Day 11, Miles Ridden Today: 30 Miles Ridden Overall: 354 Camping: NADA! We are at a Comfort Inn in Jupiter, FL compliments of Comfort Inns and Suites! Woo Hoo!!!
We had a terrific day at Okeeheelee BMX in West Palm Beach today. The track looked terrific, the entire race was not only broadcast on speakers around the track but also on a reserved radio station that was pre-arranged. Nice! The Concessions stand had some awesome choices and we loved the fried pickles (yes, fried pickles!), fried green beans and macaroni and cheese wedges. In addition, Laura Pingol and her crew put together an amazing layout of pork, ziti, pasta salad, beans and franks, salads, cole slaw and a ton of yummy fruits and desserts for all the volunteers.
We took a little time to check out an amazing vintage BMX bike display that Rick Coolidge of Vintagemongoose.com brought to the track today. So many of us relived our childhoods as we looked at the banana seat bikes, the Mongooses, the DGs, the Hutches and all the other great brands that graced the BMX tracks of the 70s and 80s. Thanks, Rick! I hope we see more of you and your collections at the tracks. WE LOVE IT!
The Beast scored a 4th out of 5 riders in each of her motos and the same in her main. After I scored the first 2 rounds, Frankenbutt and I broke down the tent, packed up the panniers and strapped them to the bikes. Once we had the bikes in order, we said good byes to friends and sponsors (Sorry, Art and Suzy; we missed saying good bye to you!) AND dropped the Beast’s race bike at J&R bicycles. Kirk offered to lighten up her bike and Frankenbutt’s load for our West Palm Beach to Clemmons, NC 785 mile run. During all this, I managed to trip and fall, on the track. The Beast pointed out that I got road rash on a BMX track and I’m not even a licensed rider.
We started out around 4:45 pm and knew that we’d have to ride pretty fast to get to our hotel in Jupiter before nightfall. As we left the track, a few other BMX families were packed up and leaving as well. We got a few horn toots and waving for the first mile or so. Then as we rode on, there were even more vehicles with BMX loaded bike racks beeping and waving. It felt great to get their support! And it propelled us to pedal on!
When it hit about 7:15pm, we went into DUSK mode. We turned on all the rear flashing tail lights, Frankenbutt’s flashing helmet light and the handle bar mounted flashing lights that our friend, Sheena from Canada, brought us during her retreat from the cold weather madness this past March. We pedaled on and finally arrived at the hotel @ 8:15pm. We checked in and asked for a side entrance so that we didn’t have to bring our bikes through their beautiful lobby. The Beast took the first shower while Frankenbutt walked Coco and picked up dinner for us at the fast food restaurant just in front of the hotel. I opted for a Caesar salad with chicken; Frankenbutt and the Beast had the standard burgers and fries. It all tasted great!
I also called Jason from the Palm Bay BMX track and we set up a plan to meet and hopefully get some publicity for the great stuff he is doing with the riders at his track. He sounds like a progressive thinker and more of what we need in our sport. We are looking forward to meeting up and exchanging ideas.
That’s all for tonight! Time to enjoy the comfortable bed! It is nice to not have to set up a tent.
Day 10, Miles Ridden Today: 4 (laundry!) Miles Ridden Overall: 324 Camping: $0
We awoke this morning to the sounds of a BMX national race getting started: weed whackers trimming the track, motor homes pulling in and E-Z ups being erected. Mmm, I love the smell of BMX in the morning! And no, it’s not the odor of my bunk mates or me. We all washed up (at least the important parts) in the park bathroom and I managed to wash my hair in the sink, without getting it caught under the faucet.
After I made the morning coffee and tea, Frankenbutt and I packed up all the dirty laundry and headed to the local Laundromat, while the Beast slept in with Coco. We spied an IHOP and easily gave into the idea of a quiet breakfast out together. I had a spinach, mushroom and tomato omelet with swiss cheese and Frankenbutt ordered one of everything on the menu, I think. The waitress arrived with 6 plates in her hands for the 2 of us, and we ate without guilt thanks to all the biking! Mid-shoveling, we were greeted by the familiar faces of the Heinrich’s family from our home track, Tampa BMX. It was terrific to see my hero, Art, who made our bicycling adventure a fantastic endeavor with all the sponsorship he secured for us. We asked their son, Tyler, how his time at the Chula Vista Olympic training facility was and he filled us in on the BIG differences. All of us at Tampa BMX are so proud that he was out there pursuing his dream and also doing such a fine job of representing Tampa BMX!!
After breakfast, we took care of our laundry and returned to the track, which was alive with teams setting up tents, vendors icing down drinks and a gaggle of riders in Justin Travis’ Ohio Dreams BMX clinic. As we walked around vendors’ row, we couldn’t help but notice all the love bugs plastered on the front of everyone’s vehicles. If you are unfamiliar with love bugs, they are a plague of “mated and hooked together” bugs that hits Florida every spring. What a way to go: you find a romantic mate, do the naked monkey dance and then you’re hooked together until you die. I think I’ve seen some marriages that work that way.
FYI, we had to pick a few of these lovely bugs out of our helmets and teeth... ick!
Since the Beast has the day off from riding her bike (she’ll only race the national race on Saturday), and once the laundry was done, there was time for making important phone calls. I re-contacted the West Palm Beach area media and left voice mails again reminding them of the national event happening in their town. Then, I started calling the next few tracks we are stopping at. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to reach the Palm Bay, FL track and have been told that they may not be opening. Evidently, the track management is looking for a better facility. So, I called the next track on our route: Jacksonville.
I phoned Michelle of Jax BMX and re-introduced myself, seeing as I hadn’t seen her since Competition Congress in February. No sooner did I have my name out then she said, “we’ve been getting ready for your arrival. When are you coming?” I told her we hoped to be in Jacksonville by Thursday this week, possibly before then if we get good weather, tailwinds, etc. She then told me that Jacksonville track has arranged for a 1 or 2 night stay at the Crowne Plaza hotel, a fancy hotel along the waterfront. Plus, they’ve arranged to have our bicycles serviced at a local bike shop! Go, JACKSONVILLE BMX! Can’t wait to come see you!!
With my phone calls done, I stopped by my favorite beverage connection, SMOOTHIE KING! I love seeing that bright yellow and pink event trailer pulling in to tracks. Within a short time, the blenders were buzzing and people were smiling as they slurped up the natural sweetness. DJ also presented us with an additional bundle of gift cards they received from their corporate office, in support of our ride. Very Cool!
I’m posting my blog early this evening so I can go out and enjoy dinner, compliments of the Okeeheelee BMX track. The concession stand here offers such a cool variety of choices including: Fried Macaroni and Cheese, Conch Salad, Fried Pickles and Wraps, as well as Burgers, Hot Dogs, Fries, etc. TC, Marilyn, Mitch, Michelle and all the terrific people at this West Palm Beach are working so hard to make this event one to remember. The track looks terrific, the food tastes great and everyone’s pulling together all so that kids can do what they love: RIDE THEIR BIKES!
This ride has brought so many wonderful surprises into our lives. Whenever the riding gets tough, I focus on all the cool stuff our BMXers, friends and family have done in support of our ride and the sport we love. WE FEEL THE LOVE!
