It has been a rough week. April temperatures in Florida average around 80 deg. But last week there were two days of 90 plus deg heat. Still not in good shape, the heat was debilitating. I had to stop every few miles and rest under some shade while pouring hot water on my head. Then I hit some of the biggest hills in Florida (OK, only 700 feet) but still a struggle. After that some very strong north winds slowed me down. Then my pump broke–a first in my cycling career. I had to walk my bike a mile before encountering another cyclist who had a pump I could use to inflate my tire.
But I still managed to get my 300 miles in for the week riding seven days and am currently approaching the Florida panhandle. Good weather is forecast for the next week so that is a plus. Below is my actual route and current position.
Below are a few videos and photos.
Riding in the Everglades on day 2.
My second day out I camped at Lake Okeechobee and there were several alligators prowling offshore. I wondered briefly if they would come ashore and attack me in the middle of the night but decided that was unlikely. Still, I kept my pepper spray close by all night.
In Central Florida I came across a number of orange groves. Here is a typical view.
Some other interesting flora.
I am in love with Google maps. I punched in my destination one day and google sent me on a twisty turny route through quiet roads. Then I ended up on a nice quiet bike trail for about 40 miles. I never would have found it on my own. It was great. Here is a shot of the trail.
I was cruising along this trail when I saw in my rear view mirror a cyclist approaching rapidly behind me. I only go about 11-12 mph on flat roads with no wind so a lot of racers blow by me. As the cyclist flew by I saw it was an older woman, who then slowed down to ride with me and chat for a bit. It turned out she was a 71 year old great grandmother! We chatted for about 5 minutes. She told me that when she was 65 she rode from Virginia to Oregon, about 3600 miles. We compared experiences for a bit then she took off. I said she was an inspiration–perhaps when I am 65 I will still be touring.
I came across this sign and thought it was a joke. Bears in Florida?
But it’s true. the next day I saw a black bear in Ocala National Forest. It was a long way off and scooted away before I could get a photo but here are his tracks:
There was a fallacy in my previous post about how great Google maps is. Around Williston I lost my cell signal for about two days. I was lost. I have only a state map which is not very detailed. So google is great as long as you have a cell phone signal. But I realized I still need a back up system in case there is no signal.
The Middle Finger Award
I also decided to nominate candidates for what I call the middle finger award. This is for people who cause me difficulty for no apparent reason. This is usually reserved for unconsidered drivers, but my first candidate is the Williston Crossings RV park.
I arrived in Williston after a long hot day. Google maps told me there was an RV park that allowed camping and I desperately needed a shower and a wash of clothes. I arrived at the entrance at 5:30 pm but the gates were closed. My cell phone had no signal so I could not call the number listed for entry. I rode around the town for an hour looking for alternate accommodation but there were no motels or other places to sleep, so I returned to the RV park and slipped in as someone was leaving. I rode around for several minutes and saw 20-30 empty RV spots. So I picked one and set up my tent and began unpacking. Just then the security guard showed up in his golf cart and told me camping was not allowed. I pleaded that it was late and I was exhausted and there were plenty of empty spots, I even offered to pay the full RV rate. But John was adamant–the owners did not allow camping. I could not believe it. How could anyone turn away a poor cyclist? But I had no choice. I packed up and rode away, with barely a half hour of sunlight left. John unhelpfully suggested I just camp out in a field nearby, which is what I eventually did.
So for their lack of hospitality and generosity, The Williston Crossings RV Park gets my first nomination for middle finger award:
As I was thinking about this it occurred to me that the number of generous, nice, warm and helpful people outnumber the idiots by about 30 to one so why do I focus on the negative ones? Says something about people–we tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive, or is it just me?
Speaking of negative, I arrived in the town of High Springs and stopped at a convenience store to get a few things. I noticed the headlines of the local newspaper and had to buy it to learn more.
I try to learn from other people’s mistakes. It is clear that this person was riding at night, which is something I rarely do. He was also on a busy highway. So my lesson learned is –stay off the highways and don’t ride at night.