Friday, January 15, 2021

GTD '22

 It's never too early to start getting excited about and planning for the next Go The Distance (GTD) Fundraising Bike Ride.  The next one will take place next May 2022.

The GTD '22 Route will begin at Fort Pickens State Park in Pensacola Beach, FL and conclude in Kendall, FL after going to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West, FL.  The total number of miles will range between 1,025 and 1,100.  I look forward to seeing family, friends, alumni, supporting church friends along the way.

I will be seeking financial supporters and prayer warriors for GTD '22 over the next year.  All funds raised will be used for Mission Scholarships and UFCCH Projects.

The Funds raised for GTD '20 will help students serve with Lifeline Christian Mission in Winslow, AZ this summer.  THANKS to everyone who supported GTD '20!  We can't wait to post a Report and Pictures after the Trip.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

GTD ‘20 Part 4 - Days 16-22

May 19, 2020 - Day 16

After resting yesterday it was time to get ready to set out again tomorrow.  I cleaned and lubed my bike and trailer and then rode to Super WalMart to pick up supplies for the rest of GTD '20.  It's true, a clean and lubed bike rides better!

May 20, 2020 - Day 17

After a couple of days of helping C and preparing for the final stretch of GTD '20 I set out for Palatka, a route that I have ridden often.  To change it up a bit I headed north out of Melrose for Keystone Heights.  It was there that I met up with Paul and Natasha from English Corner for breakfast at Dunkin Donuts.  Due to the virus we could only order and go so we rode to the park at the lake and enjoyed breakfast, visitation and picture taking.

After breakfast at the park we rode to The Bakery and enjoyed some of their amazing pastry items.  After devouring my delicious eclair we said farewell and I rode to the Lake Butler - Palatka Trail.  Once on the Trail it was an easy ride to the Hampton Inn, I enjoyed the the mostly shaded Trail and even spotted a wild turkey along the way.

After cleaning up I went to Subway and picked up dinner.  They were To Go Only so I found a bench on St. Johns Ave., it was quite and the weather was perfect.  Tomorrow I will ride to Orange Park.

Today's mileage was 53.40 and my Avg. Spd. was 12.0.

May 21, 2020 - Day 18

As I looked at Google Maps I decided on the less direct route through the countryside to get to Orange Park.  It started out really nice and then got interesting.  

I was on the LB - P Trail for a bit before turning north.  It was very scenic.  As I crossed over a small river I saw a couple of guys fishing, we chatted for a few minutes.  After passing through a small community Google Maps instructed me to turn right.  This is where it got interesting after awhile.  The right turn led to a left turn that led to a dirt road that led to someone's yard who encouraged me, and others, to stay out.

I backtracked and turned left instead of turning right to retreat to where I had come from, mistake!  The paved road eventually ended and to the left or right was only dirt.  Not good.  My only option was to return to the road I was on before turning right.

I got back to the road I was on at first and turned right in order to go north.  It was great to be back on track.  The greatness ended within the hour when the pavement stopped and a dirt road began.  I looked at Google Maps to see if I could figure out how long I would be on dirt before returning to pavement.  Best guess was that it would be anywhere between 5 and 10 miles.  Even with the worst case scenario being a reality it was better than the alternative, returning to Palatka and starting over on the more direct route up 17.

The dirt road was a mix of hard packed and soft sand so the next hour and a half was a lot of work.  I finally got to a paved road and headed into Green Cove Springs.  From there it was a mix of shoulder and Trail all the way to the Starbucks in Orange Park.  After Starbucks I rode up the river road to my hotel.  After cleaning up I walked across the street to Cracker Barrell to enjoy some Southern Fried Chicken!  

My friend was to meet up with me but due to the virus and dining rooms reopening recently his family thought it best for him take a pass on this dinner invitation.  I totally understood, it has been a time of uncertainty so being cautious and comfortable with decisions on where to go and where not to go are very important.   After dinner I relaxed a bit and then turned in early, this has become my routine.

Tomorrow I ride to Fernandina Beach.

Today's mileage was 58.0 and Avg. Spd. was 10.1.

May 22, 2020 - Day 19

Leaving Orange Park was busy and very busy passing by NAS Jax due to work traffic.