Day 9, Miles Ridden Today: 56 Miles Ridden Overall: 320 Camping: $0
We were up and out of our campsite by 8am, knowing that we had a 50+ mile ride to West Palm Beach. During our swim the day before, a nice couple told me how there’s a bike path that runs along the Okeechobee Lake over to Belle Glade, which would put us about 20 miles closer to our destination without having to deal with traffic. We followed their directions and got up onto the canal side trail which was a gravel road with a beautiful view for miles each direction.
No sooner had we relaxed then a huge head wind smacked into us, making us feel like we had locked up our brakes. It subsided a bit and we foolishly thought it was a fluke incident. It was not. It actually set the tone for the day: Titanic headwinds followed by a brief reprieve of face smashing headwinds. It drove all of us down to a maximum speed of 9 mph with an average speed of 7 mph by day’s end. It was rough. Did I mention that the temperature was in the 90’s most of the day? It was like riding a stationary bike while 4 stylists held blow dryers at different angles in your face. Not my favorite day so far!
We survived the canal side run, then rode down around the town of “Hole in the Wall”, which was aptly named! We stopped for a brief lunch at Wendy’s where the Beast ran into a school group on a class trip and gave them flyers about our ride. They were very excited to hear about our adventure and the Beast was more than happy to share.
We got back on bikes and headed out to Route 80 East, a road travelled mostly by truck drivers that outnumber cars 5 to 1, at least. Luckily, truck drivers have consistently been super courteous to us. Knowing how hard it is for the big guys to pull their rigs to a stop, it refreshes my faith in mankind when they do so … and then wave to us. (of course, some of them only wave with one finger, but at least the thought is there, right?).
Route 80 was mostly farms and not a convenience store or gas station for miles. After 20 miles of hard riding in the heat AND rationing our water bottles … we ran out of water. We checked out google maps and sure enough there was nothing for at least 10 miles. I gave in to my pride and pulled into Hundley Farms. We parked our bikes in the shade and Frankenbutt got Coco out for a walk. I entered the office and was immediately greeted by a cool wall of air conditioning. I sighed, took a breath and called out “Hello?” Within seconds, a nice gentleman appeared and asked if he could help me.
Embaressed by our situation, I sheepishly asked if he had any water we might have to continue our bike ride. He led me to a refrigerator and opened the door and it was like an oasis! A refrigerator stocked to the hilt with cold bottled water! I then vowed my love for the stranger before me. He gave us bottles of water for the road and led me to a water cooler where I filled all 6 of our water bottles. The Beast came in and asked to use the bathroom and he directed to her to the beautiful bathroom. I didn’t want to leave; neither did the Beast.
We ran water out to Frankenbutt and Coco and then I went back into thank the wonderful man. His name is John of Hundley Farms and he was even willing to pose for a picture for tonight’s blog. He told me how his family has been in the farming business for 3 generations, growing sugar cane, sweet corn and green beans amongst other vegetables. John, if you are reading this, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! John also passed us later down the road and wished us well.
We continued down Route 80 East towards West Palm Beach and little by little civilization converged upon us. Our spirits were lifted as we started seeing more signs for West Palm Beach. Finally, we turned onto Forest Hills Boulevard and started pedaling the final 6 miles in heavy rush hour traffic. We kept our communication up and managed to maneuver through each intersection unscathed. There was one annoying driver who was busily talking on her cell phone and rolled right into the path in front of us. I shouted to her and she looked at me. She obviously didn’t know whether to go forward or backward. We just biked around her … she continued talking on the cell phone.
As we came upon a beautiful home with sprinklers on, I just couldn’t resist. I slowed my bike down and put my arm out to get a quick cool down. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m not graceful. I ran into the low wall that bordered the beautiful lawn with the sprinklers that did cool me down as the wall scraped my leg up. It was still worth it. As we started back up, a lady was coming down the path towards us and I apologized for taking up so much room on the path.
She said, “no problem. I came to see you.” I was confused because I didn’t recognize her and she introduced herself as Elena. She said she had seen us on Southern Boulevard and called her sister to have her google us. When she learned what we were doing, she stopped to see if we’d like to come to her home and get a shower. What a nice offer! At that point, we were about 3 miles from the track and eager to call it a day. We thanked her and gave her a flyer about our ride. We told her to follow us on our blog, so hello, Elena! And thank you for your kindness!
A week ago, an article about our ride ran in one of the Tampa area newspapers and the writer said we’d be camping at BMX tracks and “relying on the kindness of strangers”. I was a bit put off by that originally because we take pride in making our own way in life. Even when our business collapsed, we didn’t borrow a dime from anyone. Today proved that there are times we need to rely on the kindness of strangers. Thanks again, John. You’re right; you don’t know how important water is until you need it and don’t have it.
We arrived to smiles and kindness here at Okeeheelee BMX in West Palm Beach. We've enjoyed so many offers from the track director, assistant track director, and the entire crew here at Okeeheelee. Tonight I typed this blog while sitting in their air conditioned office. It feels like home here. It's going to be tough to leave this Saturday as we head for Clemmons, NC.
Day 8, Miles Ridden Today: 35 Miles Ridden Overall: 264 Camping: $22
- to track online our current location, see instructions on the Ride the Nation Route plan page)
- also, follow us on Twitter, search “ridethenation”
- check out our Monday blog on www.bmxmania.com for exclusive details you won’t find here I awoke around 6:30 am this morning after a semi-sleepless night. When I realized by 11:30 pm that I was wide awake, I set out to return email messages and confirm our travel route for the next day. As the Beast and Jim (oops, sorry, I mean “Frankenbutt”; why do I keep calling him Jim?) snoozed, I got back to a family in Maine who’s following us and may be moving to the same town I live in; filled them in on the local basics. I also emailed Bud in Virginia who is overseeing our arrival at two tracks: VMP in Petersburg and also Richmond BMX in Richmond. He gave us some camping options and one really intrigued me: staying overnight in a church! There’s something we haven’t done as a family; should be interesting.
I wrapped up my nocturnal activities around 2:30am and awoke suddenly @ 6:30, fearing our bikes had been stolen. They were untouched. It reminded me of when , children were young and I’d wake up in a cold sweat, fearing one of them had been taken from their beds. I’d always have go get up and check, as I did this morning. Bikes were fine and I was awake so I started my morning breakfast ritual: I screwed the Primus stove onto the can of fuel, filed half the pot with water and started heating it. While it cooked, I poured 2 packets each of oatmeal into 2 pans (for Jim, I mean Frankenbutt, and me) and 1 packet (for the Beast) into 1 pan. The Quaker Raisin, Date and Walnut is our favorite and there are 10 packets in a box for about $3.00. One box makes 2 breakfasts, equaling about $1.50’s worth of hot, filling and nutritious breakfast. I also put tea bags in 2 cups and a coffee bag in 1 cup. When the water is close to boiling, I pour the cups first and then small amounts of the remaining water into the oatmeal bowls, hoping not to make oatmeal soup; I have a 50% success ratio.
