Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 8, 2015. In Sunny Florida.

When we made plans to ride this morning we did not consider last night's change to daylight savings time. Oops. We all agreed to split the difference and ride at 9:30, which felt a lot like 8:30. Stan and Barbara rode to Dianne's house, arriving right on time. We had asked Stan to plan the route.... Mistake #1 was not asking him the mileage!

We rode the Pinellas Trail north to Tarpon Springs, and got on the new bike path extension along Keystone Rd. After that we went through the Trinity area, where we alternated very busy roads with quiet neighborhoods. In one such quiet area we saw some sandhill cranes and a woodstork.

We had a little trouble getting OUT of the quiet neighborhood! The gates were connected to fences, and we did not have the code to open the gate! Finally a car came through the entry gate so we rushed over there and tried to get out before it closed. We did not make it, so Stan applied enough pressure that it reopened and we got through. Of course right after that several cars exited the gated neighborhood; had we waited a few minutes our exit would have been much more elegant.

After about a mile on a very busy road with not much shoulder, we headed toward Starkey Park. This road was quieter and had an adjacent bike path. I had forgotten to pack a snack so we stopped at Havana Dreams Café about 20 miles into the ride. We had a nice long break and fuelled up on rice and beans, guava turnovers and Cuban coffee. Definitely a place we will come back to!

We got on the bike path and Stan asked me if I saw the alligator along the path.  I had not, so went back to see it--it was a little guy, about 4 1/2 feet long, hiding in the weeds. I am not sure how he saw that from the bike path.
We entered Starkey Wilderness Park, which is a protected area for local flora and fauna. As soon as we entered the park we saw a couple of gopher tortoises--I asked Stan to get in the photo so you can gauge the size of the tortoise. Their burrows were nearby and staked out to keep the mowers away.

We rode the 6.5 miles of path through the park, passing signs designating our solar system. As in reality, the first four planets were close together. The more distant planets were quite far down the path. I was glad to see Pluto was still included.

We exited Starkey Park and got on the Sun Coast Trail, which runs alongside the toll road Hwy 589. Photo below is looking back into the park.

After about 6 miles we reached the southern end of the Sun Coast Trail, although it goes about 50 miles to the north. By then we had 40 miles in, and I finally thought to ask Stan how much farther we were riding. He said "about 20 miles".

We took a few more breaks in the last section of the ride, which was mostly on roads with posted bike lanes. I was suffering from the sun by then, and from not riding all winter. Barbara and Stan barely broke a sweat!
We passed very close to Barbara and Stan's home, but did not stop there. They were kind enough to ride back to Dianne's house with us. Our total was 66 miles, so their mileage had to be closer to 80. I sure was done for the day when we got home!

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