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December 12, 2015

By meriwether, Dec 14 2015 01:23AM

I made The Turn a few days ago about a hundred miles north of Miami somewhere between Vero Beach and Fort Pierce - the turn away from the Atlantic, the coastline of which I’ve been following these past three months. Now . . . it’s nothing but West . . . well, there will be northwest in there, and some downright north to get out of Florida, and even some southwest. But fundamentally, nothing but west.

I bit off quite a chunk of south central Florida after spending the night on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. Setting off on a long ride of 75 miles across broad open plains and grasslands punctuated by small islands of tropical foliage and towering palm trees, it was my longest mileage day to date. When I arrived at the campground in Arcadia, my body let me know I had traveled a far distance under the subtropical sun.

After riding long stretches of highway, my left hand starts to go numb from resting on the handlebars, and then I’ll ride for some time one handed until the circulation returns. The same thing occurs with my feet which are clipped into my pedals, which, in spite of the numbness, has its advantages. Being clipped in, or feet locked to the pedals, increases your cycling efficiency tremendously - instead of just pushing, you are both pushing and pulling on each turn of the pedals, and the increase in power helps significantly on upgrades (which I haven’t seen for a while). But of course, when you come to a dead stop, it’s quite important to remember that you are clipped in . . . otherwise . . . you can guess the result. It has almost happened to me more times than I care to admit.

Arising earlier than usual this morning, I rode through the cool morning temps, the sun casting a rich glow from the east as I pedaled to the west with the Gulf of Mexico now in my sites. Great Blue Herons and Great White Egrets, keeping an eye out for a morning meal along the roadside canals, would suddenly take flight and glide along with me for a ways, and then veer away, intent on other business. This is ranch land too, and I ring my bell as I pass by herds of grazing cattle. Some continue chewing nonchalantly, while others look up with a start, asking their buddy bovines close by, “What the hell was that?”

Bicycling in these subtropical climes again calls to mind my journey of 30 years ago: Bangkok, Thailand - 1986. Nothing subtropical about Thailand. Purely the tropics. I had arrived there in January with my cycling mates, Alison and Paul. I was in bad shape, however, having just had my fractured elbow put back together with pins and wire in New Delhi after a serious cycling accident in India. I will never forget a couple of long 90 mile days down the Malay Peninsula, in the tropical heat, with my arm heavily bandaged in a soft cast and bent at a constant 45 degree angle . . . and I recall that feeling of just having nothing left at day’s end.

Although my passage across south Florida in no way compares to my Thailand experience, after 75 miles and 30 years on, I was definitely feeling a bit of discomfort.

Now, as I close in on 4,000 miles, making this my 2nd longest tour, I’ve decided I need to take a break. I had thought about doing a last minute cruise, but instead have decided to spend a week on Siesta Key, trying to regroup and evaluate where I am with this journey and the goals I have set.

So Folks, for the next week, I am not Proceeding On, but Staying Put - something I haven’t done much over the last four months!

P.S. Many thanks to Karen and Peter Byrne, Michelle Mininger, Stephani Decker, and Jerry Mills who have made recent donations to Habitat For Humanity and/or Save The Children. Their donations have put the combined total for both organizations over $8,000.

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