Days 3 through 9

Day 3 – Palatka, FL to Lake City, FL 95 miles

Day 3 was supposed to be about 65 miles from Palatka to Lake City, but some forced detours and a back road mix up turned the ride into 95 miles. Since the first day of 35 miles was my longest ride ever, almost tripling it unexpectedly was a challenge. The back road mix up was caused by a sandy road, about an inch thick, that caused us to take a different route along FL 100.

Earlier in the day, in the morning, we stopped at a conservatory for a hike. What we thought was going to be 20 minutes of hiking turned into 45 minutes each way to get to a swampy river. Some of the others decided to swim until 2 locals in a fishing boat came over and said, “You aren’t from around these parts, are ya? There’s gators.” Needless to say, everyone then got out.

I have really stepped up my eating. Each meal, I eat more than I ever have before. For lunch on this day, I ate 3 hot dogs topped with potato salad (surprisingly good, and necessary since we don’t have condiments), 1 big piece of chicken, a donut, and some cookies. Then biked 50 miles afterwards.

In Lake City, we arrived around 7:30pm to a taco bar salad at the church who hosted us. Absolutely delicious and again, huge amounts of food.

Day 4 – Lake City, FL to Perry, FL 70 miles
Because of some bike fitting issues, I had to ride in the van on Day 4. Being in the van was absolutely horrible and frustrating, but to get back to normal, I needed to rest for the day. So my goal of biking every day and not riding once in the van was lost, but after a day and some bike adjustments, I was good to go again.

That night, in Perry, I met the Pastor of the church who hosted us, a great guy named Jeremy. Jeremy is pretty much the man. Grew up in MIdland, Texas and went to Midland Lee, the main rival high school of Permean (the school in the book and movie “Friday Night Lights”). Somehow he found himself in Decorah, Iowa for a year going to Luther College before going down to Texas A&M. We had a great conversation about high school football, since I was curious to know more about the Texas way of life. After meeting Jeremy, I am psyched about getting to his state and learning more about the culture there.

Day 5 – Perry, FL to Tallahassee, FL 52 miles
After a day to rest, I was charged up. My legs felt great. This was the first day of any hills, but honestly hills are just more fun. A group of 4 of us (Jessie, Emily, David, and I) absolutely plowed through the hills. Something I had never considered in biking is a thing called drafting…using the person in the front of the group to block the wind, allowing the others to take advantage of lack of wind resistance. This is extremely effective, even on bike. So we have someone “pull” for a while, who is using more energy being in the front of the pack. Everyone else is taking advantage by sticking close behind within a few yards. So we were trucking through the Florida hills in 90 degree weather, averaging 17 miles an hour for several hours. The weather so far has been amazing, except sometimes a bit hot. We haven’t had any rain and hardly any clouds. Most days have been in the 90s, with the highest day being 97 degrees and humid. When you’re on bike, the wind coming at your face really cools you down. You really only feel the heat when you stop for a bit and the sweat drains out.

We got to Tallahassee and finished the ride with tough uphill climbs. Tallahassee is the home of Florida State University, so I was not going to miss the opportunity to explore. I biked a few miles over to the campus and had a look. I was surprised by how beautiful the campus is. Clean, green, and well kept.

I met a few girls named Janelle and Morgan outside their Memorial Union building and had a cool conversation. They were really interested in the Bike & Build project, and they gave me some great advice on Tallahassee…the most important being that I could easily enter the Seminoles football stadium just by finding the right gate. So obviously I made my way that direction.

On my way over, I saw a bunch of guys getting ready to do some biking. As I walked closer, I saw them checking out my bike. They rode past and commented on how sweet my bike is. I must say that I felt pretty legit, like a real biker. They asked me if I was coming along with them, but they didn’t know about the 52 miles I had just completed so I had to reply with a no.

So I got into the football stadium, which I always love doing on any campus I am at. It’s almost like a sacred place at any big football school, and it’s always cool to see what each one is like.

Later that night, several of us went out to a small oyster place that also does comedy nights. A couple beers and some free comedy are a nice way to cap off a long biking day.

Day 6 – Tallahassee, FL to Apalachicola, FL 85 miles
The 85 mile ride from Tallahassee to Apalachicola was easily the most beautiful ride we have had yet. A lot of it was right along the Gulf of Mexico with great views and good swimming spots. Riding along the coast was absolutely beautiful and one of the best rides I’ve ever had. Somehow, I misplaced my GoPro video camera clip the night before, so I didn’t get any video of this ride. Sometimes things just work out that way.

At one point, I stopped off with Alex to take in the views. We were surprised to see jumping fish in the gulf. And not little fish doing little jumps, but fish a foot or two long and jumping a few feet in the air. Surprising to see, but something I had never seen before. We also got to a different place along the coast and found a long dock that goes out on the water. We relaxed there for a while as others caught up.

Alex is a friend I just met here, and he’s an absolute freak when it comes to biking. His energy on and off the bike is ridiculous, so he’s great to ride with since he’ll always pull. He just got done with a 3 month backpacking hiking trip out west, so he’s a strong kid. He didn’t get on his bike until he got to Jacksonville, but he just dominates. When fell behind the pack a bit on this day, and we wanted to turn it on a bit. So with Alex pulling, I tucked right up behind his back wheel. For 15 straight minutes, we went full speed and averaged about 22 miles per hour. Even drafting, I still was going all out just to keep up with him (remember that he was taking on all the wind, too). He’s a freak, really, but in a great biker kind of way.

