Sunday, March 20, 2005

Monticello to Quincy, FL — 69 miles

Prev | Next

Florida is flat. We'll, mostly flat except in the panhandle where there are a few rolling hills. The tour was billed as "Red Hills to the Sea", and calling the rolling terrain "hills" was stretching the term a bit. The early part of the ride to Quincy, north of Tallahassee, was rolling and we got a workout on some of the climbs. There were some scenic roads along the way, what are referred to as "canopy roads" where the live oak branches, like the one above in the middle of the road, arch over the road forming a canopy.

One of the more interesting bikes we encountered on the ride was the "Chopperoo", a Rans Stratus customized with front and rear fairings and a sun canopy. The fairings are probably needed to counteract the drag of the canopy, but it sure cuts down on the amount of sun screen required. The owner must be from Florida.

Nearly all the roads on which we traveled during the trip contained paved shoulders. Florida has made a conscious effort to make their roads more bike-friendly by including shoulders on all new roads and retrofitting many older roads with shoulders. This makes a huge difference when riding on well-traveled roads. Florida used to be notorious for having discourteous drivers and poor riding conditions. That reputation is changing. In fact, I would rate Florida roads much more bike-friendly than most Virginia roads.

During the ride on the previous day I had developed some knee pain, a periodic sharp pain at the kneecap. After examining my seat, I noticed that it had moved back over an inch.
Roadside repairs
After moving it forward the pain disappeared. I've been riding recumbents for over two years, and I seem to constantly fiddle with my seat position. I think I have finally found the ideal position; knees slightly bent, with some pressure against the back of the seat that can be used to great advantage during climbs. With the seat too far back, it feels like I'm sitting on the front edge of the seat, and I don't get enough back support on hard climbs.

Once we arrived in Quincy we quickly parked out bike under a covered walkway, reluctant to part with it for the night but having little choice since our motel was located 20 miles away. Since we were not able to make reservations at any of the official motels, we had booked a room in a motel on the west edge of Tallahassee and planned to take the Bike Florida motel shuttle to the closest motel, pick up our bags, and take a taxi from their to our motel. During the long wait for the bus in Quincy we talked a length with a retired FBI agent who regaled us with tales of his days as a G-man. We also shared stories about our Bike Friday's.

We were the first ones off the bus and we rushed to the check-in counter. Much to our surprise and delight there was a room available, a smoking room with a jacuzzi. It was a great relief to be able to avoid the cost and delay that the long taxi ride would entail. The room smelled bad but the bath felt great. Dinner consisted of the truck driver buffet at the gas station across the street; a surprisingly satisfying meal. The G-man was there and we continued our earlier converstation.

As we left the "restaurant" we noticed a young cycle tourist studying a state road map. It was after dark and he was trying to find the nearest campground. He had come from Indiana using state maps to pick out his route, camping along the way, often along the side of the road. He had a plastic box mounted on his rear rack, his sleeping bag wrapped around his handlebars, and no lights. He was on a real adventure, but I didn't envy his late-night campground search. We didn't felt bad enough for him to invite him into our room; we wished him well.

Prev | Next