Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Fool Wandering in the Desert

When we last left our intrepid idiot at the end of yesterday's post, he was bedded down in his tent while the last of an early evening Florida rainstorm dripped from the trees. Through pure luck, he had overcome a couple of monumental brain farts -- no tubes to fit his new tires, and no pump with which to pump up said tubes. Would his luck continue?

Well, of course.

I slept great, thanks to my new larger Big Agnes air mattress. The temperature dropped just enough for me to need my light sleeping bag, and the tent kept me snug and dry all night. I awoke at dawn, fixed a big cup of coffee to go with the three-seed demi that I had bought at Panera the day before, and took a few minutes to take some pictures of the trees in the park.

I then broke down my tent, shook as much rain and sand off of it as I could, and began packing up. I was in bike clothes and sunscreen, heading east into the rising sun, before 9 am.

Soon, I entered a familial county.

Just before LaBelle, the road began to tell me to rethink my plan.

The GPS soon began doing the same thing. For some reason, it wanted me to go almost directly north on dirt roads. Since dirt roads in Florida are usually sandy, and sand can not only bog down your tires but destroys your drive chain, I wanted to stick to asphalt. The GPS insisted it knew a short-cut, and would spend the next hour telling me to make a U-turn as soon as possible.

Since this route had a long stretch without amenities, I stopped once again in LaBelle to top off my bottles. In my panniers, I still had an extra bottle full of water from my campsite, and hoped that three bottles would be enough as I headed northeast on FL 29.

This is a busy, fast road, but with a pretty good shoulder. Two out of every three trucks going north were full of oranges, and two out of every three heading back were empty and slavering for citrus. The cars were zipping by too fast to really take in some of the beauty of the country here.

Just short of Palmdale, I turned left on State Hwy 74. I had emptied one bottle already, but knew that going on into Palmdale would be useless since there are no stores there. Going west on 74, traffic was lighter and the tailwind made it easy to cruise along over the flat country at a good clip.

The horizon shimmered in the distance, making it easy to see what few vehicles there were minutes before they reached me. I think that I could have seen Russia from this road, if not for the continental United States.

About 10 miles down this road, I saw the dirt road that my GPS had wanted me to take. It would have been eight miles, but did not look too bad. Maybe next time ...

A couple of miles further, I turned north on Tasmania Road. My other bottle was empty now, too, so I stopped to retrieve the last of my water from my pannier. I now had just under one full bottle, with 20 miles to go before the next store. This was going to require careful rationing and hard riding -- not a good mix. About five miles later, I had an inkling what the pig in the ditch in the picture below felt like.

I had left Hendry County for Glades County just outside of LaBelle, and now crossed into Highlands County. I still had a long way to go, but at least I was now in the right county.

I had maybe three more swallows of water in my last bottle when I saw this sign.

The owner was nonplussed when I walked in, as if fully loaded touring bicycles came by all the time. He busies himself doing inventory of his eight shelves of goods, while the television behind the register blared North by Northwest, with Cary Grant crazily driving along an empty road through the middle of the night. I got two bottles of Gatorade, an Orange Crush, a bag of ice, and an Almond Joy candy bar. Back on the front porch, I filled my bottles with ice and cool drink, with Cary in the background explaining to the local police how someone had been trying to kill him. I sat for a minute, drinking my Orange Crush and eating my candy bar, before climbing back on the bike. Heading north on the empty road again a few minutes later, life was good and the world was rich with grand potential.

It was now after 2 pm, and I had less than 20 miles to go to my hotel.  I had slowed down, and thought that my headwind was back when I realized that I was grinding along on a 1-2% grade climb. Soon, I began to see actual pseudo-hills.

There were a number of signs like this, probably to remind people that they were no longer in flat country with unlimited visibility. The plains of roaming cattle had given way again to rows of orange trees.

The hills separated a series of placid lakes.

This is when I realized that I must be near Lake Placid, where my hotel was.

