Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31, 2009: New Smyrna to Palm Bay

Today’s ride was shorter than we had expected because we decided to take a more direct route, which saved us five miles at the cost of spending the last part of the ride on fairly busy streets as we made our way to our hotel. The stats: 80 miles in 5 hours and 12 minutes of riding (15.5 mph average speed). We got started today just as the sun was coming up in a nice cool 65 degrees. On the road the temp reached 98; the average was a tolerable 83.


Harris did our lead-out this morning, pulling us at 17 or better through some real pretty scenery until finally bidding us farewell at around mile 13. I spotted a deer crossing the road a hundred yards up, but other than a rabbit or two, that was it for wildlife.

We had two route options today. We could go through the Merritt Island Preserve and Kennedy Space Center area on the east side of the intra-coastal, or take the more direct route down US-1. The former would be less traffic and more scenic; the latter would be more direct and have plenty of convenience stores. We decided on the latter, figuring that traffic would not be an issue until 10 or even later on Sunday morning. That turned out to be the case. We had US-1 pretty much to ourselves for at least the first 40 miles.

We took a rest stop at about that point, but when I dropped my bike off the kickstand to get back on the road, I realized that the rear tire was flat. Prior to our stop it had seemed like it was taking more effort than usual to keep pace, and I had meant to check the tires but had forgotten. Fred helped for a bit, including finding a pin-hole in the tube, but he also took advantage of the delay to spend some more time in the convenience store’s AC. I carefully inspected the tire, inside and out, but didn’t find any cause for the puncture. While I worked I had some company for a while, as a young man (a heavy-weight boxing hopeful, as it turned out) came over to ask about our trip and equipment. It later struck me that this kind of discussion was a regular feature of our stops last year in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, but very rare in Florida. You can draw your own conclusions.

South of Cocoa, US-1 was under construction and rather unpleasant. Our GPS route diverted a few block east at that point, to a small road running right alongside the intracoastal. This 6 miles or so was a real treat. The pictures below tell the story:


When we emerged from this idyllic little diversion, we were back at US-1. A passing local bicyclista kindly stopped to offer suggestions on a route south, which corresponded closely to that shown on the GPS. The remaining 23 miles were on gradually busier and busier roads, particularly the last 15 or so. At any rate we made it to our hotel, a Quality Inn in Palm Bay, without further incident or delay, other than a little bit of head wind. The hotel is interesting in that the rooms – indeed, the whole hotel – is really rather nice, especially considering the $50 room rate. As near as we can tell, there are only a handful of  people staying here at the moment.

We had dinner in a little restaurant that offered a variety of Greek, Italian, and other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare. During the time we were there, only two other tables were occupied. The owner explained that they are about to move. Between the road construction outside and the loitering patrons of the pool hall next door, they simply can’t attract the clientele that they want, and deserve, based on the quality of the food.

The hotel’s breakfast is at 6:30. We want to be riding shortly after six, so we picked up some basics at the local 7-11 to provide enough energy to get us a couple of hours up the road. In Kathy’s honor, I also picked up a chocolate-on-chocolate ice cream bar.

In the first three days we have covered over 206 miles, shown on the map below. (Click the image to see the whole thing.) We are finally south of the Orlando area!


Fred adds: It was a relatively easy 80 miler despite the heat. I think it part it was because we got an early start, it was cool in the morning for the first hour or so, and Harris broke the wind for us. I never thought I’d thank someone for breaking wind. As we entered Melbourne and drove along Wickham road, I couldn’t help but get wistful. My parents moved to Melbourne Beach (actually Indialantic) in 1974, and spent over 20 years there until my dad passed away in 1994, and my mom moved to Colorado in 1998. So I knew so many of the roads, and names, and street signs. We were always fond of Uranus Street. One of my mom’s favorite jokes was telling us what if you lived on Uranus and ordered pizza. Where do you want your pizza delivered, lady? Up Uranus! Oh well, a joke a minute at the Coolidge House, 153 Coral Way, North Indialantic. 

When we finally arrived at the Quality Inn, Palm Bay, I went fishing across the street in a retention pond. There were brim and some larger fish with red fan tails. I got only one real bite on a piece of Slim Jim. I could not find worms for the life of me, and I am quite a worm whisperer. I then bought a hotdog and bun at 7-11, but the fish ignored that too. My hooks will be good for Keys fish but too are too big for brim. My dinner was excellent: seafood pescatore, mussels, clams, and squid in a red sauce over pasta. At 4,000 calories expended daily, I can afford it!

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