Chassahowitzka, FL to Fanning Springs, FL
Total Miles: 1930
What a day, what a day…. I woke up at 6 so I could get a jump start on another 70 mile day, packed up my camp and hit the road. Actually, I shouldn’t say road. I hit the dirt path out of my camp only to discover that my rear tire had gone flat over night. Seriously?! The rear tire again?! That thing has some kind of evil Lizard voodoo on it or something. Nothing I can do about I guess except just take the punches and keep on rolling. I’m kind of an expert at fixing that thing by now so, meh. I unload everything, take the tire off, patch the tube and get it all back together before hitting the road for real this time. Then James and his Bike rolled off into the sunrise and lived happily ever after. The End… Or was it?! DUN DUN DUUUNNNN!!!!
I leave the camp and the weather this morning was lovely. Cool, only marginally oppressive humidity and lots of that Florida sunshine starting to peak out through the trees. I was hearing this quiet, kind of rubbing sound coming from my rear tire but figured it was just my brake pad not sitting right. I only had a few miles till I stopped for breakfast so I figured I’d just take a look at it then. After another mile, though, the sound started to get a bit louder so I started to slow down to check it out. CCRRAACCCKKK!!! I nearly shit my pants. It was easily as loud as a .22 going off. What was it, you ask? My god damned rear tire had fucking exploded. Yes. Exploded. I pulled over, unloaded Forrest again and surveyed the damage. Prognosis: it was fucked. Toast. Lizard food. Done. Ugh… Some strategic Googling yielded a bike shop about 15 miles away and, even though I was in a pretty rural area, I figured I’d give Uber a shot. Success!!! Kind of. The app told me the guy was driving one of those tiny little hybrid cars. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that my giant ass bike would fit in that thing. So I called the guy, told him what was up and that my bike would not fit. But being the kind soul that he is he offered to come pick me up in his wife’s pickup. Words cannot describe how happy and grateful I felt.
So, snatched from the jaws of certain defeat, James and his Bike were saved and delivered safely to the bike shop. It wasn’t open for another hour so I just unloaded my stuff near the entrance and had a seat. A woman pulled up in this old, beat up Honda, gets out and starts walking over to me. I figured it was the owner of the bike shop because she was looking directly at me, so I got up and said hi and began to explain my situation. She opened up her vile, serpentine mouth and spat, “I’m just gonna stop you right there and this is gonna sound mean, but, uh, I don’t see why you don’t have your stuff in front of the bike store instead of my store. My customers get upset if they have to walk around stuff.” Ummm, what? Like seriously? Her store was one of those shady as fuck cash advance payday loan stores and I was seriously not in the mood for any bullshit. Girl you don’t even know sassy until you make this boy mad. So I gave her my most endearing smile and said, “Oh my god, you are so right! That was mean. Just let me wheel it further away. Oh, wait. I can’t it’s missing the wheels.” And sat my happy little ass back down. Her stupid stammering face almost made it all worth it.
Ok. Enough negativity for the day. After the Lizard Queen scurried into her nest another person showed up. This one was wheeling a bike, though, my kind of guy. His name was Mark and I swear I hope I grow up to be just like him Just totally chill, down to earth and full of stories. He spun me a tale of him back in the late 60’s hitchhiking the perimeter of the US, not once, but TWICE! If it wasn’t for the fact that I’d probably get brutally murdered now doing that I could see myself doing the same thing. After I bought my new tire I was having some technical difficulties putting it back on (so much for being an expert) but here comes Mark to the rescue. Apparently I’d been doing it wrong the whole time because your supposed to put the tube into the tire first instead of on the rim like i’d been doing. Worked like a charm. Thank you so much Mark! Now get to writing that adventure book!
So now here it is about 10am and I still had the lions share of miles ahead of me. Grumble. I popped into a Subway for a quick bite as I still hadn’t had my breakfast yet and then hit the road but, like for real this time. I was drraagggiinnnngggg! My legs felt fine but the rest of me was just like, “James. No. Just no.” Only one cure for that. A giant bottle of leg fueling rocket sauce, Mountain Dew. The road I was on was long, extremely straight and was miserably hot. After about 2 hours of this my water bottles had run dry and I was cooking. Google told me the next service station was another 10 miles. Ugh. Ok. I can do this, I don’t like it, but I can do this. Then, without warning catastrophe struck!!! Nah, just kidding. It was more the opposite. I came across a small country store that google had carelessly forgot to mention. I was saved. I bought a giant gatorade and a jar of freshly made dill pickles. Soooo goooooddd (but not as good as yours, Racheal). It’s the little things in life.
I crushed the remaining 20 miles or so with relative ease. My campsite for the night is Fanning Springs State Park and, as the name implies, it has this breathtaking spring just sitting there waiting for me to jump in. The water was icy and perfect. I laid there floating in the water for a good hour just cooling off and feeling content. Pure bliss. Time to drink beer and cook dinner! Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!