Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Journey of GuaJaTaKa: Day 4, PaIsLeY to MeLBouRnE

Traveling by bike gives you the chance to appreciate the little things.

That whole day before seemed like a week long journey....  And as I packed up my camp I marveled at how far I traveled in one day.

I could hear voices off in the distance.  I came out of my tent and could see several SUV's on the side of the road, folks standing around chatting.

I moved a little quicker. Packing up my things a hair faster.  Not being entirely sure who was off in the distance. I eventually found out it was a Florida Trail work crew. Interesting.

I got on my bike and pedaled out of the woods.  I had wings again today.  Motivated to meet up with Edith. Seeing a familiar face during such a long trip is one of those little things that you appreciate.

Any soreness I had from the previous days efforts had gone away.  I had a little cheek chapping happening, so for the first time during the trip, I decided to apply some DZ and to wear padded shorts.

Maggie Jones rolled fast.  Nothing Stops GuaJaTaKa.  It seemed like a blink and I was at our meeting spot, the Cozee Cafe in Heathrow.

I ate like a KING.  Straight up HOGGED out, eating FULL ON bikepacker style, doubles of everything, lots of espresso, lots of laughs and conversations.

I look HORRIBLE IN THIS PICTURE>  Edith on the other hand a beauty... beauty and the beast???
I feel for Edith.  I feel for any woman that dares to be in a relationship with me.  The fact is, I am a FURNACE of passion about what I DO.  Constantly stepping it up.  Once I succeed at something, the next challenge gets bigger.  I DON'T want to sit still,  I always want to be on the move.  So consequently I feel bad for the one who has to deal with it.  There are many positives to being by my side, and many many downsides as well.  I reckon it would be a lot easier if she just came along ;-).

We spent about an hour and half together and I left.  The route thru Lake Mary, Winter Springs and Oviedo was via the Cross Seminole trail and soldiers creek.  Part bike path, part singletrack.  I took a Detour to the Shop to say hi to my co workers and to get more Chamois Lube.  I had picked up just a little chapping and I was doing my best to stop it, but noticed I barely had any lube left.

It was fun to say hi to my co workers.  It was fun to think that just a few days before I was in Georgia and I just pedaled ALL THE WAY TO WORK.

I kept my visit brief cause I had made plans to meet Edith in Melbourne to stay at a Hotel and then Meet up with Charlie Kemp the next morning, my riding buddy for the rest of the trip.
Urban singletrack through Oviedo

I left the shop, got back on route, rolled fast through the path, then followed the route into the Little Econ Forest.  When I got to the edge of the forest I got a message from my boss at work telling me I forgot my wallet.  I was already far from the store and I was pretty upset that I was going to have to backtrack especially since I was on a tight schedule.  On my way through town my Friend Craig had asked me if I needed anything to call him, so I did. I called him up and asked him if he could swing by the store, get my wallet and drop it to me.  Since I had just started the forest portion it was a short back track to get back to pavement and a good spot to wait.  Overall I lost about an hour because of that fiasco, then navigated the tight bridges and slight flooding before reaching the banks of the Econolokahatchee which was elevated, scenic and twisty singletrack goodness.
More hidden track

I got across the Trestle Bridge onto the other side and came across a few folks.  One guy was walking.  I stopped and asked him if he wanted me to tow him out?  He declined said he didn't have to walk much further, (I'm pretty sure he was wrong he still had at least two miles to go).

Every single body of water is Swollen in Florida.  
Came across another group of cyclist and gave them directions to the road, one guy looked like he was ready to pass out.

Flagler trail heading towards Chuluota. If you look careful you can see the walking rider
Made the pavement and then weaved my way through Geneva and then Taintsville and Chuluota eventually making my way to SR 50 and detouring off route to Melbourne.  The seven mile road ride to Melbourne seemed endless... Dark... Dank..... Not enjoyable, and I worked my tail off to help finish it faster.

ModeL T?
Edith was supposed to meet me at 8pm, and I beat her there and we managed to get the People at the hotel to let me in and I showered up and kicked up my feet feeling pretty satisfied that another day was done.  Excited as well that I was going to get a chance to have a riding buddy for the rest of the trip and to finally be leaving the chilly weather.


