Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Resting in St Johns

Well I finished my coast to coast section three days ago now. I am staying with my cousin in St Johns for a while to rest up before I head north again in about a month. There has been a tropical storm named Beryl causing rain and wind since I arrived here. That has forced me into staying around the house. I still feel a bit stiff and sore in my legs. My left leg where I tore some tissue during a seizure over a week ago is still pretty sore as well. I am trying to massage it and stretch it to help it heal. I just hope it doesn't just add more chronic pain to my current high chronic pain level. Only time will tell me. I am continuing to have a huge appetite. Everyday I have eaten six meals. I am doing my best to eat healthy. Breakfast is usually fresh fruit with yogurt and granola or oatmeal and fruit. Then every two or three hours I have been eating hamburgers, burritos, sandwiches, enchiladas, vegies or some other meals. I just can't seem to eat enough no matter how much I eat. I am not gaining weight so I guess my body needs the fuel to repair itself. I will need to pare it down if I start sitting around too long here during my rest period. My plans are still vague but I do want to ride up to Virginia yet and see Wendy. I would love to go fishing with her up there. After that I might just return to Florida or maybe I will ride across on the Bicentennial bike trail as far as the Mississippi River then go up to Wisconsin for a short visit. I will decide later probably on the spur of the moment. I have been reflecting a lot on my ride so far. It is quite satisfying to know that I was able to complete the coast to coast section. I did it fairly fast at 46 days to cross from San Diego to St Augustine. Yesterday I read Gary's journal of the same ride and enjoyed reading about the same places from another persons viewpoint. He is also heading north up the east coast so I will follow his journal so I will be better prepared for my ride north. I will post some of my thoughts about my ride in the next few days. Until later then...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ride Days 56 and 57

I never had time to do yesterday's update because the wifi was just too slow where I was. The last couple of days were hard riding for me. On day 56 I rode 82 miles when I had only planned on 50 miles. The extra 32 miles were all during the hottest part of the day and the heat was draining the strength from my legs. We left Tallahassee and rode the bike trail for 20 miles then had to essentially double back to get on the route to St Augustine. The bike trail was beautiful with a smooth surface and great old oaks covered with moss shading the trail. We saw some tortoises as we rode along. In the afternoon though it got very warm and humid. We had planned on only riding about 50 miles but could not find any place to stay in that range so we just kept riding until we found a place at 82 miles into the ride. I got a flat tire just as we pulled into the hotel for the night. I found a leak and patched it then tested it and found a bunch of leaks so I had to throw the tube out and put on my last new tube. Afterwards we went down to the hotel bar and had a few cold ones. In the morning we headed out to St Augustine only 31 miles away now. The bad part is I had a bad night of running to the toilet and got almost no sleep. When we started our ride today, I had absolutely no energy. My legs were noodles. I did not feel very good at all. This day was supposed to be a happy, last day, short ride to the coast. It ended up being very tough for me to finish. I had to stop a lot and rest. I could not get any power into my legs. We stopped early and ate a good big breakfast which I thought might help me, but after eating I just felt worse. I told Gary that he could just ride on ahead and leave me behind but he would not do it because he could see I was doing poorly and I think he was worried about me. I was also overheating and sweating way too much. Gary is just too nice and responsible to abandon me like that. So I tucked in behind his rig and rode right up tight to him to reduce the head wind that we were having today. It helped make my ride easier but I was still just a weak worm on the bike all day long. The ride should have been quick and easy but it took me a long time riding slowly to make it all the way. I thought about hitch hiking in to the coast and coming back later to ride it but Gary just kept telling me to go just a bit further first, and then finally we were there. We did find an unfinished bike trail that we rode along until it suddenly dead ended on us. We found a way through the dead end that got us back on the main route without too much doubling back so it worked out ok. When we got to town we rode straight over to Anastasia State Park Beach to complete our coast to coast segment of our rides. We took a few pics and then rode over to the hostel and checked in to do our laundry and get rid of our packs so that we could go down town and eat and have a few beers to celebrate the end of a long 4100 miles 57 day ride for me. I am happy the ride is over for now. I am ready to let my butt heal again and rest up so that I might get back some of the weight I lost. I need some spare tire you know. We ate at an ale house but after an appetizer of blue crab artichoke dip and a few beers we ate some desserts of fried banana split and rum bread pudding. The deserts were huge and filled us up so we never ate a main course. Later tonight we will be hungry and will eat more. Tomorrow I will write more about what I felt today getting here finally. Otherwise more later...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ride Day 55