The ride along the St. Johns River and through Downtown Jacksonville was beautiful and exciting.  Because I love bridges I crossed over the River on the Acosta Bridge and returned via the Main St. Bridge.  I took time to check out the Downtown Jax Tri venues, past and present.  

Leaving Downtown I made my way back to 17 and rode it all the way to Yulee.  Once in Yulee I turned East on 200 and encountered the road construction I had remembered from a couple of years earlier when the Jax Tri was at Fernandina Beach.

There was hardly a shoulder and the sidewalk was closed so that made for a stressful situation for me and the motorists.  Thankfully half way to Fernandina I was able to take a break from the chaos at Starbucks.  I relaxed a bit and enjoyed an ice cold iced coffee, awesome!

I rested up and resumed my ride.  The road construction came to an end and I was able to pick up the pace a bit and get to the hotel.

After cleaning up I enjoyed an awesome dinner at Cedar River Seafood then walked over to the beach.  With the coronavirus so prevalent I was really surprised at the number of people at the beach who were crowded into tight places without masks.  I decided to return to the hotel and rest up for tomorrow’s ride to Vilano Beach.  I am looking forward to meeting with friends in Mayport, they will meet me at the Ferry Landing.

Today’s mileage was 55.75 miles and my Avg. Spd. Was 11.2.

May 23, 2020 - Day 20

I got an early start so I would be sure to make the early Ferry to Mayport where I would meet up with Carmen Ann & Richard.  I was glad I built in a buffer because 5 miles north of the Ferry Launch the headwinds increased dramatically, fortunately the scenery along the coast was awesome.

When I got to the Launch no one was there, I had flashbacks to IL during my Mississippi River Ride when the Ferry wasn't running due to high winds.  I rode over to the convenience store and inquired about the Ferry, they said it was running!  I was just early.

I went back to the Launch and started a line.  Eventually another car arrived and then a couple of guys on bikes.  Not too long after that the Ferry returned from the Mayport side and we loaded up.  It's just a short ride across the river but any Ferry ride for me is a good ride.

I had let Carman Ann know I was catching the 9am Ferry so when we landed I spotted Carman Ann & Richard right away.  They had made signs to welcome me to Mayport, very cool.  There were a group of cyclists waiting to board the Ferry, they were interested in the welcome I was receiving.  One of the bikers who had crossed over with me thought it was cool and fist bumped me before heading off with his friend.

Carman Ann & Richard had brought food and drink so we decided to go to the Park on the river where there were picnic tables on the water.  They spoiled me!  We had lots of food and drink and Carman Ann packed up a To Go Cooler for me.  We visited for about an hour, took some pictures and then I set off for Vilano  Beach.

The ride down A1A from Mayport to Vilano Beach was only 34 miles but it was a tough 34 miles!  The strong headwind I encountered before the Ferry was in my face all the way.  The saving grace for this stretch was the awesome scenery and the convenience store north of Vilano Beach.  I was so happy to finally arrive at the hotel after 6 hours of saddle time.  Tomorrow I will ride to Palatka.

My mileage for today was 57.60 miles and my Avg. Spd. was 9.6 mph.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

GTD '20 Part 3 - Days 6-15

Now that the Local and Regional Rides were over and Trip Logistics worked out it was time to head south and back for 10 days.  This Part of the journey would allow me time with Mom, Lynn, Jacob, Danielle & kids and my Sister.  I was looking forward to this journey through the middle of the State to Okeechobee and a return trip up the west side of the State.

May 08, 2020 - Day 6
I got a late start due to a problem with my Garmin 735XT Watch, it didn't charge overnight.  I fixed the problem and it began charging.  During the wait I ran several last minute errands.  After a prayer and a picture I finally pulled away from the house just after 10am.  This meant that I would be riding in the heat of the day as I made my way through Ocala to Belleview.

This ride was mostly familiar so I listened to several days of Brian and the Daily Audio Bible.  After that I returned to my Audio A Pandora Station.  In addition to listening to DAB and Pandora, Paynes Prairie provided a great diversion before Micanopy, McIntosh and Orange Lake.  After Orange Lake I turned off 441 south and onto the back roads of Horse Country, what a treat!  Another treat was the two Facetime Calls I received from my Sister in Law and Mother in Law, it's always nice to see & chat with family and friends along the way to help pass the time.

