Day 42 – 42 Miles

Sopchoppy, FL to Apalachicola, FL

Total Miles: 2097

Last night brought another battle with the rain. When I went to sleep there was only a 10% chance of rain late at night so, naturally, I left the fly off my tent. Well I woke up about 1:00AM to a few pitiful little drops of water landing on my face so I got out of my tent and threw the rainfly on, not like all the way on, but just tossed it over the tent to keep the tiny bit of rain coming from the sky from getting in. My thought process was: well if there was only 10% chance of rain to begin with then this is probably the worst it’s gonna get. I went back to sleep only to be woken up an hour later to a literal thunderous roar and the bright clap of lighting. My unsecured rain fly is in serious peril, flapping unhelpfully in the gale. I rush out of my tent and, quite skillfully I might add, latched my rainfly to the tent and crawled back inside. It took me another hour or so to get to sleep because I was so enthralled by the storm. Lightning was flashing every few seconds followed by thunder split seconds later. The storm was right on top of me and it was freaking awesome. Being in the middle of it was so crazy for me, like the only thing keeping away from this raw display of Mother Nature’s fury was a hair-thin layer of fabric. Incredible.

I woke up this morning to more rain so I just decided to lay in my tent for a while and wait for it to abate. Yeah that didn’t happen. At about 730 I finally just decided to pack everything up wet and dry it off at my next camp. It really wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it being, the only thing that was really wet was my rainfly and ground tarp. Also my shoes. I accidentally left them out in the rain. Greeeeaaatttt. Lucky for me though I have a pair of waterproof socks that I packed for this sort of occasion. My beautiful, sweet mother earth of a BFF Rachael had sent me a link a long time ago advertising these socks and I am so freaking glad that I bought them. Nothing worse than soggy feet. Thanks, Ray <3

I hit the road and it’s rainy and warm so I decide to ride sans shirt. Best decision I’ve ever made. The morning was going so good, despite the constant rain, and I was enjoying every second of it. The last few days have been kind of rough for me as the scenery has been boring, the road straight and flat and the weather blistering hot. I was really getting burnt out. Today changed everything. I was riding in the rain, right next to the ocean, beautifully wide shoulder lane and hardly any traffic. I killed 20 miles, stooped for a quick pickle and kept riding. My next stop was in Apalachicola, about 20 miles from my campsite. I had to cross this huge 5 mile long bridge over the bay, I’m sure it would have looked amazing in better weather but even with the rain it was awesome. I stopped in at a CVS to try and find some denatured alcohol for my camp stove but they didn’t stock it. The only other place that would, the auto parts store, was closed today. So I figured I’d head to the liquor store and just buy some Everclear, it’s like 100% alcohol, right? But they were all sold out. So I sit outside, take a break and use my phone for a bit when I hear this voice behind me say, “Hey! Where you headed?”

Super long bridge and dreary skies.

Enter Kevin. He’s this rough and tumble looking, middle age guy driving around in a golf cart. We get to talking for a bit and he tells me to hop aboard his golf cart and he’ll give me a tour of the town. We cruise through the downtown area where he shows me the local brewery, always a fan favorite, and gives me a brief history lesson on the town. We cruise out past the oyster warehouse to the docks, this place is apparently the place to get oysters from, and he tells me that the town lets cyclist pitch their tents out on the pier under the pavilion. For free. I’m already sold at this point but he wants to show me the rest of the place. He was like this awesome cultural ambassador for this tiny little pocket of paradise. I literally could not say no to staying here for the night.

He took me into his favorite bar and told me some stories over the beer he bought me. This guy has done it all! He’s biked across the country 3 times. The last one lasted for 3 years. He’s kayaked from Seattle to Alaska, backpacked all over the country, sailed across the Pacific and Atlantic, everything. He was like this giant slice of adventure packed into this tiny little space. Oh, and he was the owner of the local bike shop. I struck gold here with this guy and also this town. Apparently Sunday is the most happening day of the week, live music, street food and copious amounts of drinking. My kinda place. These are the kind of experiences I love to have, just random, crazy and totally awesome. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!

Kevin’s badass bike shop