USA Week 7

Keith at the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Keith meets the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Links to all the Blogs and Maps

Table of links to all Blogs and Maps.

Charity Update

Many many thanks to all those that have donated.

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A special thanks this week to Aylesham Parish Council and the £1000 they have donated each to the Slide Away , the Alzheimer’s Society and Fight for Sight Charities. Remember a donation from the Parish Council is a donation from everyone in the village. Massive thanks. This is an astonishing contribution and we cannot stress enough how humbled we are that the village have done this for us.

Hi Bike Rugby Japan,

Thank you very much – have a fabulous Christmas and New Year too! I hope you enjoy a well needed rest after your fantastic cycling efforts and you welcome Keith home soon.

I can confirm the cheque has been received and a ‘thank you’ letter sent out to Kate Razzell on the 6th December.

Once again, thank you for all of your incredible support.

All the best,

Megan Wilson

Events Fundraising Assistant

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Keith in the USA

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Keith’s trans-American cycle ride

This week Keith completes his ride across the USA and arrives at the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville.

Map of  the trans-American Tour across the USA.

Totals in the USA: 2937 miles, 82191ft climbing and 209:49 hours riding

This weeks ride in the USA.

This week: 439 miles, 8829ft climbing and 30:58 hours riding

USA Day 40 Sunday December 15th

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Route USA Day 40 – December 15th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 40.

I’m out the door at 7. I’ve got good cycle paths, flat and clean with better weather that’s overcast but warmer. However it’s still a chilly head-wind.

Looking back at the Pensacola Bay Bridge
Looking back at the Pensacola Bay Bridge

Pensacola bridge is a nightmare; I have a closed cycle lane and no hard shoulder. Once again I have to battle with the traffic over the long bridge. It’s nerve racking to say the least.

Gulf shore beach
Gulf shore beach

I make the most of the good roads and soon I’m 45 miles in. I pull over onto a gorgeous white beach which is a great spot to have lunch. The winds still whistling off the sea.

Surf Kiting on the Gulf shore
Surf Kiting on the Gulf shore

Fifteen miles later and I’m not feeling good. I’m tired of pushing against the wind and my stomach doesn’t feel great. I used tap water in my bottles today and maybe that’s why.

I take a Gas station stop to pick up fresh water, ice cream and chocolate and I feel better almost straight away. But I’m still tired.

Gulf shore beach from the motel
Gulf shore beach from the motel

Finally I reach the lodgings and take a brief walk on the beach before the sun goes down.

I walk out for dinner and spot a Chinese restaurant. Just what I need after a week of seafood. Good food and plenty of it.

USA Day 41 Monday December 16th

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Route USA Day 41 – December 16th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 41.

The first 40 miles is along the coast today. It’s warm and sunny with a torrid head-wind. Today is going to be a battle. It’s a good straight but busy road with a smooth shoulder. That’s all I’m likely to be looking at for a good few hours.

I’m concentrating on keeping the bike nice and straight in these blustery conditions. Only thing I’ve noticed apart from the houses adorning the white sandy beaches, is the Bald eagles circling above.

At thirty or so miles in a dog comes from nowhere and is chasing me up the road. One loud command and it backs off. I didn’t need that against this wind. Shite the dog is back and too close for comfort; I crank up and yell again and it stops. For the next mile or two I’m convinced it will return.

Turning inland I get a bit of a respite from the wind. I pull over at a gas station and buy water and make an emergency dash for the toilet. Not as clean as anything in Japan, but fine when your in a hurry.

I make a call to book a room in Bristol as only one place in that area available. Nice young lady takes my details. Then says you need to be here by 4 or we’ll re-let the room, as she puts the phone down. Now I’ve done slightly less than 50 miles in 5 hrs, 50 miles to go in less than 4!

Still the wind is slightly better. With 15 miles to go in less than an hour the road turns in my favour again. But then 10 miles later and I turn back into the wind. 2 hrs to get there and 25 miles, not to much of a task. If I wasn’t already 75 into my day.

Either I’m stronger or the wind’s died down but the miles are ticking down nicely. I even have chance to snap the storm ravaged forest and the Apalachicola river.