After the roller coaster ride through Horse Country Google Maps led me to a short section on the Florida Trail.  This was the first time taking this rig on a Nature Trail, it did well twisting and turning on the hard packed surface and the new BOB w/ Shock Absorber was great going over the roots.  The shade of the Trail provided a much needed break from the sun.

After the Trail the final stretch to Belleview was into the wind.  It was now late afternoon so I was more than ready to be done.  This first day was good but provided challenges of heat, terrain and wind.  Challenges that would payoff physically and mentally as GTD '20 unfolded.

Today's mileage was 61.2 miles and my Avg. Spd. was 10.4.

May 09, 2020 - Day 7
After retracing my tracks on Highway 484 I turned south on 301 and rode that till my turnoff for The Villages.  I had been in The Villages before but never ridden through it to the extent that I did this day.  It was really nice.  Great bike lanes and multi use paths.  I connected with Steve from The Villages and we rode together for 5-6 miles.  He provided me with great navigational information for Starbucks and when leaving The Villages for Mt. Dora.

I got to enjoy a Starbucks Iced Coffee in The Villages before setting out for Mt. Dora.  I took the scenic route to Mt. Dora so I got to enjoy more of Horse Country before passing the Lake Eustis Christian Church where friends Brent & Brian serve.  Before returning to 441 south I rode around a beautiful lake and awesome houses.

The traffic on 441 was heavy so I wasn't sure when I would be able to cross over.  Finally there was a break in the traffic so I was able to get to the south bound lane and make my way to the McD in Mt. Dora before the Hampton Inn which isn't located close to any eating places.

The earlier start got me to McD mid afternoon for a late lunch so I did walk down to the Race Trac several hours later just to get a slice of pepperoni pizza to hold me over.   That, and a 7-11, are the only places close to get a drink and snack.

Tomorrow will be a short ride to Apopka to surprise Mom for Mother's Day.  I will stay at her house if she is comfortable with it, she has been mostly alone the last six weeks due to the virus.

Today's mileage was 55.7 and my Avg. Spd. was 11.1.

May 10, 2020 - Day 8
Early to bed, early to rise....  I'm not totally sure regarding the conclusion of that rhyme but what I do know is that during GTD Rides I usually am in bed between 9 and 10pm and up between 5 and 5:30am.  This will get me on the road by 6 or 6:30am which is perfect for most GTD Riding Days.  This day it was, it was Mother's Day and I was on my way to Apopka to surprise mom.

Before heading south though I decided to backtrack one mile to Starbucks for an iced coffee and Egg Bites.  Only a Grab & Go was being offered at the hotel due to the virus.  As soon as I walked out the door I saw that it was spitting rain.  This was better than the pouring rain they were predicting.

I placed my mobile order and the Barista soon delivered it to a Mobile Order Table just outside the front door.  Due to the virus the Starbucks Cafes were closed.

By the time I finished my Egg Bites the rain had stopped and I was happy to have my Disney Marathon Pull Over because the air was cool, especially when riding.  Side note, I have had to wear my long sleeve Under Armour shirt under my t-shirt every day of Part 3 so far.

The ride down 441 to Apopka City Proper was great, new asphalt had been put down on this stretch of road.  The only challenge during this ride was the transition off of 441 south to 436 east, it was a bit tricky.  If I were to do that transition again in the future I would most likely stay on 441 south a bit longer and find a road that connects the two.

I intentionally rode by Sonny's to see what their serving options were; I planned to pick up some lunch for mom to celebrate her Day.  After this I cycled through the Apopka Starbucks Drive Thru after placing a mobile order, all mobile orders were to be picked up in this manner.  For some reason I was a bit sleepy so I needed a 2nd iced coffee.


The ride to Mom's from Starbucks was between 2-3 miles, it didn't take me long to get there and surprise her.  She asked if I planned to stay, I said that was up to her comfort level.  She said it was fine so I pulled my rig in the garage and unloaded my bags.

The rest of the day consisted of doing laundry, picking up Mother's Day Lunch from Sonny's and relaxing!  Tomorrow will be a longer ride to Lake Wales where I hope to visit with out great lifetime friend Lynn.

Today's mileage was 22.6 and my Avg. Spd. was 11.4.

May 11, 2020 - Day 9
I pulled away from mom's house in the dark knowing that my first hour would be on the West Orange Trail to Winter Garden.  In Winter Garden I transitioned to the road and stopped for breakfast at the Hwy 50 McD.

