Monday, January 3, 2011


Christmas weekend, RandoGirl, the RandoDaughter, and I went to the beach. A cold December had burned us out on the need for a White Christmas -- instead, we needed a shot of Vitamin FLA.

Although it wasn't exactly toasty, it was warmer. RandoGirl and I actually rode down to Rosemary Beach for coffee one morning, and didn't have to put on tights and jackets. After the past few weeks in middle Tennessee, that was good enough.

Christmas Eve I went out to do a metric, trying to stay with the "short rides only" prescription that I had given myself the previous weekend. I headed north on the busy but wide shoulder of Hwy 331. After crossing the eastern edge of Choctawhatchee Bay, I turned east onto County Hwy 3280.

There's not much shoulder, but this road is very quiet. Almost too quiet. And straight. And very level.

Basically, it was the above picture. Now stare at it for an hour. Get it?

Eventually, County Hwy 3280 ends at Hwy 20, where I turned southeast and continued to fight the headwind.

Yeah, frighteningly similar. It's got more shoulder, however, which is good because it's a busier road. Watching the cars go by gives you something to keep you awake.

Just before Ebro, you cross a river.

On the other side of the river, there was a "climb." It wasn't much -- more of nature's way of keeping the river in it's place -- but it gave me a reason to shift gears. Gee-haw.

From Ebro, I headed south on Hwy 79.

Now, at first glance it looks the same, but you'll notice that there are four lanes. There wasn't much more traffic, of course, but it changed the feel of the road. For one thing, it gave the wind (yes, it was still a headwind) more room to power up.


Did you know that there are only two states where it is illegal to ride a bicycle wearing any kind of headphones in even one ear? Those states are Rhode Island and Florida. Now, I've never been to Rhode Island, but Sister Mary Leticia told me that it is very small; thus, I can't imagine that you need to ride with music there. You could probably cross the whole state listening of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

However, you obviously need to ride with music, or something to break up the monotony of straight, flat, windy roads in Florida. Otherwise, you will have nothing to do other than think things like

"3+2+8+0 = 13. That's not lucky."

"Why is it that pine trees don't have as much spanish moss as oak trees?"

"If you move the letters around, you can turn 'Ebro' into 'bore.'"

"7 + 9 = 16. You have to be 16 before you can drive."

"If you move the letters around, you can turn 'pine' into ... "

As I got closer to Panama City, I found a bike lane.

Close inspection of the icon, however, revealed that the lane was reserved for use by Canadian sailors only.

Since I was already breaking the law by riding with an iPod in one year, I threw all caution to the wind and pedaled blithely along.

Not long after this, I passed the airport and then climbed the bridge back over the Intracoastal Waterway.

Looking down the channel, you can tell that this would be a pretty dull ride in a boat, too.

Hwy 98 through Panama City is chock-a-block with stores, hotels, warehouses, factories, and all kinds of hoopdedoodle. The shoulder is pretty good, although I did encounter one pair of very old bike salmon as I rode along. The male gave me the old stink eye, while the female called out a cheery good day. She had a big basket on the front of her bike, too. Put together, these countered the smell of the old man's baleful orbit and kept me from giving them a stern admonishment about which side of the road we ride on "here in the states." It was possible that they were retired Canadian sailors, and unschooled in the finer points of American biking.

Soon, the hubbub of Panama City was behind me, and I was approaching my turn back on to the uber-gentrified fairyland that is 30A.

As I pulled back into the parking lot behind our house, I realized that I had not put my foot down on the ground since starting the ride 65 miles and three and a half hours earlier. It was now 1 pm, though, and RandoGirl and the RandoDaughter were ready for lunch. I got cleaned up, and we went to Seaside for lunch.

Vacation is good.

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