Thursday, April 23, 2009

On The Way Home

Florida Bike Safari Day 6

As the alarm jangled Don and I awake at 6:00 Am it was still dark. However as we had to get packed up, get our luggage on the truck back to Live Oak, and ride 50 miles back to Live Oak from Cherry Lake, there was no turning over for a snooze. We packed our stuff up and pulled on the riding gear and headed for the kitchen for breakfast. Have I mentioned that this ride has great food? Well it does. In fact it was sold to me as having the best food of any organized ride in North America and I believe it.

Last nights beer/corn on the cob/rib fest was truly wonderful. The smell from the smoker had been teasing us for two days, and the result was well worth the wait. I went back for seconds and then was so full all I could do was stumble back to the cabin and into bed. These were the best ribs I can remember.

As I was saying before I digressed. We were up early and on the road by 6:59 AM. It was light enough to ride and the sun had not started up yet. There was a lot of dew on the grass and you could see where the spiders had cast their webs in the grass beside the road. Some of them were amazingly elaborate. About 15 miles out we ran into early morning fog. It was warm and moist. Unlike most fogs which are cold. So with no wind we cruised along making great time. Don was a man on a mission. So we closed the 50 miles down to Cherry lake by 9:50 Am. We didn't stop for pictures, so no pictures today.

We threw our bikes in the boxes, had a quick shower, collected our luggage from the truck and headed off for Orlando. We had about a 3.5 hour drive to the airport. Having lots of time we stopped and had lunch.

The Orlando Airport has Internet service so I get to post my blog, before the plane home. We arrive at midnight, Calgary time. It is snowing in Calgary and -5C, along way from the sunny and 33 C here.

It will be good to sleep in my own bed.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Florida Bike Safari Day 5

It was colder this morning when we started out. During the night it had rained and although the roads were dry it took a lot of the heat out of the system. Now when I say colder, it is a relative thing. It was probably low 60’s so it wasn’t really all that cold. The ride was only going to be 56 miles so Don and I had decided that today would be a tour the country side day. Nice and easy ride.

The first SAG stop was in Madison of Madison County fame. It is a very historic town with lots of statues, monuments, historic homes, and a quaint band stand where the SAG was. I wandered around snapping pictures of the fountains in the little park there and reading the historic plaques. Don and I then headed down Main Street and found a café where we enjoyed a French Vanilla Cappuccino. Just on the edge of town we stopped to take a took a picture of a huge steam engine which was in a cotton mill in Madison. It was rated at 500 hp which must have been unbelievable in its day.

The sun was shining with hardly a cloud in the sky. Even better was there wasn’t a whisper of a breeze in the air. So we just sailed along. What a change from the head winds we seem to have had all week long. I had my bike camera mounted on the handle bars to day and took 1059 pictures. The camera was set to take a picture every 5 seconds so I managed to capture the first 88 minutes of the three hour ride. I had thought that I should set the camera to video mode, and then push the bike down a steep ditch and then post the video as part of the blog. Make everyone think I had lost it and rode into the ditch. Don didn’t think it was such a cool idea. Sometimes as you are riding along you get ideas that may not be necessarily the best ideas. Some ideas are best left as ideas.

Tonight is the big blow out party. There is going to be boiled corn on the cob, draft beer, and barbeque ribs. The smoker has been set up for two days cooking these ribs, the smell is driving me crazy. Some of the repeat riders claim that the ribs are the best reason to come on the ride. I am really looking forward to this feed. I have avoided eating since the last SAG stop so I am starving.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Florida Bike Safari Day 4

I messed up and called yesterday day 4 when today was day 4. Oh well it really doesn’t matter it is all good. The food is good, the roads are great, the weather has been perfect, and of course we are riding our bikes.

