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

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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! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 48: Madison, Florida

We are in Madison...Florida.

Ah, short day today after sleeping in (6:30 AM) and a leisurely breakfast after a lovely night in a hotel.  We had about 47 miles to bike.  The weather was clear and would reach the mid 80s.

We rode with Udi and Ken.  Judy rode with her friend Bill and our staff person Rose today.  It was a nice ride, though Lisa had tire issues (rubbing on the frame) and a chain that jammed, but minor problems.  Jeff is changing the tire back tonight from the Schwalbe Marathons back to the narrower and lighter tire. (Side note:  Jeff found a wire in his tire, so ended up changing his as well).

The first SAG was at Tupelo's Bakery in Monticello.  Great food and an interesting shop with unique items.  They also have lots of dog items and obviously their logo has a dog.  We liked them right away!  Here is a little bit about the history of Tupelo the dog and the way they continue to honor his memory:

Our overnight is in Madison, FL, (we hold a special fondness for anything named Madison!) and we are staying in the fitness center at the local community college.  The Madison County Courthouse is located here and it was 100 years old in 2014.  It was the 4th courthouse built in Madison County, the other 3 having burned down in the past.  This courthouse is the only one in Florida that has never been added to or expanded.

On our way to Madison, we stop in Greenville, the boyhood home of Ray Charles.  We have a guest speaker tonight, whom we met in 2013, an amazing woman who grew up with Ray (or RC, as he was called then, and how she refers to him to this day).  We will write more about Miss Pritchard tomorrow. 

We also stopped by a beautiful area on the Miccosukee River.  It was extremely picturesque! Probably took the most pics there at any one place on the entire trip.  Guest speaker tonight is one of our favorite.  More on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 47: Tallahassee, Florida

Seventy-five difficult miles to and through the city of Tallahassee, Florida.  If anyone mentions that there are no hills in Florida, they need to visit Tallahassee and Pensacola.  The hills were not long, but they were steep.

Jeff took off early and was probably at the hotel by 12:30.  Lisa started riding with our usual group, but after the first SAG, about 10:30 ET, broke off to ride on her own--that was not really the intention, but was hoping to find other riders along the way to ride with; unfortunately, that did not happen, so she rode by herself.  She was trying to get to the hotel by 3:00 for the interview linked below.  She recorded the highest average speed of the entire trip and was doing good for time...until those aforementioned hills and traffic lights in Tallahassee, not to mention the Florida heat (we started out in jackets with temps in the mid 50s). There were a ton of turns in Tallahassee, and unfortunately, the Garmin locked up, so she had to rely on the arrows put down on the ground by Ed and Joyce (bless you both!).  That and the route sheet in hand kept her on course.  No wrong turns anywhere, and thank God for no flats (she actually prayed for this very thing, so thank God, indeed!).  She arrived at the hotel at 2:50, and we got the call from Michelle Li, reporter from WISC-TV 3 in Madison, WI, at 3:30.  Whew!  Just enough time to down a diet Coke and freshen up the helmet hair in time to be on the air, though I think I looked visibly tired. We are grateful for the added publicity for Pedal 4 Paws and Custom Canines.

Thanks to Verizon, we were able to conduct a short interview.

Verizon sponsored us by donating an in-kind donation of a Sony tablet, Samsung Note 4 smartphone, both with hotspots and unlimited data for these 2 months of the trip.  It has all proved invaluable, not only to us, but to several fellow riders who used the hotspot to reach loved ones at home when no WiFi was available in the remote areas we were in.  However, have to say that Verizon had the most extensive and available network connections as opposed to their competitors.

Milestone:  Entered the Eastern Time Zone.  We gained an hour coming over the middle of the Chattahoochee River.

By the way, Lisa says it is not her favorite to ride alone.  She found herself singing songs from Bruce Springsteen ("Living Proof,"  "Thunder Road"), Stevie Nicks ("Landslide"), Garth Brooks ("Baton Rouge") just to pass the time and hear anything but the sound of traffic and the bike wheels.  It makes us again realize how nice it is to have a group to ride with and how much we help each other get through those miles each day.

Dam on the Chattahoochee

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 46: Marianna, Florida

We spent last evening before dinner having Chandler and  Murph supervise Jeff putting on new chains on both our bikes.  Worked like a charm for Lisa.  Jeff's chain is skipping in the middle gears, most often used, of the cassette - just waiting for the chain to stretch.

