April 23 - May 3: Florida

5/1 - Palatka (75 miles 2901 total)
ALERT: "Good Morning America" segment postponed! mike cerre has let us know that the segment that might include some coverage of our bike tour will NOT air on friday morning, may 2, but sometime next week instead. if/when i learn the new airing date, i'll post it to this web site even if it's after the end of the tour.
75 miles from the high springs country inn in high springs to the best western in palatka, FL
it was cloudy this morning, & the pavement showed just a hint of moisture from last night's heavy storm, but we didn't get rain all day. a few sprinkles now & then, & the sky stayed cloudy & overcast, once in a while threatening rain....but no rain materialized. really quite perfect for biking, since sunshine would've made us even hotter; the temps & humidity kept us plenty warm as it was.
a goof on the route sheets caused some confusion about where to turn to get out of town, but once headed in the right direction, we pedaled along nice county roads for the first 40 miles. at only about 6 miles into our day, we came across a large "welcome to florida" gas station/convenience store/souvenir mecca that had all sorts of florida specialties advertised...including tickets to disney world & fresh citrus fruit. all over the large parking lot were umbrellas covering displays of fresh oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, & coconuts.
a group gathered here for a few minutes; from left in the photo are rita, roma, boston mary, sandy, bryn, sari, & cynthia. the others left, but rita & i wanted to have some citrus fruit sent home, so we went inside. while there we had some free orange juice, & rita bought a pink grapefruit, which we peeled & shared; it was the sweetest grapefruit we'd ever eaten. but it turned out that it isn't the season for shipping fresh citrus fruit.
late morning, on a county road between graham & brooker, rita, roma, & i came upon cynthia & marilyn boger, who were walking their bikes along the side of the road with a mangy puppy at their feet. marilyn told us that cynthia had first come upon the puppy, & seeing that it was very thin & had sores--obviously having been abandoned--she'd tried to call local officials on her cell phone, in hopes of contacting a humane officer. but no luck. she then gave it her peanut butter & jelly sandwich, which it quickly gobbled. then boston mary came by, & in an instant, she scooped up the puppy....sores, fleas, ticks & all. not long afterwards, the van came along the road, pulling the trailer. we tapped our hands on the tops of our helmets (the sign we're always to give sag drivers to let them know we need help along the road), so michelle pulled up just ahead of us. she came back & was quickly taken with the poor puppy.
in this photo, michelle is petting the puppy while it snuggles against mary, with its paw around her neck. i think the pup knew that mary & michelle were its ticket off the roadside. we all worked at convincing michelle to take the puppy in the van....but it didn't take much convincing. she found an old blanket in the van, put it in the bottom of a plastic bin, & put the puppy in on top, placing it between the van's 2 front seats...& off they went.
when we got to graham, both the subaru & van were parked near a gas station parking lot. gloria was there, too; she was biking today. she learned about the puppy, went over to the van to see it, then told michelle to take it to a vet in palatka & she'd foot the bill. we were all so happy to see that the puppy was going to get some medical attention, & soon.
feeling relieved that our bike-tour puppy was being taken care of, those of us on our bikes pedaled onward along the route. at mile 41 we turned onto state route 100....a highly trafficked road with a 3-foot shoulder. lots of the traffic was trucks, & many of those were logging trucks. we'd remain on state hwy 100 the rest of the day.
here's a photo taken along the way that gives you an idea of the terrain. to the right is a large open stretch that's been denuded by loggers; piles of deteriorating logs dot the space. in some fields like this, the piles are smoldering. on the other side of the road you can see how lush the vegetation is. we've really enjoyed the songs of all the birds living in those trees along our route. that's marilyn bolger riding ahead of me.
traffic got worse & worse as we neared & rode thru palatka. then it was up & over a high bridge, & we arrived at the motel. once here, we learned that the puppy had an appointment with a local vet at 3:30. when catherine & michelle returned with him late afternoon, they put him in a box near their motel room;
this photo shows him sleeping soundly in his box. the vet gave him a flea dip, cleaned & treated some of his sores, & said he was dehydrated & malnourished. michelle said he's eaten several helpings of dog food this afternoon. newly dubbed "little pete," he'll no doubt be up & bouncing around in a couple of days. i don't think michelle has yet figured out where he's going or how he'll get there.