I wanted to stay backroads as long as possible before 27 south so I chose a familiar route through Winter Garden Village and Champions Gate.  After Champions Gate I turned east on Ronald Reagan Parkway to get to Hwy 17.  Hwy 17 provides a nice shoulder, some nice scenery, small towns (Davenport & Haines City) and an easy transition to Hwy 27 south in Dundee or just north of Lake Wales.

I decided to transition to Hwy 27 south in Dundee, the energy of the traffic is a motivating factor after being out in the countryside for hours.  The nice shoulder provides a great cushion between cyclists and traffic.

I arrived at the Hampton Inn in Lake Wales and texted our family friend Lynn to let her know I had arrived.  After settling in and getting cleaned up Lynn picked me up for dinner.  We went to the Sizzling Grill, a restaurant that C and I had eaten at before with friends from Winter Haven Christian Church.  They had just started to offer the Dine In Option so it was a great place to get a steak not far from the Hampton Inn.  The meal and visitation were great, I felt encouraged and fueled up for tomorrow's ride to Jacob & Danielle's ranch in Okeechobee.

Today's mileage was 61.5 miles and my Avg. Spd. was 12.0.

May 12, 2020 - Day 10

Once again I set out in the dark, I knew today's ride was going to be the longest one so far.  The ride down Hwy 27 south through Avon Park to Sebring went fast.  At that point I stopped for an iced coffee at McD and let Danielle know I only had 41 more miles to go so I might be there sooner than later.

Wishful thinking I soon found out as I first rerouted after Google Maps led me a dead end at an orange grove.  Fortunately it didn't take long to get the rig righted and heading in the right direction.  After passing the Sebring Raceway I turned east on Hwy 98.

From this point on it was issue after issue that pushed back my arrival time at Jacob & Danielle's to mid afternoon which actually worked out perfect for their schedule.

The first issue was the wind, it was strong from the east.  I joked with Danielle that it seemed like every hour I checked my distance I still had 6 miles to go.  The second issue was the heat, this was the hottest day of my ride so far.  Fortunately I came across a Dollar General mid way and was able to replenish my fluids.  The third issue was the love bugs, they were never ending and all over me.  The fourth issue was a flat tire on my BOB Trailer, thankfully the Lord provided a large shade tree in front of an Auto Repair Shop so that I could change it out of the direct sun and heat.  The Repair Shop also provided access to a restroom which was first priority after parking my rig in the shade.

I changed the flat and set out once again into the wind, heat & love bugs.  Thankful to Zoom, I was able to join in English Corner (Conversation English with International Friends) before arriving at the Ranch.  It was great to see my EC friends and answer their questions regarding my ride.

Jacob & Danielle have an apartment at the Ranch for guests, it was the perfect set up for me to stay with them due to the virus issue.  I parked my rig, moved my stuff in, started charging all of my devices, cleaned up and rested a bit.

After my rest Danielle gave me a tour of the Ranch, loved it!  Horses, cows, dogs, chickens...what a great place to chill out after a challenging day on the road.  Danielle's mom prepared an awesome dinner, it was great to visit with the whole family at the dinner table while enjoying a great food.
Life and Bike Rides start early so shortly after dinner and visitation I made my way back to the apartment to turn in.

Today's mileage was 71.8 and my Avg. Spd. was 10.8.

May 13, 2020 - Day 11

I had no trouble falling asleep after dinner but woke at 3:25am to a barking dog.  Fortunately I was able to fall back asleep till 6:30am.  After cleaning up and packing up I noticed a high pitch squeal coming from a close by pen as I was loading up, maybe a kitty?  I began to wheel my rig out of the barn and I saw a tiny white baby pup squealing as it tried to force its way out of the pen.  I pushed it back in hoping that mom would come get it, she just looked at it.  I texted Danielle to let her know that one of the pups had arrived and then headed to the house for breakfast with her and the kids.  When I mentioned the 3:25am bark to Danielle she said momma dog must have been in labor.  Makes sense.  BTW, by the end of the day momma dog birthed 8 pups, very cool!

Breakfast was awesome, much better than Grab and Go.  The kids chatted for a bit and then headed out to get their chores done before homeschooling began.  I said goodbye and set out for Sebring.  The ride west on Hwy 98 was much better because no wind, no heat and no love bugs till after 9am.  I took a slightly different route into Sebring that took me to Hwy 27 sooner than later.

