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East Coast Tour The Turkey Trot "Over the Hill"
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East Coast Bicycle Tour

Summer 1999

Fort Lauderdale, FL to New Bern, NC


Introduction 

FloridaGeorgiaSouth CarolinaNorth Carolina

Days 1-5Days 6-10Days 11-15Days 16-20


Introduction

This trip report consists of emails that were sent out for me after I checked in each day by phone, followed by notes from the diary I kept on the ride. This was my first tour and is consequently not too exciting, unless of course you were there. If there are any mistakes in data, distance or description, blame me, not the email writer. Enjoy.

This tour was made on a 1999 Raleigh R-300 touring bike. I carried four panniers and a handle bar bag, tent and sleeping bag and Thermarest air mattress. For a full list of everything I carried, both on this and my next tour, check out the table of contents for specifics. I had never ridden more than 98 miles in a day (doing the Houston-Austin MS 150) and had NEVER ridden more than two days in a row like this. I used the book, Bicycling the East Coast, by Donna Ickenberry as my source material. Great book, especially for folks just thinking of starting out. She provides an average 50 miles a day route with each segment ending in a campground, public or private.  All in all, hot but fun. I didnít get to finish but shall do so when I can.

I boxed up the bike and flew into Fort Lauderdale, finally found a taxi willing to take the boxed bike and me to a cheap motel and settled in for the night. Tomorrow is a 75-mile rideÖ


Days 1-5

Day 1  Florida
May 18, 1999, sent by Helen;

Just heard from our restless traveler. He arrived at Ft. Lauderdale this afternoon and the bicycle and bags survived without breakage. He is at the Dania Beach Motel 6 tonight and he plans to leave early in the AM for the first day's ride: 70 miles! Having pizza delivered for dinner--I think they call that "carbo loading".
Stay tuned for more... Helen

Philip's road diary entry. Flight was fine but trying to get a cabbie to accept the bike box and me was a pain. After they finally got someone with a station wagon to take the fare he was angry to find out I was staying very near the airport. I work for a living too and understand he needs a better fare. We compromised on turning off the meter and I paid in cash. Works. I got the bike put together quickly but could not find the speedometer I've been using. Being both a belt and suspenders kind a guy I carry a back-up speedo. Off to the grocery store for provisions. Bagels, peanut butter, peaches, power bars. Yum.

Day 2
May 19, 1999

Just heard from our intrepid traveler. He made his destination, Jonathan Dickinson State Park at 5:30 this evening. He stopped at a bike shop for some tuning-up today, met a couple from Sweden who have been bicycle touring for the past 2 1/2 years! He says he'll ride with them for a while tomorrow. Weather is very warm, roads are good. No problems! He rode about 73 miles total today.
More to come.... Helen

Philip's road diary entry: Boy, talk about a killer. I have never done anything like this before! I started out from the motel at six in the morning, went the wrong way and then found the right way, finally started pedaling North. Fairly uneventful except for getting used to the bike. The Brooks Pro leather seat I'm using is more painful than I would like. Hope I can get used to it. Traffic is OK. Quite hot but no bugs. Stopping about once an hour for cool drink. Blue GATORADE. When I got to the State Park I was pretty damn impressed with my self. Fat, fifty and foolish is one way to describe me. But I did it. Rode 75 miles, fully loaded and got there in decent time. I was just setting up when two "children"--late twenties?--rode up, wanting to share the camping spot. They had started out in Miami, forty miles south of me and arrived only 15 minutes after me. Don't look very tired, either. Their names are Priska and Patrick. They are from Sweden. Have been on the road for 21/2 YEARS! They quit their jobs, rode across Europe, then Africa, then Japan, then flew to Alaska and rode down the West Coast to Peru. Priska contracted TB during this time so they hung out waiting for some drugs to work and then flew to Miami, Fla. The plan is to ride to NYC and meet up with family, then fly England and bike home.

Envious of their ability to finance such a trip I asked "how?".

They worked for their Post Office until they had enough money; sold everything they owned and hit the road. Plan to go back to work when they return until they have enough money to do it some more. Unless they decide to start a family.

A raccoon got into the bags last night. I didnít think about it and left them out. Unzipped them suckers in nothing flat, strewed oatmeal and Ramen noodles EVERYWHERE. I learned not to do that any more.