It was just after 3 pm, so I stopped at a grocery store to eat a sandwich and drink something. I got to my hotel about 4 pm, showered, and just laid down for a couple of hours to watch brainless television, eat empty carbohydrates, and drink copious amounts of water.

I couldn't find North by Northwest, but was reasonably certain that things would work out for Cary alright in the end, too. Things usually do.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Smarter to be Lucky Than It's Lucky to be Smart

Thursday and Friday of last week, I tested my the new touring rig by riding it up to Sebring, FL, about 150 miles from our house in Naples.This was kind of a long way to go on a new touring bike, but RandoGirl and I were meeting friends there for a tandem rally that weekend.

Overall, the bike performed great. I'm moving the front rack a little further back to better center the load over the wheel, as it tends to fight me a bit, and I had to make a few saddle adjustments to alleviate pressure in a bad spot, but I think that this setup will work well for me on my west coast tour in September.

Thursday morning about 10, I started my trip by going up Hwy 41to Coconut Point for lunch. Normally, I prefer to use quieter roads further inland, but wanted to see how the bike lane felt on a busier road, since much of my west coast tour will be on Hwy 101. The scenery wasn't pretty, but the bike handled well and traffic behaved.

After lunch, I headed east into the headwind for a bit before turning back towards the north. I could see storm clouds gathering when I passed Florida Gulf Coast University, but hoped that they would wait and dump their rain at the beach.

The wind was pretty steady out of the southeast, giving me a crosswind most of the trip. The bike handled well nonetheless, and I could just about maintain 15 mph going into the wind, taking it up to over 16 off the wind. Not exactly Max Watzz speed, but good enough for touring.

I took the usual bypasses through Gateway to Lehigh Acres, stopping to refill my bottles at a convenience store there. As part of my effort to fight my calcium deficit, I'm staying away from soft drinks with phosphoric acid. Instead, I had a cream soda -- definitely not sugar-free -- and it was delicious.

I took some quieter roads through Buckingham, going past the palace ...

... which is right down from Cowboy Lane.

Then, I zipped down Orange River Boulevard and slogged back into the wind on Hwy 80. It was just after 3 pm, and at this pace would easily get to my campsite by 4 pm. With the time change, this gave me more than three more hours of daylight, so I decided not to stop at Publix and pick up something for dinner, and instead go out to eat in Alva. It was with this plan in mind that I started up 31, and heard a tire blow.

"I hope that's not the front," I said, thinking what a pain it would be to pull the tire with the Old Man Mountain rack attached. It was the back, however, so I found a place to lay the bike down, pulled off the rear panniers, took the wheel off, and got to work.

That's when I remembered that I had meant to take the good frame pump off the Lynskey and bring it with me this trip. And then I remembered that the CO2 inflator that I carried on the Salsa was crummy, and that I didn't have any spare cartridges. Finally, as I pulled the tube out, I remembered that the tubes that I carry are normally for 700x23-25C tires ... and I was running 700x35Cs.

Adapt or die, as they say. I pulled out my patch kit and fixed the blown tube, then hooked up the CO2 inflator and started it. It made an ugly fizzling noise, and sputtered to a sad end. My tire was still flat, and I had no frame pump or more cartridges.

I pulled out my phone, thinking that I was going to have to call RandoGirl for help. On a whim, I decided to let my smart phone make up for my stupidity by seeing where the closest bike shop was. According to the phone, it was 1.4 miles away. Incredulous, I called the shop and the owner confirmed their location. It took me another half hour to walk the bike there.

He fixed my flat, sold me two spare tubes that would fit, and even had a decent frame pump. I bought it, as well as another patch kit. You can't be too careful.

All of this cost me over an hour, but I got to the campground right at 5 pm. I paid my $12 and got the same camp site that I had used the first time I stayed there.

By setting up my tent close to the table, I was even able to keep the front of the bike in my tent. This turned out handy later.

I grabbed a quick shower, and then rode my bike in street clothes about three miles east to the Alva Diner.

