/26/18

We left the Tallahassee Bike House late since it was raining. The rain started around 6:00 a.m. and kept raining off and on until we left at about 9:00 a.m. Tallahassee Bike House is right down town next to the road we had to take out of town.  It was a narrow one way road and the rain was intermittent. Most of the team left about the same time and was in a hurry to hit the road. We had to be careful to not bunch up where it would make it hard for cars to pass us.

We pulled off the route and went looking for a place to have breakfast. We were lucky to find a corner café that had a great breakfast. It was very popular so we knew we had found a good place. Our normal 4 breakfast team were join by two other team members. Here is our 4 regulars.

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Once we finished breakfast the rain had stopped and it didn’t rain again today. The road remained narrow but was surrounded by trees which made to a beautiful ride.

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We stayed on small country roads until just before reaching Monticello, where we got back on US highway 90. We stayed on it until we reached our destination of Madison. Everyone enjoyed riding on US 90 since it has wide and smooth shoulders.

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Where we got to Madison we stopped at a Chinese food restaurant before going to our camp for the night.

We stayed at the Madison County Agricultural Center.

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We slept on the bleachers which surrounded the arena. Some setup their tents on the arena floor and outside.

Marianna to Tallahassee 63 miles

10/25/18

We had a problem getting breakfast this morning because a number of the fast food places still didn’t have electricity, so we stop at a gas station. This station was extremely busy due to all the hurricane workers needing food, gas and water. We did get something to carry us through to Grand Ridge, which was 15 miles, where I was able to get some biscuits and gravy.

The hurricane damages were getting less and less. One interesting thing is the trees that were uprooted were laying to the north when the other days they were laying to the south. It was obvious that we had passed through the eye of the storm.

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We reached the big city of Tallahassee and even though the weather looked like rain we hadn’t have any yet. Yet is the key word. Whenever we get into a big town the cars do not give us much room and the drivers are always in a big hurry. We had to stop many times to check for directions. We knew we were headed into the middle of the city, close to the Florida State University, but we had to narrow it down.

We were headed to a place called Tallahassee Bike House. This shop takes in old or damaged bike and repairs them so they can be given to the underprivileged children. It is a great thing they are doing and they opened they warehouse to us. I can’t tell you how important that was to us because the rain we had not seen yet came.

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DeFuniak to Marianna

10/24/18

We stopped at a local café for breakfast. We ordered our food and were served large helping of food. You would have thought they added to our size because we were bike riders but all the servings were huge.

The day was cool again but the rain had stopped. The road, Highway US 90, had a wide shoulder and were very smooth which makes for a good ride.

We continued to see more hurricane damage. There were tree clearing crews making way for the powerline repair crews. It is a major task.

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The city of Marianna was hit hard which had a huge effect on us as we rode through to the church where we were to spend the night,

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Once we arrived at Marianna we broke up into two groups to help people affected by the hurricane. The group I went with help clean tree and lawn damage. The gentleman we helped is a world war II veteran. We worked for over 3 hours and his yard was much improved and he was very appreciative. The piles of debris are as large as the footprint of a whole house and were 4 to 5 feet high.

The other crew helped at the church staging supplies for FEMA. It was amazing the logistics needed to serve the ones affected.

Once back to the church we got cleaned up and the church provide us with dinner and desert. The church also provided space for the FEMA rescue crews.

I was in bed around 7:30 since having ridden over a 60 miles and put in 3 hours of yard work, I was exhausted.

 

Pensacola to DeFuniak Springs 76 miles

10/23/18

We stated with a light breakfast of cereal, eggs, muffins and drinks provided by the Church, which was nice. The day started out rainy and cool so this breakfast helped us make it to our second breakfast. We stopped again for additional nourishment at a gas station café in Milton. This addition would help us make it through another morning.

When we started out after our second breakfast, we missed one of our turns to Rest Stop 1. Once we discovered it we were some 2 miles down the wrong road. We pulled out our maps and determined we could continue down the wrong road, highway 90, to Grand Ridge where the correct route and our adjusted route came together. This point was also our 2nd Rest Stop.

Today we saw the first of the effects of the Hurricane that came through this area some 2 weeks ago. We saw a lot of uprooted trees and some trees where the tops were twisted and broke off. We saw a few buildings that had blue traps on the roofs.

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We made it to the First United Methodist church of DeFuniak Springs. It was a smaller church but they were great. They provided us dinner which is always a joy. Just being able stop and relax goes a long way.

Pensacola Florida Last Rest Day

10/22/18

This is our last Rest Day and our first service project day. The project was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. so we were able to sleep in, which was a bonus.