Day 3
May 20, 1999

Just heard from Philip who again got to his destination, Sebastion Inlet State Recreation Area in Florida, without any problems. He rode about 80 miles in 8 1/2 hours today. Weather and roads were fine. He said he is saddle-sore, and he is looking forward to several shorter distance days coming up. He is sharing a campsite with the Swedish bike-tourists tonight. They will be turning in toward Orlando for a Disney World visit before continuing the East Coast ride. Philip has no plans to visit Disney World. :-) Helen

Philip's road diary entry: I could not keep up with the "kids " today but they kept taking side trips so we got to the same place at about the same time. Nice enough State Park but MAJOR MOSQUITOES.  We were getting chewed up alive. Rode to the store and bought some ecologically unsound stuff that is pure DEET and slathered it all over the body. Ahhhhhh.

We sort of shared dinner. They are of the "boil some noodles and toss in 'something' and maybe add veggies" generation. I cooked some bratwurst and shared it in return for noodles. Fair. I am envious of the tent they use. It is quite a bit larger than mine and has a unique arrangement for cross ventilation. I have a great tent but not really meant for weather this hot. NOTE: when we started our identical stoves, Whisperlite, his roared like a banshee. Mine is relatively sedate. Turns out he is using unleaded gas. I still have a bit of Coleman fuel in mine. They are going to Disney world to see the Rat tomorrow so I will begin riding alone again. Neat folks. They have incredible stories to tell.

Day 4
May 21,1999

Just a short ride today, only 40 miles! PG said he got to his campground destination early in the afternoon, set up camp, did laundry, and enjoyed the breezy, shady surroundings. He watched the cruise ships leave from the port nearby (Cape Canaveral). An engineer turned bike shop owner advised him to put a gel pad over his leather saddle to soften the break-in period. "What a good idea!" (DUH!) It made a big difference!
So far, so good! Helen

Philip's road diary entry: Quite a treat to ride down this little driveway looking road and realize it was the gathering point for all the cruise ships. I could see all  the well dressed folks getting  ready to "cruise" and here I was "cruising" on my own. At the end of the road was a state park that actually faced on to the water and from which one could watch the shuttle take off. I got set up early and was enjoying the calm-and a GREAT shower-when two folks begin to set up not far away. They had just bought this HUGE cabin type tent and didn't seem to have too solid an idea of how to set it up. They asked for some help and we got it up. Turns out he-Jack-is a nurse from New York who decide to become a carpenter at about 50, went through the whole apprentice program and then quit nursing and moved to Fla. He used to do Ironman triathelete stuff. Again, neat folks are the rule, not the exception on the road.

Day 5
May 22, 1999

After riding a short 39 miles today, Philip arrived at the Cape Kennedy KOA (Kampgrounds of America). It was just after lunchtime, and it was hot! He said he decided to rent a Kamping Kabin (air conditioned) instead of setting up the tent. After bringing the bike inside, he turned on the AC and took a long nap! That's what I call "roughing it"! He had Campbellís Chunky beef soup for dinner, a nice change from Ramen Noodles.
All systems "go" so far!!! Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: Not a great day. My butt hurts! I was riding along, being cool when I hit a large swarm of "no see'ems" with my mouth open. YECH I find that I am used to riding now and find the daily groove quick and easy. I am eating a lot of stuff but I think it goes away too. Is very hot and hard to sleep at night. I use a 50 SPF sun blocker and a really silly hat but NO SUNBURN. Zip. NADA. Kinda lonely out here but different. I like it a lot.


Days 6-10

Day 6
May 23, 1999

Philip reports today that he rode 40 miles and is in an old campground in New Smyrna Beach, FL. He is going to take himself out to dinner in town tonight. He said the campground is shabby, but the showers are hot and there's plenty of shade. He has a lot of mosquito bites, but he's also got a first-aid kit containing all the anti-itch creams known to medical science!

According to my calculations, in 5 days of touring, Philip has completed 259 miles of his 1600-mile route. Not bad! Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: This was weird.  Rode off the main route to what is essentially a suburb, riding down busy streets, malls and stuff, certain that I am LOST when I saw this little bitty sign for the RV park. It used to be out in the country and then the city grew up around it. I am the only person in the whole area set up for tent camping. I am starting to notice that if I donít intentionally keep the speed up I tend to cruise about ten mph and wander a bit. I think this is just part of touring.