The place was pretty busy for after 6 pm on a Thursday night. I got a seat at the counter, and enjoyed an excellent meal while I read some magazines. As I headed out just after 7 pm, with about 20 minutes of daylight left, it was just starting to rain. I rode as quickly as I could back to my campsite, but still got pretty wet. I stripped off my wet things and hung them up to dry inside my little tent, then called RandoGirl to tell her about my trip. She could hear the rain drumming on the tent, but it stopped after about 15 more minutes. Since it had been somewhat under the rain fly, the front half of my bike had stayed dry throughout.

In tomorrow's post, I'll tell you about the second day of the trip.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The New Touring Rig

Last month I told you that I was going to have my steel single-speed Salsa Casseroll converted into a geared touring bike. John at The Bike Route did this for me, and he did an extraordinary job. Here's what we now have.

Most of this looks the same. I've almost always had that rack on the rear and the handlebar bag, and that big ugly under-seat bag.

This is a little different. I'm going to carry my Garmin Edge 705, since I can load the routes into it for turn-by-turn directions. The little Cateye wired computer stays, of course, and I'll have my Adventure Cycling maps with me ... plus small route sheets in the handlebar bag. It's best to have basic backups for anything as complex as a GPS.

So I know you were wondering, "How are you going to charge that GPS? That's my Busch & Muller E-WERK charger lashed to the down tube. I'm also bringing the cable so I can charge my iPod. If I buy the cache battery that they sell with these, I could charge my iPhone, too. That might make a good Father's Day present (hint-hint).

Okay, there's a lot here in this picture. You'll notice that I'm using the Schmidt Dynamo Hub, of course, since the E-WERK is pretty useless without something supplying the juice. I'm using the Old Man Mountain front rack, since the Casseroll's front fork does not really have mounts for a rack. I'm hoping that I don't have many flats on the front, since it will be a minor pain to unhook things and pull this bad boy off.

The Old Man Mountain rack gives me a good place to mount the Schmidt E6 headlamp, plus a nice flat platform to which I can lash other junk. I'm using that for my tent, as you'll see in a minute.

John suggested this, and I think it will come in handy. It's a Shimano Deore rear derailleur. This wheel only has a 12-27 cassette, but the derailleur will handle up to a 36-tooth cog. That, and the triple on the front, would allow me to spin up hills on which I probably would not be able to even keep the bike upright.

Another advantage of this frame is that it has clearance for these 35C Schwalbe tires. Most tourists seem to swear by the durability of these, and they certainly feel good at 80 psi. The only downside is that I don't have enough clearance for fenders.

And, yeah, I was able to keep the bell. I need to clean it with some Brasso, however.

So, here's how it looks with the panniers and tent on it. Not bad, hunh? I used to tote the tent in one of the panniers, so moving it to the front not only helps balance the load, it gives me room for maybe a spare set of bike clothes. And, yes, I can easily reach the switch on the E6 to turn on headlights when I go into a tunnel. I plan to mount a blinkey light on the back of my helmet for these situations, too.

From the back, you can still see the tail light. Again, the blinkey on the back of the helmet will be a helpful addition. You can't really see it, but the tent-pole gizmo is lashed to the top of the rear rack, under the Arkel tail rider bag. I love Arkel!

And here's the view from the front. The front panniers are empty here, but don't stick out much more when they're full. The flash of my camera went off for this picture (hunh ... cameras), but that allows you to see just how reflective the tape on those Arkel panniers are. Did I mention that I love Arkel?

I'm testing everything out this week, riding from my house up to my standard campsite in Alva on one day, and then on up to Sebring, FL, the next. RandoGirl will meet me there, since we're doing the tandem rally that weekend. Expect a full report next week.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How Far Would You Go?

It was a pokey ride.

A lot of my rides are pokey rides ... or, they used to be. Back in Nashville, I would go out rambling for a few hours. Like the song said, "No particular place to go." Vague destinations surrounding store stops I would make along the way to fill bottles and belly, with expectations to be met regarding when I would be home, but none surrounding when I would hit any spot along the way.

