Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 11, 2008: Mayo to Gainesville, FL - Arrival at the finish line

Our last day started with several stops to get Mike's rear tire to hold air. We finally succeeded, with the help of some duct tape to supplement the well-worn rim tape on that wheel. From that point on, the ride went very well. Fred, Ray, and I rotated 10 mile turns at the front, arranged so that Fred would be leading us into Gainesville. We even did 10 of the 71 miles on a bike path that showed up unexpectedly along highway 27 near High Springs. Another pleasant surprise was that the last 20 miles into Gainesville on 232 and Millhopper Road was largely under a cool oak canopy. Finally, we finished about 30 minutes before a rather energetic thunderstorm descended on Gainesville. Again, our pace was a brisk 15.4 or so, at least until we slowed down to work our way through Gainesville and take Fred's campus tour.

Arrival in Gainesville, our final destination. 

Fred lived, loved, and learned at U of F in Gainesville for 10 years, and is, let us say, ENTHUSIASTIC about his alma mater. Mike had split off earlier toward the home of his ex-wife, Pam, but Fred insisted that Ray and I ride through campus with him. It was worth it, as he entertained us with a constant running commentary about his youthful exploits at appropriate points along the way. We stopped at Lake Alice for a photo, and again at the bell tower and at the Psychology building. A young woman had just finished defending her dissertation as we walked into the latter. While Fred talked over her future with her, I sprinted up to the second floor to see if anyone I knew was around. I figured I could give them a good scare, fully done out in lycra, helmet, and sweat. Alas, the few people who might recognize me were nowhere to be seen.

Kathy arrived at Fred and Ray's hotel at around three. In the 35 years we have been together, this trip was the longest period we have spent apart. I was so very happy to see her! Mike and Pam joined us for an end of tour celebratory dinner at Harry's (New Orleans-style seafood) in the center of town. Fred picked up the tab, and proved once again that he is a world-class tipper. He would have tipped too much anyway, but when he learned that our waitress is studying toward a doctorate in statistics (one of Fred's specialty areas), the sky was the limit!

Depending on whether you count incidental, off-route miles or not, the Tour d' Fred covered somewhere between 1,130 and 1,180 miles through Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The closest thing to an injury or accident was at the fish camp in St. Marks when I was too tired to get my foot unclipped in time to avoid dropping my bike and scraping the back of my calf. There were no mechanical (not counting ferries, of course) or weather problems of significance. Our one day of rain was a blessed respite from the heat. We met many friendly and interesting people. We got along with one another exceedingly well, with lots of laughter and hardly a cross word in 18 days. In short, we had a great deal of fun. Fred feels that he accomplished his goal of doing something "manly" in celebration of his 60 years. I am thrilled to have been there to share the experience with him.


  1. Congratulations on a successful tour! Sounds like you had fun, plus you conquered your challenge. Happy Birthday to Fred. Seth, it will be good to see you again.


  2. Great job guys!! Sounds like a really fun ride and glad you are all safe and sound and back home! You are an inspiration to all of us staring down 50 and 60!

  3. Way to go Gator Fred....Happy Birthday too. Val

  4. Guys, having the pleasure of knowing each of you, congrats on a fine tour. You are all shining examples of what it takes to age with grace and to remind us that age is just a number. I am sure this will be an experience that you will never forget. Peace out, Danno.