Day 39 Jacksonville to Amelia Island

Our scheduled departure time today was a leisurely 9:00 AM. We are all very excited. It is a perfect day for the final ride of this trip; warm & sunny, light winds.

John asked me to lead today’s ride….I am thrilled and honored. In a tight, well practiced line, we left our hotel, and made our way to Hecksher Drive along the St. John’s river. Soon we were confronted with a construction zone too narrow for us to safely pass. Anthony provided us the protection we needed by blocking traffic with the van so that we could get through this obstacle safely.

Before long we left the industrial area and 18 wheelers behind and were treated to stunning views of the St. John’s river on our right and miles of marshland on our left.

We stopped for lunch at Kingsley Plantation, a U.S. National Park unique because of the preservation of all the plantation structures including the slave quarters. There we studied the grounds and exhibits and soaked in the vista provided by the St. George river and marshland.

Back on the road, soon we were presented with a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean . A spontaneous cheer erupted. We turned north at the mouth of the St. John’s river onto Little Talbott Island a Florida State Park. Pedaling easily over a smooth road, through a beautiful landscape with the wind at our backs we fell into silence as we savored the last few miles and thought about the trip each of us have had.

Before long we arrived at our final destination: Amelia Island where, among much fanfare,  John, Arlene, Kim & Debbie dipped their tires into the Atlantic Ocean and completed their ride across America.

We spend the next 48 hours celebrating the successful completion of this adventure.

For me the last two weeks have been very rich. I have developed friendships with my fellow cyclists that I hope will last for many, many years,  I have experienced an adventure that I will remember as a highlight of my life, I have challenged myself athletically and I have had a lot of fun. Thank you John, Arlene, Debbie, Kim, Paul, Anthony, Kate, Robin, David and especially Kris for making this trip an incredible experience.

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THANK YOU TEAM!

WOW-Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! For me, Baton Rouge, LA to Amelia Island, FL. was filled with thrills, adventure, laughs, Buffalo jerky, magic beans and many tears (happy and sad). My body bucked but the will won out! I cannot thank Arlene, John, Kim, Paul, Anthony, Debbie, Kate, Robin, David and Moby Dick enough for an absolutely AMAZING sojourn, both physically, mentally and spiritually! What are we’all doin for 2011? Love-K


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We have arrived at Amelia Island Florida!

After 37 cycling days we have traveled 2888 miles, climbed over 80,500+ feet, had 32 flats (including a flat 3 miles from the finish – thanks Dan!), touched our front tires in the Atlantic Ocean and went for a swim to boot!  Living the dream! We have truly had fun cycling across the country…….what a great experience!  It has been a privilege to cycle with all who enjoyed the entire route – Arlene, Kim, Debbie, Anthony, John – and everyone who rode some of the route – Coach Dave, Mickey, Jean-Pierre, Stephen, Paul, Kris, Dan, David, Kate and especially Robin – Great job everyone!  Thanks for living the dream with us!

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O Beautiful for Spacious Skies

O Beautiful for Spacious Skies  (Original poem by Katharine Bates, adapted by Debbie French)

O beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain;
For purple mountains majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown they good with brotherhood, from sea to shinning sea.

O beautiful for spacious dreams, for bucket lists and more
For the Southern Tier of the U-S-A, and time to go explore
Arlene and John, Arlene and John, your dream became our own
And armed with maps, for days on end, our country we did roam

O beautiful for spacious roads, for surfaces chip-rock free
For shoulders minus rumble strips, respectful 18-wheelers and RV’s
Arlene and John, Arlene and John, a memorable trip you planned so well
And from coast to coast we cycled on, collecting stories to re-tell

O beautiful for spacious rooms, for clean hotels and in-house laundry
For yoga time and hot tub baths, and happy hour by four-thirty
Arlene and John, Arlene and John, our accommodations were diverse
And although the El Camino was a low, Fort Hancock was voted worst

O beautiful for spacious meals, for TexMex and bowls of Gumbo
For dark green lettuce and salty fries, and Haagen Das to go
Arlene and John, Arlene and John, we ate and ate some more
And on rest days searched for healthy foods to restock our traveling store

O beautiful for spacious love, for Blog writers and Blog readers
For family and friend support, and the dream of our two amazing leaders
Arlene and John, Arlene and John, a thank you seems so lame
So with gratitude for all you’ve done, a donation is being given in your name

From your fellow See 2 Seas riders.

