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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

Day 63 Bit It, FL 0 Miles (3703 total miles)

A bit sore this AM. Stiff right shoulder to right ear. That area doesn’t really hurt but has a tingly feeling when I touch. Kind of weird. Everything else is fine.

Gerty is staying at bike shop. Shifter/brake has been ordered from Shimano. Hopefully here Tuesday or Wednesday. They will probably have to adjust a few other things but told me she’ll be good as new…almost.

Carlton Hupke (HS FB coach) had contacted me last Thursday. He was arriving in Pensacola on Friday. Told him that I would be leaving Pensacola and be in Panama City Friday night. Wouldn’t be able to meet.

That changed after crash Friday AM. Very fortunate that his family has let me “crash” at their house.

I think I could pedal today but will have to wait for Gerty to be ready. Guarantee I will be getting a bit restless by then.

I can already tell you that I will be wasting no time finishing this trek. No extra miles. Won’t spend an extra day when I pass by home. I just want to be finished.

I know I could use something to smile about so here are a few “Smiles of the Day” from Spain and Portugal.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 62 Pensacola to Bit It, FL 6 miles (3703 total miles)

I was just telling someone that I had had no spills. Jinx!!

I bit it today about half hour in. I’m just hurt. Nothing broken. Gerty is injured, however. Something broken.

Getting ready to cross 3-mile bridge from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze. Had been cruising on a sidewalk. No problem. Sidewalk closed for construction so I had to move to the road.

Narrow shoulder. Basically white line, 6 inches of pavement and concrete curb and gutter. It was tight but not worse than other stretches I’ve been on.

At one point the concrete was about 3” above pavement (noticed after the fact). My front wheel must have grazed/struck it just perfectly because next thing I knew we were down. No trying to save it.

I got to my feet pretty quickly I think. Was between curb and sidewalk. I was dazed but realized I could walk and there was no blood.

Walked in circles for a couple minutes while inventorying body parts. Knee was sore. I was feeling lucky. Then I saw Gerty laying on side of road.

First thing I noticed was her handlebars. I can fix that. Can I still make 85 more miles to Panama City? Knee is sore but I probably can.

Then I noticed the right shifter and brake were gone. Found the piece along the roadway.

I was still in a bit of shock but I thought I could just slide that back on. Not!!! All sorts of plastic pieces inside broken.

About this time a construction worker was over checking on me. He thought a car had hit me. I shakily told him I was OK but I needed a bike shop.

He told me there was one about a mile away. Great. Hoping he’d offer a ride in his pick-up 5 feet away…at least he helped a bit.

Now I have 0 rear brakes, stuck in highest gear, feeling like I just spent 30 seconds in a cage with Logan Storley…and I have to pedal a mile?

Ended up being 2 miles to second bike shop.

I have forensically dissected the crash many times today. To the best of my knowledge:

I grazed the 3” concrete with my front wheel enough for Gerty and I to fall right. Hard and quickly. My helmet struck the curb.

This is why you wear helmets, kids.

My right shoulder skimmed the curb and I skidded to a halt on my left forearm/shoulder. Very fortunate to not be seriously injured.

Gerty needs a new shifter/brake. It’s on order but won’t be here until Tuesday at the earliest.

I am spending a couple nights at the home of Ben and Trichelle Petermann. Trichelle is Carlton Hupke’s (HS football coach) daughter. It’s a long story.

I won’t be making any progress for a few days. Probably be a bit sore tomorrow but I’m still gonna…

Ride on.

Just Pete