What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
After spending day 36 off the bike in St A taking care of online stuff, followed by stealth camping in the least subtle place so far (about 15 metres away from the main road), on day 37 there was a definite renewed motivation to get moving. West we go.
Day 37: St Augustine to near Hawthorne, FL (51 miles)
A shoddy nights kip just off the road in St Augustine, packing up was sloth-like, but eventually everything was in the bags.
The roads out of St Augustine are a dream for a cyclist, on a Sunday at least. Cycle lanes, whoulda’ thought it? And quiet, well maintained roads. So far, Florida is definitely leading in the cycle lane and hassle-free roads league table. It was fairly easy through Palatka, then Interlachen – the GPS showing the longest single road navigation so far – 126 miles.
Because of a liberal start in the morning, it became dark around Palatka so on came the lights. On quiet roads, night riding can be a blast. Depending on where you are, it can be a bit spooky, but not so on this ride. Until Hawthorne that is.
After a good half-hour of hunting for a place to put up the tent, I actually cycled past a campground, by chance. Gated and fenced, I called the buzzer at the main entrance, to be greeted by an aggressive sounding chap, who could say nothing other than “WHO YA KNOW?!” and “WHAT YA WANT?!”. Well to camp, please sir. At the campground that you own. After an unsuccessful attempt I moved on, across the street and found a sandy, wooded area near the local church. The morning after:
Day 38: Hawthorne to Gainesville, FL (26 miles)
Another shoddy sleep. Consecutive rubbish sleeps have caught up. In the morning, drained would be an appropriate word. Groggy, another. I woke and just wasn’t into it – weak, lethargic, and not in any way keen. Jog on, Carpe diem.
On the bike, I usually carry two water bottles on the frame (with 2 more water-carriers available in the pannier bags which are kept empty until the more remote areas). Yesterday I must have left one of the main water bottles somewhere, or perhaps it fell out. Either way I woke up and didn’t have any water left, or food. So still half-asleep I set off and stopped at the first place that sold a source of sustenance. It didn’t come for about 18 miles on the outskirts of Gainesville. It was a frustrating morning, slowly pedalling away on long roads that stretched into the distance, hoping for something over the horizon, to then be greeted by more of the same.
Oh, and headwinds. The arch nemesis of cyclists everywhere. They haven’t been a problem for the first month at all, and today they’ve been consistent all day. Guess that’s what happens with a shift of the direction. It’s slow progress, noticeably. I’m going to see how the next couple of days go and then perhaps send a bunch of stuff on to a maildrop to reduce some of the weight in the bags in preparation for the slogs.
I called it a day fairly early in Gainesville, having never really perked up since the morning. But this is the struggle. I signed up for the struggle, for the groggy days. The struggle is one of the best parts, retrospectively of course. So, embrace and crack on. Looking to do a sustained consecutive period of 50+ mile days for a while just to see a bit of Westward progress so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. Onwards and into the wind!