April 23 - May 3: Florida

4/25 - Crestview (90 miles 2586 total)
0 miles on bikes, lots of miles on the new van
yup, a new van. i haven't yet related the behind-the-scenes drama that's been going on for several days regarding the white womantours van that pulls the luggage/galley trailer....the van that's often also put to use for sagging/shuttling riders.
the van was having problems several days ago, so the day we riders biked to dauphin island, catherine drove the van to a garage in mobile to have it fixed, then biked by herself to dauphin island. the next day--our layover day--it was discovered that the van couldn't be fixed, but there was no white 15-person van in mobile that could be bought to replace it. so a u-haul was rented (i think in pensacola the next day, but i don't know the logistics for sure), & catherine & michelle went back to dauphin island to get all our luggage, which was sitting in the trailer in the parking lot of our beach condos. the 2 of them arrived in the u-haul with our luggage at our pensacola motel late afternoon that day when we arrived there by bike. the luggage was hauled from pensacola here to crestview yesterday in the u-haul, too.
in the meantime, a new white 15-person van had been found in pensacola, so last evening, the staff drove the u-haul back to pensacola to turn it in, picked up the new white van, & drove back to dauphin island to hook up the luggage/galley trailer that was still in the condos' parking lot there. they got back here to crestview late last night.
all this was transpiring while we bikers were merrily progressing on our tour with minimal interruption/inconvenience. (tho' you might've noticed that we weren't having homemade meals from the galley, since the galley was sitting in a parking lot on dauphin island.) it has taken much extra effort, time, & patience on the part of frances & patty, the sag drivers, as well as catherine & michelle to pull all this together.
which brings us to this morning....& yet another crisis for the staff to deal with. knowing it was a 90-mile day, we bikers were up early & had eaten a hearty breakfast in the motel restaurant by 6:30 or so. (a hearty breakfast for me in the south means scrambled eggs & grits; others are enjoying the biscuits & gravy, too.) beginning around 4 a.m. we'd been hearing rolls of thunder, but we assumed it would end soon. by 7 a.m., however, michelle told us that she'd heard reports of tornados touching down in the area & that the weather for the day appeared so unstable that she thot it unsafe for us to be out on the road. (bev had already started out on her bike, but frances went out quickly in the subaru to retrieve her.) it wasn't long before the rains started....& the thunder & lightning. the weather didn't settle down 'til mid-morning or so.
the yakima bike racks from the old van hadn't yet been installed on the new van; catherine & michelle had to take care of that before any bikes could be loaded so that the first load of bikers could be shuttled to marianna (our next overnight stop). in this photo, catherine is atop the van & michelle on the side...both rain-soaked. behind the luggage trailer you can see the subaru; patty had already loaded it with bikes & passengers for a trip to marianna.
installing those bike racks isn't an easy job, but catherine accomplished it handily, even in a downpour. then the bikes needed to be loaded. kathleen, one of our taller & stronger riders, volunteered to help. bikes were sitting in a conference room just off the parking lot. whenever catherine was ready to load the next bike, kathleen would wheel it out to the van & hand it up to her. in this photo is a drenched kathleen waiting to wheel out another bike, while an even-more-drenched catherine wrestles a bike into place atop the van. (catherine has spent hours working on top of the van during this tour!)
in this photo you get another view of the bike-loading project in progress; kathleen is handing a bike up to catherine. it was still raining heavily at this point. that white orb isn't the sun---by a long shot!---but probably a rain drop reflecting my camera's flash.
this photo gives you an idea of the amount of rain that was coming down. we had pools on both sides of the swimming pool fence!
after the 1st load of riders & bikes left the motel--around 8--sari & i retreated to our motel room to relax 'til the van returned. sari worked at catching up on her journal (she's up to mar 27!) & i attempted to clean out some files on my ibook. at about 10:30, our bike-ride metabolism rates signalled they were ready for snacks---even tho' our energy output for the day hardly warranted a fuel-up. nonetheless, we raided our bike bags for bananas & baggies of peanuts & raisins.
in the photo, sari is enjoying her snack while taking a break from journal-writing. notice the weather was quite nice by now in crestview....tho' we hear the 1st trip to marianna was rain-soaked the whole way.
sari remarked that the holiday-inn chair is much more comfy than the seat she thot she'd have to settle for all day today. she had packed both her spenco gel seat & her red sheepskin seat cover in her bike bag, figuring a 90-mile day would've required some bike-seat-cover rotations to save her posterior. neither of us is really sorry about not having to bike those 90 miles today. as we wind down near the end of this bike tour, i guess we're just getting lazy.
the van returned by around noon. we 2nd-shift riders & bikes filled the van for the 2nd shuttle to marianna & left around 1 pm; some of the 2nd-shift riders had taken their duffels off the trailer before the 1st vanful left. but the trailer wasn't hauled back for the 2nd load of riders, & since the van was so full of people, the duffels wouldn't fit. so patty had to drive the subaru back to crestview to pick up luggage for some of the 2nd-shift riders.....& sari's bike friday, which doesn't work on the yakima racks on top of the van. (sari & i had left our duffels in the luggage trailer, so our stuff was already in marianna.)
we arrived in marianna around 2:30. after parking our bikes in the motel's laundry room & settling in, sari & i decided we needed a walk. this is a high-traffic, motel/fast food part of town, but we managed to find a back street & completed an hour's walking loop before supper.
at supper we learned yet more bad vehicular news: the subaru had a flat tire in crestview when it went back to collect luggage & sari's bike. as of suppertime (6 pm), patty was still waiting for AAA to get the tire fixed so she could drive the 90 mi back to marianna. & several people are still waiting for their luggage here at the ramada inn.
michelle fixed chicken fajitas & a tofu/bean/rice dish for supper, along with salad & watermelon. here's a photo of the supper circle in the ramada parking lot. we sit on little blue plastic step-stool things, & many nights it's a real challenge to get down that far, then especially to get back up! if you're lucky, you can find a curb to set your blue seat on top of, thus lessening the distance to get down & up. & anne, along the left in this photo, sits even higher...on top of a white plastic bucket...in deference to her hips. you can catch a glimpse of our potful of cooked sliced peppers on the serving table in the foreground of the photo.
after supper, michelle reviewed tomorrow's route sheet, which calls for 74 miles to tallahassee. we thot tomorrow's ride was supposed to be 62 mi :-< but some bikers are happier for the longer route, in order to make up for today's cycling disappointment.
then laura made the BITCH socks presentation to sandy, aptly citing sandy's "Bearing Infinite Tire Changes Humorously." alas, the BITCH socks were still in laura's duffel, which is somewhere in the subaru. so in this photo, in lieu of the official socks, laura (right) & sandy (left) are showing off their own socks.
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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