After a home-cooked meal prepared by the residents of the RV park, which included a whole plate of homemade cookies for each table, we walked over to the fire pit for entertainment.

Sunrise in Defuniak Springs
After the entertainment, our air mattress went flat. It was about 1:15 am when I was struggling to get a fully inflated queen mattress through the door of the tent.  The tent crew blows up a couple extra mattresses every night and leaves them in an empty tent, so Jeff went and found a double size and we put it on top of our deflated one, so we were able to sleep.

 The route to Marianna, Florida was 68 scheduled miles with a one mile change/addition due to road construction before we began.  The weather was perfect.  I believe this was the first day without the threat of rain.  The sun accompanied us the entire way.

Ken joined us back today; he was the one who had to visit the eye doctor for a tear in his eye which was giving him flashing lights in his eyes.  The laser treatment seemed to work.  He was able to ride all 68 miles without issue and without making it worse. Before we got out of town, Jeff was called into service to replace Gail's chain that had broken and fallen off her bike.  Good thing she was carrying a spare chain.

Jeff and I took the opportunity to visit Partners for Pets (Marianna, FL) no-kill shelter in Marianna, which added 8 miles to our route, but well worth it.  We dropped off a donation and met a bunch of cute dogs, small and large.  We played with a couple puppies that had just been dropped off and a three year old yellow lab mix named, Trapper. Trapper had been tied to a pole and was nearly starved to death when someone brought him to Partners.  He is looking better now, but still needs some weight.  He took a shine to Jeff.  We thought maybe some time out of his cage would make him happy; unfortunately, he would not go back in.  The manager had to come out and pick him up.  She said he is in a cage with a roof because he tends to climb up and out of anything else.  Still no reason to leave him to starve to death. All the dogs have rescue stories more sad than the next.  A pup had many scars on him because he had fleas so bad he was itching himself to open sores and someone finally alerted these kind people to rescue him.  Two tiny pups were dropped off just minutes before we arrived, found in a crate on by the highway.  Spay and neuter programs are nonexistent.  It is a vicious cycle, but people need to be educated on how to treat a living, breathing animal humanely.  It happens everywhere, not just here.

Luckily these dogs have a better fate than those shipped out of the county - they will survive the week.  Unfortunately, more dogs are being sent to a shelter out of the county because Partners for Pets are overloaded and has no more vacancies, but it hard for them to turn anyone away.

Two years ago, while we are at the camp we are tonight, Arrowhead in Marianna, FL, a man dropped off a puppy with the tent crew and drove away.  Someone directed Bubba to Partners for Pets (facebook), a no-kill non-profit shelter here in Marianna.  We have followed them on Facebook ever since.  By the way, Debbie at Partners for Pets says the pup, Coaster, was adopted to a wonderful family and they love the dog.

Milestone:  Just one more night tonight in the tents, and then we say good-bye to them for this trip.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 45: Funiak Springs, Florida

Jeff noticed a flat before breakfast.  He changed it during breakfast and ate while others were departing. Bags were taken away before he was able to retrieve his rain jacket and wallet.

We had a guest rider on our little team today; Bill, who had done most of the 2014 C2C but had to leave, unfortunately, because his wife was in a car accident.  His wife has since recovered, and he wanted to finish what he started a year ago, so he is back.  He had a rough start yesterday, 4 flats and a crash requiring a trip for the bike to the bike shop for repairs, but he rode today without a problem and his shoulder feeling much improved.  Udi's wheel seems to be fixed.

Our camp dog, Cocoa Bean, is always our best greeter, so we like to snuggle her up whenever we get a chance.

We had a short mileage day of 54 miles.  Nice and cool with lots of cloud cover and a good tail wind for parts of the route made it a very pleasurable day.  Great BBQ for lunch in Niceville.

On the way to the first SAG stop we visited the "Animal Tree".  It is deteriorating, but was still a nice reminder from our 2013 ride. 

Another nice reminder was our camp site at Sunset King RV Park in DeFuniak Springs, FL.  The residents here make us a feast for dinner (tonight pork chops, baked potatoes, green beans, fresh rolls and topped off with a huge plate of homemade cookies).  They will make us another feast for breakfast tomorrow.  They also gave all the ladies handmade quilted purses in a biking-themed fabric.

