A Caress


Today starts my ride. Excitement permeates the air for one and all. 

We leave Old St Augustine’s past the original fort and head to the ocean road. All is well, there is even a slight tail wind. 18 miles in we get a warning that there is a bad wreck ahead and a change of plans. We are on a two lane road the only one there. Up ahead I see flashing lights and our support van pointed back towards St Augustine’s. We have a choice… get in the van and back track or walk our bikes in the sand a mile around the wreck. There have been fatalities and an investigation in progress. We all choose to walk around.

Once on the other side I look back 40 yards down the road. The cars are so badly damaged …two I don’t even recognize as vehicles. I walk back and approach a young female state patrol officer and offer my help but with tears in her eyes she says they are all beyond help…4 dead. I reach out and squeeze her hand and surprised she squeeze back and thanks me for being so visible all dressed in orange.

I ride on and think what those 4 did this morning when they awoke and left their beds never to return again.

Life can be so fragile. 

For the next two to three hours I cannot get rid of  the image of the mangled piles of metal with people inside.

Angel and Flossie try to comfort me to no avail.

There are three ocean state parks ahead and I decide to leave the road and ride along the inner ocean bike paths.

About half way through the first Angel taps me on the shoulder and says slow down, besides someone wants to talk to me…up ahead an old wise one . Flossie opens my ears so I can understand. 

“ Let Her take care of it… she is One of Those in Charge”

Puzzled I ride on.

I enter a beautiful ocean forest . The path is there but each rider must avoid the sharp pitfalls that abound.

I marvel at the tangled jungle and suddenly hear 

“ I’m here…in charge…the tangled mess is all mine and not really tangled at all. Let your thoughts fade of those 4 who came home. They are mine again”.

Ahead I see soft caresses dropping from limbs and as I pass under them I feel the touch of tranquility perfuse my soul. 

Once again Mother Nature has brought me calm.

So begins the ride…

And the beauty begins to return



For the past 8 years I have worked in a clinic where birthdays of staff are regularly celebrated. A  calendar announces the day a month in advance. For 8 years I have never been included on the calendar. I shyly asked once about this a few years ago. The response…”Well…it’s because you are ageless”.

Herodotus first described the Fountain of Youth 3000 years ago. Alexander the Great sought it out on his conquest of Western Asia ( he died in his thirties). 

Medieval literature abounds with references but it is Ponce de Leon who cemented it in the minds of Westerners. In 1513 from Puerto Rico he explored the east coast of Florida where eventually St. Augustines was established becoming the oldest inhabitation by Westerners on this continent.

By the way Ponce de Leon died 8 years later at a young age with a poisoned arrow sticking out of his thigh. 

My parents lived full lives but not particularly long. My mother, who took minimal care of herself , had already had 20 strokes by my present age and my father was well on his way to alcoholic dementia and a slow slow decline. I have been more careful with my body and soul than they had. Tomorrow this “ageless one” will be traveling to St Augustines, the city which claims to own the Fountain of Youth. My trip, if one is to believe the staff at work, is like “Taking Coals to Newcastle”. 

I’m not sure that the Fountain of Youth is found on some Greek island, some Persian plateau or in the swamps of southeast America. I think rather it is found deep down inside wherein live our most cherished thoughts and feelings…a place where Flossie and Angel live in peace and solitude most of the time. Thank goodness they come out to join me on these rides. 

I have come to know my body and soul over the years. I know my limits of riding in terms of water, food, and rest needs. I am aware that I must drink a liter every 10 miles, eat at 52 miles, and rest at 84. I know that I get tired at 4500 miles. I have adjusted my training for the 6900 to come over the next 16 weeks. More importantly I know to keep the white rabbit in his hat, out for only a rare occurrence. I don’t mind the solitude of long-distance riding. It fits my introverted character and allows me to ponder happenings and  surroundings. 

The ride this year is 1000 miles flat, 1800 hills and low mountains, 2500  flat, and 1600 hills and mountains again. I have mapped out the pace in my mind so to be there whole at the end. 

There is a certain amount of lunacy in this endeavor, yet  I find it cleanses my heart and soul and allows my creativity to flow…

“Easter in the Desert” painted 2023