Sunday, March 13, 2022

Spring Break 2022 Bike Tour Day 1 - St. Augustine Beach to Palatka

 Max and I are riding from St. Augustine to Tallahassee to Atlanta during Spring Break. Meanwhile, Debra has booked a fancy AirBnb in Tallahassee for the work week, where she will telework and visit her brother, who lives nearby.

We drove down with the bikes in the back of the truck. It's 800 miles. We left Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm and arrived at St. Augustine Beach at 12:30 pm the next day, so we could get in a half day of bike riding. This was a pretty gruesome drive, 13 hours behind the wheel. 

We stopped for the night at Dillon, SC and stayed at a Red Roof Inn. Works for me. Dillon is home to the glorious tourist destination South of the Border, which is famous for the absurd number of billboards along I-95 for a couple hundred miles until you get there. The billboards feature their "Mexican" mascot Pedro, who perhaps does not conform so well to modern sensibilities.

South of the Border is undergoing renovations, and all those billboards are gone! Until you are about 20 miles away, at least. Even if it's closed, it's still lit up like a neon space alien base camp when you drive by.  I'm wondering if they will use these renovations as an opportunity to rebrand and retire Pedro. 

One entertaining part of the drive is with all that time in the truck with nothing to do put Debra into full-blown Mom Mode.

I've done an lot of bike touring, and I have a well-established system for packing. I make a spreadsheet with every single thing I need to bring, and where it gets packed and stowed on the bike. I check each item off the list as I pack. I update the pack list spreadsheet from past tours for the current tour. I start working on the spreadsheet a few days before I leave so if I think of something not on the spreadsheet that I need, I can add it. I consult the weather forecast while making the spreadsheet so I am prepared for all likely weather conditions. Debra is well aware of my system.

Nonetheless, an hour before we are to get on the bikes and ride off, she is checking the weather forecast and she determines that it will be cold out in a couple days.

"It's going to be cold on Sunday! Did you pack a hat for Max?"
"Yes, I did."
"Does he have a jacket and a warm shirt?"
"Yes dear."
"Did you bring gloves?"
"I brought gloves."
And so on.

Anyway, we had lunch at the tasty Beachside Diner in St. Augustine Beach.

And then we set off, with a quick photo by the ocean.

It was a fairly tough ride. It was flat, of course, and the temperatures were in the mid-60s. However, there was a screaming 20 mile an hour wind, which was mostly a crosswind but sometimes a headwind. It was slow going unless we were sheltered by trees.

It turns out that 18 of the 30 miles of the ride was on a very nice rail trail! And it went through the woods a lot, which gave us a break from the wind. 

It wasn't all woods, though. There were a lot of farm fields. They grow potatoes here in the winter.

When I saw the "Bull's Hit Ranch & Farm" barn in potato land, I shrieked with delight stopped to take a picture. Max was puzzled. "I've been here before!"

Here is the picture when I rode past this spot 18 years ago.

Max: "I don't see why this is worth stopping for a picture."
Me: "It's because the sign actually says 'bullshit'."
Max: "Oh."

I told Debra this story, and she said I have a much more adolescent sense of humor than Max.

We got into Palatka just after 5:00, where Debra was waiting in our room at the Hampton Inn.

There was a nice craft beer bar across the street with go cups. We went to dinner at Musselwhite's a couple miles back up the road, which was fairly mediocre, but we did not have a long wait for a table. I had alligator tail, which tasted like chicken of course. Yay Florida.

Here is the Strava page.

No comments: