Today was a fantastic day that started with my daily email from Sheena in Canada. Every morning she sends me a bicycling quote and it starts my day out just right! Frankenbutt, the Beast and I set about our morning routine: Frankenbutt pulled bikes from the garage, the Beast filled water bottles and pulled helmets from the bike garage, I pulled together snacks and pulled the GPS off charge. I wrapped my new headband around my head, put on my sunglasses and my new helmet and felt like a hundred bucks! (actually $59). We invited Coco out for a “bikeys” and she ran to her kennel on the trailer, waiting patiently for Frankenbutt to zip open her screen door.
We had pre-decided to make our final day of hard training at the north end of the Suncoast Trail, the hilly end. With all 6 pannier bags, tent, bedrolls and trailer mounted, we headed out. As soon as we turned onto Route 41, we felt a fabulous tail wind and we were all flying along at a pretty good clip. Although, everyone loves a good tail wind, I’ve been riding long enough to know that what pushes you from behind will be what pushes you back once you turn around. Rarely, we’ve had a head wind going out that itself turned around and gave us a head wind on the return. I was hopeful that today’s tail wind would do the same … but it didn’t.
Along the trail, we passed several riders and I personally heard, “you’re pretty loaded up” at least 3 times before I reached our first pit stop at the rest rooms near Cortez Boulevard. As usual, most assumed that we were on our EPIC bike ride already since we were fully loaded but we explained that we don’t leave until this Wednesday, April 20th.
I moved out to the front of our trio and was getting lost in the smell of the honeysuckle and the birds chatting when Doug pulled up alongside me on a nice road bike and asked me about our ride. He had passed the Beast who gave him the basics and he wanted to know more. Doug was obviously a faster rider than me and I found myself pedaling faster to keep up with him as we conversed. He had just finished a 12 hour midnight shift and I told him how I did a short stint as a forklift driver at a glass factory, working midnight til morn. We talked more about our upcoming EPIC bicycle ride and then he told me how he’s planning to move to Madison, Wisconsin where he said the bike trails are fabulous. We talked about structuring work so that it pays the bills while pursuing our passions. I felt I’d met a real kindred spirit in him. Good luck with the move, Doug! And maybe we’ll see you in Wisconsin some day!
We completed the north end of the trail and continued 4-5 miles onto Route 98, stopping at Subway for lunch. The Beast re-filled water bottles and Coco enjoyed a cool drink and run around before we all got back to the business of riding. As we turned to go back towards the Suncoast Trail, we felt the head wind. Unfortunately, the tail wind that pushed us north did not turn around and head south.
We pedaled hard up and down several hills and eventually made our way back to the rest rooms near Cortez Blvd. We noticed the same quiet gentleman sitting at the picnic tables who had been there this morning. Now, I noticed a backpack and walking stick and asked where he was headed. He said his name is Chip and he’s hiking from Sebring, FL to San Clemente, CA, where he was born. He’s had a rough few years and decided to take on this EPIC hike. Chip, I totally get it! Good luck in your journey and I hope life shows you the kindness you obviously deserve and want. We’ll be thinking of you.
We completed 60.4 miles today and 2 out of 3 of us felt good at the end of the ride. The Beast was a bit sore but she honestly rode really strong today and was often out in front of us, leading the way. Although we have a set formation during road riding (me leading, the Beast tucked behind me and Frankenbutt bringing up the rear), we are more flexible on the “no motor vehicles allowed” trail.
At the end of the day, I realized that I whole heartedly love my new helmet and sweat band. Thanks, Dave @ Black Bear Bike for helping me with my Lazer helmet purchase. Tomorrow we will do a shorter morning ride and then head to Tampa BMX for a double race. The Beast has plans to spend a little more time with her friend, Jacob, following the race, too. More about all of this tomorrow!
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