Thursday March 3, 2016, 68 miles (109 km) – Total so far: 490 miles (789 km)
After Texas, Florida is my second favorite state on the Southern Tier route. It has surprised all of us with its variety of scenery, from white sand beaches on the Gulf, to the rolling hills and farmland and its many pine forests and swamps with hanging Spanish moss. Its cities seem friendly and the roads are by far the best. This state seems to be the only state of the Southern Tier that consciously plans its roads with bicyclists in mind. The weather this week has been fantastic and the wind has been favorable almost everyday. Again today we had a bike lane for most of the ride. We also enjoyed riding a great bike trail which runs from Melrose almost to Palatka. It was fun to be able to ride 4 abreast and talk together. The only reason I like Texas more (and I’m really thinking about West Texas here) is because of the mostly empty roads and vast countryside and also the restored old railroad hotels that I would go visit again such as The El Capitain in Van Horn and the Gage Hotel in Marathon and the unique cities like Marfa and Austin and San Antonio. High Springs, FL reminded me of those places; a little town with its own identity and culture.
Today was a flat, quick ride. Gainesville was trafficy but the bike lane kept us out of harm’s way and we soon left it behind to enjoy more farmland and pine forest or swamp scenery. Matt likes riding in front and we ‘had his back’ all day. We are averaging over 15 mph every day. It feels good to finish our day’s ride before 3 and then have a few beers before dinner. Today we sat by the outside pool in the warm but breezy air. We even iced our sore bodies in the frigid pool water. We stopped for lunch in a Subway. Another flat was repaired effortlessly by Matt who is a great bike mechanic.