228 + 27 Miles Down, 555 To Go

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601 Ponce Deleon Blvd
DeLeon Springs, FL 32130
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This is 2 days of posts due to circumstances… As I mentioned, Sunday was a late start from tire problems. The tubes kept going flat. Finally, I looked inside the tire and found a piece of wire lodged inside that was popping the tubes. What a pain. I had to go out of my way to a bike shop because I didn’t want to get caught in the backwoods of Ocala with no way to repair a flat. Geared up, back on the road, & escorted out by a member of Team Florida Cycling Group.

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Ocala National Forest is the first place I’ve been that doesn’t need bike trails. There are super long roads and no cars for 15 miles or more on many sections. It’s super quiet and relaxing to cruise through. Just had to be careful to ration my water supply.

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MAXIM: When I started this journey, the plan was to use the time on the road to not think and take my mind off some other projects I’ve been working on. I’ve found that doing this does not clear the mind but rather, fills it with bigger things to think about. I feel somewhat philosophical in my personal debates which leads me to wonder if the pre-cellular, pre-technology, pre-preoccupied humans (think egyptian/mayan) were smarter than us simply due to the lack of available knowledge.

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There was one gas station just outside the official boundary of the park where this neat loooking truck pulled up. The old-timer inside went by the name “Fireman Bill” and makes instruments and things he sells including a guitar out of a bed pan. He also has a son named Clint. Upon hearing my story, he whipped out $5 and said “drop me a line and let me know you made it down there”. He was a really intersting guy.

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Somewhere on the route there was a crazy tall bridge that looked (& was) really menacing to go up (& down). Couldn’t help but snap a selfie above the tree line even though a couple guys in a mud truck laughed and shouted at me for it as they passed by. Guess that’s just the cost of riding solo…

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I did the 52 miles planned for the day and decided that since there was really nothing unique to stop for, to start in on the route for the next day and knocked out an additional 15 before calling it quits and setting up my tent about 50 yards off the road somewhere. No cell reception had me going through withdrawls and I fell asleep a little depressed from the lack of phone and realization of my dependency on it.

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This morning was a great ride. Weather was perfect, the remaining 27 miles of route was short, and motivation was high even though my legs were sore for the first time this trip. Saw a sign advertising ice cold beer and tons of fun. Unfortunately they were closed. 😢  I also saw where a local grocer in Astor stole my Mayors Mailbox idea but I didn’t mind. I’m a fan of the open-source movement.

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I rolled into Beautiful Deleon Springs State Park around noon where I was met by a very supportive Park Ranger Dave who set me up with a campsite and offered anything I might need. He was very excited that someone was making a splash to bring awareness to the trails and expressed his frustration trying to advise patrons of where to go to ride the fragmented course throughout the DeLand area. (P.S.: How cool would it be to ride from Gemini Springs to Deleon Springs one day with Blue Springs in-between? The Daytona area got a $20 million dollar County donation to spur development… What would the cost be to support West Volusia in this small way?)

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I was also hooked up with a meal at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill located in Deleon Park. The staff was really supportive and it is a cool atmosphere overlooking the river & springs. You get to cook your pancakes and eggs on a griddle in the middle of the table and there are a lot of options. I’d highly recommend this place when  you want something different than the hum-drum of franchise food distributors. Fun & delicious!

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Tonight, I have family & friends meeting me at the park for a grill out and social time before rolling through town and starting south. But for now, it’s time to go for a swim!

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