Sunday, July 4, 2010

Homeward Bound

The morning following the Christoff family reunion, I woke to dark skies painted in scattered showers and 100% chance of rain. Knowing that I had to get on the road soon, I woke up Evan who drove me off the dirt road and onto Highway 441. We said our goodbyes under the neon lights of the Kangaroo and parted ways from our journey though I doubt he remembers it, he was half asleep.

I got all my gear ready on the bike while a construction worker grilled me on my journey here. He bought me breakfast so I was good for another couple of hours on the road. As soon as I got to pedaling, the bottom fell out and the rains never stopped. I was sure proud of my waterproof panniers and gear because that day, I put it all to the test. It was weird riding alone down the highway, not having the sound of another bike behind you but it made hearing my flat very easy. Only 19 mile out of Ocala, I blew my last tire of the trip and changed it in the morning rain.

Once you're totally wet, the rain doesn't bother you anymore but it sure makes the people at McDonald's move away from you faster. Smelling like wet dog at 10 am, I stopped for my last time on the bike for my second breakfast north of Mt. Dora.

As I hit the south side of Mt.Dora, I saw in the on coming traffic, mom and dad honking and screaming at me. They had been tracking me on the Spot and met me along the way in to block cars.

It was great to see them again and from there, it was an all out sprint towards home. Once we hit city limits, I road past signs on the road they had put out that morning welcoming me home.

And finally, I crossed the tape into home!

Its good to be home! I thought that'd I'd be sick of the bike by now but I went for a 45 mile ride the next day. Its hard doing this everyday then suddenly nothing at all. You have a lot of energy stored up, its hard to sleep, and you feel like you need to be moving all the time. 

Its been an amazing summer and I'm ready to do it again. Maybe just around Florida for now, we'll see.

Evan and I are going to give our reviews of the gear we used later, hopefully it'll be useful to those looking to tour sometime soon.

Evan's Home

The night before we left for Ocala, we checked the weather and it didn't look good. We've made it this whole trip without really riding in rain. There have been occasional showers but nothing bad. The forecast said rain all day, 80% chance so it was fitting that it would rain on our last ride together.

Starting early, we biked most of the way before stopping at a small diner on the side of the road. The owner loved our story and made me a corn dog with sausage in it, tasty little treat there! Moving on from there, we rolled into Ocala without any problems until I got a really good flat three miles from Evan's house. Knowing we were close, Evan road ahead because after changing the tube, we found out that the replacement tube had a hole in it. With him gone to get his SUV, i proceeded to change another tube out and found it to be flat, thanks a lot Bell tires. That's three flats without moving anywhere, never seen it before.

Anyway, we got into Ocala, showered and did laundry, and headed out to the Lake House further south. Here we met Evan's parents and waited on his family to drive in from Ocala and Orlando. That night, we had a huge meal and viewed the pictures from the trip, narrating and reminiscing over the trip. Afterwards, Evan and I got a cool pie with our bikes on them, seen below.

It was a fitting end to the trip and great to hear that people were following our trip so closely. We would start telling stories and someone would finish it for us. Thanks to everyone who followed us and supported the trip!

Gainesville Bound

Its was sad leaving the Corrick's but we had to get back to Gainesville. Starting early, we knew we had a long day with some pretty good traffic to beat along the way. Also, since it's Florida, we had our fair share of bridges to ride over so the sooner we got on the road, the less tight the shoulder would be on the St. Johns.

With only a couple problems with cars and trucks, the roads we're too bad. Evan got good shot of the St. Johns here. The shoulder sucked but the traffic was low enough that we could take the lane.

We made some pretty good time, guess our legs knew we were close to home. Also, we found out that is exactly 2,000 miles from San Francisco to Wendy's in Stark.

We also got a chance to the tourist thing in Waldo like we've always wanted and somehow avoided the speed traps.

Soon after this, we reached Gainesville, riding into Evan's driveway. It was like we never left. Going through the same motions, seeing the same people, we got this weird feeling that nothing had changed and we hadn't biked cross country. We stayed in Gainesville for two nights, hanging out with old friends and visiting our favorite bars. I'll miss Gainesville next year but I'll see it on game days and look forward to the Auburn vs UF game in the Fall.

Here's a flattering picture of Ben!

Coast to Coast

Waking up from my coma of a sleep the night before, we waited for Evan's dad and we went to Angie's Subs in Jax Beach. I had the best sub there, wanted another one, but we had to get to the beach. Riding our bikes down the board walk we caught a glimpse of the ocean, something we hadn't seen for 49 days.

We'd finally made it! Thousands of miles later, 50 degrees hotter, and a couple pounds lighter, we walked our bikes down into the Atlantic Ocean and dipped our front tires. It was a very surreal experience and it was time to celebrate. Like little kids, we played in the ocean all day and relaxed on the Florida sands, knowing that we had made it across the United States!

Last ones a picture of Corey Corrick, our tallest fan. Thanks for making it symmetrical buddy.

Getting to Jacksonville

After a great weekend hanging out with Aly and friends, we made way to Jacksonville. From Tallahassee to Jacksonville is about 190 miles so we knew we couldn't do it in one day. Our original plan was to sleep at the Suwanee River State Park and get to Jacksonville the next day. The city is too busy to try to bike so we planned on calling for a ride in from the city limits.

The ride was pretty uneventful, a couple of ups and downs but those are Florida mountains. Riding next to I-10 the whole way, Highway 90 had a little traffic but mostly clear and with a great shoulder. To our surprise, the weather held off and the cloud cover made for a nice cool ride for once in the south but we could see rain coming.

After about 90 miles, we could feel the rain on us and settled into a rest top just east of Live Oak. Having already passed the Suwanee River and thinking about getting a hotel for the night, we called Stefan Hester who lives in Jacksonville and got a ride out of there. Good thing we did because the skies opened up and it rained for hours.

We really wanted to ride into Jacksonville but after seeing the road and weather on the ride in, we're glad we didn't. Stefan dropped us off at the Corrick's house right on Jax's beach and we finally unpacked the bikes and rested. The weather was still nasty so we waited to finish the ride the next day on the beach.

Here's a pictures of the Corrick's back yard and their pet gator. Its good to be home!