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-C-

Endeavour’s final flight had been delayed which was great news for us as we got to be part of the buzz that surrounds a rocket launch. On top of the Intracostal bridge, with Debbie and an expectant crowd (including staff in scrubs who’d nipped out from the nearby hospital), we had an awesome view south to Cape Canaveral and heard Endeavour exit the earth’s atmosphere with multiple sonic booms leaving behind a beautiful vapour trail in the early morning sky – what an amazing start to the day!

We had time to kill before the local bike shop could fit me in to check my bike out, so there really was no alternative but to head over to New Smyrna Beach, get a healthy dose of some much-needed Vitamin D and in true cyclist fashion, dip our wheels in the Atlantic Ocean – it’s gonna be a few miles until the next ablution in the Pacific.

On Harris’ recommendation, we paid a visit to Volusia Motorsports to see if they could diagnose the cause of my terrible numb hands and ‘tweeny’ (a new word for me, but one I especially like and refers to women’s delicate area between their sit bones) that I had been experiencing during cycling. Dom got to have a relaxing afternoon writing the blog – no such luck for me as I had some miles to clock up on the trainer for Ray the mechanic to establish the cause of my problems. Slightly disappointingly, as my brand new bike had supposedly been built specifically for me. Ray concluded that not only was the frame was too big for me, but the 100mm flat stem and straight handle bars were also resulting in far too much of my body weight being applied on my hands as opposed to my sit bones – resulting in compression of the nerves in my hands. The news I didn’t want to hear was that it was gonna cost me a few bob to fix it – however on the upside, after a lot of calling around, he sourced a new stem and handle bar. I left the shop with very mixed emotions – pleased by the prospect of no longer having numb hands, but disappointed with the lack of customer service I had received from the bike shop in the UK and wondering if their very cursory glance at me sat on the bike was sufficient to determine if they had specified the bicycle parts correctly or if I should have received better customer service which would have picked up the problem ……. Who knows, all I know is Ray spotted the problem instantly ………..

3 hours after arriving at the bike shop, we were back on the road for a short 10mile hop to Port Orange where we were staying with Kim. My bike parts weren’t due in for a couple of days – so we had no choice but to take some unplanned rest days and wait for their delivery. We weren’t quite sure where we were going to stay, but luckily for us, upon hearing of our predicament, Kim immediately invited us to stay with her. Of course we jumped at the opportunity and our one night stop-over turned into three very enjoyable days – we had a great time with her.

Kim’s a keen cyclist who has done some great bicycle tours on her own round the US and it was really good to hear about her experiences and, in particular for me, get advice to allay my concerns about camping in the US. Camping in the UK is a rather different proposition to the US as there aren’t other things above you in the food chain which might pay you an unwanted visit during the night! The inner bike geek in me reared it’s head whilst organising Kim’s bicycle gear in preparation for her upcoming trip. She had some great little gadgets – including a rear-view mirror which clips onto sunglasses – a genius invention which Kim very kindly donated to me. Inexplicably the bicycle shop I bought my bike from fitted my front pannier in a way which rendered the wheel quick-release un-usable – even as a novice cyclist that seems pretty daft. Kim enjoys a bicycle puzzle and in no time at all her careful patience solved the correct installation of my pannier rack. If I should (though fingers crossed I won’t) get a front flat tyre I will now be able to change the inner tube without having to dis-assemble the whole pannier rack – HOOORAY!

The rest days were also a good time to catch up with little jobs that had been building up – drying out wet camping gear, writing some blog posts and cleaning the bikes. And, I got to fix my first inner tube EVER! You may expect that someone who decides to do a big cycle trip know a thing or two about bicycles – errr – I know that riding one is fun and they have two wheels (maybe that’s a little modest, but you get the idea), other than that I have scant knowledge about the mechanics or ‘bike speak’. Needless to say I was rather pleased with myself that I fixed two inner tubes and four holes in total.

I love food and whenever I’m away I’m keen to sample as many new things as possible and learn some new recipes and cooking tips so it was great to help (or more probably hinder) Kim in the kitchen whipping up some delicious home-made fried shrimp – the secret to which is crushed crackers. They went down very well – so well we had them two nights in a row!

Wednesday came around quickly and it was time to get my bike re-built. Kim has a cycle carrier and insisted on driving us and my bike down to the bike shop. Ray replaced the old stem and handle bar and with a much shorter angled stem and handlebar after which I was back on the trainer again to ensure that the new set-up was right. After some tinkering the set-up was sorted and I could feel the difference immediately. In an ideal world the handle bars would be slightly narrower, as my hands grip the handlebars wider than though my shoulders, but hey it was a vast improvement!

Kim really kept us on the road – I will not forget how she really went out of her way to help us. I was really touched by her thoughtfulness and amazed by her generosity during our stay. Well rested and with a new bike we were raring to get back on the road.

16th

17th

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