I first checked out the Sebring Diner that my brother suggested, it was still closed due to the virus.  Bummer!  I rode along the lake past where I would be staying so that I could get some pasta at Olive Garden, it was awesome!  I finished my late lunch and rode back to the hotel to chill for the evening before drifting off to sleep.

Tomorrow I will ride to Riverview and enjoy dinner with my sister and her family.

Today's mileage was 38.7 and my Avg. Spd. was 11.8

May 14, 2020 - Day 12
I had a long day ahead making my way across the State to Riverview so I pulled out at 5:30am, this put me at Starbucks right before they opened at 6am.  I placed my mobile order and within minutes they delivered it to me.  Fortunately this Starbucks had a small patio area with one table so I had a place to set my coffee and egg bites.

I finished up and headed north on Hwy 27 for 15 or 16 miles.  At that point I turned west and weaved my way throughout the countryside until I connected with Hwy 640.  Hwy 640 turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and interesting stretches of road.

At one point the landscape reminded me of  riding along the Grand Canyon South Rim.  The tall grass, rocks, type of tree...took me back to GTD '07 when Brad Jones rode with me from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon and then on to Jacob Lake several days later.  It's amazing what memories are sparked on a daily basis as I ride and ride for hours.  Memories about past rides or people or students....  Oftentimes it causes me to smile or lift up a prayer.

I was riding for about 30 miles and it was warming up.  I was running low on fluids so a Convenience Store prayer was prayed.  Finally as I approached CR 39 I saw one PTL.  I loaded up on fluids for the rest of the ride, enjoyed a piece of really good fried chicken and topped the stop off with chocolate!

After resuming my ride my sister touched base to see how I was doing.  I let her know that I would be to my hotel sooner than later thanks to a tailwind.  After the solace of countryside riding I slowly transitioned into city riding.  I rode through Lithia and Bloomingdale before the busyness of Brandon.  Since I was making good time and covering a lot of miles I stopped at Starbucks to treat myself to a Frappucino, it was awesome!

My sister had some things to do so we would would be getting together for dinner in a few hours.  This gave me time to settle in, clean up and get my laundry done.

She was the only one in her family who was free to eat dinner so she picked me up and we dined in at a social distance at Longhorn, it was fantastic as usual.

After dinner I joined the English Corner Zoom Session for a bit before calling it a night.

Tomorrow I will ride to Spring Hill.

Today's mileage was 79 miles and my Avg. Spd. was 12.3.

May 15, 2020 - Day 13

I wanted to get an early start to navigate the Riverview/Tampa traffic before it got too bad.  After passing the backside of Busch Gardens it wasn't long before I turned north on Hwy 41.  After a bit I turned west into the countryside for awhile before connecting with Hwy 54.  I enjoy my countryside rides because of the quiet and farms.  Fortunately dogs have not been an issue on this trip.

The one potential dog incident was thwarted when 2 dogs on one side of the fence began to run toward the street but were distracted by 2 dogs on the other side of the fence.  I was thankful for the Divine Dog Distraction!

I rode Hwy 54 west knowing that I would be turn north on the Suncoast Parkway Trail.  Since I wasn't familiar with the Services offered at the crossroads north of me I stopped at WaWa to replenish my fluids and enjoy a piece of pizza.

The Suncoast Trail doesn't offer much shade so I was happy to have plenty of fluids.  There are a few places along the water to pull over and take a shade break, this is a nice option to have.  I saw several cyclists taking advantage of this opportunity to cool off.

I exited the Trail into the countryside for awhile.  At one point Google Maps instructed me to turn left on a certain road, there was no road only a fence.  I switched to Car Mode and rode north to Spring Hill Rd. which took me to Hwy 19 and the Hampton Inn.

After cleaning up and settling in I decided to walk across the street to Cracker Barrel, yummy!  All in all it was a good day.

Tomorrow I will ride to the Comfort Inn in Dunnellon.

Today's mileage was 56.8 and my Avg. Spd. was 11.4mph.

May 16, 2020 - Day 14

I woke to overcast skies and the threat of rain.  I set out early so Hwy 19 and Hwy 50 were somewhat quiet.  This part of the ride was kind of blah.  The bright spot was the Race Trac on Hwy 50, I was able to grab some breakfast.