We broke down camp and were out on the road about 8:30am, earlier than the day before by 15-20 minutes. That’s a good sign; our camp duties are becoming streamlined. We left LaBelle and headed out onto Route 80 East towards Clewiston. Just as we left the city limits, a concrete bike path ran about 15 feet off the side of the road and we hopped on it, enjoying the feeling of safety it gave us. After 3 miles, it ended and we had to get back onto the road which intermittently had a shoulder. Most of the time, we rode the white line which bordered a drop off to sand and grass. During one of our stops, I got an email from Kirk @ J&R Bicycles, letting us know that he had biked to work today! Although he’s been a BMX rider for years, he’s new to road riding. He said it took 30 minutes to recover after the 8 mile ride. Kirk, I remember how long it took me to recover when we started training. Hang in there. It will get better!
We continued on and saw three different construction crews as we rode into the headwinds and to each I hollered: “Put in a BIKE LANE!” They waved, uninterested in what I yelled. Interstate 80 east stretched on without gas stations, convenience stores, even houses for about 10 miles. We saw a little store and stopped to refill water bottles. Frakenbutt went in and convinced the clerk to fill our bottles with ice from a cooler she had in the back room; then he bought a tall water and filled our bottles. We all drank right away, emptying one bottle each, after rationing our intake through the hot asphalt ride. I went back in the store and bought another tall bottle and we refilled again. Coco also enjoyed a healthy dose of H2O.
As 80 east joined old highway 27 South, the shoulder became rough where a machine had created a small diamond pattern that bounced us and our stuff all around. That ran on for another 7 miles or so. A few miles into it, Frankenbutt seemed to be slowing and was complaining that it felt like his brakes were stuck. We pulled over, in formation: me in the lead, the Beast in “the cradle” between us and Frankenbutt in the rear. He got off his bike and checked it out while we waited. He found nothing wrong with his bike and decided that maybe he was just really sluggish himself. We rode on.
As we approached the 30 mile point in our ride, Frankenbutt pulled up alongside the Beast’s bike and asked her to look at his bike as he rode and see if anything was amiss. She flatly said, “You have a flat tire.” I was shocked! I had so much faith in the Schwalbe tires! Frankenbutt said “WHAT?” I checked my tires and they weren’t flat. The Beast said, “Yeah. But the trailer tire is flat.” We stopped and sure enough the only non-Schwalbe tire was flat. Luckily, we saw a Walmart, only about a mile ahead. We decided to ride on, Frankenbutt dragging his lead sled behind him.
It was 1pm when we arrived and I made the executive decision to go into the Subway and order lunch for us while Frankenbutt pulled off the trailer tire. I returned with the $3.99 lunch special of 6” turkey sub, bag of chips and a drink. Lunch with tax: $14. After lunch, Coco and I found a shady place to sit while Frankenbutt bought a new tube, a spare tube AND a new pump ($20), since the pump we brought was mysteriously missing from my bike. None of us recall it falling off and we don’t think someone would steal it … so, it must have gone to that same worm hole that steals single socks and the left hand glove.
While Frankenbutt worked on the tire, I researched the media contacts I wanted to call once we got to our campsite. Within minutes, he had the whole tire and trailer back together and I had 3 prime prospects entered in my call list. We put on helmets and headed back onto the road.
We rode into Clewiston and found our campground, Okeechobee Landings on Holiday Boulevard and met Betty in the office. She was terrific and offered to take Frankenbutt by golf cart to see a few sites that might be a good fit for us. There was a pretty pond with ducks on it and a nice clubhouse and pool. She also told us we were welcome to borrow chairs from the clubhouse if we needed them.
Ahhh, chairs. After riding, I look forward to sitting back and getting a little back support. That reminds me. If any of you are headed to the races we are coming to AND if you have an extra camp chair, would you be kind enough to bring it and let us borrow it? I’d even rent it from you. Although our neighbors at the Sarasota race, Joe and Renee, lent us the ones they brought for their family, I felt like I was imposing. When we all converged on the tent and ez-up, there were more people than chairs and I didn’t want them put out, after they had also been at the race all day. However, I did put them to good use in the evening when Joe and his family took the Beast to their campground for a swim: I typed my blog on my laptop, sitting in one of Joe’s chairs, while I watched the sun slide down the sky. Thanks, Joe!
The Beast, Frankenbutt and I rode our bikes to the clubhouse and we all went swimming. It was an excellent way to cool down. Coco watched from the shaded deck, wishing she could join her mom in the pool. For now she settled for a nap on the deck after an ice cold bowl of water. After my swim, I called the press contacts and we hope to have some coverage not only of our ride but also the big national race at West Palm Beach.
As the dinner hour neared, Frankenbutt suggested we have something different tonight. Since the campground is close to town, he searched Google maps and found a Domino’s. We called and ordered their special: 2 large pizzas for $19.25. Having a pizza delivered to a tent would have seemed lame a few months ago; Today, it was heaven! We all had a relaxed dinner and there are a few pieces to spare for a late night snack.
For closing, here are a few pics that didn’t make yesterday’s blog but I thought were worth sharing. The road rash is the result of my little bike incident yesterday. Sweet, huh? I’ve also included a picture of Jim, I mean Frankenbutt, heaving my 80 lb. bike over the fence. He is so strong! When we were dating and I weighed about 165 lbs., he used to carry me around. It’s amazing he didn’t blow out a disc then. He doesn’t do that anymore. I’ve also included a pic of a rainbow over the concession stand at Charlotte BMX. Pretty, huh? (tomorrow we ride about 50 miles to West Palm Beach, FL for the Gator Nationals at Okeeheelee BMX.
Day 7, Miles Ridden Today: 56 Miles Ridden Overall: 229 Camping: $35
- to track online our current location, see instructions on the Ride the Nation Route plan page)
- also, follow us on Twitter, search “ridethenation”
- check out our Monday blog on www.bmxmania.com for exclusive details you won’t find here.
We awoke to a sunny morning next to the Charlotte BMX track in Punta Gorda and began our morning duties of cooking and breaking camp. Coco enjoyed some off the leash time since the track is fenced but wanted to help each of us with our tasks. She even followed her mom, the Beast, to the restroom when she left to brush her teeth.
We set up the GPS with the address for the campground we had pre-chosen. I was shocked to see 68 miles to destination since I had run directions on Google Biking maps months ago and recorded it as approximately 50 miles. I went to Google bike maps on my blackberry phone and ran the same directions and it showed 48 miles. I conferred with Frankenbutt and we agreed to use the Google directions instead. As we panned through the list of turns and looked at the map, we had only one concern: one of the roads didn’t have a name. We decided to clock mileage from the time we turned onto the prior road until the # of miles it indicated as the turn for the “road with no name”.
Although there was no bike lane at the start of the ride, it was pleasant and very little traffic. We clocked it out and arrived at the “road with no name” and it was a dirt road … with a locked gate across it. We examined the situation and since it didn’t have a “no trespassing” sign and since the area we would be travelling through was public lands, and the alternative was back tracking 6 miles making it a 70 mile day, we decided that we would proceed.
