St. Petersburg, FL to Chassahowitzka, FL
Total Miles: 1860
The prodigal cycling son has returned from his mini-vacation nestled inside his big one! I had only planned on staying in St. Pete till Monday morning but I somehow ended up getting drunk and having an impromptu karaoke session by the pool with the lovely and charismatic Diedra. Needless to say I was not in any condition to cycle the next morning so I thought, why not just stay an extra day? Well the next day rolled around and I was, again (seeing a theme here?), laying by the pool basking in the Florida sunshine and the thought of getting on my bike the next day just didn’t feel right. So I decided just one more day of relaxation was in order. So I did and I have no regrets.
Before I get started with the today’s main events there’s a few little shout outs I need to give. The first is to my super hot, super twig, super badass of a strictly platonic life partner Amber for letting me take over the living room and just generally be a lazy POS for 6 days. Thanks, betch. The second is to the aforementioned Diedra for forcing me to not stay at the house and be a loser and instead taking me out for multiple nights of crazy debauchery. You the bomb dot com, girl. Third is to my man Bruce Miller, Amber’s dad. He not only smoked me pounds, POUNDS, of pulled pork but he also sent along some of his delicious home made BBQ sauce to go with it. It’s my breakfast, lunch and dinner the next few days. Thanks, Bruce! Last but CERTAINLY not least is Auntie Sharon, Amber’s aunt. She invited us up to spend a few days at a resort in Orlando with her and taught us how to make her signature cocktail, The Dube Whisper. Don’t ask for the recipe, it’s a closely guarded secret :-p She also made the most badass turtle bracelet for me because she’s a fan and knows I’ll be needing all the Turtle Power-Ups I can get in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you so much, Auntie!!!!
Ok. On to todays festivities. I woke up at 6, said goodbye to the ever beautiful Amber and Diedra and set out. It was the usual cool, humid Florida morning and so I was of course drenched in sweat the first 15 minutes. After the last 6 days I had to relax, though, my legs were like tightly compressed springs just itching to go. I sped through the first maybe 15 miles before my stomach told me that I needed to calm the shit down and get some food. I say maybe 15 miles because my bicycle computer that tells me my speed and distance is suspiciously absent from my handlebars. I’m fairly certain that I took it off and stuffed it into one of my packs but, like, not totally certain I didn’t leave it behind. Oops. I had a pretty long day planned for today so I wasn’t about to turn around and go get it if I did, I figure if I did then Amber can just mail it to me and I’ll just do without for a while. But I digress. So I stop in at a gas station, grab an energy drink and sweet talk the clerk into letting me use their microwave to heat up some of Bruce’s famous pulled pork for breakfast. Yum yum yum.
The scenery the next few miles wasn’t anything to write home about and I was on a main highway pretty much the whole day. The drivers were considerate and there was a generous bike lane but the stop and go from all of the traffic lights is enough to piss the Pope off. Grrr. But what’s this? Up ahead of me I see something that looks suspiciously like a turtle trying to cross the road. This is my chance! A little Turtle Luck never hurt anybody, am I right? Upon closer inspection I realize it’s not just any ol’ Turtle but a giant snapping turtle. Umm yeah, no. You know why? Here’s a little history lesson:
Excerpt from “You Shell Not Pass: A Brief History of the Lizard Uprising”, pg. 927
“General Brightshell, using all the cunning his leathery mind possessed and more Turtle lives than his conscious could bear, had finally battered the Scale Army into a full retreat. Their last stronghold, Warmrock, was finally within striking distance of his most fearsome and ruthlessly blood-thirsty warriors, The Snapping Legion. He ordered his troops to take the stronghold and end this bloody campaign once and for all. The Legion marched to the gates of Warmrock but instead of sacking the keep and ending the war they turned coat and swore allegiance to King Half-Tail. Lacking his shock-troops, General Brighshell had no hope of breaching the castles defenses and so began the 100 Year Siege.”
So you see?! I’m not afraid of some finger amputating turtle. That’s crazy! I just refuse to help a disgusting, traitorous, turn-coat Judas turtle.
Moving on. I pushed another few hours through the dull, ragged edges of Tampa’s urban sprawl before I started to feel myself tuckering out a bit. Lacking my trip computer I didn’t really know how far I’d gone but I could tell I really needed a break. I was hot, sweaty and feeling every pedal stroke. I stopped in at a 7-11 for a pick-me-up (Mountain Dew of course) and to check my phone to see how far I had left to go. I was telling myself that anything under 40 miles to go I could do, but only just. To my complete and utter surprise I was only 18 miles from my camp. I’d somehow zoned out and pedaled what I can only guess to be about 35 miles the last few hours. It’s always such a great feeling to expect way more miles than you actually have. I’d equate it to that feeling you get when you wake up at night and look at the clock and realize you still have 4 hours of sleep left instead of 15 minutes. Heaven.
I pedaled the last few miles with relative ease and arrived at my home for the night, Chassahowitzka River Campground (go ahead and try to pronounce that), got myself checked in and headed straight for the shower. I stood under that ice cold water for a good 30 minutes before I felt chilled enough to feel like a real human again. Tomorrow is probably another similarly long day. Yay. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!