Trip Summary

Day 52: 2929 miles completed, 8 states, 7 flat tires, 4 flat mattresses, 40 new friends and Bruce #1, 8 rest days

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 52: St Augustine, Florida

Our last day on the bike.  The only mission today was get to St Augustine.  We had great empty country roads that allowed us to meander a bit and spread out to visit with one another along the way.  It was a nice leisure pace, and we all enjoyed it.  We enjoyed it so much that the entire group missed at least 2 turns.  Oh well, it just added to making a memorable ride. Udi's sister-in-law and brother joined us on the ride in.  They are strong riders and enjoyed riding fast with Jeff.  Friends of Judy's also caught up with us along the way and escorted her into St Augustine.  We got to the restaurant in Old St Augustine, and the balcony above the street erupted with cheers from our fellow riders who made it there before us.  We had people on the street high-fiving us and congratulating us, cars honked--we felt like rock stars for a little while.  It was so fun!

It is always a bittersweet day.  We truly bond and become family with our fellow cyclists on this tour, and though we are happy to make it to the end--it was all of our goal from the start--we are sad to say good-bye to our new brothers and sisters.  Obviously, some of us will stay in touch, and sadly some of us will never see each other again.  We had an incredible group for 2015.  Everyone was supportive and nurturing.  Certainly, we all had our moments of difficulty, discomfort, and despair, but there were always people around to prop you up or give you your space, whichever you needed. 
We each had our own way of dealing with things, just as we each rode our 52 days on the bike differently.  There were those who bolted out and went fast and others who took their time to savor every bit of the ride--neither way was better or worse; it is not up to us to judge another's journey, it is too personal to each of us, we just respected each other.

The final ride to the beach, as we ride single file escorted by our tour director and to the cacophony of
car horns from vehicles wishing us well, it becomes more emotional and introspective.  You think about how far you have come, from that first nervous pedal stroke away from Dog Beach in San Diego to this joyous chaos at St Augustine Beach, 52 days in between and all that each day challenged us with and made us better and stronger cyclists and all that we shared with each other, the laughter and the tears.  It all comes flooding into your thoughts at once and you feel happy and sad at the same time.

Jeff and I get asked all the time, which tour we enjoyed more, 2013 or 2015.  It is impossible to say.  We can only say they were both just so different from the other, but both were tremendous and life enhancing.  I think we met our goal to slow down a bit this time around and enjoy each day and push hard when we wanted to.  We so enjoyed having Bruce along again to share and compare experiences with.  We value his friendship and honesty.  I enjoyed my riding group, which started out being 4 guys and me, then Roger left to go back home and Jeff was in and out of our group, and then Judy joined us, so we were 2 guys and 2 gals--a New Yorker, a Hebrew, a Southern Belle and a Midwesterner--somehow we made that combination of very distinctive accents into a tight and loyal group who looked out for each other and shared a lot of fun.

It is hard to succinctly describe our 52 days.  I can hardly believe after all the many months and hours of training to prepare, that we are already home having completed the goal.  May we all have smooth roads and tailwinds and hopefully we will meet again down the road somewhere!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day 51: Palatka, Florida

The route sheet read 84 scheduled miles from High Springs to the armory in Palatka, Florida.  Twenty of the miles would be on bike paths which is slower than riding on streets - long day in the saddle.  As usual a threat of rain.

Morning: rain, thunder, lightning, took shelter from the storm
Lunch:  stopped for a barbecue lunch
Afternoon: blue skies and sun, we dried out

Jeff completed 115 miles.  He stayed on the bike while the rest of the group stopped for coffee and lunch

Seeing dinosaur as we rode into Palatka. It was certainly eye-catching.  Had to take the picture for our Goddaughter Avery.

Explaining to Bruce the subject matter of the DVD used on the Guadalupe statue - breaking out in laughter on the bike every time in comes to mind.  Amazing what Linda created out of "found" things.  I still bike along looking for goodies.

UK Experience:
  1. sleeping under the sink when the lights would not go out in the hurricane evacuation center, how much did I pay for this trip?
  2. awakened early in the am by the sound of zippers, still groggy from lack of sleep mistakenly using an unusual substance as toothpaste
  3. trying strange food can be an unpleasant experience - menudo

Saturday, April 25, 2015

2015 Pedal 4 Paws Jersey - SECOND CHANCE

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Day 50: Rest Day #8 - (Sante Fe River)

Spent most of the day kayaking down the Sante Fe River.  A few views from camp.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pedal 4 Paws sponsors #10

Pedal 4 Paws sponsors #9

Day 49: High Springs, Florida

Changed Lisa's tire yesterday because it has been rubbing on her frame (used Udi's 25 mm)

Checked tires after rider meeting to make sure Lisa's tire was still inflated, mine was down about 50 psi.

Changing tire at 9pm; not much fun.
77 scheduled miles, mostly flat, sunny high of 82

We were "way down upon the Suwannee River.."  Literally, we did ride over the fabled Suwannee River--unlike the composer of the song Stephen Foster, who never visited the area allegedly.

We are staying in cabins at O'Leno State Park in High Springs, Florida.  They are simple, rustic cabins with a separate bath house.  The O'Lena Park is lovely with a suspension bridge and nice trails. People even saw a few gators in the river that flows under the bridge.

I promised to tell you about Ms Pritchett, our guest speaker in Madison, FL, and one of our very favorite.  Her story includes the fact that she grew up next door to Ray Charles and was a lifetime friend of his, and that is amazing in itself.  However, her real inspiration to me is that she was a black woman growing up in the deep south (Greenville, FL, where Ray Charles was REALLY from).  She was married twice and had 5 children.  After all the kids were in school, Ms Pritchett went back to school herself--which meant getting up before 5 AM, catching a Greyhound bus and then another bus to get her to school (first was finishing her GED, then she attended Florida A&M to get her BS in Elementary Education, then she got her Master's as well!).  Her two older sons took care of cooking for the family, Ms Pritchett had a sitter come in for her youngest baby.  It took her 5 years and she began her teaching career in Greenville at age 35!  She taught for many years, and then began her political career as mayor of Greenville.  She serves currently as vice mayor.  She is indeed amazing and a total inspiration.  Her children are all very successful, obviously they inherited her strong work ethic. 

UK Update:  Graham sends love and hugs to his lovely wife Sandra and has missed her greatly these 52 days in America.  He looks forward to seeing her very soon, and is counting the days!