We decided to send the Beast over the gate and Coco under the gate. We unhooked Coco’s trailer, removed Frankenbutt’s bar bag (has our computer in it), my front basket bag and our GPS device. Then, I climbed the gate and Frankenbutt lifted the bikes, one at a time, over his head and over the gate, where I received them and “bounced” them to the ground. The Beast busied herself taking pics … many with unflattering views of my back side.
Damn, those bikes are heavy!
Finally, Frankenbutt climbed over and we re-attached the trailer and got our bikes upright for the ride ahead. Coco was more than happy to get back into here trailer which remains surprisingly cool with all of her mesh netting sides and front. We started pedaling and declared that this was a terrific route. Yes, the road was a bit bumpy and the dirt slowed our speed down to 7-8 miles per hour, BUT, there was no traffic and lots of nature!
After about 5 miles of riding, we were tired of all the nature and our butts were super sore from all the bumping around. Frankenbutt seemed the worst for wear and started making funky noises when he got bounced a little too hard. We also realized that because it was in the 90’s today and because the road was at least 15 miles long, we’d better ration our water supply until we were sure there was water nearby.
We finally emerged onto Route 31 and followed it south for another 10 miles before we came upon a convenience store. The store was poorly stocked and way over priced BUT it had fountain sodas, which translates to ice and water for the water bottles. I told the Beast to pick a drink of her choice from the cooler and then asked the clerk if we could fill the bottles. He agreed, seeing that we were buying a few other items. Even as I filled the bottles, I drank a whole bottle’s worth of the ice water because I was so hot. Frankenbutt walked Coco and gave her ice water, too. She drank it and then laid in the shade while we got our bikes ready for the ride. Unfortunately, that convenience store did not have much to choose from in the way of lunch so we decided to ride on.
In just ½ mile, there was a combination gas station, convenience store, luncheonette and we pulled in to get lunch. We bought sandwiches and I told the Beast and Frankenbutt to eat inside at the air conditioned tables and that I would hang outside with Coco. (Frankenbutt often takes that role and I thought he, and his butt, could use a little rest).
After lunch, we topped off our water bottles and headed east on route 78, another paved road with no bike lane and very little opportunity to get water. After 8 miles, we stumbled upon a county park that had camping and we entertained the idea of calling it a day, mostly because the camping we had planned was $35 versus the county park’s rate of $12. Once they told us there was no shower house and the primitive camp sites did not have electric, we decided to pedal on. Before we left, the Beast decided to use the bathroom. She ooh’d and ahh’d so much, I had to see what was in there. There were stainless steel toilets that were cold to the touch. Both the Beast and I wanted to stay there a while longer, maybe even read a book as our hot behinds cooled down. She liked it so much, she posed for a picture next to her favorite bathroom so far.
After 10 miles on 78, we weaved our way through a small town and got onto route 80 east towards LaBelle, Fl, where our intended campground was. There was a decent shoulder most of the ride and although there was a hot, mile head wind when we first started on that route, we soon found a really nice tailwind and sailed along at 16 miles per hour! After 10 miles on 80 east, we weaved our way through the town of LaBelle and made one pit stop at a convenience store to pick up a ½ gallon of milk, which we needed to make our dinner.
We rode another block and a half from there and checked in at LaBelle Woods resort and the manager generously gave us a bag of ice to put around our milk, keeping it cold until we needed it. It was about 5pm and the three of us decided to put dinner off until after a swim in the resort’s pool. Wow! That was super refreshing and relaxing after a tough day! We had tied Coco’s leash around a lounge chair at the pool side and she laid down as we swam until she heard the Beast shriek, after her dad tossed her in the air. Coco bounded for the pool, dragging the lounge chair behind her. (For those of you who know Coco, you know she has a lot of strength; we often say she’s training for the Iditarod.) Frankenbutt managed to intercept her before she got to the pool. I decided to sit with Coco in a lounge chair and dry out while the Beast and Frankenbutt played “Marco Polo” in the pool.
About 6pm, Frankenbutt left to put up the tent and start dinner. The Beast and I followed a short time later, realizing that Frankenbutt rode his bike back with Coco’s trailer attached. We have never ridden our bikes with Coco on a leash outside her trailer but the Beast and I thought it could work. It did and Coco pulled so hard on her leash, I didn’t even have to pedal. It was fine until we reached our campsite and as we rode up on the grass, Coco crossed in front of my bike and I squeezed the brakes a little too hard. I bounded over the top of my bike and landed hard with the handlebars digging into my thighs. OUCH! Even my thunder thighs couldn’t take the full weight of me against the bike.
Frankenbutt came running and helped me up and then straightened out my bike and the basket. I was a bit embarrassed but decided that I should just get a shower and make sure I didn’t have any wounds that needed attention. I didn’t; just some quickly purpling bruises. The shower felt great and soon the Beast had one, too. We returned in our sleep clothes and ate Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta by Knorr’s, 3 packs @ $1.00 each plus a ½ gallon of milk, equals about $5 for a nice hot meal.
After dinner, I requested everyone’s dirty clothes and gathered all the dirty dishes and we all headed for the shower house/laundry room, right across the way from our campsite. Frankenbutt tossed out his dirty clothes once he got to the shower and I threw everything into the washing machine. Only $1.00 to wash, that’s cheap! Then, I washed all of our dishes with Dawn dishwashing liquid and set them to dry on the shelf near the sink. The Beast and Frankenbutt each found interesting magazines to read from the library shelf in the lounge area, near the laundry and I put two chairs together so I could type my blog with my feet up. Much deserved relaxation after a hot and bumpy long bike ride today.
Tomorrow, we plan to ride about 30 or so miles to a campground, where I receive a Passport America membership discount of ½ off. I’ve tried to call them a few times, but always get voice mail. Cross your fingers that it’s open and a site is available.
Hi, to Bud and Tippi, a couple of friends from the Suncoast Trail who are now following our EPIC bike ride. Bud, I’m sure your 85 year old mind is sharped than some of those 20 year olds who have passed both you and us on the Suncoast Trail. We truly hope to see you in Ohio this summer! Hi, also to announcer Kelley, who’s following our blog and our google latitude location! Thanks again to Amanda Carr and all the great people at Charlotte BMX for a night of free camping and all the hospitality, even when you were closing due to weather.
We survived the rainy night with minimal wetness in the tent after Frankenbutt re-adjusted the rain fly. When we emerged in the morning, it was cool and sunny out and then we discovered that we left one pannier out on the picnic table overnight and raccoons apparently like oatmeal and Ramen noodles. Luckily, they didn’t destroy the pannier itself.
Noting that the picnic table was a soggy mess, I decided to prepare our e-z protein enriched breakfast inside the tent while Frankenbutt made coffee and tea in the “one pot does it all” pot. We received free 1 oz.+/- packets of Peanut Butter at a Sea World Halloween event last year. They were the perfect size for camping or hiking so we kept them in reserve. I also saved packets of Strawberry and Grape Jelly from McD’s; together they made a yummy breakfast when smeared on the left over hot dog rolls from our Tuna Fish dinner last night.
