Day 34 – First State to the Right and Straight on Till California (December 5, 2020)

Night 34- Saint Augustine, FL

This is a big one folks. If you have been following along, today was the end of 17, our path south, and the Atlantic Coast Greenway. Tomorrow we will pass through downtown and turn right towards California.

With that in mind, today was a story for sure. Most of it wasn’t on bikes.

We had stayed with a friend of Kevin Stopper (at this point, I’m not sure when to give peoples names, so I’ll leave them anonymous until cleared) and her boyfriend. Their house was a gem. Their pets were cool. Along with dinner and showers, getting to sleep on couches is always a welcomed thing. So when they both had to be out the door by 7am, we happily obliged.

I had newly repaired racks, and we had a shorter day today. No need to ride over 40 miles. Really on 30 or so was need to reach Saint Augustine, but there would be a few more miles for sight seeing.

That’s not how any of this went. In an unexpected and fun way.

A short ride for a casual breakfast to start. It was a chilly 39 this morning, so we gave the sun some time to do its thing.

We then rode a few more blocks to stop at the beach one last time. If you have been following along you might recall that during our first touch of the Atlantic way back in the OBX, we thought it would be fun to dip our hats in the water. Knowing we had both swam in the Atlantic before, We decided the bikes needed to touch both bodies of water. So we got them to the water. Russell rolled over to the waters edge while I carried my bike at the loss of my right hand’s usefulness for the next 30 minutes. We found some random passerby to take a picture.

Always grab a teenage girl to take your group picture. They know how to take pictures and to take a bunch.

After the dip, we got off the sand and went back to the road. Russell got a chunk of sand stuck in a bad spot, so we hung out to clean it off and any bit of salt water.

Salt isn’t good for bikes. Or most metal things. With his brakes clean and my my hand resuming usefulness, we went another few blocks to a park. We met some youths who cheered us on our way after finding a host for the night.

This guy is is awesome.

I called his number from our WarmShowers app and he just says “Well, sure. Why not. Garage is open, the house is yours.” Eddie is a character made from all over. Just a good dude who seems to want cool stuff to happen. So cool stuff happened.

However his place was about 6 miles shorter than we had hoped to ride. Now worries though. We decided to drop our weights and ride in and around town after we got there. Then just circle back. 6 miles is nothing once you drop 60 lbs off your rig. Not that it would matter later.

We had 24 miles to cover.

South of us was Ponte Verde Beach. Quite a different community from where we have been riding. The youths I mentioned earlier had warned us about riding along the A1A… but the prophet “Vanilla Ice” had spoken legends of this route, so we stuck to it.

As we went along with no idea of what was ahead, our bike lane guided us through some neighborhoods full of large homes, beach front castles-like summer homes, and just straight-up mansions.

Okay Vanilla Ice, it makes sense now. I’m sure this place may have been slightly different in 1989, but this road had money. And the dangers of the road where only as scary as the locals could know. If only they knew what we were used to.

Loads of coastline later and parallel to an ultramarathon occurring on the opposite side of the road, we started looking out for our landmark. See, Eddie had mentioned his neighbor had built a castle. Mansions and what not.

Wrong.

Actual castle. (I wasn’t able to get any proper pictures, but I will tomorrow morning)

They built an actual stone castle just north of Saint Augustine and after all the mansions had fallen away from Ponte Verde. Wild.

Just around the corner was Eddie’s. Not expecting to see Eddie till later, the garage was open, a cat waiting for us, and we were ready to unload and take off.

Then Eddie rolled in behind us. This guy is barely out of his car when, in a friendly tone, and a familiar NY accent, he says “what the faaaak”. A pretty common welcoming from someone who just became our friend. Just a glance around his garage we already had questions. Bikes, surf boards, outriggers for ocean kayaks… who was this guy? Tall, tan as possible, and cooler version/twin of the Dos Equis guy.

He gave us the run down of the area. Offered us lunch and his scooter. We weren’t quite sure what just happened, but all the plans just changed. Now, Florida doesn’t care about low speed motor bikes like this, but Russell also has his proper motorcycle license. So with a bite to eat, we hopped on this tiny scooter and took off for sight seeing.

To keep true to our trip, we made no forward progress today away from our bikes. We simply had a quicker way to do some sight-seeing. Tomorrow we would have to ride to the town square anyway. So why ride the same chunk of road 3 times? Now this is pod racing.

We did look pretty funny on this tiny thing. With just some small backpacks we usually use for grocery runs and our jackets, we stopped all around. We did forget how annoying parking was and now we were in a tourist destination during a peak time due to some light festival they had going on.

We just wanted to see some buildings and monuments and that’s what we did. Ran about, parked and walked a lot. Probably the most I’ve walked and even stood upright since we started this journey.

Back before dark and Eddie had something going on elsewhere. Dinner was waiting for us though. This guy is awesome.

I am always thankful for things I barely like asking for, if at all. This guy just did so much I would never ask for.

From there, the night rolled down nicely. We played some chess with dinner and I went out to do some work on my bike. I called home to talk with my grandmother, Donna Huggins. It’s nice hearing a familiar voice and this is the first year I’ll miss a few holidays. She got a sneak preview to this post and had a few stories of her own. While I’m here buying bear spray for unwanted encounters, she is hiding her bird feeders from a hungry black bear.

After that I started burning the midnight oil. Cleaning brake surfaces. Detailing some things. Getting some packs around. Just a calm end to a wild day. So here we are.

Two beds and rooms to ourselves. Today we say goodbye to our first of 4 major routes and the 1400+ miles that got us here. I put the map below with what our path in Florida is going to look like. The markers are stops this time. If you know anyone along the route or “close”, give as a shout and maybe we can make it work.

I attached a small thing about Eddie below as well. We are meeting inspiring folks all around, from all around.

Have great day everyone. Its going to be a big one.

As usual-

Follow us or catch up at

Bandofbikes.com

Find us on Instagram

@bandofbikes

@_round_about_way_

@rlmichaud

And for those who want to help but can’t host us, we take donations through PayPal at the moment, but are looking for suggestions for other funding channels.

Buy us dinner, help us find a host, or help pass along our story. Everything and anything is appreciated.

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