Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 61 - Palatka to St. Augustine

The final day of riding is upon us. Only about 40 miles or so to St. Augustine and a few miles more to the ocean.

The plan is to meet about a mile away from our final lodging and all ride in together. Our goal is to get to the Pirate Haus where many of us are going to stay for the final night or two at noon.

The day started out fairly warm in comparison to other days, but we still needed cold weather gear. Breakfast at the motel and then hit the road around 7:30 or so.

The ride started out fairly uneventful, crossing the St. John's river at Palatka and then taking some side roads to the north.

At one point I found myself riding north on a road that on the map indicated should be more east west and instructions that said to turn right to get on the road with only a left hand turn as an option. I was either in the wrong place having missed a turn earlier or the map was fubar. I'm not sure which.

A quick consult with Google Maps and I realized that the main road that we would later be ricing on was less than a 1/4 mile away so I headed that direction and got on it. I'm not sure why one would want to avoid it, as it was very quiet, for a 4 lane divided highway, with a wide clean smooth shoulder.

I fairly quickly got back on route and continued on. Much of the day we rode on quiet roads with zero shoulder. At several points on the road heading into St. Augustine there were memorials for people who were killed on the road, including one for a cyclist. Which was a sobering reminder that even quite roads are dangerous.

When I arrived at our predetermined location several of the others were there. We waited awhile for the rest to arrive and then proceeded on down to the end location where several friends and facility of other riders were there to greet us. Some had cowbells as they cheered our arrival. Also among the group was Ron who had left us a few days earlier so he could finish sooner.

After a slight detour we found the entrance to the Pirate Haus and dropped our bags. We then proceeded across the draw bridge to the ocean where we dipped our wheels in the water, sipped a little champagne and took some pictures.

Afterward we rode back, got checked into our room, took showers and then headed out for our final dinner at the Columbia Restaurant  about 2 blocks from where we are staying.

Before dinner we all had to sign the release paper for Adventure Cycling which kind of signifies the end of the tour as far as they are concerned. We are now on our own, so to speak.

Dinner was good, we presented Mitch with a card and a tip that we all contributed to. Ron did the presentation. After that we did a dubious distinction award where each of us had picked a name from a hat and gave some small gift to the other person. Hal had drawn my name and got me an old fashioned compass just in case the electronic devices I had failed. I drew Daryl's name and gave him a patch kit for the dubious distinction of having the last flat on the ride and a bottle opener to go with the chair he had brought with him. The other awards were all pretty good as well.

Dinner was excellent.

After dinner we headed back to the hostel. Time to catch up on the blog.

Tomorrow I need to arrange transportation to the airport. Alisha happens to be flying out on the same flight as I am so she and I will share a shuttle. Jim is also planning to share the ride even though he is flying out a day later than us.

I also need to procure a cheap duffel bag so that I can combine some of my panniers and other bags together for checked baggage. And I also need to get my bike down to the bike shop to have it shipped out.

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