Aside from getting sick, this was a wonderful vacation for me! I always look forward to January now. I never did before. Something wonderful happens when you have to put up with nothing but snow, traveling at the last minute to make a 200K in TN because it's 10 degrees warmer there, and colder than freeze yer nuts off temperatures right after a really nice November, then travel to warm (okay, it was 22 degrees when we got there Friday AM), sunny Gainesville, stay 3 days and two nights, and have fun doing nothing but hanging out with your favorite friends and riding bikes all day. Oh and eating. I love food!
We headed out Thursday evening around 6:30pm, me having been late as usual due to normal rush hour traffic and having to stop and get my kroger paycheck. We all took turns driving and sleeping, with myself helping out from about 11pm to 2am. I then did my normal thing and took a car nap. I apparently slept through frozen Atlanta, which was mostly black ice.
Fast forward to a lovely sunrise on Friday morning, on our way to the local Ihop, where Ric would discover he might find a new career as a waiter. LOL you can shoot me later Ric! After downing various pancakes and turkey bacon, we checked into the hotel, which had changed its name in the meantime. We discovered we shared a door to our room with Donn's room, so it was like a big slumber party! Most of us decided to take advantage of the gorgeous sunshine and head out for a ride at around 1pm after lunch. Others headed out to scout out the local bike shops around Gainesville, which I did last year. Gainesville is quite a cute college town. I recommend visiting!
I decided to venture out on the tandem with Roy, and Donn, Frans, Ross, and Todd joined us. Todd led the ride, having ridden the trail before. All was bliss at first, and I even spotted an armadillo on the side of the trail. It didn't even look at us as we flew by. Then, all of a sudden, Todd decides to sprint attack a hill, and snap!! My powerful legs (okay, probably some of Roy's power didn't help either) snapped the chain. We were out of luck until Todd thought to call Ric and have him pick up a chain. After that, the chain was shorter and Roy didn't big ring it, and we were ok. We ended up with 30 miles of trail riding, in 65 degree temperatures. It was an awesome start to my mini-vacation. Friday night we decided to eat at Carrabba's, my favorite Italian place. Ric and gang proceeded to get me to drink 7 beers (ok not really) but it sure looked like I was the lush of the group! Ross unfortunately cracked a tooth on an olive pit, but was able to find an emergency dentist and get it fixed enough to ride the 200K. We all ended up calling it a night early around 9pm, so we could wake up nice and early for the 200K.
Saturday was also awesome. Not only did I get to take several pictures of our group riding in Sunny, 70-degree temperatures, but all I had to do was pedal. I enjoy riding the tandem because I get to really enjoy the outdoors. I don't have to worry about steering (except of course when Roy runs into things, LOL kidding Roy!) Roy says he noticed I was down in power output, and he may have been right, but truth be told I really didn't feel all that bad until Saturday night/Sunday morning. I did feel more worn down, but I think this was more due to lack of sleep than anything else. I didn't have a fever on Saturday, although by that night I did. I still had quite an appetite too. Anyway, I still had an excellent time watching nature on the bike, noticing the different birds and the fact that there are as many horse farms in Florida as there are in Kentucky! I also noticed several wild cranes that were often in small groups of 3 or 4 in fields. I am not sure if these were cranes, or egrets. They were cool though. I should also add that even though there were several mechanicals early in the ride, overall we did very well. Some guy on a recumbent busted a tire and Ric stopped to help him. Donn later cracked his derailleur hanger and Ric and Roy helped him. Later, Dustin broke a spoke and Ric helped him. So here's to having helping hands on rides :)
We rolled into the finish at the Rush Lake Motel with a time of about 7 hours and 31 minutes ride time, that is 9 hours 23 minutes total Rando time! We were welcomed by homemade sandwiches and pasta salad, to deserts and cake and drinks. It felt good to be fed. But we still had a 4 mile ride back to the hotel, and the sun was setting quick. I threw back on my layers and back to the hotel we went, to enjoy hot baths and a "2nd dinner" at Outback steakhouse. It was the following Sunday that I got really sick, and promptly followed friends' advice to "sleep as much as possible". I think I was awake all of 3 hours of the trip home. Thanks guys for driving. I know I wasn't much fun to be around!
I look forward to our next 200K, which will mostly likely be Milford, OH, unless Mother Nature decides to wave her nastywand on us again. LOL