This morning it was foggy and wet in Madison Florida when we woke up. We ate a breakfast at our B&B before we hit the road around 8:30 and by then it was less foggy. The road was Florida 90 which has a good shoulder to ride on. We ended up staying on 90 instead of following the ACA route on our map because it was a bit shorter. The scenery for the most part was the same old tree lined road with not much to look at or take pics of. There were still plenty of great old oaks around but I can't take a pic of each one. The weather was very hot and very humid today. In the morning it did not slow us down and we rolled up the miles but by the afternoon it was a lot of work to ride without overheating. Clem decided to take the shortcut and ride on to Jacksonville when we came to the fork in the road. Gary and I both stayed on the ACA Southern Tier route. I enjoyed riding and hanging out with Clem and was sorry to see him go his own way. After our split, Gary and I powered on for another 42 miles to High Springs. On the way I had another flat tire. The tire was a bit soft in the morning when we left Madison so I put air in it and it made it about 60 miles before it blew out. I changed the tube and checked the tire carefully for anything that caused the blowout and found the hole to be on the inside seam of the tube. I think it might have been a faulty tube. Either way I changed it in 10 or 15 minutes on the side of the road and we were off again. I seriously had to slow down after the flat because I was overheating while I was riding. The high humidity was not letting the sweat evaporate to cool us today. We stopped at Ichetucknee Springs as we passed it. The springs were crystal clear water that is a constant 72 degrees year round. I wanted to just jump right in but instead we looked and then continued our long 82 mile ride to High Springs. There we checked into a hotel and went over to eat at the diner across the street. We started with great milk shakes with real ice cream and then we had a dinner special to fill us up. Back at the hotel we stopped and talked to some Scottish people that were in our same hotel. They were just here on holidays for a couple of weeks but they have frequently been to the U.S. They were enjoying their visit again this time. I am just finishing up this blog and my other computer stuff then hitting the sack to ride close to but not all the way to St Augustine. When I left San Francisco I had no idea if I could ride my bike all the way down the California coast and then turn left and ride all the way from the West coast to the East coast. I really had serious doubts that a tired disabled old man like me would be able to pedal that far. I can't walk to the end of the block but I have demonstrated that I can ride my bike 4100 miles. I am happy that I was able to do this. It took some serious effort and determination on my part. I had my doubts many times on the ride. I improved my health, lost weight and increased my self confidence and my determination on this ride. It will change the rest of my life for the better. I know I am counting my chicks before the eggs hatch because I still have another 100 miles before I am finished but I will finish this last 100 miles unless I die on the way. I will crawl if I have to and carry the bike but I will be swimming in the Atlantic very soon. More later....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ride Day 54

