Most of us take advantage of Saturday or Sunday to get out on long bike rides or long runs (and depending upon your training plan, both). This weekend for me included a 50-mile Saturday afternoon bike ride. This multi-hour, solo, and quite hot ride gave me ample time to just observe, think, and enjoy being outside. As you might suspect, I came away with quite a few observations and nuggets of fun that I thought I’d share.
Tropical Storm Andrea left the First Coast (that’s what they call this part of northeast Florida….as in the “first coast” discovered in the US, and the “first” or actually oldest city in the country – St. Augustine) on Friday, leaving beautiful sunny and clear skies. That said, summer has finally hit Florida. The temperature on Saturday afternoon was 85 or 86 with enough humidity to put the heat index near 100 degrees.
It’s Always Windy in Florida I’m sure it’s windy in other parts of the country too, but I can’t recall a day where there was NO wind at all. Maybe it’s because of our respective proximity to the Atlantic ocean that causes the wind (Jax is a beach town, and I live about 15 miles from the shore). Desipte Saturday not looking windy (meaning the trees weren’t moving at my house), it turned out that there was a pretty solid breeze blowing. And….as luck would have it, if sure felt like it was always in my face.
Wide Open Spaces Make it Windier A good chunk of my ride was south of Jacksonville in “the country”. For those of you who don’t live around here, “the country” means one of three things: tree farms, potato farms, or swampland. As you might suspect, tree farms are typically of the pine tree variety, and depending upon how recently they were harvested, offer a little wind blockage. Swamps offer a nice respite to the wind, but replace wind with stench, mosquitos, snakes, and heavy humidity. Now, potato farms….those are another thing. You could have the slightest breeze blowing about. You know, the kind that just cools you off a little or jostles your hair? Not enough to fly a kite? Well.. that same breeze turns into a gale the second you pass out in to open farm fields.
Florida May Have More Than it’s Share of Roadkill I’m guessing that you find roadkill all over the country. Here in Florida, roadkill is typically in epic proportions. Just this weekend, I saw more dead armadillos than I could count, several possums, a dead dog, a deer, some sort of big (and I mean big) dead bird – maybe a vulture (which I find ironic) or maybe a turkey, and a couple of dead snakes. I don’t really mind passing much of this stuff. It’s the circle of life, right? But here’s the problem. Sun + heat + dead animal. BIG STINK!
I Love Wide Roads Most of the roads I was on this weekend had either a marked bike path or a shoulder that was wide enough for me to ride well out of the travel lane. I really like this – I stay away from traffic, I don’t impede cars or make them slow down, and they don’t have to move over too far to get around me without being too close.
Icees Make Great Mid-Ride Fuel Perhaps the word “fuel” is a little overrated here. Unless you count drinking frozen colored high fructose corn syrup fuel. BUT, slurping down one of these frozen treats after 90 minutes in the hot sun is AWESOME! Personally, I’m a Cherry guy. I don’t like the Coke flavor or that blue stuff (whatever that is). Just call me old school, but nothing beats one of these…especially if you get the straw with the built-in spoon at the bottom.
Stuck Songs are Suffocating I don’t ride with an iPod. For starters, my ears seem to sweat, and thus the ear buds fall out a lot. More importantly, cycling with headphones is illegal in Florida. That doesn’t keep me from hearing music, though. It seems like I get songs stuck in my head and it takes forever to get them out. Among the songs that I “listened” to this weekend during my ride? “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” “Margaritaville.” “Call Me Maybe.” “Thrift Shop.” “Hakuna Matatta”
Red Crescents of Joy Anyone who does much cycling in tri-tops or sleeveless jerseys knows exactly where this is heading. Saturday I wore a Powerbar Team Elite kit – with a sleeveless tri top. I thought I did a good job of applying sunscreen before I left…but apparently I clearly missed a very small portion on my back. Both sides, no less. A finished with two very painful red crescents where my tri-top stopped. This would have only been better had the top been on the short side, also giving me a red low back tattoo.
Speaking of Sunburns Did you know that the sun can go through your bike helmet and burn your scalp? If you do, that makes one of us. Until now. I have learned that lesson, thank you very much
Little Kids Ask the BEST questions As I sat outside the RaceTrack convenience store in St. Augustine enjoying my tasty Icee, a bunch of people passed by and gave me…odd…looks. I mean, how often do you see a soaking wet dude in bright yellow spandex eating an icee when you stop at a gas station right off the Interstate? Naturally, I got a lot of comments in 15 minutes. Most were of the “normal” variety. The best one, though, came from a little boy who couldn’t have been more than three or four years old. He and his mother walked by, and he stopped and checked out my shoes. “Are those bouncy shoes?” was his query. “Nah, they’re just biking shoes,” I replied. “Well, they look like bouncing shoes,” he said. “I think they are bright!” This conversation totally made my day. I love how kids are curious and usually aren’t shy to say what is on their mind. This little tyke certainly did just that.
There you have it. A few of my thoughts and observations about my ride on Saturday.