Day 7
May 24, 1999

Greetings! Philip called in tonight from the Anastasia State Recreation Area in Florida. He rode 66.5 miles today in 6 hours, 18 min. By stopping for a few minutes every hour he was able to avoid getting tired, and he says he feels fine! The bike got a tune-up at a local shop and the gears are shifting smoothly. The chain is stretching, however, and will need to be replaced in about 500 miles. Philip cooked pancakes and bacon for supper. The Bisquick "just add water" pancake mix was convenient and good. Squeeze Parkay didn't make the cut, however, and was disposed of. A man has to have standards!

According to his bike odometer, Philip has ridden a total of 345 miles since arriving in Ft. Lauderdale last week. Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: This was a decent ride day. The incredible age of St. Augustine makes for interesting contrast to being on a bike. I did find a donut shop today and now all is better. What have I learned about touring by now is this, Get up, Get on the bike, Pedal. You will eventually get somewhere. 

Day 8
May 25, 1999

Another long day, Philip rode 70 miles today in 6 hours 20 minutes riding time. He stopped again at a bike shop (he just loves bike shops) for more work on the gears and to fix a broken spoke. He said it was slow riding through St. Augustine. The campground is lovely and he reports the sunset was spectacular. Weather continues great, getting a little cooler as he goes up the coast. Campbell's ramen noodles are better than Snack Ramen, but still not very good. He is getting tired after over 400 miles in 7 days of riding, and he may take a rest day tomorrow. All is well.

Philip says thanks to all of you for the messages of encouragement (which I diligently relay to him over the phone). Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: Hard to be excited when you are hot and sweaty when you get up and that is the high point of the day. Just a note: No flats, no mechanical problems except for loose derailleur and the occasional broken spoke.

Day 9 Georgia
May 26, 1999

Philip left Florida behind today! The 60-mile ride was difficult because a lot of heavy truck traffic was on the road due to I-95 construction. The road he was riding had no shoulder and he had to stop and get off the road every time a truck came past. They worked it out that the truckers would flash their lights when they spotted him so he had time to get off to the side before they got too close.

He is spending the night, and maybe even tomorrow night, at a Super 8 motel next to a large truck stop, a Waffle House, and a Dairy Queen!! 'The South shall rise again!!' Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: This was not fun. Period. The truck traffic from I-95 was all diverted to this small country road because they are paving I-95. The road has no shoulder, just drops off about three inches in height to sandy soil. When you have to pull on to it, you come to a stop VERY quickly. Sort of a controlled collapse. The truckers were actually nice and gave me all the room they had to give. I found out that if I didn't cause them trouble, they weren't interested in bothering me. It just was a very small road. I shall not miss Fla. at all. But they do know how to have a truck stop. Waffle House, Dairy Queen, 100 channels of nonsense on the cable and AIR CONDITIONING/CLEAN SHEETS.

Day 10
May 29, 1999

Philip took a rest day on Thursday but he was back on the road on Friday. He rode 70 miles and camped at the Savannah KOA. He groused at the price of 22.00 for a dry tent space, but he chose it over the 70.00 Motel 6 holiday rate. Weather is good and he says he feels great!

Philip's tour diary entry: This was strange. If I didn't mention it earlier, my wife and I are full-timers. This is the term for those of us who live all the time in an RV without having a house somewhere. So, while I am used to KOA Kampgrounds, I haven't had the joy of trying to sleep in a tent in one while some of my fellow RVer's idle the giant rigs trying to learn how to park. My butt still hurts but the riding is going quite well. I am surprised not to meet anyone else biking through here. The local riders are most unfriendly, having no use for an overladen guy like me. They are all into the titanium bikes and brightly patterned clothes, trying to convince themselves they are Greg LeMond or Lance Armstrong. They ain't. I know they can go thirty miles an hour for a while, but I wonder how many of them can ride 60-70 miles a day every day and still smile a bit?

From Helen:

For those of you who inquired after my welfare, I'm doing well. I started making some nursing visits for Caring Hospice here in the Phila. area. Friday was my birthday and I enjoyed the day very much. I saw the Young People's Theatre Workshop production of Fiddler on the Roof. My nephew, Vito is in the show. It was fabulous!!! I'll be seeing it again on Saturday, on Sunday, on Wednesday.... well, you get the idea.

A safe and happy holiday weekend to all!! Helen


Days 11-15

Day 11 South Carolina
May 30, 1999

Philip called in from a motel in Beaufort, SC, this afternoon. He rode about 50 hard miles today, on mostly shoulder less road. The campground where he was planning to stay was totally shade-less, and it was just past 12 noon, so he continued on to Beaufort and took the first motel with an empty room that he found. He noticed a lot of Marines there (on leave from nearby Paris Island) making available rooms scarce.

