2/2013 Florida Loop Ride

2/2013 Florida Loop Ride

2/5/2013 - 2/18/2013

  • Preparations are finally finished, copies made, all that is left is the packing. Shouldn't take too long, but you never know.
  • Have to remember to pack a rain jacket and a sweatshirt, just in case.
  • Have arrived at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites, 11805 Research Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32826, 407-737-6075.
  • All the bags, coolers, bikes and happy hour stuff has been unloaded and now it is time to take a break before heading out to scout out the restaurant for tomorrow's group dinner.
  • Some of the riders are arriving today and the rest will be here tomorrow. I am getting excited and looking forward to a great ride.
  • 14 riders were checked into the hotel so we did a shuttle from the hotel to Habeneros Mexican Grill for dinner. The food was wonderful and the conversation was lively.
Rich greets the riders.
  • The rest of the riders have finally arrived.
  • Marnie, Mike, David and I took a bike ride to the University of Central Florida, home of the Knights and then rode through the town of Oviedo and stopped for lunch at the Subway on the UCF Campus before heading back to the hotel to rest up before the happy hour. We rode a total of 20 miles.
  • The happy hours/map meeting was held in Rich's room. The decorations included The Conch Republic Flag adorning the doorway and a beach towel hung on the wall which depicted the Southern Most Point in Key West. Ride leader Rich greeted the attendees wearing an apron that was graciously donated by Vicki during the Route 66 Ride Part 1, last fall. All got a good chuckle out of it. It was even immortalized by George who posted the photo on Flickr. The usual assortment of munchies was laid out for all to enjoy [cheese, mixed nuts, baby carrots, fresh strawberries, peppers]. There was also a large selection of beer, wine and soda for all to enjoy.
  • After happy hour, Rich addressed the group. He had all introduce themselves and tell a little bit about their favorite ride/riding day. He then gave the safety briefing, handed out the cue sheets and had Jim explain the next day's route. After the questions were answered, we all went to Bubbalou's BBQ Restaurant, 12100 Challenger Parkway, Orlando, FL [407-423-1212]. where the food was plentify and quite good. We shuttled from the hotel to the restaurant and after the meal some decided to walk the mile or so back to the hotel. The rest of us took advantage of the shuttle to return to the hotel.
Ride Day 1 Route: Orlando, FL to Titusville, FL [Cumulative miles = 38.5]

Today we rode from the LaQuinta Inn and Suites, Orlando, FL to the Best Western, Titusville, FL. A fairly short day to work out the kinks before hitting the east coast and heading south. The morning started off a little drizzly, but it cleared up and the riders were on their way.

A group of riders who had traveled to Orlando in vehicles met up this morning to caravan over to the Holiday Inn on the other side of Orlando to park their vehicles until we return next week. They were then shuttled back to the hotel by Rich. Then the last of the bike boxes were transported to a friend's house for safekeeping until we return next week. After all the chores were done it was time to head toward Titusville. Along the way I stopped at the Ft. Christmas Historical Park and Museum, in Christmas, FL. It is a recreation of the 2nd Seminole War Fort Christmas.

There was a permanent Christmas Tree, a Nativity scene, a museum. An interesting stop to say the least. Christmas is home to the world's largest alligator-shaped building, measuring at just over 200 feet. [I stopped and took a picture, however I am suffering from photo issues as I downloaded them from the camera and now they are playing hide and seek with me. I have managed to 'find' a couple of the photos, but at the current time, my picture of 'Swampy' is hiding] Every year, Christmas sends a large amount of mail from its post office from people who mail letters from the town so they can have the "Christmas" postmark on their holiday mailings.

"Swampy" - the world's largest alligator-shaped building

Christmas is the birthplace of the American sculptor James Hughlette "Tex" Wheeler, who is best known for his bronze sculpture of the famed racehorse "Seabiscut" at the Santa Anita Park racetrack in California and his "tribute to the American folk humorist, Will Rogers at Claremore, Oklahoma."  Mr Wheeler is buried in the Ft Christmas Cemetery.
 Fort Christmas Marker
      On December 25, 1837, approximately 2,000 U.S. Army soldiers and Alabama Volunteers arrived in this area of Florida to build a fort, which they named Fort Christmas. The fort was one of over 200 forts built during the 2nd Seminole War.
 Ft Christmas Historical Park sign
The Christmas Tree                                                       Museum Door
 George has 'Happy Feet' as he models his latest jersey.
 Annie and Hewes enjoy lunch on a bridge over a swamp.
 A Seminole throws his net.
Florida wildlife
Ride Day 2 Route: Titusville, FL to Cocoa Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 71.3]

Today the riders were off to the Space Center and Cape Canaveral. The riders were told that they could not pedal over the causeway until after 8 am...but in reality, cyclists are not allowed on the causeway until after 9 am, as a few found out when they were stopped by our brethren in blue. No one was cited or arrest, but it was cause for a few chuckles after the fact.
There are two areas where we can get National Park stamps at the Space Center, so George Raney and I set out on an adventure to get our stamps. Yes, we were successful.
The evening took a turn for the worse when after going out to pick up one of the riders who had had two blowouts and bring her back to the hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel in a moment of stupidity, I managed to hit the portico with the bike rack that was on top of the support vehicle. Boy, do I feel stupid and I am very upset. This is going to get costly, but, alas it was my mistake so it is my responsibility.
After the portico incident at the beginning of happy hour, it was an evening of self pity and anger at myself for being so stupid. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Ride Day 3 Route: Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 133.7]

The morning was the start of a new day. I had to get on the road early with the support vehicle to take it to an Allstate Insurance Adjustor in Vero Beach, Florida. After the adjustor took all his pictures, filled out all his forms, I was given the estimate of repairs on the support vehicle. Ouch...just about $1,800.00. I can't wait to see what the actual repair bill is going to be. Then it was an afternoon of trying to find the parts and a Ford dealership that had them and could fix the roof rack. After numerous phone calls and visits to Ford dealers within a 100 mile radius, it was determined that the parts are not available and the rack cannot be fixed tomorrow.

