Today was a tale of two rides in a bunch of ways. Yesterday, we rode into High Springs from the north. There were opulent ranches and beautiful farms on a nice two lane rural road right up to the outskirts of town. After a wonderful breakfast at the B&B, we started riding east and left town. We immediately hit a four lane highway with a small shoulder polluted by gravel and debris. Traffic was whipping by, we were riding past ramshackle businesses and run down trailer homes, and traffic was heavy so the cars were rarely giving us more than a couple feet to spare. Not very enjoyable. Maybe 10 miles into the ride, we turned off the highway and started riding on beautiful country roads past amazing horse farms and cattle ranches.
As we came to our first stop right in between a couple of these ranches, I realized that this part of Florida is really the land of the haves and have-nots. The beginning part of the ride didn’t pass very many homes, if any, that you’d call middle class. It was either dirt poor or well to do, and often a very stark transition between the two. Very interesting.
It started out cold today (high 40s) but we ended the day sweating in the mid to high 70s and all went swimming in the hotel pool. We also had our first real headwind this leg , and it was mentally tough to push through. I was on the front for most of the day but really ran out of steam against the wind coming into Melrose. I really thought the last 30 miles were going to be miserable. We pulled into Subway for lunch, and I have to admit that I wasn’t excited about that at all. But I had a fantastic grilled melt sand which and felt totally rejuvenated. Maybe 10 miles later In Putnam we picked up a bike trail that ran for 15 miles and was the highlight of the trip for me. We rode the next hour side by side coming up with trivia questions and the miles flew by.
I got one last (I’m willing this to be true) flat tire on the trail but figured out the problem (shifted rim tape) and we’ve hopefully put the bad tire karma behind us. Tomorrow is a short jaunt into St. Augustine and it must be bittersweet for the brothers. I know that I’m incredibly proud of my dad, Mark and Brian for this unbelievable accomplishment and am flattered to have gotten to take part in these last two legs. Thank you, thank you, thank you.