We repacked panniers, loaded the bikes, dumped our trash and set our GPS device for a Smoothie King about 7 miles away. Unfortunately, it didn’t recognize the exact address and led us 2 miles out of the way. It was worth the extra pedaling and we were greeted very nicely by Terry at Smoothie King of Venice on the 41 Bypass. Frankenbutt ordered a coffee smoothie with joint and tissue repair; I ordered a Strawberry Banana Smothie with protein; Beast got her favorite strawberry lemon twist smoothie with banana. As we talked, Terry told us he was adding us to his facebook page. Thanks, Terry!
Coco also enjoyed a little of my smoothie, as you can see. When you’re in Venice, check out all the yummy and healthy smoothie options available in his store. While in the same shopping plaza, the Beast found a used book store and purchased the next book in a series (Revenge of the Wannabes, Clique series) she had been reading before we left home ($6.41). When she emerged from the store, she said: "Woo hoo! Good reading tonight". Since it’s raining as I type this blog, it appears she made a good choice.
We happened to find a cell phone during our morning ride near the Legacy Trail, a dedicated walking and bicycling path in Venice. We called recently called phone numbers until we located the owner's daughter, Lynn, who gladly met us at the Hampton Inn to get the phone back to her 80 year old dad.
We continued our ride towards Charlotte BMX in Punta Gorda, knowing we had plenty of time before the 6-8pm practice started. Along the way, we stopped in a few bicycle stores, this time just for looking at the latest items on the market. We stopped @ Louie’s Bicycle Shop where Donna and her brother talked old school bikes with Frankenbutt. Coco enjoyed a stroll in the grass and some fresh water while Frankenbutt test rode a Fuji touring style bike. He really liked the way it felt and is fantasizing about the day he will own one of his own. He said it was quite a change jumping from a 118 lb. bike onto a 20 lb. bike loaded with cool features like extra spoke holders, built into the frame.
Eventually, we got back on our bikes and meandered towards Punta Gorda, noting that there were a few scattered dark clouds forming. Unfazed by the impending weather, Frankenbutt spotted the Bicycle Center just outside of Punta Gorda and suggested we stop again. The Beast and I were ready for a break so we agreed. We all took turns checking out the store as Rob, the bicycle mechanic, gave us tips on the last 6 miles of riding to the Punta Gorda track address. Thanks, Rob! We did as you said and arrived safely.
As soon as we arrived, I spotted Amanda Carr’s signature hairdo that girls from the 70’s would have died for! She greeted us with a beautiful smile and welcomed us to her track. I have to say that it is a beautiful track! Before you even see the track surface, you see that all the buildings on the property have been painted a beautiful sunny yellow and the fence is a bright white. It reminds me of being in the Caribbean. We parked our bikes and let her know that the Charlotte Sun newspaper arranged for a reporter to cover our story and she said she’d be available if there were any questions for her.
Barbara from the Charlotte Sun arrived by 6pm and began asking about our ride and we told her how we are riding to promote the best sport on earth: BMX. She took pics of our bikes and the Beast on the track and we talked a little more, as the track parents started arriving. The clouds were darkening overhead and we wrapped up the interview as the first rain drops began to fall. The article with pics should run this Wednesday in the Charlotte Sun.
Cindy at the Concession stand let us know that they were probably closing the track but offered to cook us whatever we wanted before they left. She made us some fabulous cheeseburgers and we also gathered some snacks for the evening ahead. She and every one of the Punta Gorda track team made us feel welcome and spoiled. Knowing we were camping here for the night, they left the bathroom unlocked and gave us the gate code for getting in and out. Many of them were strangers before we arrived this evening but they made us feel like Charlotte BMX was our home track. Thank you to all of the Punta Gorda Charlotte BMX crew! You are top notch! Hope to see you all in West Palm Beach for the Gator Classic this coming weekend.
Well, it’s still raining and it’s dark out. Time to roll out the sleeping bags, find the contact lens case and call it a day. Frankenbutt, the Beast and Coco are all settled in the tent and it’s time for me to come in and take up the last 2 cubic inches of spare space! Tomorrow we start riding towards West Palm Beach, FL with a plan to arrive either Thursday evening or Friday morning.
Day 5, Miles Ridden Today: 15 Miles Ridden Overall: 130 Camping $28.99 The Easter bunny brought us bright sunshine today for the second day of the Sarasota Easter Classic race. We woke up at 6:30 am so that the Beast could attend an egg hunt that the track was putting on and by 7:30, she was out on the track practicing. I signed in at the volunteer tent, got Frankenbutt his morning cup of Joe and headed for Smoothie King. I started my day with a super yummy Strawberry banana smoothie and a smile! The races officially kicked off after an 11 year old belted out the National Anthem way better than Kathie Lee Gifford at the Super Bowl! Today’s race was a 2 moto transfer, allowing all of us to wrap it up and head out of there by 1 pm. The Beast finished 3rd in all of her motos and her main. We enjoyed a last trip to the air conditioned restrooms (provided by Sarasota County) and filled our bike water bottles at the ice cold filling station (also provided by Sarasota County), and waved goodbye to sponsors and friends. We set the GPS to the address for Oscar Scherer State Park and started down the road when we noticed a fellow in a Sarasota BMX shirt following us along the sidewalk. He introduced himself and wanted to know more about our bike ride. We told him all about it as we rode and he was kind enough to tell us a terrific bike route to our camping destination. Thanks, John! We stopped at a 7-eleven store on the way, hoping to pick up bagels. Bagels hold up well in pannier bags that are being shuffled around the tent as we each try to find what we need. No luck! They had hot dog rolls so I bought those ($1.71) and figured we’d make tuna rolls for dinner and then use the left over rolls for PB&J breakfast sandwiches. When I emerged from the store, I found clouds overhead. I urged Frankenbutt and the Beast to get a move on, in hopes of making the campground before rain started. No such luck! About a mile before the campground, the rain started. Knowing the routine, we all stopped our bikes and pulled our cell phones out and passed them to Frankenbutt, who was already opening his water tight bar bag. No sooner did we get that done then the rain stopped. Hmm. Maybe just a passing shower? NO STINKING SUCH LUCK! We found our campsite and quickly put the tent and rain fly up when it started raining harder. We got all the pannier bags in dragged our wet and dirty selves into the humid little 7x7’ room. Although well ventilated, the tent felt like a Turkish prison! We took turns stripping off wet clothes, turning our backs for the ever modest Beast, and pulling dry ones from the panniers. Luckily, Frankenbutt had already run our extension cord and set up our electronics on charge. Within 10 minutes, he had hooked up my Blackberry to the computer, went to FOX.com online and started playing the show “House” for the Beast to watch. Frankenbutt and I worked on mixing up the tuna fish in our mess kit bowl and then we spread it onto the hot dog buns … YUM! One of the coolest things of this adventure is how good food tastes! Even the simplest food tastes amazing after cycling and camping (except maybe burnt pancakes!) I really enjoy the show, “House”, but realized how tired I was, too. After a nice phone call with the Editor, I laid back on my sleeping bag, propping my head on my clean clothes bag, and soon I was snoring right along with Coco … or so I’ve been told. I slept for about an hour as the rain pelted our little abode. I awoke warm and sticky to the sun shining and