Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
I started early so I set out for today to be a record distance day. And the conditions were perfect on the coast. The wind was calm and much of the highway was new blacktop so my speed was between 19 and 22 most of the way. Weeeee!!!!
My average speed for the entire trip after todays ride is 16.2 MPH. When I left I was carrying 47 pounds plus my rack. The bike is holding up great. I was very concerned about the weight when I left, but i have adjusted nicely and feel confident about the bike holding up... "knock on wood".
So the ride was smooth all the way to Port St. Joe, a small town, but large enough to have a Starbucks (which I didn't stop at). I was starving and suspecting I had another flat too. So I stopped at the first place I ran into. Hungry Howies was a hasty stop because I was starving, but it was a lucky choice. I at a scrumption meat sub and a hearty greek salad with all the fixin's. I met Chuck, one of the co-owners and a couple of high school soccer kids (Hunter and TJ? - I forget - if you ready this correct me please) who were getting some grubs before practice. Everyone was so nice and made me feel proud of my journey.
I did have a flat too. Damnit! I forgot to check before I packed everything on the bike, which is about a 10 minute ordeal. So I had to unpack everything, change the tube and repack... an extra half hour gone.
36 milles away was Panama City. It was 5:30 and I was determined to make it. And I did with about a 30 minute ride in the dark through a very unfriendly bicycle town. Panama City beats out Tampa easy on the rude to bicycling list. I was for the 1st time concerned for my safety due to someone else's malicious intent. I was heading to Gold's gym anyway, I could use the aggression for my lifting workout. After 115 miles on the bike, i was spent. The workout was just an average effort.
There was no camping in Panama City that I could find. So the Days Inn got me for $65 (which came with all you can eat sour patch kids - a compliment at the front desk) and a continental breakfast. I talked with Cati ( I miss you) and went sleep.
This is typical along the Forgotten Coast. Gorgeous empty beaches!
This scence was gorgeous in person. Below me on the bridge were two dolphins playing with each other, leaping in a unique pattern sometime apart and sometimes in sync. I was in complete awe of this moment. I tried to capture the dolphins... but I am no camera man. Sorry.
Bridge over the Caribelle River
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
My first flat. I think I fixed it. I hope.
Beginning Day 3, 185th mile, 9/27/08, Cross City Florida
If you have never tried it, I recommend a bike trail in the dark. Its the change to nocturnal critters and unexpected obstacles, like spider webs and the occasional pothole, that prove thrilling. Plus, it just seems like you're travelling faster in the dark. Not too long on the trail I saw two little glass eyes staring at me. It was a beautiful sleek little fox. I had never seen one before. But he had probably seen plenty of bikers. His piercing stare seemed to say "hurry up and move along, you are holding up my evening hunt" A couple of miles later another set of glass eyes. An all black cat laying in the road facing me. It wasn't an adult or a kitten, but definitely a young cat. It only stared and never moved as I passed closely by. Mean anything to the superstitious?
I pressed on nearly two hours all the way to Cross City where the trail ended. 101 miles clocked for the day!
Friday, September 26, 2008
I had to go north on the interstate, so I walked my bike across the tall grass median and pedalled on. There was a decent shoulder so I felt fine and in 6 miles or so I was back on hwy 19 heading toward the Florida panhandle.
