Although I am on a solo bike tour, I am constantly reminded that I am not alone. I am constantly helped by trail angels, people who help bike tourists, often for no compensation. I heard of June Curry of Alton Virginia who gave cold water and cookies to bike tourists slogging up Afton Mountain in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. She did this for decades until the calendar took her from the mountain.
I was helped last night and this morning by Jackie and Ed, aunt and uncle of my college friend Wendy. I arrived at their home in a monsoon soaked to the bone. The fed me, watered (and beered and wined me) and cleaned my clothes. All the time the storm raged outside. I’ve been to Thailand in monsoon season. Florida has Siam beat by billions of gallons.
I left their home stuffed with a delicious breakfast and carrying food for the road. Miraculously it was not raining. I took bike trails back to the Florida Atlantic Coast and met a constant gale from the ocean.
For ten miles I was sandblasted until I traded sand in my eye and the view of raging surf for a sheltered parallel route. Along the seat I spotted an Indian burial mound. (I’m no anthropologist; there was a roadside sign.)
I have been fighting a cold for three days. It left my throats and moved to my belly. I stopped for early lunch exhausted after only 30 miles. I ate and drank a vanilla shake to no effect. Riding away I came to realize that both my front and back brake pads were dragging on my wheel rims.
I freed them with my hands. When I reapplied the brakes they wouldn’t work. I stopped using my best Fred Flinstone food dragging.
I rode through Daytona Beach, a place filled will sunburnt scraggy street people. So depressing.
Down the road in New Smyrna Beach I found a bike shop, Fox Firestone Bicycles (www.foxbikes.com).The mechanic was at lunch so Debbie sent me to her co-owner and husband, Andy at the ATV and Moyorcycle shop next door. Andy pronounced my front cable dead. I went back to the shop and left my bike to get a cold sports drink at the gas station across the street.
Debbie and I spent some time talking to George, a septuagenarian bicyclist who was hit by a car going 50 miles per hour 17 years ago. He looked younger than me. Wow.
While we chatted I fixed the rear brake. The same problem happened during my 2005 bike tour from D.C. to Indiana. I didn’t have the tools or competence to fix the front cable.
Harrison, the mechanic arrived and replaced the cable in five minutes. The old one was rusted along 80 percent of its length. He also tweaked my repair to the rear cable. When I left my brakes worked better than when God tour started. Fox Firestone dropped everything to help out a stranger on a bike tour. Trail angels.
While all this was going on Debbie researched places to stay. 30 miles south she found The Wayward Travellers Inn (www.thewaywardtravellersinn.com).
Fox Firestone Bicycles people are trail angels.
I headed south passing up an opportunity to see manatees near Cape Canaveral because the 8 1/2 mile access road banned bikes and a bridge was shown as out on The Google.
So I rode to Mims Fla and called the Inn. It’s a beautifully renovated old home. It only has two guest rooms but they are well appointed with antiques and large inviting beds. The owners, Roan and Karrie, are totally cool folks from Utah who chatted my ear off upon arrival.
Roan gave me a ride in their electric Prius to and from a nearby restaurant where I stuffed myself with food and beer.
After the Inn-provided breakfast,I will hit the road in search of gators and, perhaps, manatees.
Another 79 mile day despite the travails and delays. The tour is now 1,528 miles long.