Day 4 - Ocala to Gainesville was approximately 57 miles. I didn't forget to unclip on Day 4 and clipping in is becoming much easier, especially with my right foot, but it hasn't gotten any easier with my left foot. I'm knocking on wood. I'm definitely using different muscles and I'm feeling it in my knees.
We had dinner in the University of Florida basketball stadium. The U of FL provided tickets to the Florida Gators versus North Carolina Aggies basketball game. Those Gators ate the Aggies! The score was 105 - 55. Near the end of the game, Albert, their Gator mascot, came up and gave me a hug. It must have been that Ride 2 Recovery T-shirt I was wearing. :-) Considering I'm really not a basketball fan, it was a great game. Basketball is too fast for me to follow. I do love football.
Day 5 - Gainesville to the World Golf Resort was about 76 miles according to Lisa's odometer. Haven't fallen while unclipping from the pedals as of day 5. My neck is pretty sore from that long ride. Road bikes are a different ride from hybrids.
I rode with the first group today because my riding buddy, Barbara Stetina, wanted to go slower. What possessed me I don't know. I was told the first group was averaging between 19 - 22 mph. Much easier on a road bike than my hybrid, but I did get to 20 mph at times on the Golden State Challenge. I can assure you not while ascending hills. ;-)
When I first arrived in the first group Scotty, a ride leader who works for the R2R, called the other ride leaders on their communication apparatus and said Deborah Palmer is riding in the first group. Later John, Founder and Executive Director, R2R, came up and took a picture. He told me it was because Wayne Stetina wouldn't believe it if he didn't see it.
The hardest part was when I lost my glove at the first rest stop. When I went to go back and get it the first riders were leaving. I worked hard to catch up with them. Jon, a young Marine and a very strong rider, helped me part of the way and then moved forward to catch up with a hand cyclist to help him catch up with the first group. I got behind one of the R2R SAG vehicles to draft and that stopped the wind to help me ride faster.
I was exhausted by the time I reached them, but managed to stay with the first group. Although, I slipped a little further back towards the end because I was still pretty tired from catching up. I was lucky to get a few assists (they push on your backside to give you some momentum) from some very experienced cyclists. Thanks guys!
As we were almost to the hotel, one of the experienced cyclists asked me my age and told me that I should get in to racing for my age group. He suggested I go out and try a few. I still can't believe I heard that or did I really hear that?
I need to become more confident going around corners because that slows me down. And, I definitely need to learn how to go around in the right gears so I can come out of the turns faster. I'm hoping to concentrate on that on Day 6. We have a 40 mile ride on our last day. I know my neck is going to appreciate that.
Riding Florida has been beautiful. I did see one alligator -- I think. A dead baby alligator on the side of the road on the first or second day. Oh, and I almost forgot Albert and Alberta Gator, mascots for the University of Florida, yesterday. ;-)
We've been on mostly two lane roads. The scenery is beautiful when I look. I'm so busing watching the tires in front of me and people at the front of the group.
We are receiving wonderful support from the American Legion Riders, I feel much safer knowing they are with us watching our back.
I'm having a great time riding with this awesome group of people. God bless America and God bless our troops and their families.
AKA Deborah Palmer