Week 8 Bicycle Ride Across America

Day 48, May 20, High Springs, FL to Putnam Hall, FL, 63 miles.

Today we did not have a free breakfast at the motel, so we used our microwave to make oatmeal. Keith opted for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then we started our ride right out of the motel. 

The weather was partly cloudy and hit a high of 83. A nice change from the 90+ heat we had been experiencing. We only rode a few miles when I noticed a clumping sound coming from my back tire every time the wheel went around. I signaled for the guys to stop, as I was leading at the time. I spun my wheel around to find a ¾ inch sheet metal screw embedded in my tire. I had to dig into my tool bag attached to my seat post to find a tool that would pull it out. Then came the dreaded air hissing sound. I changed the tire while Carolyn caught up to us with the pump. 

A short time later it was Keith’s turn, he got a back flat, so Carolyn once again had to find us. Soon after his flat we entered a 19-mile bike trail which went through the countryside. It was a very nice paved eight-foot-wide trail with pretty scenery. After returning to the road, we ended our ride in a very small town, with nothing but a gas station. 

Carolyn picked us up and we drove 20 miles to the nearest motel. After our BBQ dinner we started making plans for what we would do after we finished our ride across America the next day.

Tomorrow our adventure ends as we reach the second ocean in our journey.

Day 49, May 21, Putnam Hall, FL to St. Augustine, FL (The Atlantic Ocean!) 54 miles. WE MADE IT!

When we went to bed last night the weather forecast for our final day called for rain. Fortunately, we woke up to clear skies and the forecast had changed to partly cloudy. We had a rain free 86 degrees ride with a strong head wind for most of the day.

After we drove back to where we ended yesterday, we spent the first 18-miles on another beautiful smooth paved trail. Unfortunately, the trail abruptly ended. We needed to back track to a place we could reenter the road. After a short time on the road, we found ourselves on another great 20-mile trail. I’m loving these rails to trails parts of the journey.

Today I was extra tired, and my rear was extra sensitive. The long continuous head winds sucked the energy right out of me. There is something about holding tighter to the handlebars, having more tension in my shoulders, fighting to stay stable on the road all day, and the fact that today was our last day that all contributed to wear me down. 

We rode over the final bridge of the trip, spanning the Tolomato river, dropping us off at Vilano Beach. A construction project was underway where I wanted to go down to the beach, but we found a way to walk our bikes out onto the sand where we took pictures of the end of our journey and I recorded the final video of our ride. Our 49-day trek had come to an end. It will be strange to wake up tomorrow and not suit up to ride. 

We had Japanese food for dinner to celebrate our finish, mine was sushi. We will explore some sights in St. Augustine tomorrow and go to Universal Studios the next day before we begin the long trek home. 

It was a great adventure!

Summary of our ride across America

We started our journey on April 1st, 2024, in Grants Pass, Oregon. We then drove 839 miles to Ocean Beach in San Diego, California. Our ride began on the afternoon of April 3rd, 2024, and 49 days later, on May 21st, 2024, we were on the Vilano Beach in St. Augustine, Florida. We cycled from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, riding a total of 2,695.66 miles.

We crossed deserts, the Rocky Mountains, the Texas hill country, horrible gulf thunderstorms, the flat lands, and many bridges. Flooding in Southeastern Texas made us take a detour out of the disaster area. Our route took us from West to East because we were told the winds were more favorable in that direction. However, we experienced an overwhelming number of head winds compared to tail winds. In hindsight, it seems the opposite direction would have been a better choice. 

One of the things we worried the most about was mechanical breakdowns that we might not be able to fix ourselves. We had the following issues: Fifteen flat tires (Paul 4, Keith 6, Cory 5), one broken shoe, two worn out sets of Shimano road cleats, one broken cable for my external battery, one worn out tire, and one catastrophic battery failure. Only the broken shoe and the battery failure forced us to find a bike shop. Everything else we were able to fix on the road.

The biggest surprise on the ride was how hard riding everyday was on all of our backsides. None of us had ridden so many long days back-to-back. None of us had covered so many miles in the saddle in such a short length of time. Now we know what chaffing and saddle sores really feel like. We all were using special tape (Hypafix) to stop the friction between our skin and the saddle. 

I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Keith. It didn’t turn out to be a problem, but I would not have made it without the external extra battery. The mountains were the biggest worry as that is where Keith really shines compared to me. I was able to change the settings on my bike to burn the external battery first, charge the external battery in the car while I used the internal battery, then use the recharged external battery at the end of the day. This gave my bike double the normal battery power.  With this technique, I was able to hang with Keith in the mountains (most of the time). In the flats I had plenty of battery power for the 65-mile days we were averaging. 

Carolyn was indispensable driving the support car. We could not have done this trip without her. She delivered the tire pump, water, and food to us during the ride and having the gear in the car meant we didn’t need to carry the extra weight on our bikes. The car made it possible to stop riding on the route and drive to a distant hotel  as well as drive to restaurants. Not having to ride to motels and restaurants off the path saved a lot of effort. 

Many riders make this trip by camping in tents, mostly this is done to lower the cost of the adventure. I can’t imagine riding across America and staying in a tent. There were many days when the nighttime temperature didn’t cool off to below 75 degrees. We would not have slept well on those nights. The stormy nights would have also posed a problem. I enjoyed a dry, climate controlled, soft place to sleep. I also was glad to have a shower every night after the ride. We stayed in medium priced motels, but we could have spent less by using cheaper accommodations. 

The total cost of the ride across America for the four of us was just under $14,000. Since we enjoyed the benefit of having a car, we will also have the cost of driving back home, which will be a much faster trip. I enjoyed the free breakfasts we ate at almost all the motels, which was one of the required amenities we looked for when booking a place to stay. There were, however, secluded areas where the only motel in the area didn’t serve breakfast.

I’m glad we went on this adventure. I’m not sure it is something any of us would repeat, but we might think differently after resting for a week or two. The day after we finished, I walked up two flights of stairs at a tourist attraction and my legs were telling me they were very unhappy about my choice of activity. I wonder how many days it will take before my quads feel normal again. 

On a good note, my blood pressure is the best it has been in years. Four hours a day of exercise is indeed good for decreasing blood pressure. I don’t think I can keep that up though.

Thanks for following me on this adventure. Next week my blogs return to normal, teaching about finance and living a better life as a physician.  Next week’s blog will be about the life and financial lessons I learned on this journey and how they apply to you.

After following us on our adventure, what adventures will you undertake? Every year take one item from your bucket list and add it to your calendar. Life is too short to miss out on adventures.

Bon Voyage!

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