Destin, FL to Milton, FL
Total Miles: 2263
Nothing particularly interesting happened last night. After my haircut and a few beers at the nearest bar I just laid in my tent and read all evening. The weather was cool so, for once, I wasn’t sweating my ass off and my campsite was pretty close to the ocean so I had the gentle sound of crashing waves to help relax me after a rough day. You really can’t ask for anything better than that.
I woke up this morning at 7 and knew right from the start that it was going to be a rough day. The wind was whipping at my tent with the violent ferocity of a mother bear protecting her cubs. I closed my eyes again and imagined myself just laying there all day, not cycling, not doing anything really, just laying there and ignoring the weather. But, sadly, I couldn’t. James and his Bike are on a mission and not even Mother Nature can stop them. Unless it’s like a tornado or something, screw that. So I forced myself out of bed, packed up Forrest and started the long, grinding slog towards my next destination: Pensacola. But first, some breakfast.
After I had my fill of breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds (Again. I know, I know. Leave me alone they’re delcious) I pushed on. The first few miles out of Destin weren’t as bad as I had imagined, the buildings served to break up the wind a bit and the morning traffic blowing past me helped push me along. It wasn’t until I crossed the bridge out of the city and into the wide open expanse next to the ocean that the full fury of this tempest bitch slapped me right in the face. I was struggling. Every pedal stroke was a labor and every foot I gained was a tiny, sad little victory. I kept having these wild fantasies of just turning around and riding with the wind, following it, not choosing my destinations with an ultimate goal in mind but just letting the weather take me where it willed. Soul crushing days such as these do strange things to the mind.
After about 2 hours of this I decided enough was enough, I needed a break. I pulled into the next gas station I saw and got me an ice cold mountain dew. I check my phone to see how far I’d gone and was absolutely crushed to see that it was only about 14 miles. 14! I felt after all of that work it seemed so unfair to have gone so few miles. But looking at the map while in this hopeless state of mind got me thinking. Why am I riding all the way to Mobile before heading north? I have some packages arriving in Jackson, AL and that’s the only real place I need to be in the foreseeable future. So, with a rough idea of how to get there and the callous recklessness brought on by a morning of wind, I said screw it. I took the next right and started heading north. No plan survives contact with the enemy and my enemy today was the cold, calculating forces of Gaia herself.
My abrupt right turn didn’t end my torments but it did bring a measure of relief. The crushing headwind turned into an annoying side wind, not exactly ideal but definitely more preferable. I slogged on for another couple hours or so when ahead of me I spotted the holiest of holies, a bright shining light of relief, a gift of such magnificent radiance that it could only be a sign from the One True Turtle Himself: a brewery. Ye Olde Brothers Brewery to be more precise. It was noon and they had just opened for business. I asked the brewtender (see what I did there?!) for the coldest, bitterest IPA they had on tap and she did not let me down. It was probably the most refreshing thing that I have ever had in my entire life, or at least that’s how I felt at the time. There are only a few things that can immediately cheer me up no matter the circumstances: ice cold beer on a hot day, a tart dill pickle and (redacted in the interest of keeping my blog somewhat family friendly).
After my brew break I set off with about 16 miles to go to my new destination for the day. There was road construction happening the entire span of miles but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. They had cordoned off half of the road with those big concrete barriers so, rather than getting turned into road pizza by some careless truck driver, I decided to ride on the side the barriers that was closed to traffic. It went swimmingly! There was only one spot that I had to get off my bike and push it over a mountain of dirt but otherwise it was like I had a whole lane to myself. Not bad, James, not bad. I got to my campsite with no further problems and felt pretty content with my decision to abandon my earlier plan in favor of this new one. We’ll see what tomorrow holds. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!