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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

Day 61 to Saraland, AL to Pensacola, FL 67 Miles (3764 total miles)

Good day today. Few more hills than I expected east of Mobile but not bad.

I was a bit concerned about getting through Mobile. Biggest city so far I think. Couple big bridges to cross. No clue what shoulder would be like. Sketchy weather. Other than that, I had it totally under control.

Kind of certain this is is Tombigbee River emptying into Mobile Bay. First glimpse of big water out to left.

The forecast was for on and off thunderstorms for the day. Another day of racing thunderstorms.

I got out of Mobile with no problem. Good shoulders even on the bridges.

Got rained on just a bit in Mobile. Got fortunate at my lunch stop halfway through. Poured right after I stopped until just before I was ready to restart.

Not quite so fortunate a bit later. Major downpour for 30 minutes. Pedaled for half of it. Miserable. Really difficult to see and those tiny drops sting at 18mph! Finally found a volunteer fire house with an awning. Gerty and I just watched it rain.

40 years ago I graduated from Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola and was commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy. Lots of good memories from this area.

I have a plan for Tropical Storm Fred. Gonna get past Tallahassee by Sunday eve. That will put me a bit inland when the storm is supposed to reach there…allegedly.

1400 miles and 22 days ago I was in Dyersville, IA at Field of Dreams. Hope you got to see some of last nights game there. Awesome setting.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 60 Jackson to Saraland, AL 61 Miles (3697 total miles)

Pretty easy ride today. At least the majority of the day.

Headed to Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico so mostly downhill. Fast cruising. Averaged almost 16mph for the day.

Stopped in Calvert for lunch at the Webb Cafe. I was the first of lunch crowd at 10:30. The place was packed an hour later when I was leaving.

They love their catfish around here. Cafe served fish tacos…made with catfish. I didn’t try but they were selling lots of catfish!

This is the Tombigbee River. Crossed it the other day with Chad. Flows through AL to Mobile Bay. It used to have a plethora of fresh water mussel species until humans screwed that up with dams and rerouting of the waterway.

I spent the last 10 miles of the day trying to outrun a thunderstorm. I lost. Got poured on for last half hour with lightning all around. Not fun at all.

I’ll be in FL tomorrow. Before you get too excited about that, please realize I’ll be in FL for about 900 miles. That’s more miles than I was in MT!!

Tropical storm Fred could dampen my plans. Literally dampen. I plan on taking the coastal route across the panhandle. If you know anyone in that area, have them on standby in case I need an extraction.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 59 Thomasville to Jackson, AL 33 miles (3636 total miles)

Pretty uneventful day here in southern AL. I guess that’s good.

Only pedaled for about 2 hours today. Pretty much a rest day. Good thing because “feels like” temperature was 109. 97 and humid

Road today had a shoulder and fewer logging trucks. Good tip last night!

I’m about 120 miles from Pensacola, FL. Hoping to be staying there Thursday night. Planning on stopping just north of Mobile tomorrow.

Ride on.

Just Pete

Day 58 Livingston to Thomasville, AL 66 miles (3603 total miles)

Today was tough. I knew as soon as I got up that was going to be the case. My legs were really tired. I was in Paducah, KY a week and nearly 500 miles ago. Guessing that may be the reason.

Thought about a 0 day but I was basically at a truck stop. Kind of boring. Town 37 miles up ahead with a motel. I can do that.

I almost never read reviews for motels…unless the ratings are really low. This place sounded horrific…and I’ve stayed in some below average places. Reviews grossed me out. That’s bad. Not an option.

Next motel…Thomasville. I can probably do that. After the fact…put barely between probably and do.

It was hot and humid, rained for a half hour, headwind, and logging trucks galore…with little to no shoulder. And those aren’t the reasons it was tough.

I had no mojo and knew it as soon as I got out of bed. Everything else just made it worse.

The day began with me leaving helmet in motel. Something felt weird after a couple hundred yards. First time for that.

Lots more cattle than I expected in AL. Tried a nice closeup of a few but it was so humid and my fingers were so wet I couldn’t operate phone. There are some cows way out in this pic.

When it’s hot outside and I stop, air conditioning is not my friend. I am shivering if inside for more than 2 minutes. This was my lunch spot today.

Logging trucks are the worst. I’ve finally figured out their “language”. If they’re coming up behind me and lay on their horn, they’re not moving over. There’s only so far over I can go so…that’s kind of scary.

Worst event of entire journey happened today. Logger coming opposite direction passing a car. I had to get off the road! Went over deep rumble strips on shoulder so hard/fast that I bruised my palm. Luckily there was a relatively flat grass area on shoulder…that was really scary.

The last 20 miles was just physically draining and I really had not much left to drain. Took me forever to make it to Thomasville.

All ends good from there. Found the local pub and had a great time. The whole bar spent an hour telling me which roads I should take and which I should avoid. They probably know because they almost all work for paper mills (logging trucks).

When I tried to pay my bill (after dinner and 3 hours of Buds) Amber (manager) said there was no charge if I promised to stay off Hwy 84. OK!!

All’s well that ends well. Going to take it easy tomorrow. 35 miles or so. Should be in FL Th.

Ride on.

Just Pete