October 10th – 14th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

Date: October 10th

We decided to spend one more day and night on the ocean front (did you hear me singing that line?)! In my head, I was!

Special Request by Gina!

Another one for Gina!

Gina, this is Jacksonville Beach Pier

Date: October 11th

Time Pedaling: 2 hr. 53 min.
Miles: 27.08
Avg. Speed: 9.3 mph
Max Speed: 25.5 mph
Trip Odometer: 27.08
Weather: sunny 96 degrees (temperatures run high due to bike computer reading the heat that reflects off of the pavement)
Time of Departure: 1:00
Arrival Time to West Side of Jacksonville, FL: 6:48
Repairs: None

And…so it begins.

Sunrise over the Atlantic

Good Morning!

A challenging day of biking took hold of us. We started the day by dipping our tires in the Atlantic.

Dipping Our Tires in the Atlantic

We left our bikes on the sand and caught some waves that were calling to us.

Bikes Resting in the Sand

Guess the locals knew we weren’t from around there as we were the only ones in the water. We got to see an Osprey grab a fish from the ocean, a few brown pelicans, and many sandpipers. We reluctantly pulled ourselves from the grasp of the Atlantic, for another adventure was waiting.

We went back to our room to load the trailers. Then, we redistributed the weight and loaded them again. The weight may be a bit much for two trailers, so we will probably have to leave one of Dakota’s three suitcases behind.

But Dad!.......

A big Thank You to Fairfield Inn & Suites Marriott

Our first challenge was the bridge leaving Jax Beach. Passers-by were able to see two out of four bicyclists from our group walking thier bikes up the incline. Were we really going to make it across the Country?

The top of the Jax Bridge

We pulled into Bicycles Etc. bike shop in Jacksonville to get our water bottles filled. The water happened to be off, but Chuck (owner?) was a wealth of info and helpfulness. He aired our tires and took time out of his schedule to map a better route for us. He gave us many pointers that will prove worthwhile. He was also kind enough to give us a discount on a needed tire. I (we) highly recommend his shop.

Bicycles Etc. with Chuck

Chuck pumping up our tires! Thanks Chuck!

Chucking mapping a route for the next few days for us!

We had another test crossing the Main Street Bridge in Jax. It is the only one that bikes can cross. It is a good climb after having 16 miles under your belt. Also, very narrow…very narrow. We had to pull to the side in order for another bicyclist to barely squeeze by.

Resting at the top of Main Street Bridge

Our riding day ended on the west side of Jax within striking distance of the bike trail we’ll be on tomorrow.

I have to mention how proud of my family (especially my wife and daughter) I am. The last two weeks at home we biked exactly 0 miles, as in, none. We had so much going on it was difficult to fit the time in. My wife and daughter pedaled like champions with their bikes loaded down. My wife was a great encourager during the ride. Cream rises to the top.

Luke turned eight today. I remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. And now, he’s a little man. Still looking back at Daddy for support, and yet setting his own course at the same time.

Luke Throwing His Birthday Football

We all like a good book. A good story.

We are no different.

For a change, we decided to tell our own. To write our own. To live our own.

This bike ride is just that; our story. It’s us. At least, a part of us.

We appreciate the opportunity to share it with you. Our hope is that you will write your own story and share it with us.

Date: October 12th

Time Pedaling: 3 hr. 33 min.
Miles: 36.89
Avg. Speed: 10.3 mph
Max Speed: 20.1 mph
Trip Odometer: 63.97
Weather: sunny 91 degrees (temperatures run high due to bike computer reading the heat that reflects off of the pavement)
Time of Departure: 11:15
Arrival Time Sanderson, FL: 6:10
Repairs: None

We ended up staying at the Comfort Inn last night because it was late when we stopped. We had an aversion to setting up camp in the dark on our first night. Hopefully, we won’t be up against that often.

Comfort Inn and Suites on the west side of Jacksonville, FL.

Pedaling in the Florida sun is a bit taxing. Plenty of water is recommended. We all have a bit of sunburn for lack of wearing sunscreen. We fixed that mistake but it cost us some time.

Jackson Baldwin Trail 15 miles of easy riding

Jackson Baldwin Trail Facilities

Dakota buying stamps to mail all of her letters

The USPS is wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

We pulled into Sanderson, FL a bit worn after logging our record thus far (36 miles).

That's a lot of buzzards!