Today was a metric century ride. Don and I started off just after 8:00 Am and the weather was already getting warm. It only took a couple of miles and we were pulling off the leggings, arm warmers, riding jackets and other layers. This left Don wearing his Alien jersey which was a big hit with all the riders. We headed north towards Georgia, and the hills. These are hills by Florida definition not Colorado or Calgary definition of hills. They are kind of the big ring rollers where you go hard on the down hill and down shift all the way up the next hill without down shifting out of the big ring on the front. If you time it just right you make it over the top. Don and I joined Tom and his buddy Ernie for the ride. Having a group swapping stories made the trip just fly. I looked down and we were at 40 miles. We hit a place were the road had just been paved with new chip coat. The vibration was enough to knock your teeth out. The road didn’t knock my teeth out but it loosened the clip on my left shoe. All of a sudden my foot is flying around and not connected to the pedal. When I stopped the clip was still in the pedal. Just try and get a clip out of a pedal when your only tool is a bike tool set. Of course where I stopped was right by the swamp and the mosquitoes came out in hordes. Luckily the SAG van pulled up, I backed the tension all the way off got the clip out of the pedal and I jumped in the Sag van to reattach the clip to my shoe.

I had my bike camera mounted on the handle bars today. I took 386 photos before the batteries gave up. Looks like the batteries are good for about 1200 pictures, on the 2 second mode, and about 900 pictures on the 5 second mode. I have to get some rechargeable lithium batteries as they will give me a longer run time. I also need to figure out how to put the photos into a slide show where you only see the shot for a very short time like a 0.25 second or less so that it looks like a sped up movie.

When we got in there was freshly grilled burgers. I was starving and dived into two huge burgers. They were great. Speaking of food they just rang the supper bell. Time to eat again!! I really love cycling; it allows you to eat constantly.

Thanks for visiting my blog and thanks for your comments.

“Join the flock” (on the Florida Bike Safari jerseys it is the slogan)


Monday, April 20, 2009

Florida Bike Safari Day 4

Today we moved camp from the Suwannee Fairground to the Cherry Lake Camp Ground. However it started out by giving us a little shower just as we were putting our gear into our bags. Another five minutes and it would have been on the truck nice and dry. Then we spent the next 15 miles dodging rain showers and puddles. The sun peaked though the clouds and by 10:00 Am it was nice and sunny. As usual there was a brisk head wind. Florida may not have much for hills but it seems that everywhere you go you are bucking into a head wind. At one point in time Don and I were pedaling as hard as we could and only doing 12 mph.

There had been 17 days of continuous rain here and the Suwannee River had flooded its banks so the ride was re-routed around the flooding. As we crossed the river you could see that the river was still high but had been at least 15 feet higher not too long ago. The water was backed way up into the surrounding fields and pooled in the ditches for miles.

I had my bike camera on and took close to 1000 pictures. I have the camera mounted as a tail camera so you have a very interesting perspective. Normally you see things over the handle bars. Here is what is happening behind you. The camera is mounted on the seat post so you see my saddle bag and the wheel in the picture. Well you be the judge.

The ride ended at Cherry Lake which is absolutely beautiful. It is a little lake which is about 10 miles around. Don and I rolled in and were picking out a camp spot when Tom grabs us and says hey come stay in our cabin. There are 3 rooms and you and Don might as well use one. Perfect! No tent! No Air mattress! Hot Showers! Then I find out that there is internet in the campground. As we are getting our bags they are serving hot dogs and sodas. This place is heaven. What a great day 55 miles of fun.

On the road again.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Florida Bike Safari Day2

What a great ride this is! I cannot believe it. But before I get started on that, and turn this whole thing in to a giant rant. Let me give you the facts. Don and I started the ride at about 8:00 Am and then promptly got lost. Luckily we recognized our error relatively early and were soon back on track. At 15 miles out this group of boys from Tennessee blew pass us and not to miss a good thing we jumped on the back of their pace line. We followed them into the first SAG at 22 miles and I asked if they were doing the century and they were. So I had a ride for the Century as Don was only doing the 65 mile ride. They set a blistering pace and in a blink we were at the second SAG. Don went for the 65 mile ride and myself and the boys from Tennessee went the other. They were averaging around 20 mph. Luckily I brought the Giant so keeping up wasn’t a problem. The miles flew by and I was thinking we would break a 5 hour Century. However the Florida head winds picked up and that dashed any hope of a sub five hour Century. There isn’t all that much to tell when you are in a pace line. You know the old story about dog sledding. Unless you are the lead dog the scenery never changes. This one fellow had one of those electronic dog chaser devices and this great big dog came out to chase us and he pulled it out and gave the dog a blast with the device. The dog hit the brakes and made for the bush. It was hilarious. So we rolled into camp with a 5:48 for the Century. I got the bling and everyone lived happily ever after.

