Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 56

Saint Augustine Florida

Here it is - The final day, the day we ride into St. Augustine. We all got ready to leave Palatka, and start our ride to the finish. We took some pictures of the three of us getting ready to head out, did our final checks and we were off!

Within minutes of starting for the day we had what would be the largest hill of the day - the bridge leaving from East Palatka over the St. John River. We found ourselves traveling along some very scenic roads along the St. John River, in very nice well shaded neighborhoods.

The roads were flat, with very little traffic so we were able to ride as a group and talk. We found ourselves reminicing about the t=last couple of weeks riding together and what we thought life would be like after the ride. We could not help but wonder what we would do and how we would get back to our "normal" lives.

The neighborhoods along the river turned into farm lands as we started heading East towards St. Augustine. As we rode through Hastings we were met by signs proclaiming this to be the potato growing center of Florida. We watched as field after field was being harvested today, and finding many trucks taking the pototo crop from the fields along the roads we were traveling.

We stopped at a local store for a quick break before we started the last few miles into St. Augustine. The store was something out of the past still exsisting, the cash register was an old push button type mashine that would normally be seen in an antique store, and the store was extremely busy ( it was luch time so I guess we should expect this) they were selling buckets of deepfried chicken livers and gizzards, and the locals say that we need to try them - they are good. We did not try them, none of us was quite that brave.

We again set out on the road, and continued to ride together to talk, and occationally drop back and ride alone to reflect opun where we are, where we have been and what we were about to accomplish. It all seems so surreal still. All the talking we were doing made the time pass very quickly, and we were at the St. Augustine city limits in no time at all!

We stopped and just stared at first, no-one saying a word. Then we looked at each other with tears in our eyes and realized we were here and almost finished. We took a few minutes and got some pictures at the sign and then continued on to the center of town for the "official finish". The Adventure Cycling maps have us finishing by Flagler College.

So we left for the king St. finish by the college. We were now on very heavily traveled main roads with no shoulder, this lasted right up to the end at the covered pavillion. When we arrived we were met by my wife Tammy, my son Jeremy, Gerry's Sister and her Husband, and 4 riders from Get Your Guts in Gear. (Gary Beckman, his Mom and Dad, and Susan D'Aulerio). It was an amazing few minutes of gathering our thoughts, taking pictures, and enjoying the beauty of the St. Augustine.

After our pictures, greeting friends and families, it was pointed out that the final launch of the space shuttle Atlatis would be starting in a few minutes. We decided to make our way to the Lions Head Bridge to watch for the launch.(we had to cross the bridge to get to the ocean for the ceremonial dipping of the tires anyway!!)

We sat on the bridge and within minutes were greeted by a long plume of white smoke and a visible trail of fire from the solid rocket boosters of the shuttle. Wha an awesome finish to an amazing ride, who could ask for better fireworks that this??
After the liftoff of the shuttle they lowered the drawbridge (it was left open during the launch so that no one would stop and cause a problem otherwise) and we all went on our way to Anastasia State Park to complete the ride by dipping the tires.

Gary Beckman, his Mom and Dad, and Susan D'Aulerio all rode the last few miles with us to the ocean and cheered us on as we finally got to dip the tires in the Atlantic Ocean - we had done it- pedaled our bikes from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. We all took turns with the photo oportunities that were around us, and enjoyed Gary and his family, Susan, Gerry's Sister and husband all clapping as we dipped our tires. When we looked back from the water we realized that many beachgoers were also standing around and clapping for us too!!

We left the beach for the picnic area where Tammy had set up a party for us. Sandwich platters, soda and a cupcake cake for all to enjoy. Gerry, Ron and I, all toasted the safe finish of our journey with a glass of Asti Spumanti. We were also met there by Joy Hooper and her husband, they drove in from Tifton, Georgia to watch us finish the ride. Joy is an ostomy nurse, that has an awesome passion for her job. She has developed an "Anatomical Ostomy Apron" to explain ostomies,and colon resections.
Here are some websites to check out Joy's aprons:

and if the ride down from Georgia wasn't enough she had brought with her $180.00 in donations that she had raised for our cause!!! She also treated us to a full presentation of her apron, and her knowledge and presentation were fantastic!

I will no doubt write more as I gather my thoughts and some more pictures too!
It has been a great deal of fun for me to ride to bring awareness to Crohn's colitis, colorectal cancer, and ostomies, and blog along the way for all of you to get a sense of what I found on the road.

Thank you all for following, writing and supporting this cause.... and stay tuned for more as time goes on.........

The garmin information for the day is as follows:

Day 56 Palatka to St. Augustine by wegotguts at Garmin Connect - Details

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