this evening we had supper at a seafood restaurant next door to the motel. as usual when we go out to eat, we have a guideline about how much we can spend; tonight, womantours would pay for either the fried catfish or shrimp dinner. anyone wanting to have something that costs more pays the difference. neither rita or i could resist ordering the tangerine-marinated grilled tuna (with garlic, ginger...). with it i had turnip greens & hush puppies; in fact i ate not only my own 2 hush puppies but 2 other persons' puppies. i won't be getting many hush puppies in iowa come saturday, after all.
as we ate dinner, loralee brought around to our tables a gift that her daughter, larissa stephan of boise, ID, sent for all of us. in this photo, loralee is reading us the text of the card larissa sent:
B.I.T.C.H. socks award To: the awesome biker chicks, from: Larissa: sock it to 'em on your last day! congratulations to all of you on completing an amazing feat! you are inspirational in your drive and determination. it has been a kick to watch your progress and to support you from the sidelines. i figured you each need your very own pair of socks, and those other poor socks need a well-deserved rest.
larissa had contacted the manufacturer of the BITCH socks (www.sockguy.com) & worked with him to obtain a pair for each of us. attached to each pair of socks is a laminated note listing each of our names, the date each was awarded the socks during the tour, the locale, & the meaning of the acronym on that occasion. what an ambitious & thoughtful gesture! thank you so much, larissa.
we're going to wear our BITCH socks tomorrow for our final day of cycling. i'll take a photo of the BITCH-wearing group; you'll see it in tomorrow night's report.
& there was yet another surprise during dinner. bev came around to each of our tables with a plate of cookies her son & daughter-in-law made & sent for us. they're little bike cookies...probably bike friday cookies. here's a photo of bev & the cookies; karen, on the left, has just bitten into her bike tire. thanks so much to bev's relatives for such a clever treat.
at 8:30 we gathered in the motel lobby for the map meeting. michelle described the plan for tomorrow: we'll breakfast in the motel, starting at 6 for the early-risers. we'll hope to catch the segment on "good morning america" at 7:40 or 8:15 (we're not sure at which time it'll air). then we'll head off on our bikes toward st. augustine, meeting at a fire station on the west side of town around noon or so. a police car will escort us thru town to the beach at anastasia state park, where we hope to arrive by 1 pm. after dipping tires & taking photos, we'll have a picnic at the park with the 30-40 family members & friends who are planning to help us celebrate the end of our trek.
after that, it'll be a frenzy of going here & there to the bike shop for some, to the motel for others, getting bikes delivered, packed, & on & on. our bikers-only banquet will be at 6:30.
after the map meeting, vicky (one of the 3 who completed the 108-mi route today----the other 2 were becky & bev) made the last BITCH socks presentation of the trip....a sock each to cynthia & to anne. vicky commented on how cynthia has often visited in the communities in which we've overnighted, frequently rounding up donations for our breast cancer-fighting cause. for her, the socks acronym label is "Befriender In Touch (with) Communities' Hearts. no explanation was needed for the acronym as it applies to anne: "Biking It Thrice Cures Hips."
but our evening wasn't over yet: patty fainer explained that today, may 1, is a special occasion for catholics. we have some catholics in our group....including patty & mary libbey. patty said that on this day, catholics celebrate the virgin mary, & part of the celebration is crowning mary. so patty crowned our own boston mary, & the catholics in the group joined in singing a traditional song that they remembered from their catholic school days.
& there was yet one more special attraction in our evening. karen presented boston mary a t-shirt from all of us....a "yellow jersey" (a la tour de france) with the words "tour leader" on the front & "boston mary" on the back. the accomplishments that mary has made during this tour have amazed & inspired us all. in fact, today's ride was another of mary's "personal bests!" she completed all 75 miles on her bike! in this photo are, from left, anne, mary, cynthia, & vicky.
we're all in a state of disbelief that this will end tomorrow.
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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