Archive for March, 2014

Today I woke up sprawled out over 4 very comfortable sofa cushions on the floor, having had a remarkably good nights sleep, in my humble abode

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Coffee was mediocre at best, old grind wad used leaving my triple espresso insipid and virtually no creama. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been a barista for 10 years. The large double chocolate muffin adequately making up for the disappointing coffee!

Spent morning I’m church, nice service, a fusion of traditional and contemporary. I’m not one for men in funny costumes if truth be known. Most the songs I knew and the message was part of a series – the seven deadly sins. Sermon was on point and useful, avoided typical teaching on lust with a slightly different, more interesting perspective.

Lunch at Pita Stop was the largest sandwich I could order, followed by cheesecake and a wander round town. ‘World of Beer’ ale house was a great place to watch the ball game and bar staff were suitable impressed by charity cycle they offered me a beet on the house. As I am not one for choosing I let the barmaid pick… They offer or 200 beers!

1. Downtown Brown

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2. Humboldt Brown

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Their versions of Newcastle Brown… Hmmmm nice try.

Was invited to watch Noah this afternoon, I was grateful for the thought, and will watch film with an open mind and not concentrate too much on its biblical accuracy. I wouldn’t trust Hollywood to produce anything of real historic or factual significance, glamourisation, big budgets and thread bear plots seem to be the status quo for them.

Spent sometime in the car park entertaining slightly lustful thoughts earlier..

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Hubba hubba

Noah was an average film that I score 5\10, may be 6, but generally underwhelmed to be honest. Fictional tale made from biblical story interesting, Noah emotional depth and anguish well done, twin girls clever, fallen angel in stone/watchers clever (although the ENTS on LOTR were better) and the another great role for Anthony Hopkins – I just want some berries

Expenditure $16.25

Good night’s sleep last night at Mobile 6 motel thanks to Roger, am now checking weather forecast for the short hop to Pensacola.

Woke up to beautiful sunshine, the remainder of the storm passed through early this morning. Feeling more positive now – yesterday was a shocker.

Receptionist suggested Golden Corral for breakfast as they offer and EAT ALL YOU WANT buffet for $9 dollars! Arrived and spoke to the chap on kiosk and he charger half price, let’s see how much I can eat. Hopefully I won’t need to spend anymore money today on food – Let’s go!

Plate 1: Grilled chicken and pork, olives, cucumber, carrot, sunflower  seeds, salsa, beetroot, chillies and ceasar dressing.

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Plate 2: Grilled potatoes, scrambled egg, burger patty, saveloy, roast bacon.

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Plate 3: French toast, grilled potatoes, gammon ham and carrot/raisin salad.

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Plate 4: Banana, pear, water melon, honey dew melon and peach.

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I felt stuffed as I left only to find another flat :-< Quick switch and onwards after a Gatorade

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Cycling along miracle strip parkway, a raised natural sand dune ridge that has been reinforced and tarmacked to connect two holiday resorts of Fort Walton and Destin.

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Gulf Boulevard or the 399 is the next section on my route, which is stunning. Made up of 7 barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and island canals of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. The island I’m.cycling from Destin to Pensacola is called Santa Rosa and measures 40 miles long in total. I join at Navarre Beach and cycle to the most westerly point Pensacola Beach – 23 mile section.

Due to recent storms has covered the road with a layer of white sand, which makes it appear to have a dusting of snow. Running high pressure tyres also makes it as slippery. Lots of walking with bike through the deepest sections!

Struggling for energy today, cycling for 2 hours into another head wind, gusts of 25 mph so progress excruciatingly slow – not even managing 7/8 mph. Finding it really hard mentally so taking lots of breaks.

This section normally would have been an hour and I’ve taken over 2 always and still some way off 😦 Looking forward to a good two day break in Pensacola. At least the sun is out and it’s not too hot..

Where has the road gone?

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I sense I an hitting a fitness wall of some description today. I think my CV capacity is unable to keep up with my legs… Feeling really tired now.

