Monday, December 28, 2009

St. John’s Mini-Tour Day Three: Palatka to Deltona

My concerns about conditions today (both my condition and the weather conditions) turned out to be unnecessary.

At breakfast I warned my friends that I would have to stay within my comfort zone and therefore would probably fall behind almost immediately, and they should just go on without me, and I’d catch up at planned stops in Crescent City and Deleon Springs, and blah, blah, blah… Well, I was able to ride better than I expected, and they were content to ride a little slower, so in the end we rode together almost the entire way. That is, except for Harris, who had periodic attacks of second-childhood exuberance that put him out front by a quarter mile or so.

In addition, we actually had a tail-wind for the first 25 miles or so, and we had a good windbreak of vegetation to our right that shielded us from the west winds once they cranked up. By 11 AM or so the earlier “partly cloudy” turned into plain old “sunny” just as Weather Underground said it would. The difference that sunshine makes is most remarkable, especially after two days of riding in cloudy, not-quite-raining conditions.

Another thing that undoubtedly helped me is that I ate and drank regularly and amply throughout the day – before, during, and after the ride. Today’s ride was significantly longer than yesterdays, but seemed much easier and was far more enjoyable.

We met for post-shower drinks and dinner at 5:30 but didn’t head back to our rooms until four hours later! We had lots of fun and even took time for Harris’ powerpoint presentation regarding the old Spanish fort in New Smyrna. Fred sent back a couple of glasses of after-dinner wine that tasted like “swill” to him, even though our oh-so-tolerant waitress assured him that both glasses were from different, freshly opened bottles. Harris ultimately offered a theory about how seafood contains a protein that basically spoils red wine, at which point Fred decided to give a glass of white a shot. Bingo! All of the above was done in good spirits (pun only half-intended) and there was nobody left in the restaurant for us to annoy by that time anyway.

A couple of small downers today: I realized that somewhere along the way I lost a nice titanium earring that Kathy just gave me. Also, the Multiple Sclerosis rubber bracelet that I have been wearing constantly for the past four years finally gave way. I have more reason than ever to support MS research, services, and awareness, so I’ll definitely replace it.

We had our first minor road repair today, a flat tire offered up to the bicycling gods by Harris at the very end of the ride. Today’s mileage was 71.8, in about 5 hours, for an average speed of 14.4. We rode on some pretty roads that caused all of us to slow down and enjoy. On the other hand, the last bit was on busy 17-92 and Enterprise Blvd between Deland and Deltona, which nobody enjoyed. That said, we all had a great time today.

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