Day 77 Titusville to Cocoa, FL 19 Miles (4224 total miles)

I can’t decide if this is a nightmare or just pure torture.

The morning started nicely.

Kris drove me back to where I had stopped yesterday. Got Gerty ready to roll and front tire was low on air pressure. Nearly flat kind of low. This can’t really be happening, can it?

I pumped the tire up, told Kris to stay close for a while, and set out. Made it a couple miles and front tire was losing air. Seriously?

Had spare tube and tools with me today so pulled over to fix it. At least it wasn’t the rear tire that is much more difficult to change and had caused me all the problems yesterday. Kris drove up while I was working on it so she even got to help.

Went great for the next hour and then…flat rear tire for the 4th time in 24 hours. I was beyond exasperated. I don’t even know how to describe my mental state at this point in time. Pretty sure I should have been put in a straight jacket and institutionalized on the spot.

Called Kris. She was packing up at hotel so told her I would push the bike to somewhere I could get something to eat and then we’d take her to bike shop.

By now I’m pretty experienced at pushing a bike with a flat rear tire. Not fun. Fortunately I didn’t have to go far.

Sitting in diner waiting for Kris I decided I was done for the day. Somebody needs to figure out the problem with rear tire because I’m not putting myself through this anymore. At this rate I’ll be in Key West about Thanksgiving time. This is really stupid.

Kris picked Gerty and I up and we went to bike shop. Told the guy our story and told him to take his time and figure out the problem. I would be at the pub next door and Kris would be shopping.

Got a nice and total surprise while I was sitting there. Our daughter, Kerri, had driven over from St. Petersburg.

Picked Gerty up. Back tire…he smoothed out a sharp spot on rim. Maybe that was problem? Took her out for spin around block and had a flat. Not joking. Ended up putting a new tire on. Hoping that’s the cure. We’ll see.

Front tire had gone flat from a staple. He put a new tube in and a brand new tire just to be safe.

I am going to give it another shot tomorrow. If I have the same issue, I’m done. This is the definition of insanity.

I’d be fine with it at this point. I know that I can/could do it. I just know that I will never do anything like this again that involves a piece of equipment. I don’t like the feeling of being dependent on other things or people.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 76 Ormond-By-The-Sea to Titusville, FL 61 Miles (4205 total miles)

If you had a worse day than me today, I am so sorry. It had to have been horrendous. Just remember…tomorrow will have a real hard time being worse.

My day started off great. I had nearly 20 miles complete by 10AM. Couple heavy rain showers but I just got wet shoes and socks. Then, I had a flat. You know it had to be the rear tire.

Didn’t have a tube or tools with me to repair. Left them in Kris’ car because there was no way I could have another flat this soon.

Remember clipping a small piece of metal laying on road, sending it flying, and hoping that didn’t damage anything.

2 minutes later I’ve got a flat on the rear tire and nothing to repair it with. Luckily there was a bike shop 3.2 miles away. Called Kris and she was more than an hour away. I decided I could walk and wheel the bike there faster.

Turns out pushing a bike with a flat tire is kind of difficult. Finally get to shop. Closed…permanently.

Plan B, Kris heads to pick me up and drive me to another shop 2 miles away. By the time we get there it’s noon. They tell me they can have me on the move in an hour. Cool. Kris can resume shopping and I would just wait at shop.

12:45 we’re ready to roll. Make it 2.3 miles down the road. Another flat. Same tire. What the????

Kris is a ways away. Bike shop has no one with vehicle that can get me. Wheel the bike 2.3 miles back to shop. My wet shoes and socks were really hurting the bottom of my feet.

Get back to shop. Kris met me there. Shop gave me some explanation of what happened. Something about inside of rim. Way over my head. They repaired again. No charge.

Kris drove me down the road to spot where I got flat. Dropped me off and we agreed she would stay close for a while.

3 miles further. Another flat. Same tire. This time I heard the tube pop and air rush out. I’m beyond frustrated. Kris was there to pick me up in 5-10 minutes. Back to bike shop.

They were extremely embarrassed to see me walk back in the door with Gerty. Last one was their fault. This time it was a faulty tube. Tore apart at seam.

They fixed right away. Again no charge plus they gave me a spare tube. I was almost thinking I’d be better off changing myself.

