Saturday, March 19, 2005

Monticello, FL — 34 miles

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Typically on Bike Florida the first day's ride is a short loop that is intended as a shakedown ride. For many of the riders, this is the first ride of the spring on bikes that have been stored for much of the winter. It's much easier to have the mechanics solve the bulk of the problems that arise on this short local ride than it would be on a longer ride to another town.

The "highlight" of the day's ride was Letchworth Mounds State Park. This small, 80-acre park is basically a large pile of dirt. Actually there are several other smaller mounds. The main mound is 46 feet high, the tallest in Florida. It is assumed that the mounds were built by early Native Americans for ceremonial use.

At the rest stop we were pleased to see a wide selection of snacks: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, several kinds of cookies, apples, oranges, bananas, and energy bars. That's the good news. Over the next several days the selection never varied. We were thankful for the abundance and quality of the food, and lucky that we like pb&j sandwiches. Some variety would have been nice, but we weren't complaining.

One nice aspect of having a short loop ride on the first day was that it gave us an opportunity tour Monticello and just hang out a bit before heading back to the motel. On our way into town we stopped at a small deli specializing in Cuban sandwiches. As we were chatting with some folks from Alabama we heard a commotion in the parking lot. One of the riders had turned into the gravel drive and took a slow motion spill. He landed with enough impact that he apparently broke his wrist. The ambulance that either accompanied the tour or was on call arrived soon afterward and suggested a visit to the hospital was in order. Not a good way to start the tour.

While there were many recumbents and tandems, we appeared to be the only riders of the excellent Barcroft Columbia recumbent tandem. As we pulled up to the high school where the vendors were set up we were approached by a guy who was very familiar with the Barcrofts. He was a member of the Bacchetta racing team and had raced in 1200 kilometer Paris-Brest-Paris on a recumbent, finishing second among recumbent riders. Later in the week we saw him fly by us on his custom lowrider recumbent. While there were several recumbent tandems on the ride, the bike was certainly a conversation piece wherever we rode.

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