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Sunday, October 16, 2011



A Final blog for Days 24-25

Friday, October 14, 2011
Fernandina Beach (Amelia Island) to St. Augustine
61 miles

Now this is what I expected (or at least had hoped) that most of the ride would be like. We followed A1A along the Atlantic Ocean for the whole ride today. The islands that we rode were only about a quarter of a mile wide with the Atlantic on one side and the Intercoastal Waterway on the other side. The weather was fantastic and the wind was at our backs the entire way!

When I pulled into the motel in St. Augustine, our best friends, the Smith's were standing there to greet me. Ron and Nancy live in Beverly Hills, FL and drove the 2.5 hours to Fernandina Beach so Ron could join me on the last day of my ride. More on this in a minute.

I had time to do a little sight seeing which included drinking some water from Juan Ponce de Leon's famous "Fountain of Youth"! (pictured above). I think it must have worked because that night I dreamed of going back to school. We also visited a terrific Fort built in the 1600's by the Spainards .

Six of us went out to dinner at a great seafood restaurant on the intercoastal waterway. We sat outside and watched an incredible sunset.

St. Augustine is billed as the oldest city in the USA. What they don't tell you is that it was established as a city for Spain. I believe the truly 1st American city was Jamestown in Virginia.

Saturday - October 15
St. Augustine to Daytona Beach
53 miles

My good buddy Ron Smith joined "Bubba and his Babes" for this leisurely ride. Once again we followed A1A and the Atlantic Ocean all the way. It was a bit cloudy, but with a favorable wind we breezed along at 17-18 mph.

This is "Bikers Week" (motor cycles) in Daytona Beach. There are over 100,000 motor cycles of every size, shape and configuration. Ninety percent are Harleys and 90% of the folks were NOT wearing helmets??? Thousands of them passed us going both directions on A1A. If you've heard a Harley...you know the noise level. Compound this by thousands...then you know what a real "herd of hogs" sounds like! What should have been a nice quiet ride turned out to be too darn noisy and once again we had to be careful of traffic.

Happily we all made it to the motel safely. We are right on the beach and have a great view of the mighty Atlantic! This evening we have a closing dinner and I anticipate lots of hugs and probably a few tears.

Please allow me to summarize my view of the ride: It wasn't exactly what I expected it to be. First, the weather was terrible about 70% of the time. Secondly, there was a whole lot more traffic than I anticipated...which meant a whole lot more extra caution. Also, I thought we'd be on more "country" roads where you can hear, see and smell all those out of the way things.

On the very positive side the group of riders was fantastic. I can hardly get my head around the fact that 25 strangers can come together and bond as quickly as firmly as we did. I believe the fact that we all like riding bicycles and the fact that we are all good at it helps! All of us are goal oriented, pretty self disciplined and self motivated. We also had to be able to afford the cost of the trip and be able to take the time to do it. All in all, the people part of the trip was the best part for me.

I can tell you from my experience riding across the country...and now down the East Coast that the drivers in South Carolina are the biggest "jerks" by far...and that the roads and bike lanes in Florida are the best.

The staff of CrossRoads Cycling Adventures was terrific...and I'm not just saying this because Carol worked the tour. They fed us, hydrated us, hugged us, encouraged us and made the trip fun.

This weekend the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association (DPHA) is holding their Annual Conference in San Jose, CA. (Carol and I should be there)! They did a pretty cool thing for me. They had me call in on my cell phone in the middle of their big awards luncheon. They threw a picture of me in my hot spandex riding shorts and shirt up on the big screen and I talked to the audience about the ride and the Scholarship Fund. It was a one way conversation...so I could have really had some fun. But, using good judgement for once, I stuck to the facts.

Speaking of the Scholarship Fund, you wonderful folks have contributed over $17,000 to the Fund! Unbelievable!! I'm truly overwhelmed and forever grateful. More importantly, at the Awards Luncheon, DPHA awarded 2 $3000 scholarships. This in itself made pedaling those 1650 miles worth it!

Carol and I fly back to Sacramento on Sunday, October 16th and head to our home in MX the following Sunday. I'll be hanging up my bike and getting out my kayak.

Thanks so much for following my blog. It was a little tougher to do than it was on the cross country ride due to both Carol's and my schedule. I'd love to hear from you either via comments on this blog (which I understand is hard to do) or via email at darlingtonconsulting@gmail .com., or telephone 916-852-6855.

I consider myself to be very blessed with the most incredible family in the world, truly great health...and wonderful friends like you. Thank you, thank you!

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