Stars and Spokes
Bonus Blog: Hello Florida!
It's official, I have no more state lines to cross on my ride now! Yesterday I arrived into Florida, my final state.
Psychologically, this feels great. I've ticked off California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama - and cycled well over 4,000 KM. The plan now is to head east along the 'pan handle' part of Florida, before then crossing the main body of the state to reach the Atlantic Ocean at St Augustine. My end point.
This translates into just 4 more days of cycling, having completed 27 days so far.
In further good news, my daughter flies out tomorrow and will be out here in the US to watch me finish. I've decided to break down my final day, which was originally planned to be 220 KM. Instead, I'm going to split that into 2 days of 110 KM each - this will then allow me more time to hang out with my daughter at the end of my riding days.
Before I left the UK, she wrote two messages on my cycling shoes. They've stayed on throughout my ride, I look down at them regularly. Amazing how much a few words written by a child can spur you on, works for me anyway. Very much looking forward to being reunited with the author!
If the past 48 hours are anything to go by, my final run in should be most enjoyable. The roads in Florida are the best I've experienced at any point in my ride. The tarmac is smooth and there are dedicated bike lanes all over the show. Louisiana and Mississippi should take note, the roads there were horrific - I've seen better road surfaces across Africa!
I'm glad to have done the ride in this direction, to finish on a buttery tarmac high! And it will be mostly flat here on in. Now if someone could just switch off this headwind for the final few days...
What's also been great since arriving in Florida has been the company. I've amended my route of late, to take advantage of some very kind offers to host me, and join me on riding days. Such things make a huge difference to my morale, especially at this late stage.
Today I was lucky enough to be joined on my ride by a number of UK and Australian military personnel based out here. It was fantastic to be riding in a big group, something I've not had at all over the past 4 weeks. It also enabled me to 'hide' from the perpetual headwind, tucked in behind other members of the group! (Thanks guys!!!)
After 1500 KM of solo riding into a headwind across Texas, this felt justified!
Having company also reminds me of how far I've come, something I sometimes lose track of when riding solo for hours/days at a time. Folk regularly comment on how crazy it is that I've ridden my bike so far, in such a short space of time. I often lose sight of this, as I normally take it a day at a time.
Nice to be reminded, provides some much needed perspective.
My only frustration at this late stage is the ongoing pain in my ankle. It's non-stop both day and night now, keeping me up at night which denies me much needed rest. Pain killers and anti-inflammatories only do so much.... Ultimately, it (and the rest of my body!) needs prolonged rest. Thankfully that will happen as soon as I finish my ride, I'll be taking a month or two off any serious exercise once back in the UK.
Post riding every day, I ice it and elevate it. Every little helps, just need to nurse it through to the finish now.
From here, I head away from the golden sands of the Gulf of Mexico coastline and turn inland towards Tallahassee. Thereafter it's pretty much a straight shot east until I run out of land. Then I can finally stop, hurrah.
It's been a long old ride, looking forward to completing. Once finished, I will mostly be found sitting down eating pizza and ice cream! Oh and probably at the physio.
Not on my bike, that's for sure!
I'll next post once the ride is all done. In the meantime, wish me luck!