After a good meal at the Toddle House: fried chicken, cream gravy, mashed potatoes, and green beans on special for 4.99, Philip were ready for a nice nap. Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: What today was I do not know. I was trying to figure out how to get thru Savannah and the directions were just enough off that I kept tantalizingly close but couldn't get there. So I noticed this guy passed me three or four times and then would stop and rummage the dumpster. As I am trying to figure out where the heck to go next he pulls up and says "better get in the truck". I was wondering if he was gonna kill me or give me a ride and why I needed either? Then he said, "You trying to find the bridge? " Shit I didn't know there was a bridge!

"yep" he says. Takes me over to this little driveway while explaining that what he does is recycle parts out of thrown away computers. Anyway we get there and he says "up there". and yep, he is letting me off at the ON RAMP to a really tall bridge. Did I mention that I don't like heights? At all? But it seems it is the only way over the river. So, up, up and away. I thought I was gonna die. Way up in the air. Ignoring the NO BICYCLES sign as it is way too late. The higher I got the narrower the road got until at the top we were down to one lane with me sucking up against the side rail. I was walking at this point. Got over the top and hopped on, hit about thirty going down. Whee !!  When I finally got past the first alleged campground and got to Beaufort I was tired and hot and hungry. So apparently were about ten thousand Marines all in need of a room. They were impossibly young and healthy and very polite. Part of the ride was all through the Marine Base and you haven't lived until you are on a bicycle sharing the road with an Abrams Tank. Dang it, those things are big and loud!!

Day 12
May 31, 1999

Just a short note tonight: Philip made it safely to Givenís Ferry State Park in South Carolina. He rode 38 miles. With the holiday weekend, he stopped where he knew he could get a spot to spend the night. I missed his call because my Sprint PCS phone kept alternating between digital and analog mode while I was at my brother's house, and it didn't ring, but he was able to leave a message. I just love technology when it WORKS!!!! Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: I was riding thru the essential middle of nowhere today and saw this church off to the side. Now I know we have all seen lots of churches before but this is special. Been burned by the British and the Feds and only about half of is still standing and still is so regal and solemn. I was standing there sort of cooling off and resting and being impressed by history when a couple of "tourists" showed up. They were loud and intrusive and they had a list. A list of things to see and they were marking each one off as they "bagged" it. They were on a mission but experiencing the land was not part of the mission. They asked me to take their picture in front of the building and I did. But I left the lens cap on. I did not like them.

Day 13
June 1, 1999

I must correct what I wrote yesterday. Philip rode 72 miles, not 32. I misunderstood the message he left on my voice mail. Today he rode 30 miles and took a motel room. I don't think there is any delicate way to say that his rear end is hurting, so I will just leave it at that. He has ridden a total of 700 miles in 13 days, with only one rest day. Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: No way to make this sound better. My butt hurts really bad.

Day 14
June 2, 1999

News to report: Philip will be putting the tour on hold for a couple of weeks to go to Dallas. Deltec, his part-time employer, has a two-week trial starting on Monday. Philip is a nurse-consultant for Deltec, he instructs health-care professionals in the use of CADD infusion pumps in hospitals and home-care.

This is a good chance to take a break from riding and earn some extra $$. Works for us!!!!

Philip is safely in Andrews, SC tonight, resting up for his ride into Myrtle Beach tomorrow.

More details later, Helen

Philip's tour diary entries: Once again the kindness of strangers stepped in to save me. I got to this marina/campground and found out that they were not really letting folks camp there any more. Oh. Except that I can stay of course because I'm on a bike. Captain Dick, who runs this place and actually is the Captain of the riverboat, is just a true gentleman. When I told him I needed to find a place to store the bike while I went back to Philly to work for three weeks he just said, "Wanna put it in the Warehouse?" So I camped out and then rolled it in the warehouse and just left it there. And there it was when I got back. Too cool.  Course I should have dried it out first. Damn, now that is a nasty smell! Mildew. Eyew.

Day 15
June 2, 1999

Hello to all!

I'll be picking Philip up at Phila. International tomorrow afternoon. He's coming up here to gather his clothes and rest up before he goes on that Deltec job. The only problem is that Deltec can't quite decide if they're going to start the trial on Monday the 7th or Monday the 14th. And we won't get an answer until tomorrow morning, when he will be boarding the plane. So, in any case, he'll be taking a break from the tour for either two or three weeks. I'll stop my daily updates and let Philip take over communications while he's here. Helen


Days 16-20

Day 16
June  

Good news all around!

