|Short Sleeves in February! Melbourne Beach, Florida on a pre-ride exploration|
The day arrived with a strong threat of rain. It was dry for the start with a temperature in the upper fifties. The current wind direction would favor the first half of the ride. The forecast was predicting a wind shift, which if the timing was right could give us a boost on the return as well.
|Posting to Twitter from the Panera Bread at the start 6:45am|
After a quick stop we head out towards the cape and Kennedy Space Center. The wind is still favorable making the going relatively easy. We turn onto Space Commerce Way just on the outskirts of the Space Center. NASA Parkway comes up at mile 32. Before we can make the turn a ferrocious wind blast almost knocks us off our bikes. The wind shift has arrived, bringing with it a driving rain. We make the left turn putting the wind on our right side. It is all we can do to keep the bikes on our side of the road. The gusts have to be about 50 miles per hour wanting to blow us into the opposite lane. The terrain to our right is open water so there is absolutely no wind block. The water is wind whipped into white caps and the rain is coming sideways. The going is slow and miserable. I'm cold and wet. I want to put on my rain jacket, but it's too windy. After a couple of miles we come to a draw brigde. There is three foot high cement on the sides of the bridge which I reason can be used to shield me while I don my jacket. With some effort I manage to get it on. Once at the top of the bridge on the metal gratings I think the wind will blow me right off the other side. If I've ever ridden in worse conditions, I can't remember it. After a bit we come upon a museum dedicated to law enforcement. We opt to take temporary refuge there and get organized. The friendly folks there allow us to use the rest rooms and warm up inside. There is also a canopy on the building which is away from the wind. I put on every piece of clothing I have in an attempt to keep warm. We use up about a half-hour at this unsheduled stop, but it was well worth it. When we finally depart the rain has abated, but the wind has not.
|Katie smiling just before the rain and wind hit|
After peeling off a few layers of extra clothes we leave the control turning south on US 1. Viva le differance! The wind at our backs makes me feel like the space shuttle gliding in for a landing. The miles magically tick off as we navigate our way on roads named after astronauts. Gus Grissom would be proud of the pace we manage on his road, as would John Glenn and Wally Shirra. It's a great day to be an American. It also doesn't hurt to be a fan of the space program. Our final control before the finish comes up quickly. Our mood being light we waste no time. We are quickly back to enjoying the benefits of a tail wind.
The final twenty-two miles are equally efficient. I do the math in my head projecting our finish time. I expect we will arrive before dark. The wind shift, which I cursed when it happened, has been a boon for the second half of the ride. With no hills in our way it was smooth and easy sailing for the last 100k. As predicted, we arrive at the finish in 10 hours and 17 minutes. More than ten minutes ahead of sunset. The Panera Bread couldn't have been a more convenient location to end the ride. A bowl of black bean soup was much enjoyed.
The most scenic parts of the ride were that of the cape and wildlife refuge within. Unfortunately the horrendous conditions would hamper the enjoyment of it, at least for me. This prompted a return trip by car and a bus tour of the Space Center and wildlife preserve the next day. Another great day to be an American.
Next up the Central Florida 300k - Stay Tuned!