As I cross the river a sign says you are now on Eastern standard time. All my effort in vain. The clocks have gone forward an hour! I’m not happy.

It’s the last couple of miles and I’m totally spent; I’ve left nothing out there today. I arrive half an hour late (local time).

I pull up at the motel counter and all’s well. I get my room for the night and there’s a small local restaurant close by. Grilled Pork chops, veg and potatoes. Not great but good.

Florida Highway
Florida Highway
Storm damaged trees - a tornado has been thru recently
Storm damaged trees – a tornado has been thru recently
The Apalachicola River, Florida
The Apalachicola River, Florida

USA Day 42 Tuesday December 17th

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Route USA Day 42 – December 17th

Fly-through Map USA Day 42.

I’m waiting for the sun to come up this morning,after the clock change yesterday. My plan is to ride 106 miles today so need to be on the road asap. It’s rained overnight and frain is forecast for today; heavy too. I can expect wet roads high humidity and a side wind.

It’s not long before I’m crossing the Ochlockonee river and the Apalachicola forest. This whole area is pretty scenic. The trees lining the roads form a tunnel. Must be spectacular in the summer.

Before long before I’m entering Tallahassee; it’s not a big town, but enough to keep me aware. The bike track goes through the university and I missed the turning. No worries I work my way around. Sometimes it’s awkward when the garmin takes you down an alley especially when you have been on roads for so long.

I’ve soon cleared the town and it’s time for lunch. It’s a gas station again but I have my own food and just stock up on fluids. I’m 56 miles in and 50 to go.

The rain starts as I pull away. No worries I’m drenched in sweat due to the humidity, so T-shirt and shorts it is. The rain gets steadily heavier. I can hear the thunder but see no lightning at first. It’s teeming with rain now and flash lightning is happening every couple of minutes. I can’t remember whether I should get off the bike or whether it’s OK to carry on.

Florida Forest
Florida Forest
Through the forest in Florida
Through the forest in Florida
Torrential rain
Torrential rain

I carry on; as long as the water’s running off the road and not pooling I’m good. Fellow drivers are looking at me in awe. What to do? I pull over and stand under a tree. That’s not right either. Just push on. Only 30 miles to go.

It does ease off a little just before I reach the Motel. The lady behind the desk isn’t too happy with the mess I’m dripping onto her polished floor. She advises me that there is a dryer in the laundry room. But it’s not for me. I wash everything then set up a line in the room and turn the heating up. 👍

The forecast is cold and sunny tomorrow, we shall see 😄

USA Day 43 Wednesday December 18th

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Route USA Day 43 – December 18th

Fly-through Map of USA Day 43.

As promised the temperature has dropped over 20º. It was hot and humid yesterday and it’s cold and sunny today. The first couple of miles today are on back roads until I rejoin the H-90. It’s tarmac but with a covering of sand. It looks very nice but I need to be aware of deep sand and it’s grinding my gears up.

Keith on a cold morning in Florida
Keith on a cold morning in Florida

I’m soon back on the tree lined 90. It’s very cold (below 3º) and the wind is over my left shoulder most of the time. It’s not perfect but better than the last few days.

The Suwannee River, Florida
The Suwannee River, Florida
The Suwannee River, Florida
The Suwannee River, Florida
The Suwannee River, Florida
The Suwannee River, Florida

Soon I’m passing through the Suwannee State Park and over the dark green river. It’s lined by Cyprus trees covered in Spanish moss.

I have no hard shoulder for long stretches today but the drivers are very courteous and keep well wide of me.

bright and sunny on the road in Florida
Bright and sunny on the road in Florida
Olustee Battlefield, Florida
Olustee Battlefield, Florida

The ride through Lake City wasn’t very exiting and I barely got a glimpse of the lake. I pull up after the town and eat my lunch; just fruit and homemade malt loaf from my sister Debbie. I’m slightly into the wind now, but I’m looking forward to the last 20 miles;
an old railway line converted into the “Baldwin Bike Trail”. Pushing on to the 90 mile mark and I’m very hungry.