That night, we had hose showers in the church parking lot and then were treated extremely well with a shrimp boil. It was essentially corn on the cob, potatoes, and as much shrimp as you can eat. Seriously, they treat us so well.

A bit later in the night, Nate, Jay, and I went down by the shrimpin’ boats on the water and had a beer. Florida summer nights are perfect for that kind of thing.

Day 7 – Apalachicola, FL to Panama City, FL 61 miles
This day proved to be the hottest so far, getting up to 97 degrees in the afternoon. This kind of heat made 61 miles a real challenge.

For lunch, the team leader in the van found a great spot close to the beach. So after 35 miles of biking, we all swam in the gulf for about an hour before eating lunch. This is what’s great about Bike & Build. We have the flexibility to do really cool things on the way. With my waterproof GoPro, I’m hoping to have gotten some awesome pictures and videos.

To we excitedly worked our way towards Panama City before becoming a bit disappointed finding out that there is a difference between Panama City and Panama City Beach. The beach is a spring break hot spot, but the beach also happens to be 10 miles from the city. So after arriving, we weren’t to get to the beach right away. But with some good planning, we had a build day in Panama City the next day. We were all ready for the day off the bike to rest our legs.

At night, we all headed to Chilis to hang out without our bikes in close distance.

Day 8 – Panama City, FL Build Day
We had a good build day at a Habitat renovation site. We sodded the entire yard, completed fencing, cleaned up the general vicinity, and a lot more on the inside of the house as well. Habitat then treated us to lunch with some pizzas.

In the afternoon, a van full of us headed to see what Panama City Beach was all about. I was pleasantly surprised by what it actually is. Being a spring break place, I thought the beach would be extremely dirty. With white sand and clear water, we had a nice hot day with a lot of sun.

While at the beach, a few of the others somehow got a giant blow up alligator donated to us. We named him David Hassolhoff and he is now our lunch marker. Whoever sets the place for lunch ties it to a street sign to let everyone know where lunch is. The sense of humor in this group is like nothing else.

Day 9 – Panama City, FL to Defuniak Springs, FL 64 miles
After a day off, our legs were relatively recharged. The day started out pretty flat with nothing too exciting, but ended with the best road we’ve been on so far. The road was freshly paved, and wrapped up, down, and around the countryside. With almost no traffic, we had the ability to ride without worry. Some of the hills were tough going up, that seemed to not end. But going down some hills were unbelievable. My clocked top speed was 37 miles per hour. Being on roads like these really give a whole new energy when riding. It’s very refreshing and is ideal for bikers like us.

We got here around 2pm to little Defuniak Springs, a nice little town set around a lake. The heat is pretty tough here, even after the sun went down. I am on laundry crew this week, so we had to go out and do laundry like we do every 3 days. With laundry for 27 people, it’s an interesting process. We put all the clothes together in a big tarp, and then literally roll it up like you would roll up a Chipotle burrito. Afterwards, we stuff it into the van, then embarrassingly unload it at the laundromat.

A good friend Nate has been having some troubles with his knee after a fall. He had to take a few days off, and today was his first day back. After 10 miles, his knee was the way it was before and couldn’t pedal. I feel horrible for the guy since he has a great drive to bike across the country and doesn’t want anything to hold him back (which is the same for all 27 of us). We’re hoping he heals pretty quickly and gets back out with us.

So now we are almost out of Florida already. We have a 80 mile day tomorrow, then our first day over 100 miles to get us into Alabama. Then we get 2 build days to rest our legs before a long ride into Mississippi, and another long one to get to Louisiana. All of us our extremely excited to get to New Orleans.

That’s all for now. So far, the trip has been amazing. Everyone here is very unique and generally great attitudes towards this. We have a great time together, which is important since we spend so much time together. Unfortunately Internet hasn’t been as accessible as I hoped so I’m not able to blog as frequently. But I will keep it up as much as possible!

About Trent

I started Frugal Purpose to share my love of personal finance to assist your pursuit of a more fulfilling life. I am a financial analyst by trade, traveler at heart, and want to share with you the beauty of this world.

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3 thoughts on “Days 3 through 9

  1. Delbert here, a fellow cyclist. I took a few pictures of some you folks from a passing VW beetle bug in Lynn Haven just north of Panama City Florida on Sunday AM the 27 of May. I asked through the window for your destination and some girl replied Monterey CA. WOW. I’m impressed. How can I get the pictures to y’all? We have a cycling page locally here on FaceBook named “Panama city cycling and Triathlon club” that I put the pictures on if you have time and wanna see them. May the wind be at your back and all down hill. Delbert Osborn.

  2. This sounds incredible. Your milage is very impressive. Your diet sounds silimar to Michael Phelps. I am not sure which I enjoyed more, the tarp at the laundry mat or swimming in gator water. You guys will get a kick out of New Orleans, it’s definitely something to see. I hope this message finds you well!

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