The annual treat here is also live entertainment by a country singer.  I am amazed by how many country songs I actually know.  It is always a lot of fun as we sit outside around the campfire listening to the country western music.  Of course, an even more special treat is Chandler Otis singing "Bad to the Bone..." "bbbb-bad, bbbbb-bad..."  Love it.  Then there is the singalong of Bubba's motto, Live Like You Were Dying".  Enough said.

Our thoughts tonight are with our fellow rider, Woody, who went home a few days ago with loss of sight in one eye that we were all hoping was temporary.  Word came back today that it looks like it will likely be permanent.  This man has biked over 400,000 miles in his life and been cross country 9 times.  He is really an incredible inspiration.  My thought is this will likely side line him temporarily and then he will be back on his bike again.  We are also thinking about our riding mate who also had to see an eye doctor today.  I will not put his name in here just yet.  I will get permission from the source first. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 44: Milton, Florida

We were awakened by the sound of thunder and rain pounding the tent as lightening illuminated our tent.  This is not the way to start any day, but especially not a day with 85 scheduled miles on bicycle.  The journey began with a 45 minute ferry ride across Mobile Bay from Fort Gaines to Fort Morgan.

We assembled to board the ferry just as the skies opened up and drenched everything in sight.  Bruce1 dropped his phone into the bay as an unintentional sacrifice to Poseidon.  It worked and the rains subsided for the ferry ride and stayed away for the remainder of the day.  As we approached the starting point for the bicycle leg of the journey, we were greeted by a group of Pelicans, a pod.

We didn't start pedaling toward our destination, 85 miles away,  until 9am.

About twelve mile in, Udi broke a spoke on his front wheel, an unconventional spoke.  Most of the group continued on to the first rest stop. Twenty minutes were spent trying to fix the problem before the mechanic decided to give us another front wheel to use and get us on our way.  He would fix the wheel later in the day.

The group was only back together for a short time before Jeff took off down the boardwalks.  He eventually rejoined the group, only to sprint by and tell Lisa, that he would meet her in Florida which was eight miles up the road.

 Milestone:  We entered our eighth and final state, Florida  -  only 8 days left

Some time after noon a big yellow ball appeared in the sky.  People reported that it was the sun.

It was a long ride and a late arrival. The group arrived home at about 5:30.


Pedal 4 Paws Sponsors #8 (with Cooper)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pedal 4 Paws Sponsors #7 (w/ Hobey)

Day 42: Dauphin Island, Alabama

The route from Ocean Springs, Mississippi to Dauphin Island, Alabama was eighty-two miles.  The weather has been incredibly surprising.  The forecast once again called for a day full of rain, but for the most part we threaded the needle between two fronts and only suffered through sporadic cloud bursts.  Then around 2 o'clock the sun appeared for an extremely pleasant afternoon and evening.

 Milestone:  Entered our seventh state, Alabama

The roads were flat with the maximum elevation of 200 feet above sea level. The steepest climb of the day was on the long bridge into Dauphin Island, which we climbed with an additional impediment, headwind.

 During the ride, the group suddenly slowed.  There was a turtle crossing the road and in our path.  The other 4 maneuvered around the reptile to avoid crashing into each other, but I stopped to help it get to its destination before getting hit by a vehicle, hopefully pointing him in the right direction.

After crossing the bridge, I waited for the group photo opportunity in front of the "Welcome to Dauphin Island" sign. Snapped a few photos as they whizzed past.  They didn't stop.  Since the rest of the group left me behind (usually the other way around), I decided to treat myself to an infamous (nectar flavored) snowball before returning to camp.

Back in camp, Bruce1 let me know that Lisa was getting ready and we were all going to get a snowball.  Off we went for my second snowball.  This time with the necessary additional cream or sweetened condensed milk drizzled over the top.  Probably one or two more tomorrow.

Hopefully, we have not seen the last of the sunshine for our day off here, where it really feels like we are having a holiday (I stole that from Graham, but it is so true).  It feels like a beach vacation.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 41: Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Sixty-nine mile ride to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi  The route was mostly through the DeSoto National Forest which was reminiscent of Northern Wisconsin where we hope to be biking later this year.  Out early and missed the rain, which seems to be threatening every day.

Jeff says:  I am ready for this to be over.  The seven week mark seems to be the limit of my threshold. At about the same time on the tour in 2013, I was having similar thoughts.  The bicycling is the only thing that keeps me sane, so I grabbed some breakfast food, stuffed two burritos in my jersey pockets, left early, and rode alone all day - outrunning a half dozen dogs that thought I was prey.

