Fort Meyers Beach, FL to Arcadia, FL
Total Miles: 1666
Lots of text, no pictures. Sorry, not sorry 🙂
Yesterday evening’s ferry ride gave me some time to just sit and think. Now unlike all the alone time I get while I’m just pedaling my fool heart out and focusing on the moment, this was different. I don’t know why but the enormity of what lay ahead really started to hit me. I felt like a tiny ant trying to make it’s way across a football field, which to humans such as we are, is nothing. It’s literally a walk in the park, but to an ant it’s this gigantic expenditure of time and effort. I don’t know if the ant analogy is really relaying the feelings I was having but it’s the best I can think of. The last month I’ve been just focusing on Key West and it’s always felt like this tangible thing, difficult, yes, but always just right there in front of me. Now my next goal is somewhere on the Washington/Canadian border, literally as far as you can possibly get from Key West in the contiguous United States. It just messes with the brain to think in such huge distances. I don’t feel tired of this life in the least bit, the hard stuff, the easy stuff, the weird stuff, just everything about it still makes me so incredibly happy. Everything I’ve read about long distance bicycling has said that the most difficult part isn’t physical, but mental. Your body adjusts pretty quickly to the physical demands you put it through, but it’s the mind that really gets you. I don’t know. I have no doubt in my mind that I can do this, but this is my journal and these are my thoughts 🙂
Last night I didn’t get to sleep until about 11:30 so I let myself sleep in till about 7:30! I know, what a treat :-p I packed up ol’ Forrest and set out. The morning was cool (Florida cool, not Oregon cool) and blissfully wind free. I was relying on Google Maps for my route today so I had low hopes for the roads I’d be on but wouldn’t you know, I had a bike path all the way through and out of the the city of Fort Meyers. Dedicated bike paths can be tricksy business though, especially in more urban areas, as it becomes a real annoyance to have to stop at every intersection and wait for the white crossing signal, while if you were in a bike lane on the street you can just breeze right through. Also at every intersection the path drops down to where the street is and it’s not always a smooth transition, even an abrupt drop of a couple inches is enough to pop a spoke on a fully loaded touring bike. I understand that city planners or whoever designs these things don’t think about this because people like me are the extreme minority of cyclists that use those paths and that’s totally understandable, just my little gripe for the day. Moving on.
My first stop was at about the 20 mile mark as always. I popped into a gas station for giant can of leg fueling Mountain Dew and a breakfast that consisted of a giant chicken sandwich and an equally huge chicken and cheese empanada. They were so big I almost couldn’t finish them both. But I did, because I ain’t no bitch. The clerk came outside to smoke right as I was finishing eating, looked at me shoving the last bit into my mouth, laughed and said, “I thought you were buying one for later!” Nah, bruh. I’m like a bottomless pit of calorie fueled cycling fury!
After I let the food settle a bit I headed out with about 45 miles to go to my destination. Google had me riding on this incredibly long, incredibly straight (Irony, am I right?!?!) and incredibly flat road for the next 35 miles. It wasn’t too busy, just the occasional brigade of trucks hauling their hoard of Florida oranges and I had a nice, generous shoulder separating me from those giant killing machines. It was boring though. It’s hard to describe but, like, when there are curves in the road ahead you can see them and kind of use them as a gauge to mark your time or distance. They’re like little, mini-goals that you can set. “Alright, James, let’s get to the next curve. There’s definitely something interesting there. Definitely.” But with this never-ending line of asphalt you kind of go into this fugue state, where everything just blends into everything else. The road, the traffic, the trees, the signs, you yourself. I don’t know how to describe it except this intense state of blah. There was no wind arresting my forward progress, through, so fuck it. I’ll take this any day of the week.
I had planned to stop about 20 miles into this road where Google said there was another arterial highway intersecting the one I was on. My past experiences have taught me that whenever two roads such as these cross paths that there is inevitably some kind of gas station there. Of course I didn’t bother to verify this before I set out and, also of course, when I get to said intersection there isn’t a store in sight. Nothing to do but to keep pedaling and hope for the best. At this point the remaining water I had left was piss warm but still it was wet so I knew I’d survive another 5 miles. Then that turned into 10. Then 20. Then My main water bottles were empty and I had to bust out my emergency stash. It’s one of those 1-liter vacuum sealed bottles the keeps hot things hot and cold things cold and luckily I had filled it with ice water before I left the motel last night. That’s what saved me. 42 miles on this hot, miserably straight road and, maybe a mile after I took the last swallow of my water, I come to a gas station. I go inside, grab a 32oz gatorade and have it finished before I even get the the cash register. I’ll need to remember to plan better in the future now that I’m without the ACA maps.
The last 7 miles to my camp were pretty uneventful. I’m staying at Peace River Campground tonight and it’s pretty legit, they have this forest of Mossy Oaks that they just tell you to go out and pick wherever you want to sleep. I can dig it. Well this post kinda turned into a wall of text for being a pretty boring day but such is the way of things. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!