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Day 37 “Way Down Upon the Suwannee River” Madison to Lake City, Florida

The day began with great excitement for our “relatively” short 55-mile cycling day.  We mounted our bikes and traveled together for several miles before the smoothly paved road ended and we began to travel on very hard packed dirt that ultimately led us to a sand roadway.  It was at this point that we all encountered the great laugh of the day.  Paul and Dan were scouting the road together when their conversation was abruptly ended as the wheels of their bikes got stuck in some soft sand.  For a brief moment they stopped dead in the sand and then both of them toppled over in unison.  To witness these two strong riders lying on their sides with their bikes on top of them, well it was just too funny.

The remainder of the day was spent biking through The Suwannee County.  We saw beautiful family farms with livestock and 10-20 acre sized farms.  We also biked by some of the most magnificent vegetable farms growing tomatoes, squash and peanuts.

One ongoing observation regarding the typically “spot on” navigation and directions, is that when we go ‘off route” and think we will shorten a ride by five miles, at the end of the day we find that we have actually biked an additional 6 miles!  To quote former President Bush, “that sounds like fuzzy math.”  Just shy of the end of today’s ride we happened upon an ice cream shop.  Kate, an ice-cream addict, broke out the sheckles and everyone pedaled off with a big smile and a belly full of carbs.

We finished our ride in the early afternoon and immediately went into bike cleaning and maintenance mode.  All of this took place behind the Holiday Inn, Lake City.  We wish to note that if you are in need of a place to stay in Lake City, then this is the place!  The staff was very accommodating and the bartender poured with a very heavy hand.

For dinner, we dined on pizza and salads from a highly recommended local shop that delivered to the hotel lobby.  We also dined with an old high school buddy of John McLaren.  Steve and his wife Sheila drove three hours down from Plains, Ga. and held court as Steve told tales of his days with the Secret Service.

By 8:00 p.m. we all retired to our rooms for a good nights rest in preparation for Sunday’s 90-mile ride.  Isn’t Sunday supposed to be a day of rest?

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Day 38 Lake City to Jacksonville

The excitement is rising as we get closer to the Atlantic Ocean. Despite the cold morning and long ride ahead of us we are on our bikes ready to go 10 minutes before our scheduled departure.

We rode together as a pack for most of the day…….Kim, Paul, Arlene, John, Debbie, Dan, Kris, Robin, David, Kate with Anthony joining us for part of the day. It is an ideal day for a long ride; abundant sunshine, flat terrain, no wind. cool temperatures, light traffic.

After leaving a quiet Lake City we headed northeast through farmlands where we saw, cattle, chickens, dairy cows, cotton fields and butternut squash being harvested for Thanksgiving. We then cycled through a large state forest that was teeming with hunters perched on the backs of their pickup trucks waiting to bag a deer being flushed out by dogs. They did not seem to appreciate our lively “good morning”‘s as we rode past.

We had a few challenges with todays route when twice the road we were traveling turned to sand and gravel and we were forced to find another route without the help of google maps. Both times we were helped by very friendly locals….a blacksmith whose pickup truck advertised his expertise at horseshoeing and a gun carrying agriculture inspector named Cookie.

The only blemish on the day was when some teenagers in a pickup truck through a beer bottle at me (they missed)….I guess they thought that was funny.

After 92 miles we arrived at our destination…..Jacksonville. Another personal best for Robin Jaye. Enticed by the thought of recording another century ride, Kris and I rode an additional 8 miles missing the beer, ice cream and Krystal sliders feast that followed the end of the ride.

For dinner we drove to downtown Jacksonville and met Kim & Arlene’s Mother (Joan) and Joan’s boyfriend (Art) and Aunt (Marylou) who flew in to celebrate their accomplishment.

Only 30 miles from the Atlantic Ocean!!!!!

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Letting Loose La Bamba Style at Rancho Grande in Madison, FL

AWESOME FOOD AND SERVES!!!! 10 out of 10


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