There are always a few shining moments each day that serve to re-energize you.  For example, the Ramsey Creek Baptist Church provided our midday nourishment, for body and soul, and asked for nothing in return, just for us to accept it.  We gratefully did and are so thankful to the members for this generosity.
People say bad things come in groups of three.  Here are my three:
  1. My only pair of waterproof gloves disappeared from the laundry table before I could get there.  I confirmed with the staff that they saw them and they remembered removing them from the dryer.  Someone must need them more than I do.
  2. The overhead lighting at the hurricane evacuation center could not be turned off.  It was as bright as daylight.  We had a light right above our assigned sleeping location. Fortunately, we both had buffs that we were able to use as eye shields.  It was too warm to cover your head with a pillow because the A/C was not working.
  3. The Verizon smart phone that I am using on the trip fell out of my pocket while riding.  It was inside a waterproof bag to protect it  and my wallet from the elements.  My thought was it will also be easy to collect all the pieces after crashing to the ground at 20 mph.  However, the phone survived with only a scratch.
The other thing you can always count on is someone else always has it worse than you think is your worst.  One of our riders had an eye problem since San Diego and let it go, thinking at his age it was a new cataract forming.  Then he had a bad fall on this ride in Achafalaya swamp, OTB (over the handlebar) and a day later woke up with no vision in that eye.  He had to see 4 doctors in one day and the next day was scheduled for eye surgery.  Most of those doctors told him he could come back to the bike ride as long as he kept up follow-up appointments.  He has not ridden again as yet, but went to a followup today, and this doctor told him "you're a damn fool for trying to ride a bike" with his eye problem.  So, sadly, we are saying good-bye to Woody tonight.  His daughter will pick him up tomorrow and hopefully with consistent care from his own doctors he will be able to bike again some day.  He already had a north-south ride planned for after this one.  We are all hoping he can ride it because he is a warrior through and through.

Another rider, Sam, was nearly hit by a car today while trying to cross a highway relying only on his rear view mirror.  Thank goodness, no one hurt.

Our friend Udi, and Lisa's main riding partner, is from Israel and is riding to fund raise for Holocaust survivors and today was a day of remembrance ( ) of the beginning of the Warsaw Uprising. Many Holocaust survivors are living in poverty, unable to pay for medicine, food, etc., after all the horrific and barbaric things they survived, and now they are having a hard time just living.  It is hard to complain, yet sometimes we do.

We also bid a sad farewell to Stretch and Carole who had joined us for 3 days of riding.  It was great to see our 2013 friends again and catch up.  Stretch is nursing his feet back to health after extensive clawtoe surgery on both feet.  He did great, but his feet were tender and swollen after each day's ride.
Not sure there is a moral in all of this, but it has left us very pensive today to contemplate all of it.  I am sure we will find the silver lining and, at the very least, learn from this and hopefully it will make us better friends and more compassionate to others when they have bad days.

We have a long 82-mile day tomorrow, but we end on Dauphin Island for a rest day.  Lisa is still hoping to find a Snoball stand that is actually open when we pass through--there is one on the island open at 3 PM tomorrow if we can time it right.  Sometimes simple pleasures are the most satisfying.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 40: Poplarville, Mississippi

It was Coast 2 Coast 2013 reunion ride day.  Since Stretch came down to ride with us for a couple of days, we took the opportunity to ride with him, Greg and Bruce1.

Turned out to be a great day.  No rain!  Nice rolling hills and a short day, 45 miles.  The sun even came out toward the end of our ride to Poplarville which will be our home for the evening. 

It was a beautiful ride and, if not for the humidity, it could have been in northern Wisconsin.

Milestone:  We crossed over to our 6th state as we rode into Mississippi. 

Poplarville, Mississippi is where we are staying.   We ate lunch at the popular and super friendly Scooters with a great PoBoy sandwich.  Then we went down the street to the Pearl River Drug, which has an old-time ice cream parlor in the back and had a chocolate malt with whipped cream and cherry on top--it was delicious!!  All that and we were still home by 1:30.

Tonight, we are sleeping in a hurricane evacuation shelter, which is just a large open room with showers and bathroom, right next to a horse arena where I assume they have rodeos or horse shows of some kind.  We were able to observe some roping and riding practice, after dinner.

UK Update:  To celebrate winning his bet on the Masters Golf Tournament, Graham treated the entire group of riders and staff to margaritas.  Thank You !