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Arrived into Pensacola Beach, only 6 miles left in the form of 2 long fly over bridges, and you guessed it, still into that bloody head wind. I must admit to swearing several things times today. I feel like I’ve pushed myself to the limit of my fitness. Being in mind I’ve covered 600 ish miles in 3 weeks and prior to starting this adventure I hadn’t really ridden a bike since I was a child.

After a Starbucks ice coffee break I press on and once inside Pensacola the buildings offer some protection from the wind and I find First Methodist Church quickly, find Jeb, grab a shower and head out for calories

Over and out

Expenditure $ 17.80

Good bye Roger B.. Time to cycle inbetween the drizzle!

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Spent a great evening with Roger and Katrina chatting about warm showers, party politics, fast food, cycling, travel, America-isms and so on. He found out I hadn’t managed to find a couch/bed in Fort Walton, my last stop before Pensacola. We called a couple of hosts but none were available with a storm coming I was slightly concerned to sleep rough.

I later found Roger sat at his computer on the sly finding me a hotel room for the night! What a top bloke 🙂

I had a choice of coffee stops at HOOTERS or Burger King, I thought the latter was a safer option.

Hiding from the rain, the slight drizzle has become torrential. Roads and paths flooding, time to dismount and wait it out. Turns out that was a 2 hour wait before it let up.

Stopped at Waffle House for waffles, coffee and juice, this rain is quite ridiculous. I sincerely hope there is a break in the weather soon! Double chocolate waffles and coffee seem a great way to wait 90 minutes before a window of opportunity arrives, I think it is time to press on. Realised I’ve only cycled for 2 hours and sat for 3 hours, today will be a long one I suspect.

Impressed with this cycle lane… Crazy paving eat you heart out!

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Last 15 miles and rain has still held off. Stopped at Buddy’s Bikes for a toilet and free coffee. He seemed pretty interested in my bike, I hope when it comes to selling it LOTS of people will also be as interested!

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Got a flat 8 miles out which was a real pain, quick switch, but now it is coming down again but wind it on my back.

Rolled into Mobile 6 motel at 7.30pm, a very long day considering I set out at 10am! Almost half the day sat waiting for downpours to finish. I really needed a warm room and space to unpack, dry everything out, rinse off a few things, then settle down for a beer and think about food. Many thanks Roger B you are a life saver.

Pensacola tomorrow and a 2 day break, good night all.

Expenditure: $16.25

Thank you First Baptist Church Blountstown for accommodating and feeding me. I noticed a breakfast message written on the wall of the cafe as I was wolfing down eggs, bacon, grits and toast:

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I reckon that’s a pretty relevant message in my humble opinion!

Left later this morning as I enjoyed a sleep in, so wasn’t pedalling til gone 9. Filled my water bottles with sweet ice tea from Mc Donalds and headed out onto State Road 20.

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Forgotten old beauties ripe for restoration.

Waterproof cover on because a storm front is coming in, but I plan to be in Panama City before it breaks.

Oh dear, welcome to America

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I’ve had my own road now for 30 minutes, not a car in sight. Disturbed a group of vultures devouring a dead dear but will save you the photos!

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I’ve been cycling on tender hooks last 45 minutes. The road was not tarmacked so I was biting my lip as I desperately weaved around rocks and sharp stones fearing for a puncture. Luckily made it back onto a sealed road… success

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After an hour of super smooth tarmacked road racing along with the wind on my back I suddenly hit, you guessed it, SAND 😦 I screeched to a halt, front tyre sunk into the soft sand and I almost went flying, luckily got my foot down and managed to stop myself from coming off. Do I walk or turn around I am asking myself. Time for some southern sweet tea while I ponder that one for a while.

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40 minutes walking and the smooth black stuff returns, which means it’s time to remount and kick on.

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Cool wooden bridge held together with whooping iron rivets – rather geeky but I momentarily felt like I was on the classic movie set of ‘stand by me.’