about 4 inches of rain forming a mote around our tent. I gathered all of our dirty laundry and my shower bag and headed for the shower house. Frankenbutt soon joined me, taking the heavy laundry bag off me. I inserted the $1.25 in quarters into the washer and dumped everything in. Another benefit of camping: only one load of wash so no guilt over not sorting colors and whites. I’ve never been a clothes sorter and I have felt inadequate around those who seem to know the ins and outs of laundering. Luckily, I’ve trained my family to have low expectations. They’re just thrilled to get matched socks! (even if it’s not their own). While the smelly, sweaty, dirty clothes spun their way to relative clean-ness, Frankenbutt made Ramen noodles in chicken broth for dinner. It was the perfect meal for a rainy day and the Beast was in heaven! Ramen is her favorite. With that and a few good grades, she’ll make a good college student, eh? We rinsed out dishes in the spigot that flowed so hard the dirt from the ground splashed up on your legs and whatever you held under it. We decided to hold off on real dish washing until tomorrow morning’s daylight since it was getting ever darker out. Frankenbutt again escorted me to the shower house so I could transfer the laundry to the dryer ($1.25) and so he could pull out my clean sleep wear while I showered. (The Beast was still wrapped up in her 4th episode of “House”, with Coco by her side. ) I organized all of my shower stuff, removed my watch and ring, stripped naked and turned the hot water knob. After a few seconds, I checked the temp to see how much cold water I needed to add. NO CRAZY FREAKIN’ HORRIBLE SUCH LUCK! I didn’t need to add cold water because the hot water handle put out plenty of cold water! For a split second, I hoped that some plumbing genius had switched the handles and only found out that the red handle gave cold water and the blue handle gave ICE COLD water. So … there I stood … naked and sticky and dirty and sweaty and smelly. The thought of pulling back on my clothes, packing up my shower bag and moving to another shower seemed like too great a task. I gritted my teeth, turned on the “hot” water handle and doused myself in cold water goodness. For the first 20 seconds, it was a bit refreshing. It went downhill from there. I squirt some of Donna’s shampoo (not a brand name, but rather a gift from my hotel staying Tampa track friend, thanks, Donna!) into my hair and scrubbed into a foamy wad. I stuck my head only under the shower head, managing to graze my ear in the process. I stepped away from the shower spray, lathered up my shower pouf and started scrubbing the day’s sunblock, bug spray, sweat and grime off of every limb. When I was completely soapy, I lunged under the shower again spinning pirouettes in an attempt to rinse off every bubble. I gave up when my feet went numb from the cold water. So, I’m pretty clean, but still a little sticky … probably from the soap slime that didn’t completely wash away. I smell better (I was starting to offend myself, so this is good!) and I’m back in my tent, hoping I’ll sleep well, despite my hardy afternoon nap. Tomorrow, we plan to ride about 40 miles to Punta Gorda, Fl and the Charlotte BMX track there. I watched Amanda Carr, the Charlotte BMX track director, race today and she is AMAZING! She is an Olympic hopeful and I truly hope she’ll ride her track with the Beast tomorrow. That would be a terrific memory for the Beast to have if Amanda does make the Olympics. Amanda, we are rooting for you! It’s time to wrap this up and start writing my once a week BMXmania.com Monday blog, where I give exclusive content you won’t find here. The www.bmxmania.com site owner is one of our sponsors and we hope our readers will find their way to his site, too. BmxMania is where all things BMX converge. Thanks to Joe and Renee for kindly sharing chairs, water and the cooler this weekend while we camped at Sarasota BMX. You also made the Beast’s weekend by taking her swimming and on the water slides with Brooke. It was also nice to have Dunkin Donuts coffee and tea brought to us in the cool evening air next to the picturesque river that bordered our campsite. It almost made us forget about the 2 am screeching guy!
Day 4, Miles Ridden Today: 0 Miles Ridden Overall: 115 Camping $0 First, to Lynda @ High Springs: thanks for the comment! We, too, wish that High Springs was along our route! We love you and your track! Your track was the first track we visited after moving back from Hawaii. I was feeling pretty beaten down at that time and I left you a phone message asking if you had any loaner BMX helmets so that my daughter could get back in the sport, even though we didn’t have the funds on hand. You called me back and left a message saying that “just show up” and that you’d have helmet, jersey and even a bike if she needed it. We’ve since moved 2 hours south of your track and I was thrilled to see you at Competition Congress. I was sitting with Justin Travis of Ohio Dreams when you came to him with a terrific plan: a bus trip for Florida riders who wanted to go to BMX camp at his Ohio world class facility. You told him that if he offered it, you’d make it happen, since so many BMX families can afford a week of camp but not a week off work, and/or a plane ticket and the cost of shipping bikes. I smiled when I received the email from Ohio Dreams confirming that the bus had reached capacity! Thanks for embodying everything that is truly the heart of BMX! Today, Frankenbutt found our two news articles that ran in the Hernando County version of the Tampa Tribune (online link: http://www2.hernandotoday.com/content/2011/apr/22/riding-the-nation/news/ ) and The St. Petersburg Times (online link: http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/spring-hill-family-embarks-on-bike-ride-through-12-states/1165478 ). We were glad to see our beloved Tampa BMX track and it’s director get publicity, as well as all of our wonderful sponsors. We woke up @ 7am and the Beast got dressed in riding gear. I gave her NBL bucks to buy breakfast at the Concession stand while Frankenbutt and I changed clothes in the tent. I’m getting used to lying on my back and pulling clothes on since our tent height is only about 4 ½ feet at the center. By the end of this trip, I should be able to change my clothes in a phone booth! (Do they even have phone booths anymore??) Frankenbutt, Coco and I made our way to Concessions while the Beast ran her first practice rounds. I was asked by Laura Pingol if I would help out with scoring today and I agreed. I’ve been a volunteer scorer with the NBL since our daughter started racing 8 years ago. Since we are an all volunteer organization, I believe we all need to step up and do our share to keep the sport moving. I also have a motto: BMX is not about the riders. It’s about the SCORERS! Face it: if you race and no one scores you, you were just riding your bike, right? Just kidding! We all know, it’s about the riders.
Early this morning the Easter Bunny came around the camping area to let the kids know there would be an egg hunt Sunday morning. The Beast and her friend, Brooke, had their picture taken with their sweetest friend, Easter Bunny.
It was a warm, sunny day and we refreshed ourselves with Strawberry Lemon Smoothies and Angel Food smoothies from Smoothie King. The Smoothie King staff were fast, friendly and efficient so that the three of us could get back to the track and take in all the excitement, including the Strider Bike racing. If you’re unfamiliar with Strider Bikes, they are “pedal-less” balance bikes that are the perfect precursor to bicycling. Kids learn how to balance themselves first and then add pedaling once they have a comfort level and a feel for two wheeling. The Sarasota track is one of the first in the country to build a Strider track, a mini version of a BMX track and it’s been a hit! Today, kids from 1-4 years old strapped on helmets and “paddled” their feet up and over small hills and around dirt curves to the finish line. I was surprised how competitive so many of them were! They all seemed very focused on the task at hand and I witnessed the displeasure some expressed over having to get off the Strider bikes after the competition.