I spent last night in Tallahassee with a couple of other bikers I met on the road yesterday. We had a good time together and rode together again today. The ride today was fairly long at 80 miles but it was not too hard. Those people that told me how flat Florida is are not correct. We had rolling hills most of the day. Still nothing compared to Texas though. I enjoyed the ride from Tallahassee to Madison Florida. Tonight we are staying at a bed and breakfast in Madison. It is very home style and Linda the owner is very friendly. We are sharing some beers with her right now. We headed though Florida State University from our hotel and ate breakfast at O'leans Cafe where we ate a big breakfast before we rode though the city to get on the big trail south of town. We rode the bike trail for about six miles and then headed out east on country roads. The miles piled up as we rode down quiet two lane roads through small towns. It did get hot and humid as the day went on. I took very few pics. I am sorry but the scenery was mostly the same old pine and oak lined country roads. There was a bit more agricultural use but still it was the same as I have seen for the last few days. I did have one disappointment today. I have been scanning the roads for live snakes to take pics of for this entire ride. Well today a beautiful 16 inch long green snake came out of the grass onto the road in front of me. It would have made a great pic but unfortunately it came out onto the road right in front of me and I ran over it and killed it. It upset me to do that. I did my best to swerve and brake to avoid it but it was just a suicidal snake. I left it as roadkill. I almost took a pic of it on the road but in the end I did not. It was bad enough that I ran it over and killed it without taking a pic of the carcass. Such is life and death. We are very close to the east coast and are debating which route to take. The ACA route is a lot longer than the direct roads, like 70 miles longer. The debate is will we miss something good if we take the shorter route and are the shorter roads bike friendly roads. We have not decided yet. More later.....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ride Day 53

I had a short ride today. I had planned on riding past Tallahassee and getting to a smaller town to spend the night but I ran into some other riders and we went for dinner and a few drinks together. It was a good time. We rode together for a bit today and then shared a hotel together. They were Clem and Gary from San Luis Obispo CA and started their ride from there. They have a blog also at: www.crazyguyonabike.com/gphavas. We also ran into another biker that is trying to ride all 50 states for his wounder veterans nonprofit charity. It was interesting to meet and talk with him. His name was Scot King and his web is: www.rtwr.org. The local Elks club was sponsoring his visit to Tallahassee today. My ride went smoothly today but then if I only rode such a short distance everyday then I think they would all be much easier than some of my rides have been. The scenery has finally changed from being hemmed in by trees along the sides of the road to a more agricultural setting. There were cattle and horses with fields of hay, corn, peanuts, soy beans and other things. I like the smell of the freshly cut hay. The big oak trees covered in spanish moss also were common today. The houses usually have huge lawns around them. I stopped to ask one guy mowing his lawn why everyone had such big lawns and he answered quickly, "it keeps a lot of the snakes away from the house and there are more fires lately." Made sense to me. My lower leg did not give me any problems today but it is still very tender and sore. I do not use my lower legs when I ride. My heel is on the pedal when I ride and I only use my upper legs for power. If I try to use the ball of my foot or my toes I start to have seizures very quickly. I get by with that way of riding, I have ridden about 3800 miles that way so far. Tomorrow I am going to just get out of town and take it easy. I am so close I am tempted to just blast through and be there in three days but I don't want to do that. With my leg and all I want to take it easier. I will have plenty of time to rest once I get to St Augustine. I want to stay there about a month just resting and relaxing to let my body recover from the stress of this hard ride. A guy told me about how his personal trainer made him do 10 minutes on the bike at the gym the other day. He said it nearly killed him to do it that long and when I told him I ride from 4 to 8 hours he almost died. He thought that was impossible to ride a bike that long and to do it everyday with only a few days off here and there he just could not believe it. I had to laugh at his painful description of the torture of riding for 10 minutes. He did not have to worry about a vehicle hitting him or a farm dog attacking him or any of the other things on a long ride like this. He told me I am more of a man than he will ever be but I laughed and just said I was just crazier than he was. More latter.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ride Day 52