Friday, May 02, 2014

The Journey of GuaJaTaKa: Day 3, PeTer K's To PaIsLeY

That next morning I had a lot on my plate.

I felt like I was behind schedule so I needed to ride from Gainesville to Sanford Florida.  I was pretty determined to make that happen.

Peter took me to waffle house and was kind enough to treat me to breakfast and great conversation.  What a guy, salt of the earth.

Cabe Crisler Hammering me on the Hawthorne bike path, thanks CABE~!!!
I got dropped off at Super Cool Bike Shop where I was going to meet up with Cabe Crisler who was going to guide me across the city via the secret singletrack system.

I chatted momentarily with the employees of the shop and then we got underway.  Having fun, shredding trail.  We passed the HOBO habitat, and man was it creepy to see a hillside covered in tarps and shacks and garbage.  It looked like something you would see in a third world impoverished country and only a stones throw away from the University of Florida.

We rode through the campus.  That was fun, seeing all the College kids hustling about.  Seeing all the mopeds.  Constantly ringing my bell and craning my neck to gawk at one sight or another.

Before Long we got to Hawthorne trail.  It was literally a blink and we cleared town.  Cabe was riding way fast on the bike path and he was wearing my ass out.  Of course I kept quiet and just hung on for dear life, but I was happy when we got to Hawthorne and he turned around and went back home, geezus, I hadn't hit diesel mode yet and that speed was KILLING ME, LMFAO.  I guess a more modest person would of piped up, but me, I am the Singletrack Samurai, aka the Naked Indian, I kept my mouth shut and HTFUd thru it.
Hawthorne bike path

At the Trail head I took a break.  That morning before I left, Peter had a surprise for me.  A counter full of food for me to take with me.  When I left his house, I had 20 wings in a big zip lock bag.  A bag of trail mix.  A bag of pistachios.  That combined with my can of stew and a big bag of kettle cooked chips, meant I had enough food to get beyond Sanford and didn't need to really bother with any stores the rest of the day.

It all seems like a blur, pedaling the pavement and dirt roads between Hawthorne and Rodman damn.  I ate lunch at the Damn, my wings, made tea from powder and water, something new I was doing this trip.  And then pedaled on.
Lake Oklawaha the view south from the Northern end

The View from the Bridge towards Lake Oklawaha going over the man made barge canal.
I rode up and down 88, keeping my speed fast.  I was resolved, focused, determined.

Old Forest Road 88, cyclocross friendly,and half dirt,  half bad pavement.
The 88 store
Before long I was passing the 88 Store.  No need to stop.  I was full of food and water and there was more water at Farles Lake.  So on I went.  It got dark.  It got cold.  I remember being on the side of the road, putting on my lights in the pitch dark, and looking up to marvel at how beautiful the stars looked.  I pushed on to the Forest road that we call the dragons tail.  It was up and down, sandy in spots.  At some point on a downhill, I hit what appeared to be a hole in the ground that was covered by a fine smooth layer of sand.  So I literally hit it, bounced out of it, barely keeping control of GauJaTaKa.   It happened again further down the road, but this time I had to stick my leg out and kick stand the beast to stay up right.  After having it happen twice, I knew what to look for.  I manged to stay upright the rest of the route around Farles Lake, I skipped the pump, it was cold and I figured I was 22 miles from Paisley so no need to stop.  It was best I kept moving.

And I did.

Down Paisley road I went.  Cars were going by.  It was a busy traffic dirt road in the middle of the night.  Traveling alone, you cant help sometimes but to get a little paranoid.  A little Anxious.

It was almost 11.  I was time trialing to town.  I wanted to make a store for some hot food.  From Far away I could see a car was sitting sideways across the road.  I had no Idea why, but my knife was at the ready.  Speed is always my first line of defense and If I ever decide to escape , I assure you,  I will.

I passed the car without incident.  It was odd to see a middle aged man dressed like GI Joe that late at night, but hell its the Ocala National Forest, not that weird.  Further down the road, I could see what looked like 4 floating glowing X's.

I use my lights at night for self defense.  Most of the time I run them on low.  I want them to last since they are the rechargeable kind.  I put my lights on SUPER BRIGHT.  And passed by 4 teenagers, 2 girls 2 guys, dressed like GI Joe, holding maps and compasses.  Some sort of  R.O.T.C. training exercise I supposed and quickened my tempo.  I had literally 10 minutes before everything would shut down in town.