It wasn't long before I entered the town of Brooksville and was pleasantly surprised by the Downtown area, really cool.  Soon after the small town coolness I connected with a Trail that was new to me, very nice.  This led me out of Brooksville to some countryside roads that led me to the Withlacoochee Trail.  Once again I really enjoyed the countryside riding because of the amount of horses I was able to interact with.

I made my way out of horse country to the Withlacoochee Trail.  This Trail was familiar to me because of the Ride that Ben Anderson and I did many years ago.  That ride we covered the entire Trail.  Thanks to our Support Crew, Jen Breman & boys, we were able to take advantage of some Trailside Camping in the Inverness area.

Since it was Saturday their were a lot of cyclists on the Trail.  I stopped at a Rest Area in Inverness and got to chat with quite a few folks who were happy to be out of the house and enjoying God's great creation.  Several of the cyclists I met had friends in common with me, I sent greetings with them to my friends.  After a half hour or so I decided it was time to resume riding.  There was no real pressure today since I left out early and was making great progress but it is always nice to get where I am going.

I rode the Trail to Citrus Springs then transitioned onto Hwy 41.  It wasn't too long before I arrived in Dunnellon.  As I rode I tried to figure out what I was hungry for.  Front Porch Restaurant?  Looks good but it is too crowded for my liking.  KFC?  Not today.  I felt very indecisive so I was happy to see Publix across from the Comfort Suites.  I got my Go To Sub, roast beef & swiss heated with lettuce, onions, mayo, brown mustard, pepper and lots of oil & vinegar.  I like to compliment the sub with some sliced watermelon.  I took this to my room and enjoyed dinner before cleaning up calling it a night.

Tomorrow I ride home for a 2 day break to reorganize and make sure C has all that she needs before I set out again for my final 6 days of GTD '20 riding.

Today's mileage was 65.1 and my Avg. Spd. was 10.4mph.

May 17, 2020 - Day 15

I was excited to get home so I set out early from Dunnellon.  There was a McD just up from my hotel so I stopped there to get an iced coffee and potato cake.  The route home is one that I have ridden many times before so I knew that another iced coffee awaited me at McD in Williston.

It's all countryside from Dunnellon to Williston on Hwy 41 so I got to enjoy animals, alive and statue, all along the way.  At one point I turned off Hwy 41 to see if I could ride by a friend's house to see their horses, that idea was put to rest when the paved road stopped and the dirt road began.  I made my way back to Hwy 41 and continued on to Williston.


It took a little over 2 hours to get to Williston, the time had flown by thanks to Dr. Ed Clevinger's Mother's Day Sermon, the animal sightings which included a llama and bison, and Audio A on Pandora.

After a nice chat with one of the McD employees who was on break I began the last leg of this section of the ride.  Hwy 121 between Williston and Gainesville is very scenic so I just relaxed and took in the countryside.

When I arrived in Gainesville I took 34th St. north and rode by the Westside Pool to see if the City Pools had reopened while I was gone, they hadn't.  I rode the roller coaster which is NW 16th Ave. and celebrated the end of this leg with a Starbucks Frappucino, awesome!

From Starbucks home it is just over 4 miles so it was a quick ride.  As I pulled up to my house my neighbors welcomed me home as did C.  It was great to be home for a few days to reorganize, resupply and help C with whatever was needed.

Today's mileage was 51.5mph and my Avg. Spd. was 10.8.

Friday, May 29, 2020

GTD '20 Part 2 - Days 1-5

May 01,2020 - Day 1
After deciding on my equipment and gear I decided, due to the Shelter at Home Order, to do several local rides and one regional ride.  This allowed me to return home each day, monitor the situation more closely and make sure we had what was needed before I left for an extended period of time.

The first ride took me around the heart of Gainesville before heading east to Newnans Lake on University Ave.  The ride along the Lake is always nice, great view of homes as well as the Lake.  The return trip on Hawthorne Rd. is not my favorite due to the amount of debris in the bike lane, the upside of this route is the Dollar General.  Before returning home I rode by Depot Park, Gainesville did a great job developing this Park on the east side of town. 

For the ride I pulled my BOB Trailer and put bags on the front and rear racks.  The total mileage for the ride was 32 miles and my Avg. Spd. was 12mph.  Confidence level was good after the ride.