Last 10 miles and I’m craving calories. Walked into Burger King, given $10 worth of food for $2 AND 2 customers in the queue gave me 10 each and told me to get dinner and a beer when I arrive in Panama City! I didn’t realise my budget would stretch so far… Let alone increase 🙂

Arrive into Panama City, knackered and tendon in the back of my knee playing up. Anti inflammatories and beer needed I think, enjoying supper and evening conversation with Roger. I wonder what his favourite state is, I’ve been asking Americans I’ve met en route. Utah, Colorado and Oregon all rate very highly.

Lovely house overlooking the lagoon which sits alongside the Gulf of Mexico.

Goodnight all

Expenditure $9.19

Goodbye cycle house! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

I took a long coffee break before cycling today, from 6 – 7 am chatting to Scot. Atomic Coffee was super quiet so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Really cold start this morning, I could actually see my breath! Wish I had purchased a pair of gloves now, although sun coming up now so things should start to warm up. Took a 20 minute warm up in dollar general… Hot tap on feet and air blower for hands.

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Which way!?

I’ve decided that State Road 20 is the best stretch of road I’ve been on so far. Smooth, fast, wide cycle lane and seemingly downhill. Oh and a slight tail wind… Thumbs up!

Starting to warm up at last, I may take my jacket off soon.

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Lunch at Hosworth 55km in cost $2 and for a 6 piece chicken meal with spicy wedges, think there may of been some kind of discount added
Final 30 to go, eta 1pm all being well.

Second lunch cost me $1.39 for a burrito, cheesecake and litre of tea. Another well negotiated discount done me thinks.

Arrived and local church found out about my cycle ride and put me up in a motel which I’m pretty stoked about. Tonight was going to be a roadside sleep again otherwise.

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‘o wr atesi s mi truck parking. ffee hbo & cable. mcro fridge’

Everything seems hunky dory here 🙂

Just had supper with Gary Purvis a member of First Baptist Blountstown
Great evening with engaging conversation. It is always nice finding out what makes other people tick. Shared a fair bit in common and learnt a thing or two as well. I can now claim to know what a weevil is!

Good night all

Expenditure $9.59

Again another tough goodbye this morning, I felt a lot of love and generosity from Benny and Sandy. You won’t meet a nicer couple this side of heaven. I struggle to express my gratitude for everything they did for me these last 48 hours so for now I’ll just have to say “thanks” and pray we cross paths again sometime soon.

Cold out as I hit the road out of Shady Grove, cycling toward the junction onto state Route 19 heading north west.

Peanut and drink stop at 7.49, that reminds me I got to get some wigglers

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It’s 9.15 am I’ve covered 25 miles in 2 hours 2 minutes and I’ve got 20-25 miles to go. I am looking at an arrival in Tallahassee no later than 12. Time for a chilli dog with mustard and pickle, $1 well spent care of Eileen and Pat

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Spring colours in full bloom as I pedal along. Not had my morning coffee yet so looking forward to finding a Starbucks

It’s fair to say I don’t THINK I hate anything, although cycling up a slope with gusts of up to 25 mph I’m my patience.

YOU KNOW IT’S WINDY WHEN YOU HAVE TO CYCLE DOWNHILL TO KEEP GOING… Aaaaargh

Tallahassee is hilly! On the upside I arrived and found a Burger King.. Chatted to the manager and my $1.69 (£1) got me a whopper, bacon double cheese burgers, large fries and unlimited soda oh and a Hersey double chocolate fudge cheesecake… That’ll learn me some calories 🙂

Stopped at Atomic Coffee for a caffeine hit, chatted about the charities I’m cycling for.

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atomiccoffee.org for those of you who wish to look it up.

It’s been a cooler more blustery day today, tomorrow I think will be slightly colder… Although I’m not sure Florida really does COLD like England does 😉

Headed out for a sightseeing tour minus pannier bags, I’ve rediscovered speed at last… Whooooosh
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Time for pizza, a cold beer and bed

Expenditure $9.19

Lovely long sleep in today followed by emailing with purring cat and breakfast (Canadian bacon, eggs, sour bread, grits and organic salsa)

Thank you Sandy

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Starbucks triple espresso macciato and visit to ‘sunshine cycles’ in Tallahassee and got a great deal on a kevlar Bontrager tyre and inner tube. They said front tyre was good and didn’t need replacing. Total price came in just under $50 dollars, 20 of which Sandy paid for 🙂

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Nice 🙂

Off back to Perry to load up the bike and have lunch – Turkey, tomato, lettuce, mayo on toasted sour bread with freshly squeezed carrot juice. With the amount of food I am eating I sometimes wonder whether this should be a culinary blog rather than a travel blog!

