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Day 42 – 46: Crawfordville to Fort Walton Beach, FL

With the holidays upon us & people spending time with their families, the video interviews etc are hard-to-come-by at the moment, but will resume as soon as possible. Here’s another mainly cycling update (images quickly taken from iPhone):

Day 42 – Crawfordville (0 miles)

Ended up having another day off (in the same place as the previous update) to recover from a bout of chesty illness. It was amazing to spend some recovery time catching up on sleep and having shelter indoors.

Day 43 – Crawfordville to Blountstown, FL (55 miles)

Two consecutive days off, and at the tail end of illness. And a corker of a day.

A late start from The Inn at Wildwood, I didn’t get going until 12.15. When you have the opportunity of a decent nights kip,the check out time becomes your go-time. Quick stop for some breakfast and supplies in Crawfordville and time to properly get moving.

As far as the riding, if it had happened at the start of the trip, it’d be exciting. Wonderful long roads through the woods. The truth is though, that I’ve spent days and days on ‘wonderful long roads through the woods’ so I’m looking forward to a change of scenery. No complaints though, it was easy riding, perfect opportunity to plug in to an audio book (Catch 22) and zone out. A moderate headwind and the first of the hills, but none significant. The bike’s bottom bracket is making some horrible crunching noises – don’t think it has a lot of life left in it. Crunch.

Today brought with it another trip-first; a new time-zone. The move from Eastern Standard Time (EST) to Central Standard Time (CST), which it will be for a while now, up until close to El Paso, TX. Such seemingly small signs of progress are great mental boosts.

Scariest moment of the day, without any question, was the bridge between Bristol and Blountstown. Jeez. I’m sure in daylight it’s fine. But at night (it was around 7pm), it’s daunting. There’s no shoulder, the cars are moving fast and there’s a shockingly low wall blocking a huge drop into the river below. I stood at the Bristol end of the bridge for about 5 minutes, just looking at the cars going past and seeing if there were any tricks to the crossing. Really it would be a case of becoming as bright and lit-up as possible and fully sprinting to the other side when there was a decent gap between cars. Bike, don’t screw up now. Nothing like a bit of adrenaline to get your legs spinning fast. Once on the bridge, there was no turning back, but thankfully like most daunting things in the moment it wasn’t too bad. Luckily there weren’t too many cars to deal with, and the lights obviously worked, so good times.

Ended the day at perhaps the nicest stealth camp spot so far, just behind a local Methodist church in the town centre of Blountstown. It didn’t appear all that nice whilst pitching, but in the morning it turned out to be a beautiful riverside spot. A good omen for a new day perhaps?

Day 44 – Bountstown to Fort Walton Beach (102 miles)

Today’s the day. After yesterdays late start, today I was on the road by 9am and raring to go, definitely over the worst of the illness.

In the morning, I’d had the thought that as long as body doesn’t say otherwise, I was going to try to cycle for 12 hours, with minimal breaks. I know it’s not about the mileage, but if the landscape today is similar to that of yesterday, and the holidays are here, so people are spending time with their families, it seems like a perfect time to get the miles in. Plus, day 5’s total of 81 miles hadn’t been topped yet, and it had been over a month, so it would be an interesting experiment.

Pedal pedal pedal. Through the woods. By 3pm – 50 miles. Into light headwind and minimal rolling hills. 4.20pm – 62 miles. Nightfall. Lights On. 9pm – 85 miles. Coffee break and escape from the saddle. 11pm – 102 miles.

Great to finally do a triple-figure day, especially before the hills and winds get too bad (a few people have mentioned travelling from East to West in Texas is going to be awful?!). Although how on earth people like Mark Beaumont manage to do 100+ miles consecutively for months is crazy.

Ended the day, once again stealth camped behind a church, this time in Fort Walton Beach, FL.

Day 45 – 46 – Fort Walton Beach

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! No cycling here.

Woke up in the tent to the sound of battering rain. Seems to do that a lot in Florida. And sat it out until it became less-heavy at around midday. Christmas Eve meant time to get a motel.

I’m writing this late on Christmas day (day 46) and have spent the day Skypeing the fam back in Blighty, exploring the gulf coast round Fort Walton and eating obscene amounts of food. Tomorrow it begins again.

Seems like a long time ago crossing the GA / FL state line, but now the end of the panhandle is here it means the next report will be from a new state. Happy holidays!

A rough map from the last few days:

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7 comments on this post

  1. Isaac says:

    Merry Christmas Dave!

    I was wondering, are you going to go into New Orleans? If so, Sarah and I would like to buy you a present and hook you up with a guy who will take you on a food tour of New Orleans. I have been on it and it’s amazing. We need a day or two heads up so I can contact the tour guide. Thoughts?

    Also, do you have your cell phone working yet?

    I was also wondering if you could do a post about stealth camping. What to look for, how to do it, etc.

    Thank bro!

  2. george foster says:

    get yourself some jake bugg on the ol’ iPod. not bad. not bad at all.

  3. Doug says:

    Happy Boxing day mate.

    Enjoy the ride

  4. Tony Norris says:

    Hi Dave,
    That 100+ mile day was awsome. Still enjoying your blog. I have a question. Are you on the Southern Tier? If not are you following your gps?

    • Dave says:

      Hi Tony.

      I’m using a combination of the classic ACA Southern Tier route, and the GPS. Quite like doing it this way because you can go wherever you want and aren’t restricted by one route.

      What I’ve been doing recently is use the key points on the Southern Tier as a guide, and using the GPS to navigate between them.


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