I woke up before dawn today and packed my bags. When it was finally light enough to ride safely I hit the road. My leg was pretty stiff when I first started out but it loosened up after a few miles. Maybe the adrenaline from the attacking farm dogs helped me wake up. I would like to straighten up some misconceptions people have about the way I treat my body. I am getting a lot of flack from people freaked out that I had a seizure on the road and blaming me for riding too hard and causing the seizure. Then they tell me I should have gone to the hospital right away and taken care of my injuries better so that I would heal properly and so on. Well on the first point, about me causing the seizure by pushing myself too hard, that is absolutely not the reason that I had the seizure. The one and only reason I had the seizure is because when I rode the ferry from Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan the vibrations on the ferry were strong and the vibrations set my nerves on edge so bad that I thought I was going to have one on the boat. I made it through the boat ride without an attack but I was having lots of electrical sensations shooting all up and down my body after the ferry ride. That was causing my pain to start building up. Lots of people tell me I should have called an ambulance right then. That never works out well for me. I always get transported to a hospital with doctors that are not familiar with my situation and they want to do thousands of dollars in invasive tests that I do not need. So instead of calling an ambulance I jumped on my bike and started to ride and while I was riding I started doing yoga and biofeedback to try to get my system back under control. Usually that works for me. In this case I had an attack anyway despite my attempt to prevent it. After the seizure stopped I got back on my bike and again worked on my yoga and biofeedback to get under control again. Usually by the next morning after a night of agonizing pain I wake up recovered and back to feeling normal. In this case I felt normal everywhere except my lower left leg. I either injured it in my fall off the bike or I tore some tissue when my muscles were tugging against each other during the seizure was my immediate assessment. In the end after all the hospital drama that I got sucked into yesterday that was also the conclusion of all the doctors. I do know my body pretty well. I have been having this seizure problem for twenty years now. I don’t like it but I deal with it. It will not stop me from doing whatever I want to do. Sometimes that involves elevated risk as compared to someone without the same type of problems, but such is life. What am I supposed to do to be safe? Sit in a wheelchair getting fatter by the day the rest of my life? I will never do that. If I die because I have a seizure and I fall in front of a truck while riding my bike that is ok by me. At least I will have died while living a life. My ride today went smoothly from King Lake to Marianna Florida. My sore leg was not a problem at all. I took very few pics because the scenery is just the same all day long and it has been the same since I left Pensacola. It is just a road with longleaf pine and oak trees lining both sides, and the terrain is mostly gently rolling hills. The one weird thing I find with the roads here in Florida so far is that they are either top notch brand new roads with a smooth surface and wide shoulder or they are narrow rough roads with no room for a bike to ride at all. There is nothing in between just good roads and bad roads. In the towns it has been mostly bad roads with no room to ride. I had more people honk at me to get out of their way today than I have had on this entire trip so far. I have heard it only gets worse the further into Florida I go except for the cities with universities where the people are more used to bikers. I will learn as I go. At the end of the day I went to a campground called Arrowhead to camp but when they told me the ripoff price for a primitive tent campsite I turned around and walked out because it was the highest price I have ever been given to set up a tent. So instead I checked into a hotel which was less than their price to camp and I have air conditioning and tv etc. Florida is not very tent friendly. They tend to set camps up for RVs and charge tents the same price even though we don’t use any of the expensive hookups that the RVs use. There are not many tent campers here because a lot of people are afraid of the snakes which are fairly common everywhere here. More later….

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Medical Day Off

Well a couple days ago I said I had a seizure and there was some pain going on afterward. So this morning I got up and I was pretty sore so I decided not to ride. I went into the office at the campground to tell them I was spending another night and we started to talk about why. The next thing I knew there were two paramedics standing there checking me out and they insisted that I had to go to the hospital for my problem which they told me looked like DVT or deep vein thrombosis which is a fancy word for a blood clot in my lower leg. So after a lot of grumbling on my part I was whisked off by ambulance to the hospital. They stuck me and poked me and asked me a million questions and tortured me to see where it hurts. Then they told me that I needed to be transported by ambulance again to another bigger hospital 75 miles away because my problem was so urgent. So I was whisked off again 75 miles away to the main hospital down on the coast. There they repeated everything the first hospital did and then did their own tests like an ultrasound of my leg. I was able to talk them out of the cat scan and further tests to verify my seizure cause. They eventually released me with official looking papers saying just what I said in my blog the other day about my problems. So I wasted the day and the insurance bill will probably be $15,000 or so. I regret going in the first place. Screw the medical establishment. Tomorrow I will ride again...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ride Day 51

