Sunday, December 27, 2009

Okay, okay, so maybe I should’ve trained!

My three tour-mates are kicking my rear. I got through today, but it most definitely wasn’t easy. The final half-mile was the bridge over the St. Johns into Palatka, The three of them took off, attacking the climb for the fun of it, while the best I could do was search for a gear that would allow me to keep turning the pedals.

We left Flagler Beach, headed north on A1A at around 10 AM into a head wind of around 10 mph, gloomy skies, and chilly temperatures in the low 50’s. Those conditions held constant the whole way to St. Augustine --approximately 30 miles. Fred yelled, “Go Gators!” as we passed by the Alligator Farm tourist attraction in town. Any excuse. We stopped in town for a nice warm lunch, then bundled up for what we expected to be another 45 miles or so to Palatka, located to the southeast. This leg was definitely easier because there was no more head wind, but I was already bushed.

One truth I have discovered about bike touring is that weather conditions always trump scenery. As a result, we ended up taking a more direct route, ending up with 65 rather than the 75 miles on the planned route. I wasn’t about to complain!

When we arrived at the hotel, we found that the hotel’s bar and restaurant, both of which overlook the river, were closed. Given that they were the reason that Fred and I wanted to return to the Quality Inn, this was distressing news. We got a beer in a bar a couple of blocks from the hotel, then took a way-overpriced taxi ride to a restaurant near the OTHER hotel that Harris had originally set up for us. My brain is too addled to remember the name of the restaurant at the moment, but it seems to be the most recommended seafood place in Palatka. After dinner, we briskly walked the mile and a half back to the hotel. It was chilly, but not too cold. I am hoping that the walk may have served to loosen up my legs for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is now forecast to be strong (15 to 20, with gusts to 30!) west side-wind rather than the tail-wind that had been forecast for the past few days. This is potentially very bad news, especially for me and my already wasted legs. A side wind does not permit effective drafting of the rider in front of you unless there is no traffic so that you can use a technique called echelon. It is unlikely that we will have no traffic, so it may prove to be a very, very hard day.

Today was, by the way, 61.5 miles that took us 4 hours and 54 minutes (average speed, 13.3 mph). I didn’t take any photos. Steve took a few at the restaurant tonight, but I don’t have access to them right now.

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