Day 39: Franklinton, Louisiana

We had eighty-six miles to ride from St. Francisville to Franklinton.  The route was filled with rolling hills and green scenery.  We left camp in the rain.  The challenge today was more mental than physical.  Getting caught in the rain on a ride is completely different from deciding to start a ride in the rain with the forecast calling for more of the same.   Our war with the rain has been in our favor, but we lost a battle today.  The rain, with intermittent thunder and lightning, continued all day. 


Jeff's Ride
My goal is always to minimize the amount of time that I am wet, cold, and miserable.

Planned to ride with Stretch, our 2013 C2C partner, for old times sake and to ease the worries of his wife, Carole.  We got a late start and were the last to leave the girl scout camp in St. Francisville.  Almost missed the first turn.  The 2015 C2C tandem couple, Colleen and Randy, did miss the turn and I chased  after them to get them back on course.

At mile twenty, I noticed a strange sensation from the front wheel, stopped to check the tire, and found a wire, pulled it out and hoped for a bit of luck - no flat.

At the first SAG, mile 26, Stretch made a wise decision and decided he had had enough. Shortly after leaving the rest area, I retrieved Ken 2's route sheet which flew off his trike as I was riding behind him.

At the second SAG, mile 48, Bruce gave me a Payday bar, which provided the energy needed to finish the ride.  I missed the third SAG, mile 75.  I wasn't paying attention and the staff had set up at the wrong location one and a half miles before the planned location. I especially appreciated the Payday bar at the moment.

I rode for 4 more minutes today than yesterday, yet did eighteen more miles.I really, really, really dislike riding in the rain.

Lisa's Ride
Rode out with Ken, Udi, and Judy and the sprinkles quickly turned to rain showers.  Thank goodness it was warm, but still having every part of you drenched and still trying to do something physical is stressful. It is great to have a good attitude and always look for the bright side of things, but we sometimes just have a bad day and there is no bright side, and you deal with it as best you can (i.e., not taking it out on others who have no control over any of it). My riding partners are great and always uplifting, but by the time we were done for the day, when my bike would not shift into the big ring on the front (even after Murph and Ken tried some fixes on it) and my Garmin locked up, and I was soaked to the skin on every part of me, I was in a foul mood, so decided to head straight to the showers.  Showering is a new adventure every day.  Today, the showers in the ladies room in the  Baptist church gym had only 1 drain, and the room was built so that all the water drained AWAY from the drain--yep, you read that correctly--so someone literally had to be outside the stalls while we showered and use a floor squeegee to push the water toward the said drain.  I give our great staff person Joyce Gillette a lot of props because I think she saw I was about at my breaking point and let me shower right away instead of making me wait.  When I was done and in warm, dry clothes again, my mood improved a huge amount.  Sometimes even those of us with good attitudes need some time to find that attitude again!

We had the extreme privilege of meeting Immanuel, an 85-year-old man who lives on the corner of one of our turns near Clinton, LA.  Bubba met him many years ago on his first cross country trip, and has been making it an annual stop ever since.  Immanuel was born on Christmas Day, he worked in a saw mill his entire life where he lost most of his hearing, but he is very good at reading lips.  I got to shake his hand and he held onto my wet hand extra long, and told us he would be praying for all of us to have a safe journey.  He also said this was his favorite day of the year when he gets so much company.  He lives in a very meager house, some might even call it a shack, but it is his home.  Up until this past year, he shared it with his loyal dog Meatball.  Sadly, Meatball died this year.

Had a great lunch at "The Cafe" in Kentwood.  A lot of cyclists stopped there, and we all came in dripping wet.  The waitresses just quietly wiped up the water off the tiles and told us to be careful when we walked so we did not slip.  We had a local newspaper reporter come in, take photos and get some quotes from us and fellow cyclists for the local Kentwood paper.  The special of the day was spaghetti and meatballs with a dessert of pineapple upside down cake.

After dinner at the church, we all got a nice surprise and got to welcome Chandler back "home."  He has his back brace and walks a little gingerly, but he was glad to be out of the hospital and we were all glad to see him since his truck accident.  He said he just fell asleep at the wheel and is lucky to have his seatbelt on when it happened since the truck flipped at least twice and was demolished.

Short day tomorrow only 45 miles.  We are planning to ride with Stretch.

Monday, April 13, 2015