I rode for about 90 minutes when I decided breakfast and a recharge of the phone and computer were necessary. Or if I ran into a gym, I would get a lifting workout in 1st. In a town called Homosassa, I ran into a greek family restaurant called Olive Tree. It reminded me of Leena's on 15th NE in Shoreline. http://www.yelp.com/biz/leenas-cafe-shoreline I ordered a Greek Omelette and downed several cups of coffee before I saw the homemade blueberry pie sign. And I ate that too! Blueberries are full of antixidants you know :)
Since i was rested, I motivated myself for a long ride until dinner (or a gym still, but I wasn't hopeful). 56 miles later I was exhausted in Chiefland and stumbled across Barbeque Bill's. Bill's is the kind of place where the service is just "sooooo sweet (southern accent a must)". They fill your ice tea 7 or 8 times an hour and everyone is just happy to be there. It's packed in this eatin' house too. Here is why. I got the special for the evening. Tasty sliced pork with homeade baked beans, thick fries, a largle slice a garlic bread and a completely fresh and healthy salad bar which included desserts. $7.90. Along with the great price, I sat at the table nearly 2 hours charging up my electronics (I always ask if its ok 1st). Finally, I got directions to a bike trail (one I had no idea existed) that turned my evening into a whole new unexpected adventure. I felt like I short changed the waitress after just a 60% tip. BARBEQUE BILLS.... "YOU ROCK"
Beginning Day 2, 85th mile, 9/26/08, Suncoast Trail, Lutz Florida
All in all the 1st biking day was great! I travelled 85 miles (although I can't say all 85 got me closer to Seattle). Leaving Tampa was hard simply because Tampa is in no way set up for bicycling. And a lot of folks seem to think nearly grazing the bicyclist is cool. This normally wouldn't bother me but with my load weighing 47 pds (plus the rack) I was nervous.
I took the Upper Tampa trail which is really nice (when you can find). But it is broken up in pieces and i missed the connections a few times. By the time I reached the Suncoast Trail, i had already booked 45 miles for the day. I think it could have been done in about 35 miles.
The suncoast trail was amazing. 41 miles of 12 foot wide and nicely paved bike paths. Periodically there were picnic benches and even some cover with water provided in 5 gallon dispensers (much like a golf course will often do every few holes). There were bird sanctuaries and lots of little critters like that banana spider that I hope I never come face to face with. I met a nice couple along the trail at one of the rest spots. I didn't get there names but I did give them information on this blog. If you two read this let me know who you were. It was a pleasure meeting you.
I camped out on the trail. Something I imagine I wasn't suppose to do. But I rode for about 45 minutes in the dark and then found a cozy spot. This pictures below I took when I woke up.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Anticipation is a thing of the past and my anxiety woke me up early today. It is time to start riding. I am so excited to start the bicycle computer at zero miles and head north up the suncoast trail. Check that trail out at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/regions/westcentral/trails/suncoast.htm. It is about 20 miles to the trail head and the just over 40 through the trail. From here I will head over to Hwy 19 and find a place to nest for the night. Planning on a 100 miles minimum today. I hope to share some great pictures.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Inside were homemade cookies and Whoopers (my addiction). There were freeze dried meals and matches, a 2 gallon water bag, some bio TP and other important items I may have overlooked in my preparation. For those of you who know me, I am the kind of person who seems to be able to plan poorly while surviving famously. So I am extremely grateful to have my care package that reminds me necessities I may need for the long haul. Thank you Cati so much for the amazing gift. I love it! You are a blessing to my soul.
I wish I was with you to prepare another GPE, like the 2nd picture below.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I have ridden about 80 miles around Tampa so far. This town is quite the scenic gem. I rode down Bayshore which is a great trail along the bay. The views across the water of the city and bridges are incredible. Across the street are gorgeous homes.
Today I am heading for about an 60 miles trek to an adventure store called "Bill Jackson Inc". I hope I can find the tent and fleece bag I need. More pictures of today's ride to follow.
Last night we went to Leroy Selman's, a barbque restaurant. I caved and finished the evening with a huge slice of chocolate cake... again. The last picture is my buds Jon and Rich from Tampa.
Time to go ride and burn those calories.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
In my dream i am just riding, looking down and the blacktop on the road racing behind me. My bicycle is yellow in the dream. I can't figure that out. I have never owned anything yellow. And I will be buying the bicycle in Tampa next week. Should I be buying a yellow bicycle?
My dream is also a reminder that I will be away from my second home for a few months. I love it here in San Pedro. The pictures here are a few reasons why.