The Beast had decent finishes today in her motos: 4,2, and 3 and then took 3rd in the main event. She congratulated her fellow racers and we all headed back to the tent to relax. She was invited by Brooke’s Mom and Dad for an evening swim and dinner at the campground they are staying at locally and had her swimsuit in hand in a flash. She and Brooke jumped in the truck and headed out while Frankenbutt and I settled into their BMX camp chairs for some relaxation. Frankenbutt pulled out our e-reader and discovered that the screen had cracked and is now not usable. Ugh! During one of the really bumpy road rides this past week, his bar bag had dislodged from it’s bracket and bounced on the ground. Although it’s a terrific waterproof bag and keeps our electronics relatively safe … it didn’t save the e-reader. Luckily, the computer survived the assault. I could cry over it but instead, I’ll think of it as one less item to haul 2,885 miles ahead!
With nothing to read, we decided to attempt to “clean up” a bit at the bathroom. The track director, Troy, unlocked the bathrooms for us and then offered use of the outdoor spigot, too, in case we wanted to wash hair, etc. So, I did. It was quite refreshing and fun. Ahh, camping!
The Beast and Brooke returned from their swim and told us what a great time they had. Brooke’s Mom and Dad (Renee and Joe) surprised us with cups of tea and coffee! What a nice treat! I tell you … BMX folks are made of the nicest stuff on earth! (or is that a certain brand of bottled tea?) Whatever, still applies here!
We’ll get up early in the morning for the 8:30 am racing and then pack it all up and hit the road again.
For viewing of yesterday’s Smoothie King antics on youtube.com, try this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5VWC1-I1K0&feature=related
Day 3, Miles Ridden Today: 39 Miles Ridden Overall: 115 Camping: $0
Last night, Frankenbutt made a pasta and chicken dinner that cost about $5 to feed all three of us. We stumbled onto “just add water” Knorr’s pasta packs that sell for about $1 each and have all the spices included; tried them at home and liked them. Last night we had 2 packs of “butter and garlic” noodles to which we added one package of chicken (similar to the tuna packets; no refrigeration needed, costs about $2.75). It was just the right amount to feed three of us and Coco was glad to lick the dishes clean before I washed them.
After dinner, Frankenbutt grabbed the phone and video recorded a turtle race … you know life is good when the most exciting thing happening is a turtle race! Post turtle race (fyi, the turtle won! Not the hare!), we all took showers, except for Coco, who rolled in the dirt. Post shower, I went to the sauna! Well, it’s actually a laundry room, but I found the laundry duties more entertaining by thinking of it as a sauna. Because most all of our wardrobe is made from spandex and wicking material technology, it all dried within 15 minutes! I’m all for cutting my chore time down.
The Beast found an interesting book to read in the campground book exchange and read for awhile before going online to her favorite website: gaia, a kids social network with cartoon avatars and gaia bucks in which they buy and sell each other’s drawings, poetry, etc. It’s a relatively safe and creative outlet that she’s satisfied with since I won’t allow her to have a Facebook or Myspace account yet. Frankenbutt and I saw a cool RV with European tags so we made our way over, introduced ourself to the German owner and exchanged RV ideas. Raf told us he is on a 2 year vacation to the Americas. He had the Iveco truck front RV shipped here and will travel most of the U.S. and end up down into Patagonia, South America (southern portion of Argentina and Chile). Niiiiice!
We all slept better last night, mostly because we were tired. We got up @ 7:30 am and I started breakfast: burnt pancakes. Ok, I didn’t burn them all. But, I did make at least 5 before I got our Primus stove adjusted to the right temperature. Not one to waste stuff, Frankenbutt and I spread peanut butter (individual packets @ about sixty five cents each by Peanut Butter and Company) onto the pancakes and made little protein sandwiches. The Beast got the better of the pancakes and enjoyed a tasty PBP, Peanut Butter Pancake sandwich and again, Coco was glad to eat the one burnt pancake none of us would even consider. Don’t feel badly for her, she usually eats dog food! Which would you prefer?
We finally got on our bikes around 9:30 am, later than we planned. We are still feeling our way on the most efficient way to break down camp and who’s to do what. We got out onto Route 301 south and were pedaling at a pretty good pace until we hit road construction: no bike lanes and uneven sidewalks that randomly start and stop. Rarely do my pannier bags “jump off” my bike but today the lesser expensive Schwinn bags were on a bungy jumping spree! When this happens, I have to stop immediately so that I don’t drag them and tear them apart. As the lead rider, in noisy traffic, I almost caused a 3 bike pileup style accident each time. It happened 4 times! We were all getting frustrated and decided that we’d need to fix that issue before we attempt the West Palm Beach, FL to Clemmons, NC leg of our ride, which is 785 miles in 2 weeks’ time.
As we turned the corner onto Cortez Rd in Bradenton, we saw Ryder Bikes. Although we are loyal to J&R Bicycles for everything BMX, we needed touring specific options for our pannier bag issue and we needed it soon. The Ryder Bikes salesperson went over a few options with us and we settled on a pair of Trek brand panniers that cost $69 for the pair, plus he gave us a 10% discount for a total of $67.08 after the discount and with tax. We paid and left some NBL BMX brochures. The new panniers have top mounting hooks (with better engineering than our Schwinn bags) PLUS a locking ring to anchor the bags at the base of the pannier rack and rap around straps, giving us 3 points of anchorage. We’ll let you know if we made a good choice once we test them in the real world.
We rode on into Sarasota via Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and got a line of high fives from some locals. There were 3 boys, about 10-12 years old, riding their bikes and curious about our “ride the nation” sign; we told them we are riding our bikes 3000 miles this summer and their eyes got huge with disbelief before they all said “COOL!” I felt really good at that moment!
I was apprehensive about arriving at Sarasota BMX because although I contacted them and sent them the same emails I’ve sent to all 25 tracks we plan to visit, I received an email from their track secretary stating “Unfortunately, at this time, our track will be unable to assist your event.” I was disappointed when I received that email, especially since every other track I’ve talked with has been so receptive and excited at the idea of promoting our sport. I realize that our adventure might sound like a crazy idea, but already we’ve gained publicity for our home track, Tampa BMX, via news stories that ran in the Tampa Tribune and The St. Pete Times.
Upon pulling into Sarasota BMX, we were immediately greeted by a Tampa BMX rider, Brianna, and also John from the Sarasota County commission who was surprised to hear about our adventure. He told us how Sarasota County has worked hard to improve the track (and it shows!) and how he wished the media had been alerted about our arrival; would have made an excellent photo op for the track and Sarasota County. I also saw some of the ladies I’ve volunteer scored with for the past 8 years, including Kathy Bostrum and Laura Pingol, who introduced me to TC, the track director at West Palm Beach BMX and we had a terrific discussion. It’s nice to find others whose main goal is to keep our sport fun, family friendly and in the media spotlight. TC, I’ll see you in a week for the Gator Nationals at the fabulous Okeeheelee BMX track in West Palm Beach, FL. Kathy Bostrum worked her magic and scored us free camping here at the track! Thanks, Kathy!
