After a night consiting of a team meeting and great team bonding, the team was up at 5:00 A.M. ready to roll. Everyone was looking forward to one thing: sleeping in a hotel, thanks to Pi Kapp alumni Rob Raessman. After a great friendship visit at Challenge Enterprises of North Florida, we headed to lodging. After we arrived at lodging, we were greeted by the CEO of the Ability Experienc, Basil Lyberg. His hospitality and encouragement really got the team pumped up and ready for Tallahassee. After getting settled at lodging, we departed for bowling with people with disabilities. Even though cyclist Heath Gilbert wiped the floor with us, we had a great time interacting and having dinner with the friendly people. After bowling, we went to Mr. Raessman’s house for dessert, which everyone was very excited for. As soon as we got back to lodging, everyone was quick to go to bed. 2 DAYS TO TALLAHASSEE!!
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We had a nice ride today through the countryside with rolling hills. There was beautiful scenery throughout. We rode approximately 45 miles to our stage up where we met an awesome police escort and to take us to our friendship visit. The friendship visit was phenomenal. Everyone was so courteous and nice and made us feel like rockstars. We were standing outside for 30 minutes just signing autographs! That was then followed by an incredible home cooked meal of chicken, pulled pork, and rice. Then we had a dance party. It was lit! The director was then kind enough to give us access to the Gainesville recreation center pool where we could wind down. All in all it was a great day and are ready to move on to Jacksonville!
After a 5am wake-up, the team gathered for an amazing breakfast from our crew chief, then began the 86 mile trek to Ocala. Having slept in actual beds the night before, the team was in high spirits and well rested for the ride today. Thankfully the rain held off and the sun stayed behind the clouds for the most part. Although there were many difficult hills along the route, the whole team was able to push through to lodging and get to dinner on time. Dinner was hosted by the wonderful volunteers of Tomorrow’s Equestrian Center where the team was got great food and even a bad that was packed with snacks for tomorrow’s ride. We were able to meet some of the remarkable riders at dinner, and saw many pictures of their accomplishments. Because of the rain that eventually came, we weren’t able to go to the farm for a demonstration. Overall, the day was filled with many challenges, but looking back we are proud of what we were able to accomplish today.
Today we had a day off of cycling in Orlando. During our day off, we had a Friendship visit at the Easter Seals, daybreak of Orlando. While here some of us were able to put on little carnival games for the participants, while others walked the participants through all of the games, and others cooked our lunch. It was a great time being able to enjoy these low-impact games, and getting to know all of the members at Easter Seals. A majority of the members were veterans, and hearing their stories and experiences was phenomenal. After the friendship visit, we were lucky enough to have a dinner sponsored by 2 Pi Alphas at the Kobe steakhouse. It was a great day to recover off the bike, with even better people, to help prepare us for the ride in to Ocala the next day!
Today we rode into Orlando. It's been a wild and wet ride but today was rather calm. The weather held off and as a crew member, it's always a blessing for good weather. I listened to lynyrd skynard all day long while dancing through the turns like always. My brothers whizzing past me as I try my hardest to keep the morale and hype going ever forward. We arrived at Bishop Grady Villas, an assisted living facility, where I met residents that all had full time jobs and had been members of that community from 9 all the way to 18 years! I love when assisted living facilities dignify their individuals, it truly can perform miracles for someone's mind and heart. We ate a wonderful Italian lunch and headed back to Orlando. Little did we know, our hotel was behind the LARGEST McDonald's in the world! Super cool to be there and just find it along the way. We got settled, having free time before a team pizza party. As I approached the pizza, I was taken aback by the scale of each slice my brothers were eating. It was a 30 inch pizza, easily the largest pizza I've ever seen in my entire life. It was a wonderful day all in all. Ride hard, Roll safe.
We got to “sleep in” today and have a wake up at 6:30. Our crew chief came through yet again with an amazing breakfast before we took off towards Lakeland, FL on a 50 mile ride. The ride was overcast and fairly quick; and, though the team had a few flats along the way, we arrived on time and in good spirits. We had an amazing lunch cooked by the wonderful ladies at Webster Memorial Baptist Church. They cooked some of the best food we have had on the trip and there was so much, we couldn’t even finish it all (that’s an accomplishment with this team!). We had a great visit with some of the individuals with special needs during lunch and even a few arm wrestling matches and rap battles with these special individuals. Sadly, we had to leave after lunch and set up our lodging at Sunrise Community of Polk, Inc where we watched movies and dried out from the days weather. Dinner was catered in by Jimbo’s Pit BBQ and everyone on the team enjoyed the change in food (our first BBQ on the trip). We had a great nights sleep reflecting on the journey so far and looking towards the next day.
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