#beatcancer Ride to St. Pete – Day 24
Today is day 24 of the 2800 mile ride, but only day 23 of riding. We’ve taken one rest day back in Texas and still pushing onto to St. Pete. We left Tallahassee this morning and the weather was a little overcast this morning, but warm. The fog burnt off rapidly and by 11:00am it was a nice sunny day, with temps in the mid 80’s. Headed out going south once again, but the winds here in Florida are just not cooperating. Decided to change directions and head to Gainesville, hoping the winds would be better in Gator Country!
One highlight for the day was riding over the historic “Suwannee River” in Fanning Springs. This river is a major river of Southern Georgia and Northern Florida. It is a wild blackwaterriver, about 266 miles long. The river is the site of the prehistoric Suwannee Straits which separated peninsular Florida from the panhandle. The song “Old Folks at Home”, known also by the words of its first line, “Way Down Upon the Swanee River” was written in 1851 by Stephen Foster. The song has been the official state song of Florida since 1935. According to legend, Foster had most of the lyrics but was trying to give a name to the river of the opening line and asked his brother to suggest one. The first suggestion was “the Yazoo” of Mississippi, which despite fitting the melody perfectly, Foster rejected. The second suggestion was “the Pee Dee” of the Carolinas, to which Foster said, “Oh pshaw! I won’t have that.” His brother then consulted an atlas and called out “Suwannee!” Foster wrote it immediately in (misspelling it “Swanee” to fit the melody), saying “That’s it exactly!” Foster himself never saw the Suwannee or even visited Florida, but the popularity of the song initiated tourism to Florida to the see the river even today.
In closing, we’d like to dedicate the ride today to Tiana Bishop, our very first cancer fighter of the race from Mid-Ohio last year. Tiana is still battling with Rhabdomyosarcoma and coming off a very aggressive chemotherapy treatment that kept her very sick for the last year. We ask that everyone reading this blog please keep her and her family in your prayers!