April 23 - May 3: Florida

4/24 - Crestview (56 miles 2496 total)
56 miles from the ramada inn in pensacola to the holiday inn in crestview, FL
first of all i need to mention something i meant to tell about yesterday: several of us met up with a couple of self-contained cyclists who are also traversing the southern tier route right now. they're a couple from new zealand, abby & allen. they're carrying everything on their bikes....tenting & cooking equipment plus clothes. abby joined our dining group last evening; we loved hearing her stories from the trip she & allen have made from los angeles, starting in early february.
this morning, we had the breakfast buffet at the motel, then started off by about 7:30. the first 18 miles were along US hwy 90. there was lots of traffic at this hour of the morning, but we had a shoulder to use....tho' we still had to be very careful. there was a stretch over a good-sized bridge that was restricted to just one lane due to construction on the bridge, which meant we had to hug the railing (not my favorite bridge position!).
in the town of pace we stopped at a bike store, where patty bought a mirror to replace the one she'd just lost on the highway this morning. behind the bike store we went onto a bike path that we rode on for 6 miles. what a quiet respite after those highway miles.
turning off the bike path, we rode along winding country roads for quite a few miles. some of the roads that turned off from our road were dirt roads....a bright orangeish red dirt, like the one in this photo. we didn't ride on this dirt road, but several of the stretches on our paved roads were canopied with lush greenery like this road is.
later we rode thru the town of milton; the sign at town's edge proclaimed it the canoe capital of florida. on past milton we came upon a canoe & innertube outfitting spot (its sign is on the left in this photo). you can also see here the terrain that was common today when we were on US hwy 90; there were more hills than we've seen in a while....& i, for one, wasn't really expecting hills in florida.
patty fainer, on a day off from driving the subaru, was riding with us much of today. about 20 miles out of crestview, along one of those back roads, her back tire went flat. she thinks she may have run over her mirror after it fell off her handlebar end this morning...but there was plenty of other glass on the road's shoulder, too. she deftly fixed the flat, & we'd been back on the road for maybe 5 miles. we were riding up a hill when i heard what sounded like her chain losing its grip. i went back to check, & found that her chain had lodged itself very tightly against the frame. patty worked hard to extricate it, but in vain.
so patty decided to use her bike like a skateboard. she's illustrating her bicycle skateboarding technique in this photo. she could get down the road almost as fast that way as i could by pedaling. she said she was going to navigate that way another 5 miles or so before bothering frances with a phone call.
but at the next turn in the road, who should drive up but frances, who loaded up patty & her bike & drove them into crestview. (as i type this report at 8:15 pm, bev, becky, & patty are still trying to dislodge patty's chain.)
sari & i, assuming our accustomed spot as the lone keepers of the back of the pack, pedaled on into holt, a teensy town with a convenience store....& "hal's good food, low prices." frances & patty were just getting out of the subaru at hal's, so sari & i stopped there, too. we 4 shared 2 slices of a scrumptious, locally made pecan-pie cake.....at hal's promised low price of 75 cents per piece (which means we each enjoyed a hearty half slice for 37-1/2 cents apiece)!
a very unusual incident occurred as i was biking eastward from holt toward crestview. i heard what sounded like a pickup truck coming up close behind me....right behind me on the shoulder of the road. & before i knew it, there was an older pickup driving alongside me in the tall grass alongside the road ON MY RIGHT. suffice it to say that i was taken aback. i looked over at the pickup, & the fellow driving it rolled down his window & told me that there were 2 bikers about 7 miles behind me with their bikes heavily loaded with big bundles (i figure he was referring to the new zealanders, who were on that same stretch of road today, i think) & that another biker was about 3 minutes behind me (i knew that was sari). at a loss for words, i said, "ok." he then accelerated & swerved left back onto the right-of-way in front of me.
all i can figure is that he thot we cyclists were engaged in some sort of race, & he was trying to alert me to the locations of my competitors. i could've told him that about 24 women had already won the race & were at that moment sitting around the pool at the holiday inn in crestview. this isn't the first time that i & others have been told by passersby that a certain number of cyclists are ahead of us....or behind us. local folks often seem to get caught up in our "race" across the US ;->
getting into crestview wasn't fun. traffic was bad along US hwy 90, & was much worse when we turned south onto US hwy 85 to get to the holiday inn. it was a very busy 4-lane road with almost no shoulder. & we had more unpleasant experiences with drivers along this stretch than we have had anywhere else on the trip.
at several spots along our way, we've had reporters from local papers talk with & photograph us. today, david from the crestview news bulletin interviewed 3-4 cyclists who were sitting out by the pool, & he also interviewed bev. david & bev are chatting in this photo.
we had supper tonight at the motel restaurant...a buffet that provided lots of tasty options. catherine passed out tomorrow's route sheets (90 miles to marianna!!), but there was no map meeting...which meant the BITCH socks aren't moving along yet.
at supper, sandy reported that today she had 3 flats---number 14, 15, & 16 for the trip....& that she'll change to her 7th tire this evening. all the flats haven't been on the same wheel. here she is, sandy the veteran flat-fixer, being watched by, from left, kathy groen, karen, & laura.
today was a big day for rita, too. she'd been getting tired of her hair becoming more unruly as it got longer, so headed to a beauty salon today after she arrived in crestview & had almost all of it taken off. she said she was a bit nervous as the shears were flying. here's a photo of rita with her sleek new do. we think it looks great....& about as carefree as a hairdo can get.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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