Gear Up Florida 2007: The start to our journey across Florida

As the team started to awake at 5:30 a.m., the nervous faces started to show. People slowly started to pack their bags, check out, and make there way to vans to pack up and get ready to leave. Walking around asking people about how they feel left me with the interpretation that people are nervous, but ready to take-off.

Before we started to take-off, we have something called group up, which consists of everyone standing in a big circle discussing today’s route, the day’s schedule, and other notes that we needed to know. All of this information is placed on our white board, which is just basically a dry erase board. Once we conclude our white board talk, we ended circle up with a group prayer. Then we headed off at about 6:40 am for our 90 mile trek to Clewiston, Florida. The trip started out smooth with everyone making it to the 10 mile mark in good time. After a while, the heat started to pick up and the love bugs started to come out. The first pace-line started strong making it to mile 20 in about an hour. As the heat started to intensify, cyclists started to slow down keeping an average pace of about 15 or 16 MPH. Crew stop after crew stop, cyclists started to get tired. Once we reached the 72 mile marker, cyclists had 5 more miles to lunch, which everyone was really looking forward to. It was a tough sight to see these guys push so hard and struggle with the heat. So I just started playing up beat music to keep their energy and excitement going. The sweeps finally reached my crew stop at about 2:30 p.m., ready to eat lunch. We all reached lunch at about 3:00 p.m. putting us right on track to arrive in Clewiston.

Once we reached Clewiston High school, everyone was tired and ready to shower. After cyclists and crew members started to clean up, people started to head out for Wal-Mart runs to get the extra stuff they needed for the trip. Once everyone was back and ready to go, we headed out to our dinner/friendship visit we had scheduled for the evening. The friendship visit was at Sunrise Community Center of Southwest Florida, which had BBQ sandwiches, hotdogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, and dessert all ready to be eaten up by the whole team. As we ate dinner, each member got to interact with all the individuals at the center. Since I am from Clewiston, I had the privilege to invite my parents to the dinner/friendship visit, which was pretty amazing. Once we concluded the visit with a picture and presentation, we headed over to the car wash and cleaned all the love bugs off the cars for our arrival tomorrow in to Ft. Myers.