|One of the many Causeway bridges we would encounter|
At the stroke of 5:00am we are off navigating our way to the causeway which leads us off the island. The causeway, which is considered a climb in these parts, serves to break up the group considerably. I'm riding with Katie, also from the New Jersey Randonneurs. We settle into a rhythm with me taking the front position through the wind. We are at or near the waters edge, which is void of wind block. We quickly pick up one rider, a local named David. Soon after a recumbent falls into step with us. The recumbent rider, Greg from South Florida, tells us he is not used to these cool temperatures. I continue to pull our small group through persistent headwinds to the first control, a Shell Station on State Route 50, forty miles north of the start.
|David, a Florida resident, spent most of the ride with us|
Back on the road in short order we continue our trek into the wind until mile 82. We then turn onto Florida Avenue which puts the wind on our left side. The cue sheet has us on this same road for the next 22 miles. The beauty of that is the road is wooded on both sides providing the first shelter from the wind we've had so far. Our speed picks up a bit and we come across another local rider named Bruce. He joins us explaining that he's not having much fun. He wants to drop out having already called for a ride. No one was available to pick him up so for lack of anything else to do he continued to pedal his bike. He is hoping he can catch a ride from the next control at mile 116. Finally, the 22 mile long road ends at US 1, where we are directed to turn left. Which is directly into the wind for 8 more miles. It's another grind for the rest of the way to the control. We finally arrive seeing an RUSA banner at a very pleasant looking park along the river. The volunteers have food set up for us. It's cool and windy, but mild enough to enjoy sitting on picnic tables while we refuel and chat. We take a bit of time at this control since we will be spending most of the remaining miles with the wind in our favor. When it's time to depart Bruce decides to continue. His mood has brightened considerably. He is optimistic about his chances for completing the ride.
|Bruce, considered abandoning for a time, then soldiered on to the finish|
|Katie, David and Bruce in the Wild Life Preservation|
|David and Bruce, same location. I never did get a photo of Greg on the recumbent as he wasn't with us during favorable winds when I had the energy and desire to take pics.|
|Katie at the control prior to the finsh. Poised and ready to set her best time at 300k|
Upon surrendering our brevet cards to Tim, the RBA, he tells us our time is 14 hours 32 minutes. I realized that I'd done the math wrong in my head and Katie's PR is actually an hour faster than we thought. Shattering her prior best time by hours. She is pretty ecstatic with the result.
Soon after Greg arrives on the recumbent. And some time later David and Bruce find there way in. David has finished his first 300k. As for Bruce he is quite pleased to have finished at all since he had mentally thrown in the towel over eighty miles back.
With the conclusion of this ride so ends my Florida adventure. The riding here has been great. While the weather was spotty with a fair amount rain and wind it was far better than what was going on in New Jersey. The brevet and permanent routes were scenic, interesting and challenging in ways that are unique to the region. And, perhaps most importantly the local riders, RBA's and route owners were friendly and helpful in every instance. I'm pleased to report that Randonneuring is alive and well in Florida.
I will pack up and head home in the morning. I'm looking forward to some much needed rest. In reviewing the trip I logged a total of 638 miles in less than two weeks. Of that 900km were added to my RUSA total. This represents a dramatic increase over this time last year. I set my annual RUSA kilometer goal to 10,000k for 2011. I have a good leg up on it with over 1300k in the bank before our season even begins back home.
While I get some enjoyment from the mile/km counting the real upside is I got to spend a good amount of time sharing the road with friends from home, and new found friends far from home. What can be better than that.