I am due to set out again tomorrow morning at 6am to Tallahassee – where I will be staying with Roger Berthold. Using warm showers it is rather exciting arriving in a new place not really having a clue what my new host will be like, only knowing that we have cycling in common! < As you cycle from place to place you are able to leave feedback and receive feedback> So far I have not had a bad experience, everyone being really hospitable, encouraging and generous.

Tonight Benny may be teaching me how to shoot. He will start me off with an air rifle, move onto a .22 then onto some BIG GUNS all being well – I will try not to kill myself

The coming few days should be a nice ride as I head into slightly hillier countryside covered with trees and lakes. Florida itself is  500 mile sand bar which is pretty flat, covered by swamps/marsh and the warm, white, sandy coastline which is the largest in the USA. The beaches have been attracting tourism for over 100 years, thanks to The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC), built by Henry Flagler’s after his doctor advised him to take his ill wife to Jacksonville to avoid the cold winter. Finding nowhere suitable to stay on his return in 1885 he began building a grand St. Augustine hotel, the Ponce de Leon Hotel.

Successive years on he continued to develop the cities, tourist infrastructure and extended the rail road further south to Daytona in 1889. Then onto Titusville and West Palm Beach, when in the winter of 1894/1895, much of Florida suffered a deep freeze which encouraged him to continue the track to Biscayne Bay 1896  – modern day down town Miami.

Since the turn of the century wealthy Americans <and more recently not so wealthy Americans> have been spending winter along the Florida coast avoid the cold winters experienced further north, which in the present day 60 million  tourists account for the largest percentage of GDP

Benny came home and I duly took a photo of the bike before making a fruit smoothie

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The shed in the back ground was a fully fitted bespoke guest room with sporting trophies such as a preserved barracuda and stags head.

Out shooting a gloc 9mm…

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Ain’t no thang 🙂

Expenditure $32.89

Woke up at 7.30 to use truck stop toilets, I won’t be adding photos, I’ll let you guess the condition. This little chap sat watching me

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Off for a coffee, eggs, pancakes and maple syrup. Met a guy who was cycling from Gainsville to Pensacola and back to collect some medical test results. He could afford greyhound bus so was pedalling a smashed up old mountain bike with a tarpaulin and sleeping bag strapped across the handle bars. He had run out of food stamps yesterday so I bought him a $2 chilli dog with everything, he seemed quite moved. I’m not sure anyone else had helped him out. He had 100 miles left to get back which he said he’d cover today and Monday. I wished him well and headed into town.

New tyre seems ok but unable to fully inflate as the tyre is 5 -10 mm too big for rim but have no other options. Runnimg at 50 psi rather than 90 as I don’t want it to lift and allow tube to balloon out and burst… Short term fix that I hope gets me to Tallahasse!?

Rolled up for the 10.30 service at First Baptist Church and already been offered several lunches and a guest house to sleep in tonight. Glad to be packing up and leaving the truck stop. I sense the ladies at church are going to insist in a BIG EAT day!

http://www.fbcperryfl.org/

Great service, group of 9 people back from Guatemala on mission. Food, stoves, roofing, housing etc as well as prayer and pastoral work. Inspiration stuff – all who went were genuinely changed I sense. I pray the change of heart and mental reevaluation of what is actually important in life. I know teaching, volunteering and overseas work has drastically changed my outlook, priorities and life focus 🙂

Tried inflating tyres but suspect bulge appeared and rather than run them fully loaded I took them back to Walmart, got a refund and will purchase exact ones from a bike shop tomorrow, I do not want any high speed blow outs to be honest!

