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.
|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 wussies....do 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.