Yesterday, we arrived just over the border into Georgia! 433 miles completed, a little less than 2,400 miles to go! Here’s what I’ve been doing:
Monday was a rest day, much anticipated after covering 320 miles in five days. First off, breakfast, then on to cleaning our bikes. Denise, one of our awesome guides gave her tips and advice for cleaning. LIBby (lady in black) was very happy to get the sand off and a clean chain.
After a quick stroll around the old town and some tapas for lunch, I was off for massage. Boy, did that feel great! A quick visit to CVS for some new bottom potions (if you get my drift!), protein drink to try as fuel on the ride and a couple of snacks for the road.
More wandering around St. Augustine, a greek salad for dinner and hanging out at my neighbor’s room and the day was done! (The folks at Pizza Time, where I got my salad had great looking pizza. And when it came time to pay for my takeout, I realized Pizza Time only took cash, which I did not have. The nice gentleman told me not to worry, just spread the word. I did return to pay him, but what a kindness to a stranger! Kudos!)
Cycling St. Augustine to Amelia Island – 58 Miles
Rain was predicted most of the day for the ride to Amelia, but we started dry. We left St. Augustine on A1A, up and over a bridge over a sound with a view back to the city.
The ride took us mostly along the shore, and through the lush gardens and homes of Sawgrass (where the TPC plays in April) and Ponte Vedra. Nice memories of Ponte Vedra, where Bob and I spent several Thanksgivings or Christmases with his family after his dad died. And I had forgotten that a WWII drama played out here, complete with captured Nazi spys who tried to sneak in along this shore!
Then through Jacksonville Beach, the decidedly less upscale northern cousin of Ponte Vedra. The city is clearly making investments in the infrastructure and improving public parks and beach access. Slow going by bike, though, as we skirted the more trafficked roads for quiet, residential streets with stop signs every block. I got in a few sprints from one stop sign to the next, just to change things up.
Then on towards Mayport and the ferry to Amelia Island. With 3.6 miles to go, we had about 12 minutes to make the 11:00 am ferry and decided to go for it. We put the proverbial “pedal to the medal.” I thought it was a hopeless effort when we hit tough headwinds a mile out, but we made it! Flew across the metal grates and onto the ferry! Fun!
Once on Amelia, we stopped for lunch, then rode along state park beaches and along a nature trail before taking a 1.5 mile bridge over the Nassau River. HOLY WINDS!!!! Open on both sides, these crossings are tough, but always beautiful!
We faced strong, direct headwinds the last few miles into our hotel, but we made it through the day without rain. We showered and hung out in the dining room, cracking jokes and sharing pictures and stories of the day. The bloggers hung out after dinner to make their posts, and then to bed!
Cycling Amelia Island to Folkston, Georgia – 55 miles
Despite forecasted all day rain, when we woke up it was dry and the forecast improving. But about two miles into the ride, just as we hit a busy four lane road, the skys opened up. No shelter, no bike lane or shoulder, Patricia and I rode on. Water pouring into our shoes, cars and trucks whizzing by, splashing us more. Up ahead, the bridge over the Amelia River. A school bus almost took me out as we stayed on the road to avoid the river of water rushing down the shoulder. Thankfully, as we made it to the top of the bridge, the rain stopped and at the bottom of the bridge, a bike lane began our 25 miles riding on a four lane road. A quick stop at a gas station to dry our glasses gave us a much better perspective, physically and mentally.
As we entered a construction zone, we again took the lane. But this time, cars and trucks slowed down and gave us wide berth. Whew!
At mile 25, we turned onto quiet country roads with great pavement and polite drivers. We are in the quail hunting territory, with open fields and pasture, pine forests and some swampy areas. Lots of dogs chasing along fence lines, and one little bugger that wore himself out chasing each and every one of us to the end of his property line.
Soon enough, we were making the turn to go over the St. Mary’s River and into Georgia!
After checking into the “Relax Inn” in Folkston (should be known as the Bates Motel!), we showered and headed out to lunch. A nice Southern buffet, with fried chicken, pork chops, broiled chicken, green beans, cabbage, English peas and peach cobbler. A little iced tea and a few “hons” and “sweeties” later, we headed in to see the main attraction – the “Folkston Funnel.” Almost all CSX trains to Florida, eight daily Amtrak trains and more go through Folkston. There is a train watching station, complete with fans, chairs and a grill.
We sat with the locals and waited a while for a potential train to come by. Roosevelt, a retired CSX worker and a Gator fan, told us all about the local high school sports teams and his days with CSX. What a jewel!
As we walked back to our hotel, a lady stopped us and thanked us for biking through Folkston. Turns out she drove the garbage truck that stopped to let us pass along the way. What nice people!
A margarita party is Woman Tours tradition for days when we cross state lines. The locals staying at the hotel were fascinated with this unusual group of women! And before dinner, the local press showed up to interview folks for a story on our trip. A little salsa lesson before dinner made the evening more entertaining.
I roomed with Barb, our sous chef, who is up and out by 5:00 am to help prep snacks and make breakfast. After the ride, she helps prepare dinner and cleans up after dinner, finishing around 8:00 pm each evening. I am in awe of the amount of energy she has! Thank you Barb!