I left Blackwater State Park at first light. As I pulled out of the camping loop road there was an armadillo in the road. I tried to get my camera out and ready to take a pic but he was too quick for me and I missed the pic. Then about a hundred yards up the road I saw a fox squirrel and again I was too slow on the draw to get a pic. I rode on slowly and was looking around a lot and I saw some deer then some quail and a few turtles. It was a good day of seeing wildlife so far. I did not see any snakes or gators or even any turkeys today though. I enjoyed the slow pace of my ride. The miles still piled up quicker than I expected. I stopped for breakfast at a cafe and ate my usual egg, cheese and sausage sandwich with coffee. The woman working was quizzing me about my ride so far. She asked a ton of questions all of which I have heard repeatedly but I answered her questions. I took almost no pics today. I was preoccupied with my health problems and the road was mostly just a country road with long leaf pines lining the sides of the road. I finally stopped in the early afternoon at an RV resort called Sunset King Lake Resort. There is a pool and a lake with lots of campers around. I am still just resting at this moment, sitting in the office doing this computer stuff. I will get up and eat again pretty soon because I have only had three meals so far today. Then maybe a swim might be in order. I feel a bit better than I did last night at this time but I am still hurting. I hope it is better soon....More later

Ride Day 50

Tough day for me in Florida today. I left Big Lagoon early in the morning and the plan was to ride slow and easy across flat Florida. First of all the maps from ACA seem to love hills and mountains of any sort. It seems if there is a mountain they will find a way to get it on the route. So my plan of slow and easy turned into lots of hill climbing today. It was hard for me because I can't put any pressure on my left leg because of the pain so I had to use low gears and spin my legs a lot. It went ok for a while but then a woman in a black caddy, talking on her phone, cut me off and slowed down to turn right about ten feet in front of me. I was going about 30 mph downhill at the time. I slammed on my back brakes and my front brakes and my Fred Flintstone brakes as I was skidding and fishtailing right at her car. At the last second I had slowed enough to turn left into the traffic lane to avoid hitting her but I let out a very profane string of thoughts about her driving skills at the top of my voice as I barely missed hitting her. If I had hit her I would have been thrown out into the heavy traffic lanes and most likely would have been run over. I kept screaming as I came to a stop and she stopped her car up the road and got out like, "why the hell are you screaming at me." A guy walking on the street came up and asked if I was ok and then when I said yes just upset he warned me that right or wrong if I kept yelling I would get arrested for disturbing the peace. I calmed down and thanked him before I got back on my bike and rode off. I had to stop again a couple blocks up the road to pull myself together again because I was shaking too much. I recovered and kept riding but told myself to keep my speed below 20mpn after this. I did not take many pics because I was too preoccupied with my pain issues. There also was not much to take pics of because there were too many trees along the route blocking the views. I stopped at Bob's Canoes to ask about any local camping spots when I got tired. They told me Blackwater State Park was the closest so I went there for the night. There were fox squirrels at the park which I had never seen before. I looked for them in the late afternoon for a couple of hours but saw none till the next morning as I was leaving. They are about two feet long with a face that looks like a fox. When I arrived at camp I set up my tent and talked to my neighbor for a bit. Then I ate a bunch of food and took a shower. My neighbor brought over a plate of food, bbqed chicken, beans, rice and bread with a can of iced tea with lemonade to drink. I was surprised by this and thanked him profusely as I gobbled down my second meal in an hour. I love that I can eat so much on this ride. I just wish I could afford to eat more than I do but food is already my highest expense. The people that offer food and cold drinks are some of the most thoughtful people I have come across on my ride. It has happened a lot too. There are rally a lot of very nice generous people around in this country. I had trouble sleeping because of the pain. I tried to stretch before I went to sleep and again in the morning, but I am too sore to do that. I stayed in the shower a long time just letting the hot water massage me. The big bruise I had in the morning behind my knee was almost gone tonight but it still hurts a lot. I will limp along on day 51 because I just hurt more when I stop and rest. I just can't push down hard with my left leg. I will just take it easy again. MOre later...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day off

