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Day 30 - Gainesville, FL to St. Augustine, FL

For our last 62 miles in the saddle we started on another interurban bike trail that was once again one of the nicest trails / surfaces we have ridden on.  This dedicated trail took us through more “bayou like” terrain on both sides of the trail.  It was as if we were floating on a path above the bayou on both sides of us.  While we were zipping along at a good clip, we were all still looking for our second gator sighting.  About six miles into this trail we came upon a “trail closed” sign due to water over the trail.  We debated whether to turn around and reroute from the beginning or to ford the flooded trail.  Part of this debate included discussion on how deep the water may become and the chances that a gator would be nearby.  Not wanting to retrace our route won out, so we took off our shoes and socks and walked across the flooded trail.  We were all a bit apprehensive as we waded into and through this water.
After this early morning detour from our riding routine, we settled ba…

Day 29 - Live Oak, FL to Gainesville, FL

Today’s 85 mile ride had a bit of everything for us; we had heat, humidity, rain to begin and end the day, a slight elevation gain (1,800 feet) and we were chased by a nice dog that slobbered all over Joe, and by a domestic pig!  We also had headwinds early and a tail wind late in the day!  For the late afternoon hard rain (lasted about 15-20 miles) we had a country road with broken pavement that was hard to see and so bad we thought we might break a wheel.

None of this dampened our spirits when we made it to the scheduled endpoint, we tacked on an additional 20 miles to make tomorrow’s last day ride that much shorter.  (We voted and all agreed, this was the third worse day of rain that we have had on the trip.)

Late in the day, in pouring rain, coming into Gainesville, we were treated to “bike path” riding through a nature preserve on the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail.  (Rails to trails project.)  This path is about 20 miles long through “bayou type” countryside.  We all had our heads…

Day 28 - Tallahassee, FL to Live Oak, FL

The last two 80(+) mile days were easy breezy riding with Roy, Bob and Joe.  Today’s 75 miler was a slog; not because of the heat (90(+) degrees), humidity (95%(+)), road surface, terrain or rain, we didn’t have any of those on today’s route.  Today was a slog due to the 10-15 mile per hour straight on headwind, with gusts.  At no time today could we get into any kind of a rhythm, we just shouldered down and pushed for 75 miles.  (The only positive with the headwind was that it did seem to help a bit with the high humidity!)

We began on country roads, went to the highway with good shoulder riding and ended on a long, straight country road with a constant headwind.

It is our third to last day on the RAA and we all just wanted to get this day over with.  We talked very little, took very short breaks and then got back in the saddle to push against the constant headwind.

The only pictures we took were in the morning, before we had encountered the draining headwinds and at a stop about mi…

Day 27 - Bonifay, FL to Tallahassee, FL

According to my Garmin (GPS), we had our first dog chase of the day 360 feet into the ride!  Two black labs, a breed we really haven’t been chased by yet, gave us a quick warm-up for the day.  Our 82 mile ride with Roy was otherwise fairly uneventful.

We began and ended the day on the highway shoulder.  Throughout the day we had forays onto local country roads that were very little traveled.  At times we found ourselves riding 2 and 3 abreast chatting about the trip thus far and this allowed Roy and I time to catch up as well as Joe and Bob getting to know Roy better.  This was without a doubt the most relaxing day we have had on the trip.  Throughout the day we dealt with high humidity and heat (90%(+) and 93 degrees) as well as about 2,300 feet of elevation.  But none of these factors dampened the mood, they just reminded us of our tired legs from the higher than normal pace that we kept.

True to form, Roy has come up with a “business model” for Joe’s later use of the Sprinter van …

Day 26 - Pensacola, FL to Bonifay, FL

We had lots of pre-ride activity this morning.  Melonie came down to send us off, Joe’s college roommate, Don Schmidtke and his wife and daughters arrived for Don’s cameo ride and Roy Umlauf also came for his two days with us.
We started early and had to clip a few miles off and shuttle at the beginning to avoid the Saturday morning drivers having the sun and our backs right in their eyes.  We ended up with an 84 mile day with a little over 2,000 feet of vertical.

To begin we had some outskirts of Pensacola and “bike trail riding” for about the first 10(+) miles.  Thereafter we enjoyed another 10 miles of country roads before we said goodbye to Don for his cameo appearance on the RAA.  It was great to meet Don and his family and we all really appreciated them interrupting their beach weekend to allow Don to ride with us.

Bob, Joe, Roy and I rode on for the remaining 64 miles on back country roads and Hwy. 90.  We had a great shoulder to ride on and very courteous drivers for the most…

Day 25 - Mobile, AL to Pensacola, FL

Our day 25, 96 miler, began just at the outskirts of Mobile, next to the Battleship Alabama Museum.  We enjoyed a gorgeous sunrise just as we began our ride which was to take us across another state border into Florida later in the day.
We had a wonderful trail to ride along the highway out of town.  Alabama’s Coastal Connection Trail.  The first 10 miles had us riding next to highway traffic on a wide shoulder bike trail which took us over several bridges and raised highway sections just above the waters of the Bay.  This was really gorgeous pedaling in the morning.

From there the Coastal Trail took us up the coast past beautiful homes, cottages and bed and breakfast opportunities.  Each of us remarked that we would like to bring our wives back some time to enjoy this remarkable coastline.  We encountered more bicyclists on this trail than at any other time on our trip.

After leaving the Coastal Connection Trail, we had good shoulder riding which continued through and into Orange Be…

Day 24 - Wiggins, MS to Mobile, AL

We had a very early start (6:40 a.m.) to try to beat the afternoon rain and thunderstorm.

Even though neither Mississippi nor Alabama’s DOT’s believe in shoulders, we had the best day ever!  We had a wonderful day in the saddle – everyone’s legs are accustomed to 88 mile jaunts with 2,000 feet of vertical.  We enjoyed open country roads with no traffic.

We had lots of dog encounters which included further sprint training and water bottle sprays and our pepper spray was not utilized, yet.  Some of the dogs wouldn’t give up – we had a few that chased us upwards of 300 – 400 yards!  The really scary encounters are when the dogs don’t bark at all, they come up on us stealthy-like and we have to begin our sprint when we luckily see them out of the corner of our eye.
We crossed into our seventh state, Alabama, at mid-day with little fanfair, just the obligatory boarder photo and then back in the saddle to try to beat the impending afternoon thunderstorm.

We did get rained on this afternoon…