May 02, 2020 - Day 2
I wanted to increase my mileage a bit with the same set up as Day 1 so I decided to ride west on 53rd, Millhopper Rd. & NW 78th Ave. to Hwy 27.  I headed north on 27 to High Springs and enjoyed seeing the old train station before picking up lunch at Winn Dixie.  The ride home on 441 was a bit of a struggle, I was dragging after mile 30 and the temperature was climbing.  The upsides of this ride were seeing my friend Gil who spotted me and pulled over to say hi and the large sweet iced tea I savored at McD in Alachua.  

My ending mileage was 54 miles and my Avg. Spd. was 11.6.  I was a bit surprised to tire after 30 miles so my confidence took a bit of a hit.

May 03, 2020 - Day 3
Due to the struggle of Day 2 and the decision that Days 4 & 5 would be a Regional Ride to Lake City, FL and back, I decided to keep my mileage in the 30's for Day 3.  I rode east on Day 1, west on Day 2 so I decided to head south on Day 3.  

After riding on the UF Campus and enjoying time at Lake Alice I left Campus and rode the SW 23rd Trail to Williston Rd.  Once past I-75 Williston Rd. becomes countryside and leads to Wacahoota Rd., a favorite for many cyclists because it leads to 441.  The scenery on Wacahoota Rd. is great but the surface could use a makeover.  There is very little traffic and one house along the way looks as though it was plucked out of a Southwestern desert and dropped in the countryside of Alachua County.

There are a few ups and downs on this Route, once I crossed over I-75 I knew I was getting close to 441.  441 provides a great shoulder but you have to pay attention to the debris in the bike lane or else you are in danger of incurring a flat.  After passing UF's Lake Wauburg and Bolen Bluff State Park you know it is just a matter of minutes before you enter Paynes Prairie.  I love riding across Paynes Prairie and locals as well as tourists love sightseeing and/or fishing here.  I was treated to 2 alligator sightings so it was a great way to draw this ride to a close.

Mileage for the ride was 36.2 and my Avg. Spd. was 10.8 due to a lot of sightseeing.  Confidence level back up as I ready for my ride to Lake City and back.

May 04-05, 2020 - Days 4 & 5
To get to Lake City I took the same Route west and north as I did on Day 2.  Once in High Springs I turned on to 441 north found a Subway that offered Dine In as well as great Subs.  After lunch and chatting with a cycling enthusiast I headed to Lake City.  After High Springs it's a ride in the coutryside until approaching I-75 and then Lake City.  

Along the way I passed O'Leno SP, a place I have ridden to and camped at in the past.  The Shell Station at I-75 is a great place to stop for a snack, cold drink and bathroom break.  Due to the virus Social Distancing is stressed inside the store and the outside tables and chairs were closed off.

Once I got to Lake City and Hwy 90 I decided to get an early dinner before settling in.  I wanted something more than McD so when I saw Longhorn I knew I could get some meat or fish, a salad and some veggies.  I figured due to the virus it would be Take Out only so you can imagine how surprised I was to be offered the opportunity to Dine In.  I was not nervous about this because I could tell that the Restaurant Staff was taking the virus serious.  At first I was the only one seated in the Main Dining Room, several families came in after me and were spread out throughout the Dining Room.  Servers were wearing Face Coverings and the Menus were paper.  

After a great meal I settled in for the night.  My mileage for the day was 55.4 and my Avg. Spd. was 11mph.  I felt good about the day's ride.

After a nice rest I woke up early and decided to get going in order to beat the heat.  I chose to take a different Route home, one that would take me off of 441 to Worthington Springs and Hwy 121.  It was a very nice ride and I found a park new to me on 121 south.  I took a shade, snack & cold drink (THANKS Yeti Mugs) before resuming the final stretch of the ride.  I got home before the heat set in so it was nice to unpack and clean up my bike and trailer in pleasant conditions.  

The ride home was 54.7 and my Avg. Spd. was 11.4mph, a bit up from the day before.  All in all it was a good 2 days of riding and boosted my confidence heading into my multi day ride south.

The plan after the Local and Regional Rides is to be at home for 2 days to take care of any last minute business before setting out for 10 days.  This will allow me to reevaluate my set up and gear.