I woke up too sore to ride this morning. My leg is black and blue behind my left knee and I can't put any pressure on the pedal with it so I may not be riding for a few days. I will take it a day at a time. I think I tore something when I had my seizure yesterday or maybe when I fell off the bike I hit my knee with the bike. I don't know for sure. At least Big Lagoon State Park is a beautiful place to be. There are tons of birds around the park and the fishing seems good too as I see all the anglers are catching stuff. I saw porpoises and a whale shark in the estuary this morning. The whale shark surprised me. Some people saw a manatee yesterday but I have been unable to find it. I will try again tomorrow morning to see if I am able to ride. I will do a short ride if I am able to. I made it this far across the country and I WILL make it the rest of the way. I will post pics of the park later...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ride Day 49

I spent yesterday afternoon and night at Dauphin Island Alabama. I enjoyed the little island. It was nice to be back near and on a hot tropical beach. I set up my tent at the campground near the ferry terminal and then rode my bike around the island for a few hours ending with a few beers at a pub. There were lots of people fishing along the coast and they were catching quite a few fish. I saw spanish mackerel, drum, speckled trout and some others that I don't know the names of being caught. I wanted to get out there myself but the license was too expensive for just one day. The pub was entertaining. It was all locals but me and they were talking politics which basically means they were trashing Obama. They were trying to decide what color dress he would look best in now that he announced that he was gay. What? That was quite a jump of logic but I just ignored it and listened to them chat. After my few beers I went back to camp and cooked and ate some food then sat around talking to some other campers for about an hour before the mosquitoes drove me back into my tent. The night in the tent did not go so well. I brought my water battle full of gatoraide into the tent so the coons didn't steal it. Big mistake because the top was not tight and that sticky crap got all over everything. I spent a few hours cleaning up the mess. At dawn I packed up and went over to catch the ferry back to shore at Fort Morgan. The ferry was my second problem after the sticky mess. The vibrations on the ferry set off my seizure problems. I did not actually have a seizure on the ferry but my nerves started to twitch so bad that the pain was climbing rapidly. I managed to hold on without a seizure on the ferry so I jumped on my bike and headed to Florida. As I rode the nerves and muscles started to twitch and cramp and jerk around on me. Both of my legs were involved in it. I rode on anyway because there was really nothing I could do about it. But finally near Gulf Beach just before I entered Florida my body decided to go into a seizure. I dropped down from riding my bike in sort of a controlled fall and sprawled out on the side of the road having a seizure. I think I was aware the entire time I was having the seizure but I never really know for sure unless there is someone there to watch and tell me what happened. I remember two cars going by but neither stopped. I was off the road but I was surprised that they did not notice my problem and stop to offer help. It stopped in a couple of minutes but then the pain started to rapidly climb again. I jumped on my bike and tried to find a place to put up for the night. The closest place was seven miles up the road. In agonizing pain I managed to make it to the Big Lagoon State Park where I set up camp and immediately rested for a couple of hours and ate and drank as much as I had with me. After the rest I felt better so I rode over across the street to the library to write this and do my other computer stuff. As soon as I finish I am off to bed and I hope by morning I am well enough to continue my ride and if not then I will stay here another night. I am only about 350 miles from my destination of St Augustine Florida. I don't want my body to crap out on me this close to my goal. If I have to I will ride the rest of the way on drugs. I am going to finish this ride one way or another. I took very few pics again today. More later...