Elevation gained: 693ft/Mileage today: 86/Total mileage: 86
Exactly, 6.7 miles into my ride, I broke my first pledge – not to eat fast food. I had breakfast at Chick-fil-A (“Since 1946, always closed on Sunday”). This chain is about to open franchises in California and when it does it will be “game over” for the current popularity of “In-N-Out”. You heard it here first.
My waitress, Lori, noticed my riding attire and said: “ Ya’ll getting some exercise? I’m doin’ that for my diabetes. And, ya know what? It turns out exercise is good for all kinds of other things like your heart, your lungs and losin’ weight.”
Wow. Who new? I think we all need to get the word out on this.
The ride into Jacksonville was wet and cold. At one point, I camped out under an overpass to get dry. Once the storm decreased to a mere downpour, I rode over the Hart Bridge and into downtown. The Hart Bridge portion of the ride gets a 9 rating on the Major Dickason scale*. The usable portion of the shoulder was less than 12 inches and the cars in such close proximity flooded me with dirty spray. To add to the excitement, there are several places on the bridge where sections are joined with metal plates looking frighteningly like the gaping maw of some Mavic eating machine.
Once in Jacksonville, I rode to City Bikes to see if they had rain covers for panniers. I knew it was a long shot seeing as this is “The Sunshine State”, but it also gave me a chance to get dry. It’s a great shop and the employees are helpful – including with directions.
After departing Jacksonville, I rode the length of the Baldwin Trail. It’s a bicycle roadway built on the bed of an old railroad line. This was the only scenic part of the ride today. No cars and (given the weather) no other people for 15 miles.
The remainder of the day was spent on Hwy 90. This roadway is straight and lined with slash pines, but otherwise unremarkable. About the only thing that is positive is that it is almost perfectly flat.
As I rode, the weather changed from cold, grey and rainy to just cold and grey with fun 20-30 mph gusting headwinds. At the 60 mile point, I was nearing Osceola National Forest where I had planned to camp. But, nowhere today was I able to find a gas canister for my stove. So, if I were going to camp, dinner would consist of my remaining water, a single Mounds candy bar and less than favorable weather. My only other choice was to continue to ride to Lake City and hope that they had a hotel. With the sun setting and my fatigue rising, I decided to eliminate the uncertainty and as I pedaled, I placed a call to W.C.C. (Wife Command Central). My lovely bride did a quick Internet search and reported that Lake City had a number of hotels – and the decision was made. All I had to do was punch out the remaining 25 miles before it grew too dark.
A number of years ago, the great British explorer, Wilfred Thesiger was asked his thoughts about an explorer who was at that time traversing Africa’s Congo basin. Thesiger commented that while the activity was interesting, it couldn’t be called an “adventure” because the explorer had a satellite phone and could raise help whenever needed.
With all deference to Mr. Thesiger (who was an amazing individual), after today’s ride, I’m quite satisfied trading adventure for a hot shower and a cold beer.
(*The Major Dickinson scale represents the number of consecutive cups of this blend of extremely strong Pete’s coffee that would be required to raise one’s pulse to the same level as that resulting from the activity in question.)