Tuesday, June 1, 2010

21st Century Schizoid Man on Vacation: A Tale of Two Rides

I went to the beach with family this past weekend, but managed to get in a couple of early morning rides. Friday morning, Max Watzz did his thing. Saturday morning, Max slept late and RandoBoy went out. Here are their ride reports.

Friday Prescription: 1:00 Tempo, :30 EM, :45 Tempo, :30 EM

My coach, the world-renowned Angus MacKillimiquads, had prescribed a lengthy break for me following RandoBoy’s misbegotten 600K last weekend. He told me that “ya moost let the whithers rot themselves, laddie, ‘er they’ll be 'ell to pay,” ... or something like that. I find that he often does not appreciate the remarkable recuperative powers that nature has bestowed upon me. After studying the prodigious power numbers of which I am capable, you would think that he would know better than to think of me in mere mortal terms.

As is only proper due to uncanny genetic make-up, I was almost fully back to normal Friday morning – well, “normal” in Max Watzz terms … and maybe for Superman . Rolling out from the house in Seacrest just before 6 am, I was soon cruising along a flat road averaging 200 watts. I turned right on some other flat road, went over a bridge, turned right, and finished my first hour with a 22-mph average.

I eased up after turning left on some flat road, and stopped at a convenience store to refill bottles and eat something. As I paid the clerk at the store, she was in obvious awe at the visage of my muscular majesty. I'm not sure which is more embarrassing: When people beg me for my autograph in these situations, or when they are too stunned to stammer their request.

After another 10 minutes of easy riding, I took the power back up to 200 watts just before going over the bridge again, then turned left on some flat road. I turned right just as my second tempo session ended, and went down a flat road to turn left on another flat road. I was back at the house by 8:30, having ridden just under 50 miles with an overall average of just under 21 mph. I then enjoyed a recovery drink of whey protein and glutamine, so that my brobdingnagian quadriceps could fuel and grow more glorious.

Saturday Ride: Good Donut

RandoGirl, the RandoDaughter and I fell in love with the beaches of Walton County in the Florida panhandle back in the 90’s. We lived in Atlanta in 1996 during the Olympics, and we fled the city to come here with some friends for a week away from the madness that we were all sure would ensue. The madness never came, but we had a great time on “the redneck Riviera” nonetheless.

In 2000, we bought a small house in Santa Rosa Beach. We rented it out to vacationers, but managed to spend a couple of weeks a year there every year ourselves. Our plan was to eventually retire in that little house, but we instead sold it when we moved to Tampa.

One weekend this past winter, RandoGirl and I came back down here to look at other properties, and ended up buying one. The “three bedroom with a tower” is in Seacrest beach on 30A, right across from the beach. RandoGirl named it “Serenity” – both for the peaceful aspects and nerd-ish overtones.

This weekend was our first chance to visit the new house since we had closed on it, and much of this trip was about getting it ready to rent. After a very hectic Friday, we managed to finalize most of the pressing business issues surrounding that, and RandoGirl’s parents arrived. After a big dinner and quiet evening of talk, we all turned in early.

Saturday morning, the sun started to rise about 5 am, thus waking me up. As the alarm on my watch went off at 5:30, I hit 30A and began rolling west.

It was a muggier day than Friday had been, with that foreboding sense of afternoon thunderstorms that you can only get in the tropics. I worked up a good sweat biking along, looking over at the Gulf of Mexico on my left, listening to the birds and wildlife awake around me. Traffic was very light, so I decided to stay on 30A all the way to the end, instead of heading over the bridge to Freeport as Max had done the day before.

Just before Grayton Beach, I stopped to help a turtle across the road. He was obviously heading to one of the many lakes that I was riding past, full of tall grass and calm water. There were few enough cars that he probably would have made it, but I wasn’t in that much of a hurry. Better safe than squished.

There is a multi-use path all along 30A, but I have always preferred to use the road here. Like most multi-use paths, this one cuts in on driveways and side roads, often with rather abrupt bumps and limited sightlines. It is best for runners or recreational cyclists who don’t mind stopping frequently for cars that may be coming out, but bikers going over 15 miles per hour here tend to avoid it.

About 6 am I started to see some early runners and one or two other riders on the multi-use path. We all smiled and waved and yelled “good mornings” to each other, enjoying the camaraderie of fellow early- rising exercise enthusiasts.

At Santa Rosa Beach, I waved at our old house – still a lovely Florida lime green. Soon, I came to the end of 30A, and went east on Hwy 98. This is a very busy road, but has a pretty good shoulder (sometimes marked as a bike lane – very confusing). So long as you don’t mind dodging the occasional detritus and listening to the roar of semis passing at 70, it’s a decent way to travel.

When we were here in March I had test-ridden a route this way, but a closed bridge had kept me from seeing all of it. Turning left on County Road 393, I was soon on a quieter back lane. The bridge was open again, and although the road was bumpy and pot-holed, it was fairly shady and quite scenic.

Doubling back, I was now getting hungry, so I continued west on 98 past 30A and on to the Donut Hole. This is one of the few places that has survived every storm – tropical and economic – that has hit this area in the past decades, probably because their donuts are delicious. I got a light confectionary tube filled with chocolate and a cup of coffee, and then went outside to eat on a bench by my bike. Some kids soon came out and began to ask me about my bicycle and where I was going. A number of grown-ups asked about the same thing, and some said that they wished that they could go with me.

The day was growing warmer by the minute, so I soon mounted back up and returned to 98 to work my way east. The wind had come up out of that quarter, and it grew stronger as I turned back onto 30A and returned to Santa Rosa Beach. Just past there, I noticed my rear tire was going soft, and pulled onto the multi-use trail to change it. I had somehow picked up a small piece of wire, which I quickly dislodged before replacing the tube.

As I worked, there were now a lot of people going by on the path – some running, some walking, and some biking – and many of them asked if I needed help, or wished me a good day, or told me that there was another group of riders just up the road a bit. We were all on vacation – or at least enjoying a nice outing on a pleasant morning – and the pure joy of being free to do what we wanted to do this morning was evident.

My tire taut again, I headed back out into the headwind on 30A, rolling through Blue Mountain and into Seaside, where they filmed the Jim Carrey movie, “The Truman Show.” Everyone was up and about by now, roaming this carefully planned pastel village en route to morning coffee and some pre-beach knick-knack shopping. I slowed down with the other vehicular traffic, enjoying a bit of people-watching and waving to the kids.

In Seagrove Beach, I thought about stopping for another coffee and beignets, but decided that I had better head back. Since it was now 8:30, everyone would be up and getting breakfast, so 50 miles would have to do for the day. As I approached the house, RandoGirl was on the upstairs balcony and she gave me a wolf whistle, which a passing runner thought was for him. As sweaty and hot as I now was, he may have been right.

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