I went as fast as I could, and made it before 11pm, but everything was closed.  I stopped briefly at the Pirate Pub, but the noise and the energy in the air, didn't jive with my energy, and I pushed on.   It was cold, I really wanted to be warm.

I went to the post office and hung out in the lobby for a minute thinking about my options.  I decided to ride down to Clear Water Lake Campground and cook dinner and eat in the bathroom.  From there I would make my next choice.

The bathroom was Warm and I cooked my food and then decided that I would just go up a ways out of the area and camp among the Oaks.  And that's what I did.  Set up fast, got in my tent, and played with my droid for a bit, before falling dead asleep.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Journey of GuaJaTaKa: Day 2, OceAn PoNd to PeTeR K's PlaCe

It was a pretty cold night.
view out of my tent at ocean pond camp site

I made note of it, cause I knew, the further south I went, how much things would change.  I was gonna ride myself out of this chill, and I was curious to know when it would happen.

after a day in the flooded forest GuaJaTaKa wants more
Its hard when your on a schedule to guess if things will work out.
"Can I make my goals Happen"?
"Can I crank out 100 miles a day for 8 days without circumstance kidnapping me of my plans"???

I had made certain Mini challenges with myself during this challenge.  And one of those MINI challenges was to not Pay to stay anywhere.

I was packing up my things, observing the people around.  Taking my time, enjoying where I was, appreciating the moment.  Being mindful, and careful.  Lots of inner dialogue.   When along comes the Camp host wondering who I am.

He was polite enough, I explained I arrived late, in the dark(technically a lie) and wet and didn't know where to pay for camping.  He told me where to go and just like that, one of my MINI challenges died, LOL.

It wasn't long and I was off.  I was looking at the forest.  Now that it was a bright & sunny beautiful day, I could really get a good look at Osceola.  It was flooded still in the woods, but at least I  had better visibility.  And even though I was on pavement, it was just a paved over forest road, not much different from dirt.  The beauty was all the same.

It was interesting to see the houses that were way out here.  And the yard garbage was even better.  Old rusted out VW beetles and school buses.  Abandoned offices.  All of the sights made me want to release my inner shutter bug and snap away a zillion macro fotos.  So much texture.

because those two things go perfect together
I thnk they are out of business???
The battle ground was everything I thought it would be.  Ominous, eerie, weird, strange...full of an indescribable energy.  They had a little museum, so I went in.  There was no one in there.  When I got inside it was so warm compared to the outside temp, that my survivor man skills kicked in and I stripped down to my base layers to avoid feeling cold when I got back outside.

They had all sorts of authentic uniforms and artifacts.  As a trained Anthropologist I cant help but take mental inventory and catalog of the things I see.  I am amazed by old things.  Wondrous about the stories they tell, whose pockets they traveled in, whose flesh they may have torn apart(bullets).

There was a bench in the front room, facing a TV.  So I took the time to enjoy the warm building and learn about what happened at OLUSTEE.

definetely the not how the north won the war at Olustee
Apparently.  After a long battle.  The white soldiers, left the black soldiers to cover their retreat.  Interesting.  I put all my clothes back on and headed over to the cemetery.   I like cemeteries, call me creepy, but I do.  Almost always stop if I see one and I have time.  I sat there for a bit, listening to the wind, looking at the dates on the stones.

I returned to the route, and enjoyed my ride down to Butler for a restock.  I'm always careful when traveling alone.  I am not going to be the one to be taken advantage off.  I walk around with a smile on my face, and I give nothing but thumbs ups, hang looses and hello's, but you never know when there could be trouble so I am careful.

I restocked, wanted food, wanted to visit the dollar store.  It was an interesting little stop at the convenience store, I couldn't help but notice how "mixed" this little southern town was.  In five minutes I saw just as many interracial couples.  Being a person that is normally noticed by folks cause I look different.  I cant help but notice differences of where I am.  AND I couldnt help but take notice how mixed this community was.  Regardless, a local gave me some insight as to where there could be a restaurant.  AND I pedaled off and found nothing, eventually backtracking to a Hungry Howies.