Kris takes me back to the last stoppage spot. She’s going to stay close again. I have no confidence that there won’t be another flat. I know if that happens, I’m going to explode along with the tube.

We had originally planned to meet Mark Grode, a friend from Bristol, for lunch in Titusville at 2PM. Before 3 flats, it was looking like I’d be there about 1. It was now 3:15 and we were still 40 miles away. 5 miles in more than 5 hours. Not good.

Kris had been keeping Mark apprised of this debacle. We decided to meet for dinner at 6. I would just ride as far as I could in 2.5 hours. Kris would pick me up and we’d call it a day.

Made 35.5 miles and Kris picked me up. 25 miles short of where I hoped to finish the day.

We finally met Mark. Had a great dinner and fun conversation. Mark bought us dinner. Thanks so much, Mark. You helped put some smiles on the end of a crappy day.

I was really fortunate that this episode had Kris with me. It would have been even worse by myself. Plus she got to see my agony up close and personal. She might have even felt a tiny bit sorry for me!!

Going to try to make up some lost miles tomorrow.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 75 Palatka to Ormond By the Sea, FL 47 miles (4144 total miles)

Just a pointer for inexperienced cyclists…it’s way easier to pedal without the brake engaged. Trust me.

Cruised along pretty good today. The next challenge is going to be rain and thunderstorms…a common FL occurrence this time of year.

It rained hard for about 40 minutes in the morning. Got soaked. Worst part in the rain is that my shoes fill up with water and get a bit heavy. Well that and the fact that it can get really difficult to see. I don’t have windshield wipers.

Finally made the coast at Flagler Beach!

It was actually a bit exciting to see the Atlantic Ocean and realize that we had left the Pacific Ocean 75 days ago.

I kind of paid attention to the weather as I had lunch. I hoped to get about 15 miles south of Flagler. Looked like I might have an hour of little to no rain. That would be all I needed.

Gerty and I took off. 5 minutes in it started pouring. I’m talking FL afternoon deluge. The wind was howling as well…from pretty much every direction.

After 8 miles I surrendered. Pulled into a little bar near the beach and had Kris meet me there. These storms can pass as quickly as they appear. Got kind of nice later but I was mentally checked out.

Perfect little spot. Had a couple drinks, went to pay, and was told by Sarah that it was on her. Such a nice gesture once again. I hope this journey helps refresh your view of humanity. People have been so kind to me the entire way.

We spent the night with Keith and Tynel Lafoucade. Some pizza, wine, beer, and good memories. We’ve known Keith and Tynel a loong time. Kris and Tynel worked together 30+ years ago.

Kris already has lodging lined up for tomorrow night in Cocoa Beach I just have to pedal a bit over 80 miles to get there while dodging raindrops and thunderbolts. No problem.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 74 High Springs to Palatka, FL 68 Miles (4097 total miles)

Good day today. First 22 miles were against a good wind and rain. Just ignore that.

Stopped at a bike shop in Gainesville to have a couple things checked out on Gerty. #1 was to make sure rear tire wasn’t going to fly off. Been a bit nervous about that since I fixed flat.

Gerty’s had a bit of a wobble since the flat. Rear brake has not worked well since crash…even though that was a major part of repair.

You get good service after 4000 miles at most bike shops. I told them the issues I was having and went to get something to eat.

Came back in an hour and I was good to go. Wobble was because bead on rear tire had a bit that wasn’t set. Oops!! They told me a couple other things they did to the brakes but it was way over my head. $25 sounded good to me.

One of the things they told me was that my rear brake was basically “on” the whole time. No wonder I thought my legs were weak. Noticed the easier pedaling within 100 yds. Spent 90% of rest of day in high gear. I was really wondering how I could regress that far in a week.

If someone was going to hike all the National Scenic Trails in the US, they’d have to do the FL Trail…and a bunch more.

That someone (probably) won’t be me. Pretty swampy, gatory, and snakey.

When I got to Palatka today I was met by a couple buddies from our community. Jay Reidenbach and Mike O’Sullivan had driven 50+ miles down to see me. Mike had told me yesterday that he had a room for me and wanted to buy me some Buds and dinner. Figured he was going to be in Palatka for work or something.

Truth is they just drove down (and back) to have a few beers and dinner with me. I had a great time. Thanks so much, Mike and Jay. Felt like I was sitting at the 19th Hole…almost.