I miss those rides. There are only so many roads worth riding -- or, more accurately, safe riding -- down here. There are no forgotten farm roads that meander for miles past prairies and the occasional mailbox. If you put in a road in south Florida, it better go somewhere that people want to be. Once it's in, as it gets more traffic they usually just make it wider. In Tennessee, you could always find "Old Something" road, which generally went the same way as the "New Something" road, but wasn't as level, straight, or wide.

I miss Old Something road.

There are group rides here every day, and I've been going to those. We get a tight pack of 30 or more people heading somewhere very fast. When we get there, we may pause for a minute or two, and then we come back ... usually faster.

The result is that I feel that I am as fast a rider as I've ever been. I've also ridden more miles than I usually have by this time of the year, but they are predominantly shorter rides. I could probably crank out a 200K tomorrow, but anything longer? That would hurt.

So, Saturday, I needed a pokey ride. The weather was perfect, RandoGirl had a morning appointment, and with Daylight Savings Time I didn't feel like joining the 7 am crowd, anyhow. I don't mind riding in the dark, but would rather do it slowly and with fewer people around.

Soon, I was out in Golden Gate. There's a nice 20 miles route out there, always with a bike lane. I went further, joining the cars to go to Everglades Road. I came north there to Oil Well Road, which they're still working on. Lanes come and go as you weave through orange-and-white striped barrels, avoiding the detritus inherent with expanding two lanes into six.

I thought about heading further east at that point, on out to Ave Maria and beyond, but opted to keep it simple and short. Frankly, I was a little tired of the cars. Here I was, 25 miles away from the beach, and there were still a lot of vehicles going past. Most of them passed nicely, but enough of them did not. I turned westward on Oil Well, and a few miles from Immokalee Road came across a small grove of orange trees.


I had forgotten that. The smell of orange blossoms in Florida in March. Sweet, with a diaphanous aftertang of citrus. When we lived north of Tampa, you could ride up into the hills through a grove just outside of San Antonio and the smell of the blooms was almost overpowering. You wanted to get off of your bike and just lie down somewhere, breathing it in. I never did, of course, and maybe it's better that way. Certain treasures should only be retrieved from their hidey holes briefly, when you can luxuriate in their glow for scant stolen moments.

The grove slid by, and the odor of the blossoms went with it. Soon, I was back on my bike sliver on the edge of six-lane Immokalee Road, cruising along with a light tailwind. I continued from bike lane to bike lane, and hobbled together a fine 80-mile ride.

Was it worth riding that far for just a half-dozen deep breaths of orange-tinted air? Sure. I would have done the ride either way. Hopefully, I will always enjoy throwing a leg over the top tube of a bike and getting out on a fine day. But finding that long-lost treasure once again, however briefly, made that ride great.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Jersey Tug

We're all graded on the curve. Or, curves plural, to be precise.

Women, of course, are graded on the curves of their bodies. As a proud member of the mammal class, I very, very much applaud these curves.

Most men are graded on the curve of their biceps -- how else can you explain Governor Schwarzenegger? Fortunately, there are "leg" women who will always swoon for Fabian Cancellera's quads ... or whatever curves it is that those women find so pleasing.

Which is not to say that we should grade everyone based solely on looks. Back when I was single (okay, we're going waaay back in time here), I remember chatting up many a pretty girl just to find that ... well, they weren't that much fun to chat with. Lots of flowers are pretty, too, but if it just talks about how bitchy the petunias are or how this mulch makes her stamen look big, I'd rather not waste time sitting around talking to it.

My point, however, is that in cycling, we are ultimately graded by a critical curve: The gut.

Pro cyclists don't get fat ... at least, not while they're still racing. Jan Ullrich was infamous for gaining weight in the off-season, but six feet tall and 160 pounds would not qualify as "fat" by any normal standard. Jan had the power to make this weight work in most Tours, and usually dropped the extra kilos by the time the race hit the mountains. And it's mountains where pounds really count.

