March 11,2017, I officially started my solo cycling trip.
I was going to take Route 66,starting from Maryland to Chicago then all the way to California, but thanks my friend Paul who insisted on driving me to Florida taking the southern tier, I didn’t do a long cycling trip alone, wasn’t considering about the weather,climate, just wanted to go anywhere I like, but Paul is an experienced cyclist who has cycled more than 26 years, he started his first cycling across America trip at the year when I was born, he knows what factors should be considered in before planing a long trip.
We cycled around Bradenton for 3 days which is where his parents live in,then officially started in Gainesville . He accompanied me for 2 days then took the same way back to Maryland, it is so nice of him teaching me how to use paper maps and find the safe place to camp in .I never use paper map before,because I even get lost with GPS sometimes, ladies seem born to be lack of sense of directions, or just me!lol! So i brought two phones and portable battery, I thought about taking 3 phones and 1 Garmin even, don’t laugh at me here, you would understand how importance the modern technology means to you when you even cant tell which way is west or east. But Paul never use phones, a typically traditional guy who stick to his old way to survive in 21st century,but thanks for that, now i could finally read the route signs and paper maps without worrying about the batteries.
The biggest problem about cycling will be sleeping and eating, even though eating is not a problem for me, I basically eat everything ,eating healthy and clean is still very important on the trip, you don’t want to be sick or have diarrhea problems, and most of the times, you may not be able to find the food you like or even find the food,you need to know what food good for you and easy to be found. I thought about carrying a camping stove,I bought one online,however it was still on black order before I leave,it is a good thing which i realized you may really not have enough time to cook on the way and its not that necessary in warm or hot southern America. So this is how I eat, two apples,carrots ,rice cakes ,3 energy bars in the morning, I usually have big breakfast in the morning which keeps me feel energetic through the day, and then a few bars and some fruits in the afternoon, I love protein bars,they give me the nutrients and energies you need, and they taste good and sweet,they usually come with the different flavors,like peanut and butter, almond fudge,chocolate and mine,etc. Have dinner with Warm Showers host or get a buffet once a week to treat myself.
Speaking of Warm Showers,which is the best way to solve the accommodation problem, it is a community who provides a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists,a great way to hear the stories from other cyclists,sharing experiences and also finding a cozy place to sleep in . Besides that, camping is necessary as well, in some barren places ,you may not be able to find Warm Showers,deciding where to camp is essential, especially for a solo biker. on the first night, I tried to find Warm Showers in Gainesville, there are like 20 hosts there, but most of them are college students, they were out of town because of spring breaks, it was nearly dark at that time, my friend Paul suggested me to stay at his friend’s house, I immediately said no,because i wanted to experience the real trip in a real situation, I can’t always stay at the place where his friends or parents at, i gotta find the way on my own, when we were discussing about that,the guy who was installing my front rack and panniers at the bike shop walked by and said’ You guys are welcome to tent in my front yard,i got two kids and a dog, but feel free to come if you don’t mind’, it seemed good to me , at least we are not stay at somewhere we know, kind of like the real trip then,lol.
The second day, we biked from Gainesville to Mayo,110 kilometers,I finally entered into panhandle,the stretch is pretty barren so not too many people on the way.we camped by the beautiful springs,the temperature always stay at 72 degrees,the heaven for divers.
The third day,from Mayo to Crawfordville, 125 kilometers, we stayed at the hotel, got the chance to do the laundry and took a shower.
The fourth day, March 11, I separated with Paul and started my trip alone,from Crawfordville to Port Saint Joe,125 kilometers,it was beautiful to ride along the coast all day long,but it was a little bit scare for me to camp out alone for the first time,fortunately there are a lot of churches on the way which make me feel safe and peaceful ,so I decided to tent at the back door of the church ,when i was looking up at my tent, the shadow of cross appeared on every side of my tent,yes ,God was there!
正式告别Paul 可以开始一个人的旅行，有种自由独立的快感，虽然他一直在很nice 的帮助我，而且是和我相反的方向却坚持陪我几天然后一个人原路返回，但是再好的呵护也比不上独立成长自己体验最真实的旅行，临走前他千叮咛万嘱咐的说有事千万打电话给他，他可以随时用卡车把我拖回去，这不丢人！😂我说你真是想多了，我决定的事9头牛都拉不回别说你一卡车了。
这一夜，我平静的睡去，当第二天早上醒来的时候，教会的人发现了我，他们很热情的邀请我共进咖啡和早餐，而在早晨的敬拜中，再次唱到If you are walking through the valley, and there are shadows all around,do not fear, he will guide you,He will keep you safe and sound! 这又一次印证了昨晚圣经给我的话语！