Day 41 – Stephanie’s Broken Spoke and The Tale of the Missing Taco Truck (December 12, 2020)

Night 41- Chattahoochee, FL

When you cross into a new time zone, do you gain time or lose daylight? We have gone south enough that sunset is now 5:30. At one point it was 5. Now tomorrow it will be at 4:30? What is this, double daylight savings time??

Up early again, this time with a bit of help from my alarm clock. We had had an excellent time hanging out at Ingolf’s. Full bellies and plenty of rest makes sleeping in a bit easier. Though I wasn’t going let the opportunity to write next to the fire pass me up. Find some coals, give it some fuel, a bit of breath for incentive, and voila! A nice fire to write up the next post about.

I made a bagel to keep me company until the next person arose. Russell was the next to stir. Snacking on a bit of leftover breakfast pizza, Russell and I talked a bit about the next few days while everyone else began to stir. Soon enough Stephanie would join us and Ingolf would be down with coffee and snacks.

Our schedule was pretty loose. We knew we only had about 45 miles till our next host and a few errands we could run in town. Because of the rest day I had all my packs emptied. So I figured I’d give it all a close look through and send home a bit of weight. With some new threads given to us by the bike shop and the idea of being a little bit lighter teasing me every day, I found enough stuff to merit a medium sized flat rate box.

I may have gotten carried away because I became the last to be packed up. The others set up for a good group photo before some brunch soup. Pack the packs, snap some photos, slurp some soup, and pedal off. Stephanie was the first to go with the idea that we would meet up halfway down the road at a taco truck in Quincy.

We said our goodbyes and had to hit the road. The USPS wasn’t far, but it closed soon. We finally got that 70⁰ weather. It was a nice ride through town on the bike trail. Unfortunately there was a bit of a wait at the post office. I guess there is some holiday coming up or something. 40 minutes later, we popped over to the house of clowns for our usual burgers and some frozen drinks. By this point we have become professionals, so when a cashier says the deal doesn’t work (it does) or they don’t think we did it right on the app (we did), i just expect to have to wait for them to find anyone else to help them. Gotta save that money.

Back on the road. We decided to take 90 to Chattahoochee. The beach would have been cool, but after seeing the time line, the oncoming weather, average wind directions, and land available to camp on… time to stay inland. Pensacola would only be 3 days away on 90. Time to grind (but now refreshed).

The rolling hills were nice now that we weren’t so beat up. You ride, climb, zoom, repeat. There are little victories with pushing over each hill and its been a few hundred miles since we’ve had this many hills.

Made it to Quincy and were on the lookout for Stephanie. She doesn’t have a handlebar mount for her phone, so I know she won’t see anything unless she stopped. Well we began to get a bit worried and found out the taco truck was closed. We coasted down the road a bit more to a Marathon gas station and just locked our eyes on the bend leading towards us while we snacked.

A significant lack of taco trucks…

I sent her a text joking if she got her first flat and if she needed help. Nope, broke a spoke. Now, she is on a much older Trek bike with mostly original parts. How she rode this far without a single flat tire… no clue. How she broke 2 spokes so far without a flat… your guess is as good as mine. I texted our host that we would be a bit later arriving. Stephanie did what she had to do to get to us, we assessed the damage and options and figured we could push on the last 17 miles as is.

We put on all our lights and sped off at a good clip. Never really falling below 15 mph, Russell led the charge. I am fairly reluctant to use my main headlamp when in the rear because if anyone in front needs to look back it is a blinding light. With only a single turn at the end, I plopped it on and fell to the rear. At one point a few dogs gave us a scare, but only because it’s difficult to see thin wire fencing in the dark. What was more startling was the large white mule that was just hanging out next to the road. Once we got close it scrambled for the driveway it probably snuck out of.

Pulling into Chattahoochee we only could really see the Christmas lights and whatever I pointed my head at. At the very last turn, Google told us to go around a single block of road that would have taken us right to our hosts door. One quick look and we went for it.

Just this massive gully road that appeared out of nowhere. Google tells bikes to avoid hills when possible, so to see this drop was awesome. No traffic and in the cool dark night… we hit 35 something without pedaling. Coasted right up to the other side and we were there.

Another night, another host. Gene Loyd was outside to greet us. Two sweetheart dogs came rushing out too. Gene’s house and life had been through the ringer the last few years. His house had been pulled apart by hurricanes and he lost a son just up the road where we rode past. He’s a nurse and a cyclist. Just a kind heart who’s been thrown through a lot. So to have him open his home to us was incredible. With a projector screen of his computer we looked at some terrain long down the road and talked about his old adventures with his family and charity rides. He’s looking to move out to the Pacific North west by the time we get out there.

Another fine night. Tomorrow we push for Ponce de Leon.

Have a great morning everyone. The three of us have another patch of riding together. It’s nice to help give someone else a bit of a sense of security on this trip. I suppose we all like a bit of that these days.

As usual-

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