Usually when I have 70 miles ahead of me I’m on the road by not much later than 8am, as it was I wasn’t awake until then and then proceeded to have a delightful breakfast with Lynn & Roger. Even though it was early January, it was warm enough to be sat outside for breakfast. We continued exchanging stories and then it moved on to me giving suggestions to them about cycle touring, what they might need to buy and any other questions they had. It felt great to be giving back as I was receiving such warmth and kindness from them and any time I can help someone achieve their hopes of cycle touring is great.
The Withlacoochee bike trail starts just a few miles south of Dunnellon and being a Saturday morning had lots of people using it. Having spent so much time going through areas where I wouldn’t see people really walking, nevermind cycling, for days it was wonderful to see. There’s a definite camaraderie felt between any two people who are on a bike, a knowledge that you’re both in it together. Sure, we might not ride at the same speed or be going to the same place, but we are both out there moving from A to B under our own steam and that’s empowering. I exchanged plenty of “Hello!” and “How are you?” with the weekend warriors and it really energised me.
After getting off the trail I headed east knowing I was only a few hours of riding away from completing my loop. The whole trip started back in Tampa on May 11th, but on the 2nd night C and I stayed with Seth & Kathy in iPod and a few licence plates. I’d considered picking up plates before, but never done so, so when I saw this one I knew it was going on my bike. I’m not really sure how plates can end up on the side of the road, it’s not like they should fall off, but I didn’t mind as now I had something showing how I was a Floridian!
Pulling into Seth & Kathy’s drive was great. It signified the end of the first part of my trip. The US won’t be over until I cross into Mexico, but this is the end of the vast majority of it. As well as that, I was excited to see Seth, Kathy and Kathy’s mum again. They had been C & I’s first Warmshowers hosts and started everything off so well after a slightly less than positive first day. My second time visiting them proved just as positive, but in a different way.
The cooler weather and my previous 11,000 miles of travelling meant that even though I had done a good chunk more I didn’t need the nap I had in May. After cleaning up, we headed out for a lovely celebration dinner in Orlando with a couple of their friends who also ride tandems. Dinner and the night after flew by, recounting tales from the trip, talking about the ups and the downs that I had faced and comparing riding with C to riding alone.