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Day 5 - Crawfordville FLA to Lake City FLA - 126 mi / 203 km
Crawfordvile to Lake City

I'm still limping after an uneven sleep - I woke up multiple times and my attention was always on my right calf, saying and thinking nice supportive thoughts to a very sore lower-body muscle group that was continuously and insistently calling attention to itself.

5:30 AM comes quickly. After having ended yesterday in the dark, I am big on starting the day with reasonable light. It occured to me that, relative to other trips, my verbosity in journalling is way down.  I'm really focussed on getting the trip done. I go through my routine of packing / dressing / buttering up my legs with my Tiger Balm / sunscreen concoction.

It's 32 deg F and even with daybreak, the sun is hidden by the trees, so the highway is shrouded in shade. I hit the road and head north, then east, with my breath fogging my glasses, my eyes tearing and my nose running. I'm still in shorts, as I have been the entire trip. Crazy.


My upper body is comfortable, my legs are mush.  I'm concerned about popping another muscle or cramping, so I'm staying in the 13 mph range - any faster and I'm concerned about the wind chill factor that I am creating simply by moving through the air on my bike.

Morning Mist on a river:

I'm totally focused on my legs and the highway traffic.  I'm waiting for a highway sign, a merging highway, that will give me an indication that I'm on the right highway. It never comes.

Finally, another highway sign appears. I am miles ahead of my first reference point - I must have had my head down for an extended stretch. Checking my trip computer, I am already 1-1/2 hours and twenty miles into the ride.

9 AM and already one-sixth of the day done.

I didn't want to ride in the dark again. That meant getting my average speed up to 15 MPH to have a ride time of eight hours and leaving me a contingency of one hour of daylight.

Finally, some open field and I get some direct sunlight on my body:

Then back to featureless forest:

Today's ride was distilling itself into a simple measurement of distance over time = velocity. I start testing my legs.

My legs are still numb and I can't feel anything. The sun is climbing, yet the road remains completely in the shade.

The first major milestone of the day is Perry, 50 miles away. I am avoiding looking at my odometer as much as possible - to do that would get me going down the path of "Are We There Yet???"

I keep ramping my speed with no significant increase in discomfort, although the range of extension in my right leg is about 80%. I can't walk, but I can pedal.

11 AM Perry City limits.

And Perry's main claim to fame -------------------------------->:

I'm feeling pretty good as I keep rolling along Hwy 89. Then Perry becomes a cobweb of intersecting rural highways. I'm looking for Hwy 30 - that's what Google Maps had prepped me for.

There's a 27, 172, 89, but no 30. I stick to 89, pulling over twice (once with a toothless incoherent black man in a rocking chair in front of a euphimistically named "antique store", the second time with a very pleasant and enthusiastic East Indian woman running a convenience store) to confirm that I'm on the right highway to Bradford.

The highway expands into a well-kept divided four lane highway and the North wind is squarely on my back and I'm pedalling effortlessly into the sun at mid-day.

Something is clearly not right. The wind should be on my left shoulder and the sun on my right. A mileage sign appears:

I'm on my way south to St Petersburg and the town at 45 miles is not Branford, it's Cresensia.  I'm on the wrong highway.

I swing across the median and backtrack.  I connect with gas station attendants and convenience store clerks who confirm my new directions to get me back on track. I've lost 45 minutes.

On to the next town - Mayo:


Mayo "Work Camp" = medium security prison:

and the County courthouse:

Now I'm really leaning into my pedals, the highway stretching behind me:

.I reach Branford and cross over the Suwannee River, the basis for the Official Song of the State of Florida, written by Stephen Foster, the first renowned American songwriter who also pushed for the very first copyright laws:

Way down upon de Swanee Ribber,
Far, far away,
Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha de old folks stay.
All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation,
And for de old folks at home.

suwannee river

I spend the next five hours racing against the sun - it's moving inexoriably into the west and I'm dealing with road construction and broken concrete and ripped up breakdown lanes and traffic stoppages. One of the labourers tells me that if I was two weeks later, I would have a great ride. Oh well. Onwards to Lake City:

The forest landscape turns into farmland.  I'm now consistently in the afternoon sun. For the first time on the entire trip, I am attired in my favorite cycling gear -  a sleeveless form-fitting yellow top and my shorts. The sun feels good. The miles roll by.

I arrive at the Best Western at 4:30, one hour ahead of sunset. The target average speed was 15 mph - I finish the day at 16.5 mph

Gimpy leg aside, I feel like I'm getting stronger as the trip progresses.

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