We were ready to stop but the surroundings didn’t look exactly enticing. On the edge of town there was an emergency response station (Station 2). There was a paramedic up on the porch of the 2nd floor and I asked if we could camp there. Bill (paramedic) got the okay from his supervisor and told us we could. He and Doug (another paramedic) assured us that it was a safe location. We set up camp and enjoyed a lengthy conversation with Bill and Doug.

The EMT's for Baker County Rescue Station 2 are wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

Good men. Glad we got to talk to them and not just wave.

Date: October 13th

Time Pedaling: 2 hr. 15 min.
Miles: 24.88
Avg. Speed: 11.0 mph
Max Speed: 16.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 88.85
Weather: sunny 98 degrees (temperatures run high due to bike computer reading the heat that reflects off of the pavement)
Time of Departure: 1:15
Arrival Time Lake City, FL: 6:30
Repairs: None

My wife took ill (probably due to the amount of sun) and rested until noon or so. She was a trooper and pushed on. We ended up getting 26 miles in. We earned every one of them.

Sidenote: I may not have mentioned that we didn’t train for the two weeks leading up to the trip because of our busy schedule. We didn’t. We weren’t fully prepared for the weight we would be pulling. Right now we are well-satisfied knocking down a mile at a time and building our stamina.

Breaking camp from the Rescue Station

Rescue Station 2 where we camped in Sanderson, FL

Our goal was to hit Lake City, and we did. Dakota had phoned a bike shop to see if there were any warmshower.org hosts for us there (we weren’t able to locate any). The shop owner, JT Hopkins, put some calls out for us. Because of the short notice, no one responded. JT insisted on taking us in. He had us park our bikes in his shop and drove us to his house!

The Hopkins family was very welcoming to their weary guests. They inconvenienced themselves to go out of their way. We appreciate them a whole bunch.

Luke watched cartoons with the kids while JT, Annie (his wife), Dakota and I talked. Gail showered and went straight to bed as she was still under the weather. After a wonderful nights rest, we ate a wonderful breakfast (marvelous Annie!) and shot some videos, while tossing a football and conversing.

JT and Annie (and kids) are what I thought I would find when thinking about our trip.

JT & Annie Hopkins with their 3 children, Annie's Dad and a niece

Grandad and grandkids plus Luke

Just a good family. They are the bread and butter of this great Country.

Date: October 14th

Time Pedaling: 40 min.
Miles: 6.49
Avg. Speed: 9.07 mph
Max Speed: 22.2 mph
Trip Odometer: 95.34
Weather: raining 79 degrees
Time of Departure: 8:15
Arrival Time West Side of Lake City, FL: 9:20
Repairs: Rob spent time with JT at 4 Star Bicycles and did a complete maintenance check on all of the bikes. Bought some spare parts and fixed Luke’s pedal.

This morning JT drove us back to his shop, 4 Star Cycles. He proceeded to go through our bikes and make sure everything was working fine. I almost forgot to mention that as we got to his shop on Saturday (13th) we noticed Dakota had just gotten a flat on her rear tire. That was also fixed.

If you happen to be near Lake City, FL I can guarantee you will find no better person to help you out with any of your bike needs. He also has an awesome employee named Carol.

After leaving the bike shop, we caught up on some computer work we needed to do at Starbucks. We picked up some chow and another trailer from Walmart and headed out of town. We biked only 6 miles or so and are holed up at a church. We knew it would be later when we left and wanted to rest fully before piling on some more miles. The pastor of the church is married to Carol (yes, the awesome employee). His name is Brendan and he is from Ireland.

Pastor Brendan the RAGBRAI guy!

I insisted that as an Irishman it was a sin not to be funny, and that he must tell us a joke. He told his best two pub jokes. Luke loved them (me, too). This same guy has done RAGBRAI and likes to average near 25 mph while pedaling.

We will miss Lake City and the friends we met.

Interesting Facts About Lake City, FL

The American Civil War Battle of Olustee took place near Lake City in February 1864.
Population – 12,046 (2010 census)
Lake City and Columbia County, Florida are known as “The Gateway to Florida”. Agricultural products of the area include tobacco, corn, peanuts, cotton, melons, timber and pulpwood.
Lake City is near the Osceola National Forest.

Before I go, I thought I would share a small way we pay bills around here…and, it will cost you NOTHING.

Sound good?

Okay. We have a few websites. Two in-particular are: www.pianolessongirl.net and www.hot-kids-toys.com

Do you shop on Amazon? Will you shop online for Christmas? Giftcards, Walmart, Target, etc?

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We really appreciate it.

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