Charley’s ride across america 6. Reflections on florida


Day 10 feb 6.  50 miles 4:40 sunny clear, hills at end 60-65, lots of traffic in close all day, north Pensacola

Day 11 feb 7. 37 miles in 3:20 , 65 degrees, muggy first half in traffic, last half in dunes- beautiful end in Orange beach ALABAMA

Running total 530 

An Olympic gymnast when asked by a reporter what it took to get to the olympics:

“ it’s easy, you just work out really hard whenever you feel like it………

And whenever you don’t “

I’m not trying for the olympics, but I do want to make it all the way across the country and I can’t say that I feel ready each day to ride for 4-6 hours.

So far I expected the daily riding to be hard and I’m not disappointed- it is. Each day, going through my routine to get fed, packed and plan my navigation has behind it that “ eventually you need to sit in the saddle and start riding.

I always get that same feeling leaving in sailing as well.

Is it fear?

Is it some inner lack of confidence? Is this the time I fuck it all up?

Or is it the reason why I both ride and sail?

Dealing with that inner anxious one, that inner voice, my inner self and knowing that I’ve dealt with this before so will again.

Once I get riding or sailing, it all disappears. Now I’ve got stuff to do and can get into my flow state often.


Everyone I met so far ( pit bulls excluded) has been really nice and helpful. They are immensely curious as to this old guy riding a bike all the way  to California. When I answer anyone’s question about where I’m heading and I say California, they immediately look at my white (platinum blonde? ) hair as if to say, “ hasn’t that guy looked in the mirror to see his age?”

What I’ve seen:

Lots of beauty, topped off by today’s last 18 miles in the sand dunes along the gulf coast. I never knew Florida was such a horsey state, as I saw hundreds of fancy horse ranches. I also never knew that there were so many manufactured homes in existence, seems like most of the newer ones. The small towns seem fairly healthy, not thriving. Each County seat has a gigantic courthouse, maybe to entertain all the lawsuits from legal firms advertising on most billboards. See picture.

This must be the holiest place in the country as almost every tenth building is a house of worship. And when I roads by on Sunday, their parking lots were all full.

The food:

If Medicare was a private company I wouldn’t recommend investing in its long range future. Most of what I’ve come across is deep fried food or Barbeque. It has been really tasty, I’m just not sure that it the only fuel I need to get across the country.  If/when I’ve ordered salads it’s usually a small portion of iceberg lettuce covered in sauce. Since I’m not going to high end places ( not sure they exist in these small towns I’ve been in) the silverware is plastic, plates paper, and cups styrofoam. 

The people:

I already mentioned the “monster” guy. Today a young man pulled over ahead of me to get out of the truck to talk Southern Tier. He said he is a fan and asked if I needed anything. An hour later a middle aged woman did the same.

The night before I left St Augustine, I wanted to eat early to get plenty of sleep for my start. I chose a small pizza place about a block from my hotel. After I went to the counter to order my pizza, the waitress said she would bring it to me in the garden next door.  My lucky day as it was country karaoke night. The garden was filling up fast and as each new person arrived, they went around and hugged everybody already there, as if this were a family reunion. I sat at a bar seat and chatted with the people on both sides of me who said that all of them were mountain people who relocated to Florida. As the microphone was passed around and each took their turn singing their old favorite country song, I was amazed at how good and more, how awful some of the singers were. And they all clapped and enjoyed it. 

Then, of course the mic was heading my way and I had a clear memory of when I was in catholic grade school and I asked sister Mary-I -can’t -remember -which -Saint if I could be in the choir. She told me I could, but only if no sound were to pass my lips. True story. I haven’t sung in public since and I wasn’t about to break my record tonight. So I passed. I still felt included in the fun of the group.

I’m feeling really coddled as I’ve stayed in hotels every night so far. The two star hotels are cheap and include breakfast and are affordable. The one star seem to rent out rooms by the hour, so I’m sticking with two.

I’m trying to be careful in recovery each day as I find I’m not as tough as I might have thought and appreciate the air conditioning, cold showers, and king beds. I’m sleeping over nine hours per night so need that recovery.

I think there is a stress associated with the city riding in traffic. Bike lanes just disappear so I often have to claim a lane on a four lane highway with traffic going 45. One error and squish. Think Dereck on Greys Anatomy for you tv watchers.

I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone, except maybe to myself, but somehow feel guilty in my lush life. 

Love to all,


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