You folks are so impressively supportive, it boggles my mind. We’ll raise more than $30K for the charities I’m riding for. That’s about $135K over my 3 adventures. Amazing. Thanks so much to each and every one of you.

The buying me dinner and beers thing has kind of taken on a life of it’s own. There’s a waiting list now. I don’t even know what to say about that besides thanks. So incredibly nice.

I’m thinking that once we get to Key West, I’ll open the Buy Just Pete a Bud program to actually buy me a Bud. We’ll be there for a couple days, so that may be a lot. Any excess contributions will go to the charities. Stay tuned!!

I’ll be pedaling down the coast tomorrow afternoon and meeting Kris. Can’t wait.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 73 Perry to High Springs, FL 72 Miles (4029 total miles)

4000 miles. That’s a long way. I don’t care what your mode of transportation is.

Pretty flat today. Felt good. Right shoulder is almost not tingly. Things are good.

I was trying to think of the last time I’ve seen a long distance cyclist (packs on the bike). I think it was in MN. That was a long ways ago! Actually, I haven’t seen many cyclists at all.

I’ve really just made up my own route since mid-AL when I got the tips at the bar. There has been a good bike lane throughout the route I’ve taken through FL…except that bridge in Pensacola.

Way down upon the Suwannee River…

I’ve been focused on crossing 4000 miles. Check. Now I’m thinking about Key West. It’s about 600 miles. I want to be finished no later than September 2. That’s 9 days. Seems reasonable to me.

I know that I said 4800 miles before I started but I’m thinking 4600 is good enough.

Gerty and I will have a Sherpa down the coast. Kris is going to take a relaxing (code for heavy-duty shopping) drive down A1A. She’s wanted to do that for a while and I get out of the shopping part. Win. Win. Looking forward to it. Should be fun.

Palatka tomorrow. Then to the beach Thursday.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 72 Tallahassee to Perry, FL 51 Miles (3957 total miles)

And I thought FL would be really flat. Tallahassee area has lots of rolling hills. Last part of day flattened out. Hopefully that’s a trend.

We’re in FL back country. Stopped at a convenience store for something to drink. Was listening to a conversation between 2 locals. Couldn’t understand what either was saying. One guy either has 10 lbs of potatoes or killed a 10’ gator. I think the other guy wanted some of whatever he has.

Speaking of gators…saw one today. Road kill. About a 6 footer. Scared the crap out of me. Saw something black on shoulder. Assumed it was part of a truck tire. See that lots. It was the gator’s head. Rest of him was in ditch.

Most of second half of day was road, nice shoulder, ditch, and then swamp. Guarantee some gators out there! I didn’t stop to check.

My legs are gaining back strength but more slowly than I expected. Pedaled in high gear a bit more today.

Making a route change. Was going to get to the coast in St. Augustine because close to home and had hoped to spend a day or 2 there before final push.

Not planning that after extended stay in Pensacola. Would have to go north to St. Augustine. That doesn’t make sense if not stopping at home so will get on A1A about 40 miles south of there at Flagler Beach. Hang a right and follow A1A for 440 miles. Sounds easy enough.

Thanks to Michelle and Kevin Hileman for my dinner and a couple Buds tonight. Much appreciated.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 71 Bristol to Tallahassee, FL 50 Miles (3906 total miles)

Bit of good. Bit of not quite so good today.

Cranked out 28 miles in a bit more than an hour and a half. Cruising at good speed. That’s the good.

Then the not quite so good…flat rear tire! Nail went right through tire and punctured tube. Hadn’t seen a flat since Dennis had on day one.

This would be my first time changing a flat. Hadn’t even practiced. Shocker, right?!! Back is the worst because lots of maneuvering around gears and derailer. It had been recommended that I practice taking the rear tire off and back on. I didn’t.

My mechanical aptitude on a scale of 1-10 is less than one. The new back tire is 2mm wider than original. Will the tube even work? Maybe I can hitch a ride to a bike shop in Tallahassee. Tried that for 10 minutes. No response.

OK, I’m going to have to do this so I watched a YouTube video!! It was a struggle but I got the wheel off.

Had replacement tube and after a bit I got the new tube and tire back on the rim. Now I just had to get tire back on.