MINI CHALLENGE number 130 was to not eat any grains on this ride and not eat any fast food.  SO, I ate a salad and 20 naked wings at this stop and rolled on south. This particular Hungry Howies was quite unique and had a very one of a kind old 50's style appearance.

thats the parking lot down there
I had a long day ahead so I kept going.  Taking advantage of the pavement sections.  Eventually I came up on Private Property so I had to figure out a re route and used Google maps to take a short cut along a prison.  I kept the speeds high and reached the Santa Fe River.  I took a moment to explore the river side.  Took pictures of the flooding. And then kept going.  After riding a bunch of sweet dirt, I eventually rolled into San Felasco and the fun singletrack traverse began.

Made it!
I saw several people at the lot.  Almost half expecting them to come up and ask me why I had all the luggage.  When I got to the park I paid the pedestrian entry fee and simultaneously watched two people drive right by it.  Shame shame, such a cool trail you should pay the fee????

I took a minute to eat, and reconfigure my packs.  At this point I had some stuff strapped to my rear bag, and decided to alternate and carry stuff on my back so I could really Gnar Gnar the singletrack.
safety break in San Felasco, Never have I seen the brook so swollen

 And that's pretty much what went down.  Probably the most fun I have ever had in Felasco.  I hammered the crap out of that place and took times to stop and smell the roses.  Enjoy the swollen brooks, drop the roots, rail the corners....etc....etc....

Took the 'dog leg' out and when I got to pavement I let Peter Kraft know I was heading to his place.

the man, the myth, the dork
He found me on the road and then we got food and hung out, and ate, and watched movies, and talked... and man... It was a great way to end my second day on the road.


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Journey of GuaJaTaKa: Day 1, FArgo To OcEaN PonD

The day started in De Leon Springs Florida.

Edith and I had to get up to Fargo where I would be dropped off to begin my journey south to Flamingo.  The  night before I had loaded up my bike.  The reality is the planning for the trip had been happening for months, so it was pretty easy to get loaded up and get out the door.  

We Stopped in Gainesville to eat food and talk.  I was resolved.  It was raining hard outside.  WE could clearly see that my day was going to be wet.  I had learned from riding days and days on the continental divide, how to keep things dry.  So I was prepared, not overjoyed.  


Edith took this foto of me at breakfast...busy...busy....

 It was a very pretty drive to Fargo.  Not far.  But as I got closer it became OBVIOUS that the area was in a higher stage then usual for water level.  Never having seen this place in person, I was curious about what it would look like.  AND all was perfect.  The spot I started at had a huge tourist center right on the Suwanee river and I Couldn't had done a better job at picking a memorable start for such an adventure.  Pictures don't do it justice.
Mighty Suwanee

It was the perfect place to start.  Fargo GA is the Gateway to the Okeefenokee and the Suwanee river.  Didnt even know that when I picked it.

 Meet GuaJaTakA , I think I made all the right choices with the build and the bike.  I had it all and felt good about it.  GEar list will follow when the story is done.

From the start I rode 17 miles down the road.  Getting a good soaking the entire time.  It took exactly 17 miles to leave the state of Florida.  The forest roads through Osceola were Horribly flooded.  Muddy, slow, covered in puddles.  I Had been looking at this area for months on the satellite images so it was a bit of a bummer to have to deal with the chill and the wet.  But I was geared well, and prepared and put in the work.  Slowly picking my way through the mud, the deep water crossings that often forced me to dismount cause they got too deep for my wheels.  It was pandemonium at its finest.  This was my first trip ever without using a Fred Bar adapter and aero bars, so I was constantly reminded how much I missed my two friends.  
The weather was bad enough that I was contemplating some alternatives.  

"I mean is it the smartest thing in the world to work this hard in an 800 mile trip in the first 50 miles?" ...."should I have just waited it out....", ...."should I just camp right now?"

