Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21 Florida Bike Safari Day 7

It rained again last night after we went to bed. In fact I think it rained all night. The dorm where I am staying has a tin roof and the drumming on the roof was really loud. The dorm is under one of the huge live oak trees so even after the rain stopped there were huge drops coming off the tree.

By 7:30 when we were ready to hit the road the clouds had cleared off and it turned out to be a beautiful day. Jim was headed home today so he rode with us to the first turn and then headed on back to Live Oak to get his car. The rest of us continued on up the road. We were riding the 66 mile loop and although we weren’t in any real hurry it was fun challenging the hills and getting warmed up. The rain had raised the humidity to close to 100% and my glasses were fogging up on every breath.

Ernie was with us and kept us entertained with his constant flow of stories and antidotes. So the miles flew by and it wasn’t until around the 45 mile mark when Don announced that his knees were starting to hurt that we realized we were still just flying along.

Tonight is rib night. They have been smoking the ribs for a week now so they are going to be so good. The band is set up and the corn pot is being heated up, and the keg of beer is sitting in a huge tub of ice. This has to be cycling heaven.

Tomorrow is the last day and Don and I ride back to Live Oak and the bolt for Orlando and our flight home. So I probably won’t get a post off until Friday or Saturday.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20 Florida Bike Safari Day 6

If you read the first blog of this adventure you will know that getting ready was a total panic trying to find everything and making sure that everything was in working order. Well the one thing that I made sure I had was the patch cord for my camera so that I could down load photos to my blog. I organized all the assorted cables and chargers and but them into a bag. Each cable neatly tied up with a twist tie. So it was a real disappointment when I went to get the cable for the camera and it wasn’t in the bag. I am sure it is sitting on the counter at home. So no pictures! I will make a special post once I get home because I really want to share with you how beautiful it is here.

When you think of Florida you think of the Miami/Fort Lauderdale megalopolis. One strip mall after another, however here it very rural, with lots of farms raising everything from cattle to fields of wheat, but also orchards, and vegetables. The other big crop here is pine trees, so there huge plantations of pine trees. The first cutting of trees is for Christmas trees, then for lumber. They also use the pine needles for ground cover in gardens. It is racked up, bundled and sold in garden centers. Who knew? The hills are low rolling hills with 50-75 feet of elevation. We hit the biggest hill on the whole tour today and I made my top speed for the tour “32 mph”, and that is without pedaling, just letting it run. There are lots of trees and especially the life oak with all the Spanish moss. However the really great part of riding here is the lack of traffic. I think I saw less than 10 cars all day. Ok you have the picture slightly rolling hills with flawless pavement, no cars and weather in the low 70’s. Does that sound like cycle heaven? Oh I guess I should add great food.

Today Jim and I did the century ride. It was tough with all the hills. However we did get lucky and caught a couple of pace lines which ate up about 25 miles of the century. For all you time freaks out there it was 5:47:00 ride time. I thought it was totally acceptable given the number of hills. We caught a pace line at about the 40 mile mark and we rode it all the way to the second sag stop at the 54 mile mark. Although it wasn’t going that much faster than us it did give us a good break. After the sag we caught a couple of other riders and five of us rode for about 11 miles before the rain hit and that broke up the pace line as nobody wanted to ride in the rooster tail coming off the back of the bikes. It rained for about 10 miles before Jim put his coat on and then it stopped. Jim and I picked up Ernie along the way and we rode with him most of the rest of the way in.

The burgers were on the grill when we got back to Cherry Lake. They were great.

So for all the number people out there today’s ride brings the total to 382 miles.


Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19 Florida Bike Safari Day 5

It started raining about 8:30 last night and by 9:00 it was pouring. It poured until about 5:30 Am this morning. The sound of rain on a tent is really a soothing. I laid down and was asleep in less than a minute. We had set the alarm to go at 6:15 because we had to get packed up to head up to Cherry Lake to begin the second half of the trip. So when we crawled out it was still dark and everything was dripping wet.

I put on my CRX tights because it was cool and I was worried that it may start raining again. However we got lucky and the rain held off.

It was a pretty uneventful ride up to Cherry Lake. It was only 61 miles up to Cherry Lake. So we left later and were still here just after 12:00 noon. The biggest excitement was that there was construction over about 4 miles. The construction crew has scraped up all of the asphalt and it was down to base. It was a pretty rough road. Fortunately it was short.

The second most exiting thing was Don got a flat just as we were headed into a corner. As his rear tire went down he got real lose and almost lost it. Fortunately he was able to save going down and so we stopped to fix a flat about 4 miles from camp. As a result of leaving late and Don’s flat we were a little late getting into camp. So we were only able to get one serving of hot dogs. I had two hot dogs, a big helping of nachos covered in cheese sauce and an ice tea. It was great.

The Cherry Lake Camp ground is so pretty. Cherry Lake is small lake which is surrounded with cabins set among the live oaks all of which have the Spanish moss hanging from them. At the camp ground there are little dorms which have 9 bunks in them, fortunately we only have 4 in our dorm. The buildings are all of the 1950’s vintage but have been very well maintained so. It is very comfortable. Best of all there is lots of hot water and the showers are excellent.

My camera is plugged in being charged so I’ll post so pictures a little later.

Let’s Ride


April 18 Florida Bike Safari Day 4

The question when ever I start is where is where to start. Do you start with and an exclamation. Maybe you can do that once in a while but when you do it every day it starts to wear out. How can you start everyday with a Zowie or a WOW? Pretty soon people think that is you entire vocabulary. However to day was one of those kind of days where you do want to start with a wowie.