That was also a struggle but I finally got it on. Yeah, me! Totally astonished that I was able to do it. Even got my hands greasy. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

Pretty proud of myself. It was frustrating but didn’t have any options. I was only wishing I had someone else to test it out! Wee bit scary for a few miles. Waiting for wheel to fly off or something.

Fixing the flat took me an hour and a half. Very draining physically. Too much squatting on bended knees. The remaining 22 miles were kind of tough.

Went through a good portion of Florida State University campus. Know there’s a few U of Florida fans that don’t want to here this but…it is very nice.

Tallahassee has a crazy number of hills. I need to get back to the coast.

Heading to Gainesville (home of the Florida Gators) next. Couple days away.

Hoping to make A1A and the beach on Thursday.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 70 Panama City to Bristol, FL 56 Miles (3856 total miles)

Today was a bit of a struggle after yesterday’s big miles. I was kind of expecting that.

Half of the day was directly into a 5-10 mph wind. There were also a few hills. What?

I didn’t think it was that hot but this was first time my phone turned off due to excessive heat. Missed a picture or two.

Finally crossed into the Eastern time zone.

Bristol is just east of the Apalachicola. Not a big town. Motel and 1 restaurant…which closed at 5PM.

There is a Subway. Can’t tell you how many Subways I’ve eaten at on this trip but it’s a lot. This one and one I stopped at yesterday were really short on lots of items (fixings, cups, etc.). Can’t get things because no trucks. Having to really scale back their operating hours.

No clue where I’ll get to tomorrow. Gonna have to see how I feel.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 69 Bit It to Panama City, FL 97 Miles (3800 total miles)

On the road again. Felt pretty familiar. Just like riding a bike!!

Today was really flat. Pretty much like I envisioned/hoped. Only hills were bridges and overpasses. Much nicer than mountain passes.

Physically I felt pretty good. I was a bit concerned about my right shoulder but that was OK. My legs lost a bit of strength during the layoff. Wasn’t pedaling in high gear very much. Not enough power. My hands really suffered in the week off. They were sore.

The only real odd thing is that my left forearm, just below the elbow, was bothering me. I smashed that against rocks on numerous falls on the Appalachian Trail. Today was first time it bothered me. Kind of weird but I can deal with it.

Lots of riding near the water today. Bit of a breeze off the Gulf so that helped keep things a bit cooler.

When I got to hotel, 2 ladies were working the desk. Originally assigned a room on 2nd floor but they moved me down to first floor and gave me a large room. In fact, Gerty and I are spending our first night back on the road in the honeymoon suite!!

Tomorrow we’ll start heading towards Tallahassee. It’s about 100 miles and I probably will have dead legs so shooting for Bristol, FL (55 miles or so).

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 68 Bit It, FL

Frustration…the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.

Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

When I left the bike shop on Friday, I was told the replacement part should be here on Tuesday. When I called to check status on Tuesday, I was told that it was scheduled for delivery on Friday. What??

Apparently the person who ordered the part also ordered some other things and had shipped ground vs next day as I had stressed. I asked them to order again… shipping next day air. Assumed it would ship Wednesday and arrive Thursday. One day makes a huge difference to me.

Physically I’m fine except for the fact that right shoulder to neck is still tingly to touch. Full range of motion and no pain. Curious as to how it will be when I get pedaling.

Mentally I’m not quite as good. This has been a horrendous experience. For a while I was hoping it was a nightmare that I’d wake up from. That didn’t happen.

Patience is not my strongest trait and this waiting is killing me. Tuesday was especially hard. After waiting for 4 days, I found out it would be another 2-3.

Good news today. Gerty is fixed. Shop delivered her to me this evening. I’ve been staying in Gulf Breeze, just across the bridge from crash sight and bike shop. I really didn’t want to pedal across the bridge (bad memories) and thankful guys at bike shop understood.

She looks good. Just missing water bottles. At least I don’t have to sit around and wait to replace those.

Big thanks to several people: Carlton Hupke and the Petermann’s for letting me “crash” at their place for a few nights; Matt Wiley for picking up my dinner and beers one night; and Steve Cropper for covering Gerty’s repairs (not cheap). Also thanks to everyone else for your concern.

I have to admit I considered having Kris pick me up and just stopping this nonsense many times the past few days.

However, I knew that would eat at me forever. That’s why I’m going to…

Ride on.

Just Pete