Philip arrived safely back at Conway Marina near Myrtle Beach, SC, where Captain Dick was keeping his bike in the warehouse. Except for a need to air up the tires and air out the tent, everything was shipshape.

Philip took Captain Dick and his wife out to the local bistro for dinner and gave them some homemade oatmeal cookies for their kindness.

As for MY good news:

I have the computer back tonight after the nice man at Staples installed the HP ScanJet 4200C scanner and it WORKED !!!!!!!  A freshly scanned picture of PG and his bicycle is now available to anyone who wants it!!

More tomorrow. Helen

Day 17 North Carolina
June 30, 1999

Philip rode just about 45 miles to Carolina Beach State Park in North Carolina only to find it completely unshaded. It was 96 degrees and raining, so he went up the road to a motel. Philip is a very intelligent man.

His day also included a ferry ride and a visit to the Aquarium near Fort Fisher.

Deltec contacted him regarding a possible 10-day pump trial at Texas Children's in Houston. It may come up as early as the 14th of July.

He is trying to get through with the ride before then, but he says it's harder to get psyched up to ride now than it was during the first two weeks. I think the heat may have something to do with that. More tomorrow. Helen

Philip's tour diary entries: Helen is right! It is hot and getting hotter. And I can't get back in the groove.

Day 18
July 1, 1999

Well, the Houston job is on for July 13 thru 24 as of now. Philip again rode about 50 miles. He had 3 broken spokes repaired at a bike shop in Wilmington, NC today. He arrived at Rogers Bay Family Campground in the late afternoon and set up camp. No shade here, either. Huge campground, hundreds of folks out for the holiday weekend. He said he walked on the beach and stuck his toe in the Atlantic Ocean, which was gray and cold. He is finding he doesn't enjoy being alone as much as he used to.

I think the plan is for Philip to ride through the coming week, and I will drive down to pick him up in time for him to fly to Houston on the 13th. Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: This is the kind of place that I don't go even in the rig. Not a tree in sight. Thousands of folks with too small a trailer for the number of folks that are going be in it and sit in front of it and play loud music way too long. I am the only person here on a bike that is meant to be ridden.

Day 19
July 3, 1999

Hope everyone is enjoying a great Fourth of July weekend!

Philip got the last tent space at the campground in Salter Path, NC. Since he right on the seashore, there are no motel rooms available. It's very crowded and it's HOT. He told me he is considering an alternate route that will bring him further inland for tomorrow and Monday. I will be driving down on Tuesday to meet him and bring the bike and Philip back home to the trailer. He rode 50 miles again today, so his total is just over 1000 miles. If one hundred miles is a "century", then he has ridden a "millenniumĒ! Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: I HAVE RIDDEN A THOUSAND MILES! I know that what you read here does not convey the feelings I have but it is a dream for me.

Day 20
July 4, 1999

A happy 4th to all! Philip rode inland about 70 miles today and arrived at New Bern, NC, a harbor town not far from Greensboro. He found a room at the Ramada and turned the air conditioning down to 40 or as close to it as it would go. He ventured outside for food, but quickly turned around and ordered pizza instead. My nephew Vito and I will be leaving on Tuesday AM for NC to get Philip and the bike. ROAD TRIP! ROAD TRIP! Should be fun. I'll let Philip compose the next report when he gets back. Bye for now.... Helen

Philip's tour diary entry: You should have seen the face on the kid in the motel when I rode in to the lobby. I was trying to navigate my way down the wrong way on a highway ramp (closed) to get to the hotel. When I finally got there I just kept on riding inside and said give me a room, any room. I need air-conditioning!! I am glad to be done for a while but this is not the end of the tour. I plan to complete a full perimeter tour of the US, doing one segment of a time.

Well, so far I havenít gotten back to finish this ride. I did most of the Adventure Cycling Association Northern Tier Route the next summer, from Seattle, WA to Mantoloking, NJ, (over 3500 miles) and now I have to do some planning and scheming. I want to finish the East Coast, Ride down the West Coast and then, maybe, maybe think about doing the Ride the Divide route that goes form Canada to Mexico across the top or the Rockies. Now doesnít that sound like fun?? PG

This was me on the Raleigh, back in Houston after taking my first 30 mile ride to check out the panniers. Not bad. Not bad. PG


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