AND for each thought... I had a response.....
"50 miles 800 miles... miles don't matter, this trip is about time and you have to be in Picayune racing by March 8th!"
"waiting is for you know how bad ass you are right now cause your not caring that its cold and raining......"
i did a lot of riding on this trip in what appeared to be regular clothes.  I think I get treated better when I look like a regular guy.
"camp? there isn't a dry spot on the ground to be had?????? and when have I ever set up that tent in the middle of a rain storm....."
This is typical dialogue... LOL

Before long I am on 17 mile camp road.  I know I have to go over 75.  Once I do that the route turns to singletrack and I have about 3 miles of that before I hit my first mandatory water stop at Ocean Pond Camp Ground.  I expected no available food restocks till Lake Butler, so I packed heavy enough when I left for two days of supply-less travel.  
When I crossed 75 I was happy.  I had been getting some text messages and even a call from Peter Kraft, so all that kept my spirits pretty high.  I wasn't feeling down.  IN fact.  I noticed my demeanor was the calmest I have ever been.  Its like, after years of doing this stuff, I had found my Zen.  
I got into the singletrack, and It was flooded as well... and then the trail, disappeared... It was getting dark... and I wasn't in the mood to solve a riddle after spending 6 hours speed traversing the Osceola forest in arduous conditions.  SO I backtracked to my original track that didn't use singletrack.  Used the Osceola Forest map I had and re navigated to Ocean pond.  

I found the first structure I could.  AND discovered that they had, electric, water, and dryers that ran on credit cards.  Within seconds the decision had been made for me, to stay at Ocean Pond, dry my clothes, set up camp and take a half day.  Lord knows, after driving 270 miles, and riding 7 hours in flood - mud conditions, I think a half day was appropriate.  Tomorrow I would ride faster.

NK 14

Saturday, February 22, 2014

NaKeD On ThE DiVidE part 9: SolRaK dRoPs it LiKe ITs HoT

And just like that.... On my limp to breakfast the next morning, I made the call that my race was over.

What can I say, the list of complications was too long, the pain, unrelenting, I knew the only way to stop it all was to stop and rest and relax....

Now to get home....

I saw other riders at breakfast that next morning.  The Lorax, Rick Ashton, some riders I had not seen since I passed them on the top of Richmond Peak, I said bye to all of them.  Some were sad to hear about me dropping out, but I was making the decision that had to be made.

Sometimes, decisions get made for you.  Whether you like it or not, you swallow the bitter reality and move on and plan your next challenge and make your next move.

My options for leaving Lima was taking a bus to Salt Lake city Utah and then hopping a plane.  I considered just riding there, but didn't.

Then my brother Edwin was on his way to Yellowstone National Park and he volunteered to pick  me up.  I got the room for another day and then spent the next week, riding with my brother.  We did the tourist thing in Yellowstone, then did the tourist thing in South Dakota, then did the tourist road trip across the United States.  He left me off in Tennessee where I met up with my Brother Eric, who needed a van driven back down to Florida, so that ended up being my last leg of the trip, a long drive home.

It was an epic 22 days away from home, 2 countries, 10 states and several thousand miles of planes, trains, automobiles, hikes and of course Bikes!!!

counting more coup 
my campsite with my brother at Yellowstone
falls at Yellowstone
Yellowstone panorama

Yellowstone panorama

Yellowstone panorama

Yellowstone panorama

yellow stone is full of bears, I was very fortunate to see lots of wild life on my 22 day voyage

Somehow my wallet came up missing in Yellowstone.  So I had no license and no cash.  I got cash sent to me, and eventually my wallet back, but I drove far without a license and when I got in the mini van to drive home, the speedometer didn't work, so I improvised.

that's right Buffalo's the size of a Prius

my brother Edwin is no joke, WE WENT TO EVERY SINGLE HOT HOLE IN YELLOWSTONE, beautiful in person

This duck was at the camp in South Dakota, he behaved like a dog and you could pet him.  I am not making this stuff up.

I wanted to capture even the smallest things when I was traveling, a macro up close shot of Mr. Bee

My home in South Dakota for a few days.  Even though my trip ended, my need for sleep gear did not.

Yellowstone is a live volcano, a huge diverse expanse of raw earth power

Biggest single stone I have ever seen
Huge thank you's to my Family, Edith, my Sons, my Daughters, my brothers, my Friends, my acquaintances. The Great Creator for giving me the strength to persevere, lessons where learned out there.  Once again the Divide was a life changing experience and this adventure ended long ago, already tons of new adventures have happened since.  What can I say, I am blessed and live a very charmed life, even amongst immense diversity, I am humbled by all the beauty that we have to enjoy!!!

Thanks for reading!!!

ON to the next thing!

Biggest rocking chair in the world AND what I look like after I don't shave for 20 days.  I know it drives the ladies cray cray