St. Augustine, FL to New Smyrna Beach, FL
I woke up this morning at 6 with the intention of getting on the road to get a good chunk of the miles completed before the days wind picked up.And you know what? It actually worked! Kind of. A little. Ok, actually it didn’t work at all -__- The morning was cool and humid and before I had been pedaling an hour my shirt and shorts were soaked with sweat. Like just jumped into the ocean fully clothed kind of sopping. I suffered about 15 miles of this before I decided to stop, let myself dry out and take a much needed break. I pulled into a gas station and got a sandwich and energy drink. As I was walking up to the cash register I saw the clerk look down at my wet shorts, look up at me then look down at them again. I laughed and told him that it most definitely was not pee, just copious amounts of sweat. He chuckled and said, “Oh, good! I’ve seen a lot of strange things in here but a grown man who’d pissed himself in the store would have been a first.”
So after getting dried off and cooled down I set back out. The wind was really whipping and I was struggling to keep a 12 MPH hour pace. About an hour into this misery a spotted a pair of fellow bicycle tourists ahead. Finally, something to take my mind off this mindless, miserable drudgery. They wave me down and I go to execute a sharp, graceful left turn. Well, you see, I’m not the most graceful person at the best of times and this loaded bicycle is about as maneuverable as a Winnebago so it did not go quite as planned. My front left pannier caught the ground as I was turning and before I knew it I was falling sideways straight into the pavement. Thankfully I was able to catch myself with my gloved hand and bare knee (ouch) and avoided banging myself up too bad. The only thing really injured was my pride. The two cyclists, Rob and Linda, are a husband and wife duo from the Netherlands. They’re riding up the east coast from Miami to Maine and boy were they lucky today. Not just because they got to watch a dumb, American guy ever so gracefully topple over on his 85 lb bike but because my tormenting headwind was their lovely tailwind. We chatted for a bit about our gear and the route and such and then parted ways. Good luck guys and hopefully that tailwind sticks with you all the way to Maine!
The next 25 miles of the days ride took me on the most beautiful ocean road. Like the beach and the ocean were no more than 40 feet away from me the whole time. Even with this bitch of a headwind I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy the scenery. I only took one picture and even that was only from my bike because I wasn’t about to kill what little forward momentum I had going for me. It was along this road that I met my 3rd cyclist for the day! I know, what luck! His name was Andrew and he was also heading north (lucky, tailwind having bastard). He had decided to pack up whatever he could fit on his bicycle and move to New York to start a new life in the big city. He was so excited, hopeful and full of enthusiasm as he described it that I almost wanted to turn around and join him. But, alas, I have my own adventure to do. Good luck, friend!
So there’s really not much more to say about the remaining miles. It went something like this: Wind, traffic, pickles, wind, more wind, ice cream, wind, Mountain Dew, crying, wind. But, with enough pickle breaks, I’ve found that I can conquer anything and I finally rolled up to my home for the evening. Last night I decided to forgo getting another 30$ campsite and messaged a fellow bicycle enthusiast from the hospitality network Warmshowers. His name is Kirk and he is awesome! He’s currently in the Florida Keys but told me to go ahead and set up shop at his place anyways. He lives a bit out of the city in a heavily palm forested slice of paradise. He told me to use his kitchen and bathroom if I needed it and that there’s a sweet outdoor shower in his garden. Everyday of this trip the kindness and generosity of strangers has simply blown me away. This is the life.
That’s all for now, friends. Time to ride into town for an ice cold beer and some much needed food (yes, I know, more food. I’m a human garbage disposal). Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!