0415 – I’m awake. Not sure why. Alarm is set for 0430. I get up anyway… turn on the coffee pot and get moving.
The plan is to pick up my kids from their annual summer visit with their mom at 2 PM…. And I have this adventure I’ve got planned to do before then.
0515 – Everything loaded and I’m on the road.
0800 – pit stop for supplies etc. I notice the headline of the regional newspaper it reads “Miserably Hot Weekend”
0815 – I pull into the parking lot of the Quincy Rec Center. Thanks to Google maps and the street view feature I know just what to expect down to the shady spot under which I park. The temp is already in the mid 80s.
0825 – I’m on the road. I only have one tube for a spare and that thought worries my mind from the start. I’m alone and with just a map and a phone. The first few miles are pretty slow. Lots of turns stop signs and redlights as I leave Quincy. Not a big deal… I’m in it for the long pull and not in a hurry.
The hills start about 5 miles in… a couple of pretty good sized ones then it’s back to kinda flat…. Not much later I passed a house that looked like a fake castle… “towers” and all… only problem being that the person who added this “look” had used stucco over plywood and had not bothered to even secure the structures to the house very well… I wish I’d taken a picture.
17 miles in I reach Greensboro, FL which means water stop #1. I went into the store to buy some water and a pack of crackers. I ask the lady ringing up my purchases “where Graves Street”.
She points answers “Just on the other side o the railroad tracks”
I nod and say “oh, at the dead end? I thought I might have passed it”
She says “no it’s right there.” “Where are you headed?”
I answer “Chattahoochee”
She replies “how are going to get there?”
I say “on that bike leaned against you wall out there”
“Why would you want to ride your bike to Chattahoochee?” she asks
“Well, that’s where I’m from” I say with a smile. It only takes me a second or two to realize that my joke has missed its mark… Chattahoochee, FL is famous for only one thing… It is where the state mental institution is located. I really am from there tho… that’s where I grew up. We moved there when I was 5 and left when I was 14.
She and her daughter both comment on why anyone would want to do such a thing. I just gather up my stuff and say “this is what I do for fun” and go outside.
I look back thru the window a couple of times and I can tell that they are talking about me in there. At one point a good ole boy even sticks his head out the door to gawk at me.
Soon I’m back on the road and have found Graves Street. I had assumed that the street was named for a famous Greensbouran named Graves. I pass a lot with hundreds of headstones… hmmm… maybe not.
About half way to Chattahoochee I begin to feel it… that little squirrliness that means I’m losing air in my rear tire. I ride and look… ride and look… yep… it’s getting soft. I get off and check. Yep… no doubt.
Decision time. When I stop and lean over sweat literally pours out of my helmet. It’s already in the mid-nineties and it’s not even 1030 yet. I have one spare tube but I do have 4 CO2s…. so I decide to top it off and keep riding… and see how long it will last. The answer is not too long… 10 minutes later I can feel it going soft again. I keep riding while I think about what to do. I also kick myself repeatedly for coming out alone w/o proper equipment. It does not help that this is the hilliest 10 miles of the ride… even a sweeping descent with a switchback… perhaps the only one in Florida. I take all of the descents slowly because I only have about 50 lbs of pressure in my rear tire.
This continues until I reach Happy Town…. Yep it is a real place. A suburb, if you will, of Chattahoochee. I get off and check again…. Probably 40 lbs now… but I decide to limp in to Chattahoochee anyway.
I stop in town to asses my situation… I decide once again to just top off the tire with CO2. Lazy… fear of blowing my last tube…
I then spend a little time riding up and down the hills of my old home town. And it is hilly. I tell my kids that as a child I had to walk to school… uphill both ways… and it’s true. I lived in one little valley and the school was in the next.
Another stop at a convenience store where I get a few odd looks… fail to talk them into cutting a watermelon and giving me a slice… and I’m on my way… I have an extra 40oz Gatorade stuck in my jersey because I know that it’s about 25 miles to the next store. Minutes after leaving the store I also leave Florida. The route I have chosen cover about 20 miles in Georgia… right along Lake Seminole.
It was not long before a couple of things had my attention. Number 1 my tire is low again… and #2 I am in bum fork nowhere… I’ve not seen a half dozen cars in the 30 minutes since I left town and houses are getting fewer and farther between.
So… still somewhat disgusted with myself about the one tube thing… 40 miles in with 20 to go I stop and changed the tube…
Once I had decent pressure in my rear tire again I realize just how crappy the chipseal road is…. But with decent air pressure and not constantly looking down at my wheel I am making much better progress. I cross the state line without even knowing it because there is no sign… I only realize that I’m back in Florida because I miss a turn that is marked below the state line on my map.
By mile 50 I am almost out of fluids… the temperature is right at 100F… I’m bonking because it’s just too hot to be hungry… At about mile 54 I pass a country store that I’m not even sure is open. I stop anyway and find that it is. I get a coke, some water, and some Gatorade. The cashier asks me if I live on SR 267. I answer him back that I live in Jacksonville… He just stares.
Back on the bike with a coke in me I feel much better. A few more hills and I’m back in Quincy. I decide that doing a brick would just be ridiculous and pack it in.
And as I told the lady in Greensborough… this is what I do for fun… and I can’t wait to do it again… only this time I’ll bring another tube or 2.
Thanks for reading.