We also saw Jack and Tiffany Bontorno of Massachusetts whose family has been a fixture in the BMX racing world for many years. It’s hard to believe that AJ’s pesky little sister is now 17 years old! Where does the time go? We were thrilled to see Justin Travis of Ohio Dreams and Kirk Morrison of J&R Bicycles … you know you’ve arrived at a BMX race once you see the red and white striped J&R Bicycles tent! We also saw the bright colored Smoothie King of Wesley Chapel, FL Trailer and couldn’t wait to tell our sponsor how we celebrated completing 100 miles: with a SMOOTHIE, of course. We stopped at Smoothie King in Bradenton where Jessica, Kirsti and Katie all took great care of us! I convinced the Beast to try a shot of Wheat Grass, which has a week’s worth of vegetable goodness in it and she agreed if I promised not to hassle her about eating vegetables in the week ahead. I agreed. (I won’t hassle her, but she’ll still have to eat them … everything is in the wording, tee hee!) She didn’t love it, to say the least. Washing it down with a Smoothie King Smoothie made it bearable though. We also made an impromptu Smoothie King Video. Search Youtube.com for “Smoothie King Dance” posted by Ridethenationfamily. In advance, we are goofballs!
Well, it’s that time of the evening when the sun’s setting and I need to locate my head lamp and contact lens case. More later.
Remember, go to Twitter.com and search “ridethenation”; join for free and follow our midday tweets. Also, go to google latitudes to track us online (more info in prior blog).
Day 2, Miles Ridden Today: 46 Miles Ridden Overall: 76 Camping: $24.64 Yesterday, shortly after starting our ride from home to the BMX track, Frankenbutt let me know that his 7th gear “was gone”; that he’d need a new free wheel. I asked if it was an immediate need or if we should continue to Tampa BMX and make phone calls. We agreed to continue on and only stop if we saw a bike shop en route. We stopped at Suncoast Trail bikes and they didn’t have the part so we continued. Once we arrived at Tampa, Frankenbutt thought that Extreme Bicycles in Spring Hill might have one and that he could ask another BMX dad to pick it up on the way to the track. It turned out that Extreme did not have the part but the BMX dad, Joe, offered to pull a matching part off of one of his bikes and bring it. What a nice offer! In the meantime, we discovered that University Bicycles in Tampa had the exact part so we opted to wait until today to pick it up. After a somewhat restless night (going from a king sized bed to a 7x7’ tent for 3 + Coco is an adjustment), we made breakfast (oatmeal), brushed our teeth and packed up. While the Beast was brushing her teeth, I was packing up the kitchen utensils and Frankenbutt was breaking down the tent and rolling sleeping bags, all within a 100’ of each other. The Beast texted me that 2 ladies had wandered into the public restroom in the park and each asked her if she needed help or food because they assumed she was homeless or a runaway upon seeing her brushing her teeth in the restroom. She assured them she was fine, just riding 3000 miles on her bike with her crazy parents. One asked if she was in a “bad situation” and the Beast replied, “well, my legs are a little tired.” I love that kid! We set the GPS device to the address for University Bicycles and pedaled out of the park. We knew we’d have to ride a portion of Dale Mabry Highway in the morning rush but with changing the route to get the bike part, we ended up riding side by side with 4 lanes of traffic all the way to Fletcher Avenue, which didn’t have a bike lane. I’m so proud of the Beast for listening and keeping calm as cars whizzed by, some rudely shouting at us to get off the road. Considering the sidewalk is for pedestrians and was pretty broken up in sections, we did what we are supposed to do and rode as far right as possible, with the flow of traffic. We arrived at the bike shop, got the part and got it installed ($41) and were on our way out when we ran into Chris, one of our Suncoast Trail acquaintances. We talked with him and his mom and then loaded Coco up and reset the GPS for Little Manatee River State Park. The directions took us through some poor neighborhoods in Tampa and eventually through 3 roundabouts (circles) which we negotiated rather well. Eventually, we ended up on Route 301 South where there was construction. There was no sidewalk, no bike lane, no room for us but we followed the rules of the road and stayed far right without much issue. Frankenbutt noticed a paved path on the opposite side of the road after 2 motorists made large hand motions in that direction. It was a paved sidewalk but we opted to use it since there was no room for us on the road. It worked out well and we road it to where the sidewalk ends, well past the construction zone. Route 301 got progressively less congested as the temperature progressively rose. We pulled into Little Manatee River State Park around 3:30 and confirmed our reserved location and rode in. We didn’t expect to have to ride another 2.5 miles back to the camping area so we all moaned about that. Upon arrival at our site, we re-filled our water bottles, used the restrooms and pulled our bedrolls off the Beast’s bike. Our site doesn’t have much shade but we took over a shady section at the far corner for some R&R. My phone rang and the Editor complained to us about trying to register for her fall classes at University of Hawaii. It’s a pretty good school with a lousy registration process. She managed to get 4 of the 5 classes she wanted after tracking down the right authorities. She’s a bloodhound when it comes to getting what she wants and deserves. I like that about her! Right now, Frankenbutt and the Beast are setting up the tent and I’ve got one load of laundry to do so that we’ll have clean clothes for our weekend at Sarasota BMX track’s Easter Classic National. We plan to have pancakes for breakfast and be on the road by nine a.m. tomorrow to ride the 30 or so miles into Sarasota. We figure we’ll arrive in time to register the Beast for her weekend racing, set up our tent and get some more R&R. This evening, we’ll plot our riding directions on the GPS and then search out SMOOTHIE KING locations that are close to or on our route. The Beast loves smoothies and we figure we deserve a treat after putting in two good days of riding. How to track online where we are At the moment we are at our first destination, Tampa BMX in Lake Park, Lutz, FL. We rode 30 miles (only 2970 to go!) and we are posting a midday update so that our readers can track us as we travel. Bear in mind that I am not a techie. You may have to figure this out a little more on your end but here’s the basics: In order to see where we are at any time during our EPIC bicycle journey, Go to https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?service=friendview&passive=1209600&continue=https://www.google.com/latitude/b/0&followup=https://www.google.com/latitude/b/0 and either sign in with google or create a google account (don’t worry it’s free and easy!) Once you are signed in, follow the instructions until you get to the “stay close with your friends” window.
To begin using Latitude with friends AND to see where we are, you’ll need to share your location to get started
. Remember, you can always hide your location
or remove friends later from the privacy settings. Once you “ACCEPT”, you’ll automatically be taken to the Google Latitude map page with 3 tabs: “friends”, “history” and “apps”.
You should automatically be on the “Friends” tab. Once on the “friends” tab, click on “add friends” . When the “add friends” box pops up, type firstname.lastname@example.org
into the “invite a friend by email address” block and then click “send invite”.
You will see a blue message that pops up confirming your invite has been sent to us. Once we review the request and agree to share our location back with you, you’ll receive an email stating that “Ride the Nation” has accepted your sharing request for Google Latitude. There will be further instructions and a link that will show you right where we are.
Visit often and remember, what takes you an hour to drive in your car, takes us about 6 hours to ride on our bikes.