Rich took the news stoically and came up with a plan to get a Thule rack system and found a place in Vero Beach that has one in stock and can install it tomorrow. Hopefully this will solve the problem in the short run, and the big repairs can be completed when he gets home.

Pat Collins came by the hotel and enjoyed happy hour with the riders. Afterwards, she and I, Anne Nordstrom, George Raney, Marnie Rawles, Mike Myers and David Forester all had dinner at Mulligan's. It was a wonderful dinner and the company was excellent. After a long day of driving and no food, the burger and calimari hit the spot!

Tomorrow is looking to be another busy day as the riders head off to Jupiter, Florida.

Today's Route: Vero Beach, FL to Jupiter, FL [Cumulative miles = 202.7]

This morning started off a little shaky as one of the riders was feeling under the weather, but there is no lack of machismo in this group. He stuck it out and rode the entire day....actually feeling better as the day went on.

I got the support vehicle to the outfitter who was able to mount the Thule Rack System on the top of the Expedition and the installer was kind enough to help me get the bike racks (4 of them) installed on the Thule system. He definitely earned a big tip! After that, it was off to the other bike shop to find out the news about the status of Pete's bike which was on the bike rack during the 'Portico Incident." I seemed to have dodged an extremely expensive bullet, as the bike shop (even though they wanted to sell me a replacement TREK bicycle with a very large price tag) concluded that Pete's bike was just fine, and they issued it a clean bill of health, even after using gauges and caliphers to double and triple check its status.

After receiving this wonderful news it was back to the Holiday Inn to reattach the trailer and head for Jupiter, FL. I was able to get the trailer reattached and I had just made it to the SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, FL when I receive a text from Rich that Jim had a mechanical issue and needed the tools that were in the support vehicle. They are at the 39.1 mile marker at the end of the causeway. Okey Dokey. I am off to help a rider in need. As I am driving towards Jim's location, I get a call from Mike that he has bonked and if all possible, could use a rescue. Not a problem. He is at the 31.5 mile marker. I am at 12. 5 miles into the route. I jumped back into Battlestar GALLOtica and off I go. I found Mike, loaded his bike, and off we were to assist Jim. We found Jim just where he said he was...seems a bungee cord undid itself and wraped itself around his rear cassette while he was on the downhill side of the largest causeway bridge of the day. Thank goodness he did not crash. He had the fortitude and mindset to keep the bike upright. Rich pedaled up to him and decided that he could lend his assistance. Once I arrived with the support vehicle, Rich got all the right tools and in no time flat was able to extricate the errant bungee from the cassette. All fixed, Jim and Rich were once again on their way. Mike and I continued to drive the route and we passed several riders. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes with Marnie, honked at Annie and George, passed a large group at the traffic light which included the Moyes, Woods, Garbees and their friends who had joined us last night at happy hour.

There was a big accident investigation at the corner where we were supposed to turn at Indiantown Dr, so Mike and I took a detour, but we eventually got to the hotel only to find that Mike was the recipient of the last available room and that I would have to wait until after 3 pm to check in. Bummer. Not 2 minutes later, the large group of riders we had passe rolled in and then all bedlam took place, The hotel clerk was overwhelmed and it only took until 4:30 pm until all of us were able to check into our rooms.

Happy Hour was delayed until 5:30 and it was delightful. Rich surprised the group with KLONDIKE Ice Cream Bars, and then we chatted among ourselves until about 6 pm when Rich and Jim talked about today's ride and filled us in on what we could expect for tommorow.

Tomorrow we are off to Fort Lauderdale. It should be a great day. I am planning on riding in the morning with Marnie, Annie and George for about 10 miles and then I will turn around and return to the hotel, pick up the support vehicle and head to the Fort Lauderdale hotel. Only time will tell if this will occur.
George Raney was nice enough to share his photos of today's ride since I didn't take any.
 Navy Seal Museum, Ft Pierce, FL
 Annie coming down the causeway trying to outrun the big truck!
 Levi and David on the causeway

 Janet followed closely by Mark on the causeway.


 Power Plant

Pretty mural....Salt life for me!
Annie riding through a beautiful Banyan Tree lined section
Today's Route: Jupiter, FL to Ft Lauderdale, FL [Cumulative miles = 265.8]

Today's Route: Ft Lauderdale, FL to Kendall, FL [Cumulative miles = 315.6]

Today's Route: Kendall, FL to Islamorada, FL [Cumulative miles = ]

Today's Route: Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 133.7]

Today's Route: Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 133.7]

Today's Route: Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 133.7]

Today's Route: Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 133.7]

Today's Route: Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 133.7]

Today's Route: Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 133.7]

Today's Route: Cocoa Beach, FL to Vero Beach, FL [Cumulative miles = 133.7]

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