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Safari - Team "Schildkröte" Century, Live Oak, FL - 18 April 2004

Team Schildkröte Rides

By Fairlie Bagley


Team Tortoise, for this ride known as Team Schildkröte, (German for “turtle”) rode a fast-for-a-turtle, flat Century on April 18, 2004 at the Florida Freewheeler annual Bike Safari.  Team members included Bea Joyce, Bob Stone, Reinhard and Jutta Geisler, and me, the official TT chronicler.  We were chased, but not caught by Team Tortuga, led by Gilberto Ramirez. 

Reinhard and Jutta wanted the experience of riding a Team Schildkröte Century so had asked several weeks earlier if they could ride with us.  Who were we to turn down a successful rider of Paris-Brest-Paris, 750 miles in under 90 hours?  A century ride with us would be a social ride to Reinhard.

At breakfast before the ride, Reinhard had a big surprise for us.  He was wearing the Primal “Not So Fast” turtle jersey in honor of the occasion. The day started cool.  We left the Live Oak fairgrounds around 7:35.  The temperature was 51°.  As we pedaled out of town the temperature dropped to 50°.  Reinhard’s GPS kept us thoroughly informed about temperature and location (Ridehard edit: temperature came from the Polar heart rate monitor - more information about GPS see Scout) as we rode.  Of course, we had no problems with the route as the map maker, Bob Stone, was with us.

Since we left early we were among the first riders to the SAG stop #1.  It was good to see John’s Johns at that stop.  I became very familiar with each set throughout the day.  Bob was glad we didn’t have to stop by the bushes every 5 miles when one of us decided we needed some relief as has happened on Team Tortoise rides in the past.  Those portables made the entire ride much more comfortable.  Bea, Jutta, and I were glad there were 2 at each stop so we didn’t have to wait in as long a line.

Bill Harmon’s group passed us just before the second SAG.  If only we hadn’t stopped on our first crossing of the Suwannee River for picture taking!  We played Tortoise and Hare with his group until after the third SAG, where they pulled away from us. 

Have you ever heard of Lafayette County?  There is nothing in it, but the little town of Mayo.  Highway 27 runs through the county.  If you ever want to get away from it all, go to Lafayette County.  At least the riding was great; roads were virtually empty and in pretty good condition.  The scenery was interesting: woods, wetlands, and agricultural land.  It was after we left Mayo that we had a great surprise.  We passed a truck.  We were speeding along about 15 or 16 mph when we came upon a truck towing another truck.  We were going faster, so we just went “on your left” and scooted around.  Were we proud of ourselves!

safari-teamschildkroete-02_20040418.jpg (171478 bytes)    safari-teamschildkroete-03_20040418.jpg (168749 bytes)

Hot spots on my feet are my riding pain.  Reinhard, who also suffers from this affliction, was a great help with tips to prevent or delay the worst of the pain.  He had told me several weeks earlier to wear my bike sandals and move the cleats back as far as possible.  I did this a week before Safari. (Warning to non mechanical types—tighten those cleat bolts!  I found out the hard way at a club ride when I lost a bolt from each shoe and was unable to unclip from the pedals.)  About halfway across the 23 mile stretch from SAG 3 to SAG 4 we took a foot relief break.  Reinhard advised us to loosen the toe straps and tighten the ankle straps of our cycling sandals.  We also took off our socks.  He said to try each mile or so to vary the pedaling motion from regular circles to “mud scraping” where you are also pulling up on the pedals. Don’t know if this worked for Bob, since he rides a recumbent.  All these tips helped me.  I had foot pain, but it wasn’t the agony it had been in the past, and it eased off within 2 or 3 hours after the ride ended.

The SAG I was happiest to see was #4.  It was in the town of Branford, right on the banks of the Suwannee River.  We were served gourmet treats, Oreo-peanut butter-banana canapés.  We took a team picture by the river bank.  Here Team Tortuga caught us, but we raced off ahead of them.  Leaving Branford, we had a C/D ride left to do…30 miles; we first rode on a bike trail, the Suwannee River Greenway until it ended, then we moved onto US 129.

When we turned northwest at O’Brien we received a gift…a tailwind.  We had covered 80 miles and began speeding along at 17 - 18 mph.  It was fantastic.  We had battled a 10 - 15 mile SE wind all day.  Reinhard or Bob pulled and Bea, Jutta and I just kept tucked in the paceline. This is one of the many reasons I love cycling—when the conditions are just right, it is an exhilarating experience.

Finally we came to the last SAG.  When we came to the stop George Cheney had just arrived and had another foot tip…pour some water over my feet.  That was a great relief.  We didn’t stay long because it was getting hot and I was anxious to get away because Gilberto and Team Tortuga had just arrived.

My poor old feet made it the rest of the way.  My body was telling me to stop but I ignored it and kept scraping mud and pedaling circles.  We only had 12 miles to go.  The team had kind of split up the final ten miles, but came together just before we got back to Live Oak.  As we made the final turn and the Coliseum came into view, Reinhard and Jutta insisted I come up and lead in.  What a nice gesture!


After Jutta took a picture of my bike computer, she and Reinhard decided to get back on their bikes and retrace the route to ride in with tandem riders Debi and Steve and Mitch and Allison, who started later than us and were somewhere behind us.  I was too tired to go out for another loop!  All I wanted was a hot shower and street clothes.

This was a hard ride, but the easiest of the 4 century rides I have done.  We averaged 14.5 mph.  We kept a good steady pace.  Reinhard and Bob did most of the pulling.  Other than the wind and the chilly start, the weather was cooperative.  For this year we will call our group Team Schildkröte because of the amazing Reinhard and Jutta.  You will have to get them teach you how to pronounce it.


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top Last updated by Ridehard -     03 Dec 2004