At the Baldwin Rail Trail head, Florida
At the Baldwin Rail Trail head, Florida
Keith at the Baldwin Rail Trailhead, Florida
Keith at the Baldwin Rail Trailhead, Florida
On the Baldwin Rail Trail, Florida
On the Baldwin Rail Trail, Florida

As I expected and hoped for, the trail has benches, water fountains and toilets at it’s start. I sit down and eat what food I have left. A local cyclist pulls up and asks a few questions. He’s embarrassed because he only rides 40 or so miles a week. I tell him he’s cool, even my own friends think what I’m doing is crazy. Little and often mate and off he goes.

The trail is very scenic but unfortunately slightly uphill and against the wind. Not what I needed to finish the day. I pull into the motel knowing I have less than 25 miles to do tomorrow.👍

However the Motel is shite; no microwave or coffee machine and I could have a lay in tomorrow if I so desired. A bar and restaurant attached so it’s not so sad. But the cider was rank! Fortunately the brown ale is much better especially in a pitcher😁

I washed my bike in the bath tonight as I may not get a better chance. Also my pannier leaked in the heavy rain yesterday so my travelling clothes are damp ☹️

We will see what tomorrow brings as it’s my last day on the bike.

Busy couple of days ahead.

USA Day 44 Thursday December 19th

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Route USA Day 44 – December 19th

Fly-through Map of Day 44.

I have a late start today. It’s 23 miles to the coast and then a dozen back to my hotel nearer the Amtrak station. I’m not allowed to book in before 15:00.

It’s bright and chilly again this morning with headwinds. It won’t worry me today. I don’t get out of traffic all morning. It’s like riding across London. But no worries I have plenty of time.

I finally reach the beach which has lovely white sands but nowhere for a decent photo opportunity. The pier is closed and the only access to the beach is over the wooden bridges that span the dunes. I finally give up and settle for the bridge. There is not a soul on the beach within range so I have to set the self timer on the camera.

Keith meets the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Keith at the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach, Florida

I eat my last slice of home-made malt loaf (Thanks Debbie) and banana. Now it’s time for a beer; it’s almost midday and I’ve already spotted a bar. As I roll in a dog in the beer garden barks angrily. I’ll need more than that to put me off a beer today.

I grab a beer from the bar and approach the garden and as I enter the pitbull goes quiet thankfully. It’s owners ask if I’m from England and the story unfolds. It’s lovely in the sunshine and I’m enjoying the beer. It tastes very good today.

I leave the bar and cycle to my hotel with the wind on my back. Unfortunately it’s the wrong hotel. A sister hotel to the one I’ve booked. Mine’s another 2 miles away. Turns out fine as this is the place I booked and it’s very close to REI, the outdoor store where I can pick up a cardboard box for my bike.

I pick the box up and pack the bike. It’s getting late, 20:00. So it’s the BBQ pit just down the road. Excellent food and service.

All the packing is nearly done. The train to Orlando is at 8:30 tomorrow.

I can’t believe the cycling’s all done (for this year)!

The Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach, Florida, USA
The Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach, Florida, USA
The Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach, Florida, USA
The Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach, Florida, USA

USA Day 45 Friday December 20th

[Keith caught an early train down to Orlando and got himself packed and ready for his flight tomorrow. Spends the evening relaxing, including, I think, an operatic performance of Hamlet in the park!: Ed]

USA Day 46 Saturday December 21st

[Flight home! Next weeks blog will wrap the whole trip up and we’ll welcome home Keith and give a summary of the whole tour from those who started six months ago in Calais (Cathal and Carl), to the long ride across Asia where they first tried cycle-touring (or bike-packing as some like to call it these days). Then when Rylan joins for the downhill section to Shanghai. After that we’ll recall the rides around Japan and the Rugby before the solo run across the USA: Ed]

All done. Arrival at the Atlantic Ocean.
All done. Arrival at the Atlantic Ocean.

 

2 thoughts on “USA Week 7

  1. Wow, What a fantastic trip you have done Keith, I admire the guts to take the opportunity that has come along and do the epic trip to Japan, in Japan and then across USA . as a fellow biker my 40 or so miles a week pale into insignificance. Would welcome the chance for a chat about the trip at some point.

    Mike Phillipson ( your Youth Club Leader at Aylesham YC 30 years ago)

    Like

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