This afternoon was corn on the cob and beer with a band playing in the park. After four cobs of corn and four beer and I realized I better get this blog done, or it was going to be a runaway.

I am sitting in the stadium where they serve supper and it looks like tonight is going to be prime rib.

What a great ride! It just doesn’t get any better than this. Sorry about no pictures today I kind of ran out of time.

To answer questions about the ride. The food is great. Tom was not lying this is the best food of any organized ride I have ever been on PERIOD. Camping is good however Cherry Lake is suppose to be better.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Florida Bike Safrai

Florida Bike Safari Day 1 April 18, 2009

Don and I arrived in Live oak Florida on Thursday night/Friday morning at 1:30 Am. The flight put us into Orlando at 8:00 Pm on Thursday then we had to pick up the rental car, get something to eat, and drive up to Live Oak from Orlando . The Garmin delivered us straight to the Live Oak Suwannee County Fairgrounds with out a hitch. We pulled in to the fairgrounds circled around a couple of time and set our tents up in the head lights of the rental car. In bed by 2;00 Am local time. We felt pretty good considering what a long day travel is, but more importantly all the gear arrived in one piece including the bikes.

Friday we slept in, had a leisurely breakfast and assembled our bikes. The weather was treating us very well, nice and sunny and about 75F. In the early afternoon we went for a ride to make sure that the bikes were in good working order. I mounted my new bike camera and tested it out. It seemed like it was working fine. We rode for about an hour and kind of checked out the lay of the situation here in Live Oak. It would appear that it is kind of a retirement community with some small farming operations sprinkled in. You can tell it is a retirement community as there are lots of smaller homes on very well kept plots with two easy chairs on the porch and two twenty year old Cadillac’s in the driveway. We did our registration thing, and went to the rider meeting in the evening.

This morning we were ready to go by 8:00 and rode out in the group ride with the big group into a some what chilly 52 F. Not chilly by Calgary standards but when you know that the day is headed for 80F you have to dress differently. There are 250 riders who are here for the six day ride and an untold number here for three days. On day 4 we ride up to Cherry Lake and stay there (more later). I have to say that the tour organizer’s “The Florida Freewheelers” are organized. They have everything figured out. This is the 29th year this ride has been put on so the route is well established. The food thing is done very well. I am very impressed. Today we had a chose of 36 miles, 54 miles or 66 miles of ride. Don was whining about only doing the 54 but when we got to the turn off we chose the 66 mi ride without a thought. The roads are great. There are nice shoulders on most of the roads, the pavement for the most part is excellent and best of all there are very few cars. The ride was though the country side, which was slightly rolling with fields and trees on both sides. I can’t say I saw anything extraordinary and the only out of place thing was I was cruising along at about 22 mph and all of a sudden there was a left turn. I grabbed the brakes and locked the brakes. The back wheel got loose as I slide down the highway. Easing off the brakes straightened the bike out and I proceeded around the corner. I guess I am not use to riding on so little rubber. The new Giant just doesn’t have the same amount of traction as Surly.

Back to camp the Florida Freewheelers were selling their jerseys for $30, shorts for $45 and socks for $3. So I loaded up. Real nice stuff too if you like flamingos.

So tomorrow is a century ride. Don has already said he isn’t doing it. I will do it if the wind conditions are right.

Well I better get going you are probably tired of my drivel. Of course some of you are too busy to come so your too busy to read this far any way. However if your not that busy drop me a comment and thanks for visiting my blog.

Looking a live over the handle bars