NINJA EDIT! I peddled my 1000th mile today. No big deal ???
I woke up this morning at 6 with the intention of hitting the road as soon as the sun started to peak over the horizon in an attempt to beat the ferocious winds that were forecast for today. I packed up my camp and was about to leave but my stomach started grumbling something fierce so I decided to cook a little breakfast before I set out. Some hot corned beef hash slathered on top of a bagel did me right and I set off in a much better mood than I otherwise would have. I get about 5 miles from camp and I notice my map says, “turn left and take ferry”. Shit. I didn’t see that last night and I had no idea what the ferry schedule was going to be today. I rolled up to the ferry station right as they were closing the ramp. The look of complete and utter defeat on my face must have stirred up some humanly compassion in the operator because he lowered the ramp back down and said, “hurry up!”. It’s the small victories that keep me going.
The ferry ride was only about 5 or 10 minutes long so about the same time I had gotten my bike secured for sea I looked up and we were already arriving. The wind had picked up a bit in the last hour but nothing too crazy. I spotted a Starbucks and decided that I deserved a little pick me up. Because of reasons 🙂 Good thing, too, because I got to talking to a fellow adventure enthusiast by the name of Johnathan. He asked about the trip and where I was headed and gave me some excellent advice on my route and some camping spots for when I get down closer to the keys. Thanks, man!!!
About a mile down the road from the Starbucks I ride passed a guy taking a leisurely morning walk. He shouts at me, “Where you headed!?” I whip around, match pace with him and give him the lowdown on the trip. He’s a retired Navy man, a fellow long distance cyclist and just an all around great guy. I ride next to him at a walking pace for the next hour or so just chattering on back and forth. He told me the story about his last ride that got cut short by an unfortunate hit-and-run with a careless motorhome driver. Now he spends his time traveling around in his motorhome and hopping Space-A flights to the far flung reaches of the world. What a life! I want to be him when I retire 🙂 His road name is Bosco and according to him you have to have a road name when you’re long-distanceI cycling. I’ll have to think on that one.
I said my goodbyes to my new friend Bosco and pedaled onwards. The wind had picked up considerably in that time but I was riding on a heavily tree lined residential street so it didn’t affect me too bad. That changes as soon as I turned onto an 18 mile stretch of road running parallel to the beach and was hit face-first with a bout of nasty Lizard Breath. Nothing to it but to do it, eh? So I cranked the tunes up, dropped down on my handlebars and pushed on. Maybe it was the hearty breakfast and coffee I had or maybe my legs are starting to adapt to the brutal punishments I’m putting them through everyday but I was actually making good time. It was miserable, to be sure, but I was pushing along at a decent 14 MPH with probably that much of a headwind. I saw some guys on their super sleek racing bikes slowly closing in to me rear, I thought they were going to pass me but they just tucked right behind me and rode in the wake I was creating. They stayed there for a good 3 miles! I guess they finally had enough of a break from the wind because they ever so slowly passed me. The second guy looked at me as he passed and shouted, “You’re a beast, dude!” It was a nice little confidence boost knowing that, even loaded down with 60lbs of gear and pushing my heavy as shit steel touring bike, I could still keep up with these swift fellows.
A few miles after this happened I spotted another touring cyclist heading in the opposite direction. It’s an unwritten rule amongst us loaded cyclists that when you pass another you have to stop and chat. His name is Greg and he is way more hardcore than me. He’s on a route dubbed The Four Corners and it is basically one giant loop around the perimeter of the US. Such epicness. He was using the same maps as me and mentioned that he had mailed his next ones a bit too far ahead of him to be of any use, so I gave him the ones I had already completed. We’re a small community of like-minded individuals and we gotta stick together. Oh, and he offered up a place to stay when I eventually ride through California! Thanks, brother!
The next 15 or so miles into St Augustine were, in a word, misery. It was blazing hot with no clouds to offer even the briefest respite from the scorching sun, the wind was just as bad and my water was warm. Bleh. But you know what? It was still awesome! It really takes a tough day like today to prove to yourself that you can conquer any obstacle and so by the time I got to Anastastia State Park (my home for the evening) I was feeling untouchable. Before heading to my campsite to set up I parked my bike at the beach, stripped down to my underwear (they vaguely resemble a swimsuit) and ran straight into the ocean to cool off. It was the best feeling in the world.
Now it’s time to relax enjoy the rest of my evening. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!