This November, I will bicycle (& skate) my way to Key West, Florida. It is the finale of my pedal-powered journey beginning (for me) in Bar Harbor Maine in 2015 — cycling southbound a week+ per year.
But, I don’t ride for me.
I ride — with a group of cyclists, test riders who are activists and pioneers — for you, your friends, your family and future generations who crave safe travels that don’t involve a cars. I pedal-power this distance for walkers, joggers, skaters, cyclists and those in wheelchairs who need trails & safe passages for commuting, recreating or just needing a dose of nature.
My fellow cyclists and I are part of The East Coast Greenway Alliance — a non-profit who works with communities along the Eastern seaboard to build or bridge trails from Maine to Key West that are car-free &/or safe-passages.
We checked for frost — didn’t see any — then looked for ice – didnt see any of that either, so before we loaded suitcases onto the baggage truck, we reopened luggage and rummaged for more clothes. Socks became gloves, neckwear became hats, multiple layers of thin tees kept the core warm with proper thinking, and anyone with a winter jacket – was looked on with envy. Welcome to Florida! Continue reading East Coast Greenway cyclists arrive in Titusville, Florida→
We departed St. Augustine on a leisurely pace, taking in the rich history of this city dubbed the oldest city in America. Taking extra care on the cobblestones, we weaved into a park square with cannons dating back to the 1500’s, and Christmas trees installed that morning, creating one more photo opportunity.
We departed the hotel at 7:15am sharp, and rode a brisk 6 miles to the quaint historic town of St. Mary’s, Georgia. We saw more egrets, pelicans, places designated as bird sanctuaries and not one coffee shop open for business. Patience is a practice, and there is always Fernandina Beach. Continue reading 79 miles and let’s just round up to 80→
The heat and humidity are back. After two days of rides that felt as if we had made a detour to New England, today’s temperatures allowed us return to shorts and tee shirts.
We departed Jeckyl Island in one large group, and many of us spent the next six miles mesmerized by the marshland views and a tall majestic bridge in the backdrop get closer with hopes that it was not on our route. Collective wishful thinking worked, and we turned away from that man made mountain to head south. Continue reading Cyclists ride the East Coast Greenway to St. Mary’s Georgia→
Good news made an appearance to our day starting at mile 0, when the predicted rains took a detour from our 54 mile route to Darien, Georgia. The temperatures were in the 40s and no one much minded because after 30 minutes in heavy traffic on a 4 lane highway, we veered off on rural roads with barely a vehicle — a fine Georgia gem!
The lobby of the Fairfield Inn in Savannah, Georgia filled with 40 cyclists wearing high visibility orange, yellow and green clothing, and bicycles tricked out with the latest blinkies. The riders were anxious to begin the first leg of this WAY tour (Week-a-Year) from Savannah to Hinesville. While the final destination is set for Titusville, Florida — today’s ride was all about riding safe, as a group and resuming conversations exactly where we left off a year ago.
Nearly a month after riding bicycles — through bouts of thigh-high ponding water, pouring rains, skinny shoulders, rumble-tumble-strips, the occasional trail, sand domes and fire ants, steamy temperatures, crossing busy highways, pelotons and caravans, dead armadillos, live alligators, bearded goats standing-on-sheds, getting lost, getting found, southern hospitality, hot towels and fresh cookies, high-octane metabolisms, daily ice cream, police escort thru the ‘Alley, hot showers in Savannah, and navigating conversations, potholes and vehicles — the memories are nearly as fun as the adventure. Below are the cyclists, who thrive for the ride. See you next year, ECG WAY mates!
The complimentary breakfast at our Beaufort hotel buzzed with cyclists half-woke, half-dressed wearing a pungent o-dear that was reminiscent of yesterday’ ride, walking straight toward the make-it-yourself waffle iron, the trays of english muffins and miniatures dollops of peanut butter where peanuts were the last of a 12-ingredient list that began with the words ‘corn syrup’. Today’s breakfast was our best by far — it included jellies that were close-enough to be considered fruit, and we slathered sugar-slime onto miniature brown and yellow muffins with more unrecognizable ingredients. Someone cut in line, a fellow biker with mismatched socks, and we waited patiently while he grabbed a second slice of wonder bread mumbling “bless his heart”, because after all it was Day 6 of hard riding. Everyone was growing weary, and that’s how one rolls in the south.
We departed downtown Charleston, with our morning ritual perfected. Drag luggage and bicycle to hotel lobby and park at the first open space making sure the other hotel guests had no access to the exits. Load water-logged (from sweat / humidity) luggage onto the U-Haul truck. Consume a Kind bar for breakfast. The same Kind of bar that will be consumed over the next 7 hours, and wonder if that is really a Kind way to treat your body. Check your bicycle lights, GPS navigation software, pump the tires and spin the wheels listening to the new whirring sounds that weren’t there before. Seek out the ECG bike mechanic and decide he’s too busy helping others. Decide to troubleshoot yourself. Or at least with select members of your riding team, those without advanced bicycle mechanic skills.