Two of our trip leaders took off about 9:00 a.m. to drive the roads ahead to is if the hurricane damage may hamper our travels. We are hoping to be able to continue our ride as planned. Later today we will know.

I received a great surprise text message from my nephew Shaun Hill. His family and he are vacationing in Florida and are only about 1 hour away from the church in which we are staying. We decided to meet for dinner after my service project and after the kids afternoon naps. This is a special treat.

When we reach our service project destination we were briefed on the various tasks that need to be accomplished. We had 17 people working, which 15 of which were our from our team. It is always interesting how quickly people take on the projects assigned and the quality of work performed.

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The majority of the work involved landscaping which included removing stumps of dead hedges, trimming trees that overhung the house, trimming a lemon tree, and rake all the property. We had quite a pile of bags and limbs out by the road when finished.

There were a couple of specialized projects which involved cleaning and scrubbing the floor in the back screened in patio. Before that could be accomplished all the furniture and bar-b-que grill had to be removed and cleaned also. When all was cleaned and returned to their places it looked like a totally new patio.

Both of their cars were also cleaned inside and out.

At the end, Tom, the gentleman who has MS came out to thank us for all our work. He is confined to his electric wheel chair after being very active most of his life. He was a life time navy man. We had a chance to spend time with him and he was very interested in our trip.

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I personally like these projects and the time we get to spend with the people with MS. It reminds me how fortunate I am and I am so glad to give back.

Once back at the church I got ready to meet Shaun and his family. We had a great time at Panera Bread. The boys went for Mac and Cheese. The boys range in age from 4 to 7 months. This is the first time to meet the Griffin the 7 month old. The other two boys are Theo and Thatcher. Since I didn’t think about getting a picture, I stole one from Ashton’s face book account.

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Dauphin Island to Pensacola 62 ???? 50 miles

10/21/18

We were supposed to meet at the Ferry to watch the sun come up and then go have breakfast at the cafe.  The cafe was suppose to open early (7:00 a.m.) so we could have breakfast before getting on the ferry, for a 4 mile ride to Florida. The only one of these things happened. The sun came up and we were there to watch it.

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The ferry couldn’t run because the winds were to high. The wind blew all night and in the morning the winds were still in excess of 21 miles an hour. The cafe did not open early as we were told. So Plan B was put into operation.

All our bikes were loaded on the vans and we were driven for about 2 hours around to our new starting point. During the ride over, and just before reaching our starting point, we stopped at McDonald’s for a quick breakfast.

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We were dropped off at what should have been our first rest stop to begin our ride. The wind was basically a cross wind which was bad enough but a head wind would have been worse and the temperature was in the 60s. We were fortunate to be able to find a “Welcome to Florida” sign.

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During our ride Ed got a flat. It was not hard to find the leak since he easily spotted the 3” long nail sticking in his tire. This was our only trouble we had since we don’t classify high wind trouble, just an addition to the adventure.

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We arrived at our destination, Northbridge Church. One of the members of the church rode the Southern Tier last year. Not only are they giving us a place to sleep and relax, they are providing most of the meals since the church is about 6 miles for the city.

Tomorrow we get to do our first service project. Our route leaders will also be taking an exploratory drive on the next 4 days road to check the roads for hurricane damage. We hope to ride but it may not be safe. Time will tell.

Vancleave to Dauphin Island 73 miles

10/20/18

Today we enter Alabama.

We wanted to get an early start today since it was a long day. We had scouted out a place, B J’s Café, to have breakfast that was supposed to open at 4:00 a.m. according to the lady that served us at the Mexican food restaurant yesterday. Well, not only did it not open at 4:00 a.m. but it was not going to open at all since it was a weekend. Plan B, gas station. The breakfast sandwiches were okay, but sitting outside and eating is not the best environment, but none of these issues held up our start. What did hold us up was Heavy FOG. It was so bad that some of the people that came to the gas station told us they could barely see the length of their cars or see the stoplights above the roads. Riding a bike in this heavy fox even with lights on our bikes is a dangerous situation. So we sat, and we sat and finally a little after 8:00 a.m. we took off.

While waiting it discovered that Paul Overstreet grew up in this very city.

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Once the fog lifted we were on our way to a very enjoyable ride even though it was a longer ride. We also crossed another state line, Alabama here we come.

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Not much of a sign on the back country highway.

To get to Dauphin Island we had our longest climb of the day, the bridge into Dauphin Island.

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Tonight we escaped the camp and the others, because Ron’s sister, who as MS, has her personal car and she drove us to a great seafood place. One nice extra benefit.

We only had a partial day in the state of Alabama.