Sunday, April 26 O'Leno State Park to Palatka, FL
Dave and Loren, 84 miles
During our rest day we had another casualty of the trip. This one was also not bike related. Beth got up to head for the bathroom/shower house in the middle of the night and missed the steps down from the cabin. She had two very sore ankles. She was able to bear weight on one, but not on the other. Her roommates helped her back into the cabin and in the morning she went to the hospital. The diagnosis was that her ankle bone was cracked and the other has probable torn ligaments and a severe sprain. She was able to walk slowly with crutches. Her broken ankle was actually less sore than her other ankle. She has decided to stay with the tour but her bicycling is over for the time being. A couple of the riders will take her home with her car and then continue home in another car.
On Sunday Dave remembered to attend the last devotional. I had programed it into my phone with a reminder. It reminded me, at 7 am which was the eastern time zone equivalent of the 6 am central time reminder in my calendar. I'll have to remember to un-smart my calendar if I cross time zones!
The day started out with cloudy skies. The air was very humid and sticky so I was hoping it would stay cloudy. We biked on nice shoulders and then got into Gainesville under a tunnel of huge live oaks in an area of ranches. (1st photo). We got to our SAG stop in a Starbucks and stopped for a snack. While we were there we had a cloudburst where it just poured. Since we were indoors we sat and waited it out. Other riders were not so lucky, but they found shelter in various areas, gas stations, etc. and waited it out. After about 20 minutes or so the rain stopped. We continued on our way and got on a very nice bike path that runs from Gainesville to Hawthorne, a distance of about 20 miles. At one point on our route sheet it told us to take the left fork of a Y that wouldn't be marked. We came to what looked like a Y (although not at the right mileage point) and were a little confused and asked a trio of guys about the turn. They told us it was further on and we talked a bit about our tour. The person that seemed to know the most about the trail had Harley paraphernilia on, so it seemed a little strange to see him on a bicycle.
By this time the sun had come out. We continued on the bike path which was shady and we knew it was much cooler in the tunnel of trees than the road would be. The trail goes through a state park, the San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park. There is also a spur trail that leads to the Payne's Prairie state park that we stayed at a few years ago. There were some phenomenal live oaks with Spanish moss in the state park. There were a few of those ancient oaks on the trail too.
We came out at Hawthorne and found a SAG stop waiting for us. I really like this aspect of a supported trip. I drank down an entire bottle of a water Gatorade mix. I had been pushing myself to take lots of sips of water on the bike, but it doesn't taste very good lukewarm. I also poured some over my head in a futile attempt to get cooler. It was too humid to evaporate very much.
Then we went out on the road. Even though we are creating a breeze for ourselves the asphalt absorbs the heat and reflects it back. We had a good tailwind but the only negative effect of a tailwind is that you go as fast as the wind so you don't feel a cooling effect. We had some rolling hills and I did feel some breeze coming down the hills. By the time we got to Interlaken I was sweltering. We stopped at the first place we came to and found Don and "Coach" sheltering from the heat. They were concerned about my overly red face. I drank a big glass of water and iced some pulse points in my neck and felt much better. The problem with being a slower rider is that we are out in the afternoon sun much longer than a faster rider. So that makes us better at endurance, right?? Anyway once we got started again it felt a little cooler. Maybe the sun had passed its zenith.
We got in just before dinner. We spent the time after dinner in a series of reminisces with the whole group and staff. Graham (from the UK) reduced me to hysterical laughter as he recounted several episodes. One of them involved our hilarious-in-retrospect night at the hurricane evacuation shelter where most of the lights are wired to be permanently on. Graham went to the kitchen and slept with his head under the sink. He woke up in the middle of the night thinking that his life had come to a new low as he gazed on the plumbing from underneath. He also told of an incident where in his groggy early morning state of mind (complete with sound effects of all the zippers on tents as other Coasters got up) he brushed his teeth with what he thought was toothpaste but instead turned out to be "butt paste". He warned all those that are keeping blogs that he'd better not see it on the Internet. Rich told him that he had just uploaded it to YouTube! By then Marianne and I were in tears from laughing so hard (as were several others).
Then it was off to bed and lights out at 9 PM as is usual on this tour. I was afraid that I'd be too keyed up to sleep on our last night, but I fell asleep quickly. I did notice that during the night Dave shifted positions frequently. He is having more shoulder pain again. He's an orthopedic doc's dream patient. We have specialty clinic near us with a different doc for every joint. Dave could use three of them. Hip, knees and shoulder.
We are very proud to have come this far. We are both happy to being close to being done but sad too.