Day 40: St. Marys to Fernandina Beach, FL

It seems I prefer to write in the mornings than at the end of the day since my mind is fresh in the morning.

Yesterday around dawn, I packed my things and left the boatyard in St. Marys. Niki was still asleep in her van so I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I carried the rack bag on my back with two straps so that the weight is more distributed on the center of the bike rather than the back. This lessened the chance of another broken spoke.

I wanted to get some breakfast first before shipping the rack bag and my sleeping bag at UPS. The first coffee shop I went to was a drive-through only, then I went to Wendy’s, but their dining room wasn’t open until later. Finally I arrived at Holt’s Sweet Shop and had a cup of coffee, a cream stick, a brownie, and an eclair.

I decided that I didn’t want to go to the Camden Bicycle Center to fix my spoke because I’ll be cycling back on the busy road. I reached out to Bob, a Warmshowers host, whom I had been in touch with and lives in Fernandina Beach. He allowed me to stay with him for the night. Then I contacted the Warmshowers host in Jacksonville Beach to let him know that I will be late by one day to stay with him. I will only cycle about 40 miles to Fernandina Beach rather than 60 miles to Jacksonville Beach with a broken spoke.

After all that’s done, I cycled to the UPS store. The cost to send my rack bag and my sleep bag was just over $100. I thought that was a bit expensive, but I had no choice. My bike felt lighter after ditching the rack bag and I was able to ride a little faster.

My bike after ditching the rack bag

I cycled on route 17 all the way into Florida. The road had a nice shoulder so there was no issue with the cars. I reached Bob’s house at 11:30 AM.

Made it to Florida!

Bob is retired and he lives with his wife, Karen. Karen was out playing pickleball so Bob showed me around the house. I dropped off my panniers at Bob’s then rode my bike to downtown Fernandina Beach to get lunch and to visit a bike shop.

I ate a shake-a-box bibimbap at Area 51 Korean Grill. It’s like a Korean bento box. It was so filling with a variety of items, such as pork, rice, rice noodles, salad, etc.

Shake-a-box bibimbap at Area 51 Korean Grill

After lunch, I rode into downtown and walked my bike on Centre Street. There were a lot of shops, breweries, restaurants, and art galleries there. I liked the atmosphere, but I’m such a minimalist that most shops don’t attract me. Unless it’s a bicycle shop.

Downtown Fernandina Beach

The Fernandina Beach Cycling and Fitness shop was right on Centre and 8th Street and it was recommended by Bob. I walked in with my bike and expecting the repair to take more than an hour since that was how long it took Terry at Camden Bicycle Center to replace the spoke. And even longer at Savannah on Wheels. But to my surprise, Joel, the bike mechanic, didn’t even take out the back wheel. He unscrewed the broken spoke, kept the nipple on the rim. Then he took a new spoke and placed it in the wheel. Afterward, he used a spoke tool to tighten the nipple so the spoke had tension. Lastly, he visually checked the wheel to see if it’s true. The whole process took him two minutes! I was so surprised and grateful to have encountered an expert bike mechanic.

Joel told me that he’s been fixing bikes since he was 11 years old. Joel is now 54. This bike shop was started in 1980. Joel was so generous that he didn’t even charge me. In fact, he tried to find a shirt with my size to give it to me, but he couldn’t find one. I was still in disbelief that the repair took only two minutes.

Ron and Joel of Fernandina Beach Cycling and Fitness

I rode the bike along route A1A, which runs parallel the beach, and got back to Bob’s house around 2 PM.

For the rest of the day, I stayed at Bob’s. I took a shower, then Bob went to watch Karen playing her last game of pickleball while I researched about touring bikes online. When Bob and Karen came back home, Karen cooked a delicious meal of shrimp and vegetables in Thai sauce with rice. Bob then helped me do some laundry.

Karen, Bob, and their dog Hazel

I ended the night after 8 PM. Finally, I went to bed after the sunset this time. I rode a total of 47.6 miles.

During my last night’s sleep. I dreamed about my friends leaving me behind to go to India. I think it’s the loneliness of cycling solo that I dreamed something like that. I also had a bad charley horse on my left calf during the night.

This morning, I woke up at 6:15. Bob fried three eggs for me and made some rice. I also enjoyed a cup of coffee and had a great conversation with Karen about healthy foods and capitalism.

It’s almost 9 AM. I will be heading out soon to Jacksonville Beach soon.


  1. I so enjoy these posts. Thanks

  2. So glad to read about your spoke fixit saga. Joel is your guy. Hopefully, that will be the last of your bicycle problems. Also, you made it to Florida! Congrats

    1. I hope so too now that I've lessened the load. Not sure what to do in Florida for the next two weeks.

  3. I'm so glad it ended well with nice hosts. What will you do without a sleeping bag and tent now?

    1. I can only do Warmshowers, Airbnb, and hotels since I don't have my camping gear anymore. There are lots of Warmshowers hosts if I toggle on the filter to show inactive members. I'm hoping to get more hosts that way.


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