TRIP 2006

Update #08 - April 04th
Belle Isle, Florida
368 miles ( 588 KM) since March 27th,
842 miles (1348 KM) since Jan 01st

The past eight days on the road have been okay. The hardest part was getting the legs geared into pedaling because I was off the road a little over two months (I did ride around 100 miles around Americus, Georgia). Also, getting used to a little more weight on the bike is tricky since I haven't really ridden with a computer on the bike and all of it's accesories.

I got on the road around 8:45 a.m. Monday March 27th. It was good to be on the road for my 13th anniversary. From Americus, I headed east towards Cordele. About eight miles west of Cordele, I met up with two older guys who were on a short ride. What was interesting was that they were on a tamdem recumbent. We talked for about ten minutes. Before heading out again, one of the guys slipped me $10. This was the first "Green-Handshake" for this mission trip. I got into Cordele around 1:30 p.m. and I rode over to the interstate (I-75) where I got a low-cost room at one of the many motels in the area.

The next day, I headed south on the way to Florida. I rode down to Tifton. I wanted to see my old pastor from the Methodist Church in Americus. The district had switched pastors between the Americus and Tifton churches several years ago. It was good to see Pastor Jerry again. He will be retiring in two months after being a pastor for 38 years. Instead of letting me stay at the church, Pastor Gerry offered to get me a room at the motel that the church had an account with.

Wednesday, March 29th, had me riding to Valdosta. I rode about 51 miles from Tifton. It was around 3:30 p.m. when I got into Valdosta. I stopped at the Park Avenue Methodist Church to see if I could talk with the pastor. He had somebody in the office with him but I was told that if I would find my way over to the police station I could be connected with somebody from the ministerial alliance. When I got to the police station, I felt that I might have been misled by the pastor at the Park Avenue Methodist Church since the lady at the counter told me that they only referred people to the local Salvation Army Shelter.

There was no way that I was going to try and risk staying at another Salvation Army Shelter again. The last time several years ago, I caught the assistant director going through my things late at night with a flashlight. She had come into my room thinking that I was sound asleep. Also, the Salvation Army did a number on me while I was doing relief work for them after Hurricane Charley in Sw Florida several years ago. Besides, the shelter wouldn't open till after 6 p.m. and I had no knowledge if the bike would be safe there.

About a block away from the police station, was the First Baptist Church where I worshipped it at three years ago. I was hoping to maybe talk to the pastor there again. He wasn't there so I had to talk to the youth minister. He was a basic pass-off minister giving me the standard excuses why I couldn't stay at the church overnight and he also told me about the Salvation Army Shelter.

I had one more shot in the downtown area and that was to find the First United Methodist Church. I got a brush-off to the shelter there. It was too late to really head out towards Florida and I didn't want to risk camping out because I was getting over walking pneumonia. I came across a low-cost motel who's owner was a Christian. I stayed in the motel instead of going out to find a Wednesday night prayer service.

Thursday, March 30th, had me riding to Lake City, Florida. I made over 65 miles that day. I was the guest of a Warm Showers Host. Barry was also a cyclist who had moved to Lake City from New York City several years ago. He was getting ready to move into a house so his apartment had a lot of boxes in it. It was neat that Barry was also a Jew (but he was a non-practicing one). I had a good night with him.

The next day, March 31st, I rode to Gainesville. It was a 48 mile ride. Being that it was a Friday, I didn't really think that I could find a place to stay. I had the names and phone numbers of two Warm Showers members. One of the guys wasn't home. The other one, Matthew, who was in college told me that I could stay but his five housemates might decide that I couldn't. They didn't.

Matthew apologized and he took me over to the house of one of his new friends, Gary, who builds bike frames. I had a really good time at Gary's house. Gary is an engineer by trade but in his spare time he collects used bicycles and then repairs them and gives them away to the needy. There must have been a hundred bicycles waiting to be repaired. Gary had recently with a few of his Assembly of G-D church members taken several dozen repaired bicycles to the kids in Gautier, Mississippi who had survived Hurricane Katrina. Gary was able to repair my loose grip problem.

Saturday, April 1st, I did a long day of 65 miles. There was a lot of road construction to deal with. I also had to do a lot of defensive cycling since I was riding through a lot of senior retirement communities. Also, I had to fix a flat front tire. There was a very small piece of metal wire that had stuck in the tread so it poked a pinhole in the tube.

Around 6:45 p.m., I had enough of the traffic and since it was starting to get dark I decided to find a place to camp out just north of Fruitland Park (about 8 miles north of Leesburg). I struggled to get my bike and gear up a sand hill but once on top I found a great place to camp out. It wasn't going to be cold so I didn't worry about getting sick again. There were mosquitoes to deal with and a few did get into the tent so I had to hunt them down.

Sunday, April 2nd, I rode to Apopka where I stayed with another Warm Showers host. I did stop at the Morrison United Methodist Church in Leesburg for church. I was able to talk to one of the Sunday school classes for a few minutes. This was the 1st church to speak at this trip but the 3rd church to speak at this year. I had a good night with my host in Apopka.

Yesterday, April 3rd, I rode to my friend's house in Belle Isle, which is a suburb of Orlando on the south side near the airport. I did ride passed the house where I had my apartment 22 years ago and I had lunch at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. I haven't seen my friends, the Greggs, since 2001. I'll be taking today and maybe tomorrow off to give my peeling nose a break. Then I'll be off to Sebastian, FL between Melbourne and Ft. Pierce to meet a new friend. I might be with Chris over the weekend since he wants to arrange for me the chance to speak at his Baptist church in Melbourne.

After my stop in Sebastian, I will be starting my trip up the East Coast with possible stops in Titusville, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville Beach, Florida. I will most likely stay on the East Coast up to the Hampton Roads - Virginia Beach area. There might be a revisit to the North Carolina Outer Banks. From Virginia Beach, I will be heading west in a rambling sort of way riding across Virginia and then on through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee towards the Mississippi River and then heading west to Eastern Colorado (Colorado Springs, Denver, and Pueblo).

I'll try and post and update as often as I can if my plans change.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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