Posted by: robinson2000 | August 28, 2012

Braving The Storms


26th – 27th August

After a blustery, but thankfully mosquito free night spent next to the waves, we loaded up the steeds and gently rolled down to a beachfront diner. We chose a table on the balcony overlooking the breaking waves and basked in the morning rays as I was served coffee and pancakes, with a bagel on the side. As we were paying the bill, a fellow cyclist sauntered over and began questioning us about our ride. After the usual pleasantries, he mentioned that his friend and 2 other cyclists had been hit by a lorry in Georgia 2 weeks ago, killing his friend and severely injuring the others. Although it was a tragic story, it really wasn’t what we wanted to hear as we set off on our ride. The previous day, the bad neighbourhoods of Miami had played on my mind, and now this.

 As soon as we left the diner, the clear blue skies turned slightly greyer and we were struck with a cross wind that neither helped or hindered us. We were both feeling particularly tired for some reason and the miles ticked by very slowly. The skies were constantly threatening a deluge of rain as we meandered our way down US Highway 1, skirting around the famous Daytona Beach and following a bike path that ran alongside some nice houses. It was there that a grey haired man pulled over and waved for us to stop. My first thought was we had done something wrong or dropped something, but it turned out he was a fellow tourer and had rode across America once. He just wanted to chat about it and understood what we were about, but he also planted another seed of worry by mentioning that you can’t just camp anywhere along the east coast as you’ll probably be mugged. Americans love spreading the fear.

We plodded on slowly through the wind and the rain that we fully expected, as Tropical Storm Isaac was now heading up the west coast of Florida. We were lucky it wasn’t worse as we passed through a couple of redneck filled towns and came onto a stretch of highway that ran parallel with the NASA Space Centre. We pulled into Manatee Hammock Campsite at the 80 mile mark and pitched up facing the huge Kennedy Space Centre complex in the distance. We had completed a big mileage with relative ease and began seeing signs to Miami for 205 miles away, which was a huge mental boost.

With Tropical Storm Isaac moving up the west coast of Florida, we fully expected to experience the fringes of the storm at some point. We weren’t disappointed as we woke the following morning to a soggy and wind swept tent. The Kennedy Space Complex had completely disappeared into the gloomy wet morning as we packed away in the dressily rain and headed a few miles down the road to a welcoming diner. The waitress gave us a pitiful look and offered us a bar of soap as we sat down in a booth and ordered a coffee to help us get ready for the day ahead. The news reports provided us with little hope as it appeared that we were in for a very wet day. To make matters worse the wind was completely against us and would be blowing at 25-35 mph, which translates to an absolute nightmare for cyclists.

Within a few miles of leaving the diner we were completely soaked through and gritting our teeth as the rain lashed down, killing our speed to a measly 10 mph and dampening our spirits. Chris had a very wobbly rear wheel that needed some attention so we were on the lookout for a bike shop. The first one that our GPS led us to didn’t exist and the second one turned out to be a lawnmower repair shop. After 25 very miserable miles we found a well-stocked bike shop and handed the wheel over to the experts as we went for lunch next door. We were both feeling exceptionally weary and quite uncomfortable as our clothing was saturated, so to raise my spirit I did what any other Englishmen would, and ordered a cup of tea. It certainly helped but the weather reports on the TV screens didn’t bring anymore joy as they continued to replay images of the big storm spreading its misery over Florida.

With great reluctance we dragged ourselves away from the warm bar and picked up Chris’s bike from next door. The shop assistants thought we were crazy for continuing in such poor weather conditions, but being the stubborn/stupid souls that we are, we saddled up and pulled back onto Highway 1. Even I was questioning my own sanity for being out in those conditions as the spray of the traffic reduced visibility to dangerous levels and flashes of lighting kept lighting up the dark skies ahead. We did our best to keep to the quieter side roads but they were strewn with all sorts of debris that had been blown down from the palm trees. Eventually at 4pm we called it a day and dragged our sorry looking carcases into a beach side motel to warm up and dry off. It had been a tough day and we had only covered 45 miles for our efforts. Let’s hope tomorrow brings better weather.

Total Mileage: 2229

Miles Remaining: 180

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  1. Glad to see you are still smiling! I’m wondering why anyone hasn’t warned you about the gators yet? Best wishes for the last (few?) miles.

  2. “Americans love spreading the fear”
    – Sounds like it!

  3. Good old Florida. Sunshine and showers with the occasional Hurricance!!
    You certainly need all your strength against the weather. Best of luck with the last 180!!

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