Bike Florida 2005 - Red Hills to the Seaby Nita Bernat
(One Person's Perspective of This Week-Long — Very Long — Bike Tour)
This Bike Florida Tour was my first bike tour since 1992 when about 12 of us hearty Louisvillians did Bike Virginia and had the time of our lives camping and laughing our way through the state of Virginia. We sang “My Old Kentucky Home” for five days and at the end of the week we finally got the words right and sang it in front of the whole tour.
Bike Florida featured itself to be the “worm gruntin’ and oyster shuckin’” tour and let me tell you it was because I was the one doing the gruntin’ and shuckin’. Ask my cycle mates. Now mind you, I haven’t camped in many years, so although I had the state of the art equipment, best tent, best bag, my camping skills were in the gutter, but by the end of the tour I could break down my tent in about 7 minutes dripping wet, and I did.
The facts please — OK.... The routes were flat and long. You never stopped pedalling — spinning was the name of the game. There were hours during a day we prayed for a turn or even a bend in the road so we could have a break in the scenery. Speaking of the scenery. I’ve been known to have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder but if you’ve seen 25 miles of palm tree forests and Spanish moss, you’ve seen 75 miles of them.
There were the towns of Quincy, Blountstown, Apalachicola and Sopchoppy. They were like islands in the desert with no people, places or restaurants in between. Finally we got to the water — or should I say the water got to us. The winds were about 40 miles an hour that afternoon as we approached Apalachicola and St. George Island and 70 miles an hour over the two bridges that had to be ridden to actually get there. That’s when the tour was halted by the officials and we were trucked, literally, the last seven miles over for our safety due to two riders being blown off their bikes by the wind. Good call!
There were saddle sore behinds and more toilet truck and porta-toilet stories then I care to tell. I just want to know why in the world someone would close the lid on a porta-can in the middle of the night? Do they not know the next person would not realize the lid was down?
Now you don’t do a tour to get fat, but I can see where folk would put on a couple pounds. The meals consisted of lots of fried foods, starches, high calorie, high sugar, most of what appeals to the over-60 crowd and I would say that most of those on this ride were there, if not 70, some older than that. Hey, it’s Florida!
Bike Florida is a tour that is put on yearly and every year the route changes. I had expected more scenic routes, more side roads and less major highway travel. Florida has a “share the road” shoulder on many major roads although the trucks and cars still come flying by at 70 mph. I guess I was looking for some bluegrass and a few rolling hills — is that so bad??
Most folks love this tour and I must admit that it was well organized and it took a tremendous amount of manpower and hours to make an event of this magnitude successful. The people of Bike Florida do an excellent job and have every reason to be proud.
Special thanks to all my new best friends who shared this experience with me. I think my next bike trip will be different — I’m sure of that.
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web posted: 9 May 2005
last updated: 13 May 2005