No bike tour goes quite as planned. Somehow the surprises on this tour worked out in my favor time and again. One could attribute this good fortune to God or the universe. I’d rather go with Shit Happens.
- On Day 4 I deliberately overshot my camp ground only to find myself miles from the next known source of food. I called a second campground not far away and learned it was 1 mile from a gas station with a little grill inside. And the campground was quite nice too.
- I decided to try out Warmshowers and lucked into a fun evening at Ken and Dani’s house outside Jacksonville, NC. Dinner, laundry, beer, bed, breakfast, and great company. I had hoped to try other Warmshowers hosts but it didn’t work out.
- My pre-tour itinerary called for a near-100 mile ride from Conway to Charleston SC. It was hot and I was burned out on rumble strips and passing trucks so I quit early at a motel in Andrews. Two hours later a thunderstorm raged through the area for hours. Had I continued I’d have been riding through the Francis Marion National Forest with no opportunity for shelter from the rain and wind and lightning.
- The tropical depression that I rode through for four or five days in Florida had a silver lining, a strong tailwind. It put the kibosh on a trip to see the manatees and Cape Canaveral but made for long, enjoyable miles in the saddle.
- I decided to press on from New Smyrna Beach FL after getting my brakes fixed at a bike shop. This was a bit of a risk but it paid off with me finding a terrific little inn in Mims FL. What a great experience.
- I stayed in five hostels. What a great bargain for a bike tourist. Richmond’s was the best. Miami Beach was pretty good too. (Both are part of Hostels International.) Much like motels the vibe in each hostel was different. I was disappointed that the hostel in Saint Augustine was full. I skipped the one in Fort Lauderdale after reading some very negative reviews online.
- I didn’t camp out nearly as much as planned. The tropical depression and hurricane Irma made Florida a camping no go. I could have camped in South Bay FL on the next to last day but I chose a motel so I could catch the Nats game on TV.
- Staying with friends old and new was a big highlight. Wendy and Brian, Jackie and Ed, and Renee were fantastic hosts and cooks. (Props to Renee’s daughter Julia for her breakfast wizardry.)
- Speaking of Renee, I had not seen her for 39 years. I remember her as a laconic girl from northern Maine. After decades of living in Florida she can talk the antlers off a bull moose. And she knows where to go for excellent fried chicken and waffles. (Yeah, I know it sounds disgusting, but I’d have eaten moose antlers that night.)
- I booked three nights at the hostel in Key West only to learn that the ferry I was going to take didn’t run on the fourth day. So left a day earlier than planned. This gave me three days to cross Florida. Doing it in two days as I originally planned would have been a death march.
- Meeting up with Melissa and her husband in Key West was pure serendipity. We ate and drank way too much.
- In addition to the folks mentioned above, there are some people back home that deserve some mention:
- Andrea from Friday Coffee Club who advised me to get a silk sleeping bag liner and to try Warmshowers.org for overnight accommodations. Both worked out very well.
- Amanda Martinez from my old office for scouting out locations for dinner and drinks during recent trips to Key West and (I think) Charleston. I am especially indebted for the grilled cheese idea in Key West.
- Mrs. Rootchopper and daughter Lily for getting Lily off to school in London after I left. Truth be told, they had this totally covered without me.
- Mike Ross for scaring the crap out of me about Florida drivers. I think cycling conditions in South Carolina were far worse but his warnings spurred me to buy a mirror. Indispensable.
- Amtrak for actually offering decent bike transport for a low price ($20). No disassembly required.
- All the people who read my blog posts, and followed me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Your comments and “likes” kept my spirits up and gave me a laugh, often when I needed one badly.
One thought on “No Way So Hey – Thoughts”
It was a fun tour to follow from the comfort of my armchair, I am such a wimp these days I’m waiting for the chance of rain to drop to zero before doing a short coffeeneuring ride, so it’s fun to read about those cyclists crazy enough to ride in Florida during hurricane season 😉