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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 back into trail and highway riding for about 20-25 miles and then the traffic picked up as we began to run into and through several towns on the way to the coast and St. Augustine beach.  Joe led this portion at a pace that picked up each mile that we got closer.  We had some rain but with the warm weather and proximity to our goal, the rain didn’t dampen our spirit.

We stopped for our last riding photo at the St. Augustine City Limits sign and saw the bridge to the beach from afar.  As we crested the bridge into St. Augustine we saw police lights at the base and remarked, “That must be our escort!”  As it happens, this actually was a police escort for us! 

Early in the morning our wives met for coffee and had coffee with several of St. Augustine’s finest and then the entire local police force showed up – it was “have coffee with a police officer day!”  At coffee our wives explained why they were in St. Augustine and the Police Officers offered to surprise us and escort the three of us off the bridge to the beach.  These very gracious officers then met all of us on the beach for photos and a discussion of our trip.  This was a very special end to our wonderful cross country adventure.

Post Ride Thanks
I began these notes with an explanation and a thank you and will end these notes with a very heartfelt, sincere and humble thank you. 

To our wives, Nancy, Marta and Gwen, thanks so much for indulging our preparation time, time off and for your support in this adventure.  We very much appreciate your constant and unconditional love and support – thank you from three guys that are way over-chicked!

Thanks also to our children, Becca and Alexander, Greta and Peter, and Jack, for letting your dads play out this adventure – we missed you terribly and can’t wait to return to see you.

Thank you to our guest riders; Melonie, Eric, Dr. Jones, Don and Roy.  Each of you brought something different and special to this trip – thank you for taking time from your daily lives to travel and ride with us. 

Thanks very much to the family members that met us for dinners along the way; Seth, Tommy and Bob, Joanie and Dale.  Coming to see us along the route and sharing a meal and your encouragement, really helped at the end of a hard and weather-beaten ride.  Thank you.

I also want to thank my partners for allowing me this time off and especially Roy, Matt, Marty and Grant for covering while I was out.  A very special thanks to Carol, Laura, Karin, Pam, Stephanie, Charlie, Will and Miles for covering and reporting while I was out.  Thank you all.

Last but certainly not least, thanks to Keenan Leary, the best concierge, driver, bike mechanic, millennial philosopher and new friend.  Thanks Keenan, you made the days fly by and smoothed out the bumps on the road.

A very special final thanks to Bob McCullough and Joe Geivett for making sure this bucket list item happened; Bob’s ingenuity, chipper attitude and fortitude and Joe’s problem solving, never say die resolve, love of life and all those around him.

Just think Joe, this RAA started about 14 years ago, riding stationary bikes with Coach Troy, in the garage up at the lake.  Thanks for your support and exemplary follow through in everything that you do.  CEF

Final Baptist Church count – 204 (This is amazing considering it was 3 at the half way point in Austin, TX.)

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