Early night for me before I collect NEW TYRES tomorrow

Expenditure $3.19

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Shelly wanted to say good bye… On her unicycle at 6am!

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Early start again today provides me with nice empty roads after my Starbucks coffee start and free multi grain banana cake. Manager was an ex Londoner who moved out 14 years ago, luckily has had maintained his ‘alright geezer’ accent.

Cycling West the sky is full of grey clouds, rain later me thinks..

No sign of rain thank goodness but here comes the sun again. Expected temperature today 82 degrees, will hope for a bit of shade unless I get there soon.

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Found my perfect house whilst passing through Newberry, none up one down which is surprising for a detached property!

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Needed a $1 dollar meal so stopped in at the golden bridges and chatted with the manager about my cycle ride and the charities I’m raising money for. She seemed super impressed and I got an orange juice, unlimited soda, 2 cheese burgers, 2 hash browns and 2 apple pies for my dollar (60p in real money)

Thank you Mc Donalds – Trenton

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Back on a designated cycle road running along state highway 26 from Trenton to Fanning Springs

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10 miles out and ANOTHER puncture.. That’s 3 in 2 days. I have now run out of inner tubes as I was waiting to buy some more tyre glue this afternoon. Putting on last spare now… Please get me to Fanning Springs!!!

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Nope it wasn’t met to be, just blew my last tube. Also noticed the probably cause of repeated puncture, a section of rubber has ‘come off’ the tyre wall. Let’s start walking folks.

Found a house and called Maryanne, a contact from Mike and Bernice who offered to collect me and take me to a Walmart for new tyres, $40 dollars from and rear, I kept the receipt in case they don’t find. I have an afternoon of tube patching!

Went to one campsite who wanted $20 dollars a night which was outside budget, so went further out of town to a 24 hour garage and asked if I could put my tent under a tree. I gave them they entire charity, hard luck, hopeless story and they said it would be ok. Shop and toilet/shower both available to use… Thank you Bob!

Tent/bivi set up in shade, bike chained to tree and recently glued and patched tyres hanging from the branches… You really have to love living life on the cheap.

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Time for a cold beer, over and out people.

Expenditure $3.19

Another lovely evening with Mike and Bernice Miller… Mike taught me a lot about saddle position, posture, decent tyres and derailer settings. I feel more and more like a cyclist with each passing day and less like a fraud 😉

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In the morning after a full size bowl of homemade granola and grapefruit juice we set out together for the first 10 miles as they knew a few short cuts and to make sure I got on the right root.

After another flat tyre, cup of coffee and spicy snacks care or Sam (the Indian corner shop guy) I bid fairwell to M and B as I turn left onto NW 100th and they take a right.. Will miss Mike and his frequent rapid puncture turn around. I have saved his mobile number for my next emergency!

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Lunch was a 3 piece chicken meal at a petrol station at 10.30am. I spoke briefly to a couple of locals about my charity cycle ride and I’m not sure the could fathom the motivation to participate in such an epic adventure. The mentality here is, “why you walking

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Passing through Paines Prarie State Preserve and Barr Hammock Reserve which is popular for walking and mountain biking – plenty of trees, trails and lakes. Bumped into a retired chap called Harold who asked me a thousand questions about England, he assumed I probably knew his brother in law which I assured him I didn’t. His response, “Gee that’s a darn shame. He’s a pain in the ass but shoot he’s ok”

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Rolled into Gainsville at 2pm and met my hosts Shelly and Angel before heading into town for coffee, wifi and air conditioning 🙂

Had a great chat with Angel about the university’s fraternities and sarorities. Under graduates take it all VERY seriously and getting into the right one can make or break your time at college.. And potentially the REST of your life!!

Apparently you can only date boys and girls from the right group… Seems a bit like the cast system in India to me. Hmm I guess that is a discussion for another time. I’m off to hand with the beta beta gamma kappa crew!?

Just got a 50% discount on a meal with a mountain of salad and 4 dressings.

Off for a walk around town
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Expenditure $12.19