At 8:00 Am when we stated out it was just over 50 F so it was a little cool. However by the time we got to the first rest stop it was nice and warm. The second rest stop came up pretty quickly and then it was decision time. Do you do 70 miles or press on to the century ride? Jim was keen to do the century. So I decided to press on with Jim to the century.

The second half was where all the fun happened. Jim was on a roll and setting a blistering pace. It was all I could do to keep up. In a blink of an eye were at the 70 mile mark where the third rest stop was. Jim and I were off and tearing it up. In fact we blew a turn and were 10 miles up the road when there was a terrible bang and Jim blew a tire. Not just a tube but a huge hole in the side wall of his tire. So we put a patch on the inside of the tire and were off. We have about 15 miles to get to town but because we are of course there is no sag support. About 5 miles later we pulled into a gas station and the tire has developed bubble. So we got some duct tape and made a patch for the tire and were off. It was a great patch we rode all the way back to town and no problems.

Topping things off tonight is the first corn on the cob night. They boil corn on the cob in this huge pot which is 6 feet across. It is so big that it is mounted on a utility trailed. The corn is absolutely great. Then they were pouring beer. It was the perfect way to finish a great day.

Warm weather, good roads, good food, good friends. What could be better?

Well they are calling supper so I better go.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17 Florida Bike Safari Day 3

The alarm clock was un-naturally loud at 6:30 this morning. Even though we had gone to bed early last night it seemed just too early to be getting up. Maybe it is the jet lag. However nice it might have been to lay in bed there were miles to ride and besides they weren’t serving breakfast forever. It was right around 55F and the sun was not yet up and everything was soaked in dew.

There was a mass start this morning so there was major congestion headed out on the ride. With 450+ riders all vying for the front it was pandemonium. With in 5 miles it had sorted it self out and we were in the lead where we belonged.

The Florida countryside here is low rolling hills with a lot of acreages and small farms. There doesn’t seem to be the organized mechanized farming of the mid west. It looks like a lot of small operations. They seem to grow a lot of pine trees. I think that they are used for pine lumber. They plant them about 6 feet apart then they thin them out. Then thin them a second time. Each thinning results it larger and large trees.

As we were cruising along at about 17 mph the first rest stop at 15 miles came up pretty fast. Don Jim and I filled up on peanut butter sandwiches and this creation I had never seen before. It was an Oreo cookie, a smear of peanut butter, a slice of banana and topped with a raisin.

The second stop at 35 didn’t come up quite as fast and I thought that it took a long time to get to the last rest stop at the 50 mile mark. However once we did get there it was only 15 more into camp. So there you have it the first official ride done at 66.8 mile and we were in camp by 12:45, which was early enough to get a hot shower. The final temperature here was 83 F so it is warm here.

Tomorrow is the century ride and Jim is hot to do it. I don’t know century rides were never my thing.

So now all I have to is go check into the hospital next door where I can post this.


April 16 Florida Bike Safaei Day 2

What a great day to sleep in and enjoy the morning. The sun is out and it is nice a warm. It has been such a long winter.

It is 9:30 by time we roll out of bed but the plan for the day is to put the bikes together and buy beer. However before that can happen it is off to the Dixie Grill for breakfast. What a feed!

So we assemble the bikes and Don and I are off for a 15 mile spin. It is so nice to ride in shorts without 4 layers of clothes. After the ride it is back to the camp for beer. Jim is nowhere in sight so I decided to head off for a 25 mile ride. It is just great. I am cruising along at 20 mph and then realize that I have a tail wind. Ok time to turn around and then have to fight to maintain 15 mph on the way back.

As I arrive back to camp Jim shows up, so Jim and I head off for a 15 miles spin. It is really great to be cruising along. We cruise the local roads which are very quiet.

What a wonderful day. Fifty five miles of great rides.

At tonight’s rider meeting I don’t win any of the door prizes but it was a lot of fun. There is a prize for the oldest rider. He is 86. The prize is that he gets to go to the front of every line up. The youngest rider is 12. There are a total 129 for threes days and 326 for the six day ride. This is a total of 455 for the first three days.

Time to get to bed as tomorrow breakfast is served at 6:30 Am and we ride at 8:00 Am

Good night sleep tight.


Florida Bike Safari Day 1

The trip to Live Oak

I am calling it day one but it is really day zero minus one. But then if you are counting I guess it was really day before when the adventure started. The finding where the tent was put after the 2009 adventure, where is the sleeping bag. How about the air mattress? Is it still going to hold air? So there I am 10:30 slapping the bike into its box and in a total panic on Wednesday night.

On Thursday morning Don and I have totally civilized flight out of Calgary to Orlando oat 12:00 noon. I get to sleep in and having run-around like mad the night before it is simple to load the truck and Agnes and I head off to pick Don up.

The Westjet to Orlando is perfect as it is a direct flight. This makes the flight with bikes really easy. Westjet is very civilized about bikes. They fly them with no extra charge. Some airlines will fly golf clubs but not bikes yet the sum of the dimensions are the same. Personally I find this sort of discrimination disgusting. My bike weights half of what a full set of clubs weight but it’s a bike so we can’t fly it. These airlines are trying to promote how green they are but when it comes to the greenest form of human they can’t fly them.

Getting back to the topic of the trip it was great. And that was uneventful. Don and I arrived in Orlando and I grabbed cart and stood around waiting for the luggage to show up while Don went and got the van. On the road and on our way to Live Oak by 8:00 PM. With a 170 miles to Live Oak Don did great getting us into Live Oak about 11:30PM including a 45 minute super stop.

So we put up our tent by flashlight. I have this new head lamp I got at the big junk store for $2.00 it is great. Well at any rate it is time for a quick beer and off to bed.

It has been a long day. Crawling into my sleeping bag is great.

Tomorrow we ride!