There aren't really a lot of mountains here in Florida. There are some bridges near the coast, and a few hills inland northwest of Orlando, but nothing that I have to worry about on my regular routes.

So, why am I concerned about my gut? Because I'm tired of doing the jersey tug.

You see, most of my riding clothing is from when I raced for Gran Fondo. Since I bought them to race in, they're nice and tight so they don't flap around in the wind. Although I have older, looser jerseys and plain old black bibs, at most rides I'm wearing full Gran Fondo kit.

When I was racing, I weighed as much as 10 pounds less than I do now. Thus, when I pull on a pair of shorts, they feel a little snug. The lettering gets somewhat stretched out, too, in a way that the sponsors would probably not have appreciated.

But the jersey is the big problem. I put it on, zip it up, and tug the bottom down a bit. I put my shoes and socks on, and tug the jersey back down. I pump up the tires, and tug the jersey down. I put on my helmet, gloves, and glasses, roll out of the garage, get on the road, and sit up to tug the jersey down.

My belly doesn't want to wear Gran Fondo kit any more. I'm not sure if it wants to race independent or not, but am reasonably certain that it would not do well. My belly needs a team around it -- or, to be more accurate, it needs Team Legs below it.

So, even though I'm not going to race much this season, my plan is to drop at least five pounds this month. That should get my jersey-tug-per-minute rate back down to single digits.

If I can't do this, I'll have to start wearing my Gran Fondo skinsuit. And nobody wants to see me overweight in a skinsuit.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A California State of Mind

Over the past couple of weeks, I've told you about the bicycle tour that I have planned for the west coast. I will start in Vancouver and go along the edge of coast of Washington. Then, I'm mostly on the coast for Oregon. The last week will be California.

I thought about doing these differently. You can go north, of course, but the prevailing winds supposedly make this hard. I also considered California, Washington, and then Oregon, but couldn't make that work even with theoretical physics.

The downside of doing California last is that it will be tough. Washington and Oregon have a few 500-foot climbs -- in California I'll climb to over 1000 and 750 feet on the first day. One day, I have the option of doing 75 miles with 9500 feet of climbing, or can wimp out and do 40 miles with 1800 feet. Either way, the next day I have to climb up to Leggett at over 1500 feet, and the next-to-last day is over 90 constantly rolling miles with over 5500 feet of climbing.

By the time I get to San Francisco, I will be ready to get on a train and sit for a few days.

  • Crescent City to Patrick's Point. Two miles from the start, we begin climbing. Over four miles later, we can stop end enjoy the view of the Del Norte Coast Redwoods Park, and then descend for a few miles. It's mostly state parks and Hwy 101 today, so I'm going to stop for a second breakfast in Klamath. I'll need that for the climb that starts right afterwards, on a side road through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Another long descent takes me back to 101 and a series of parks to the coast. We stop in Patrick's Point, where there is either camping or hotels.
  • Patrick's Point to Ferndale. Today's the easy day, getting ready for the Lost Coast Alternate option tomorrow. We roll along the coast through Trinidad, McKinleyville, and Arcata to Eureka (I so want to put an exclamation point there). This will be a nice stop for lunch, and then on to cross the Eel River at Fernbridge and move away from 101. Tonight's stop is Ferndale, which has camping and a hotel.
  • Ferndale to Myers Flat -- the hard way. We move well away from the road more travelled here, following the Adventure Cycling Association's Lost Coast Alternate. In the first eight miles we climb almost 2000 feet, then descent to the Bear River neat the coast. The route is flatter there, heading to Petrolia. After a stop to fill everything, we start back inland along the Mattole River to Honeydew. Again, here we will fill everything, because we're about to begin climbing again ... for eight miles. There, we enter Humboldt Redwoods State Park. After descending back into the woods, we roll along to the Avenue of the Giants, which mostly follows 101. In a few miles, we are at our overnight stop in Myers Flat, which has a campground and a hotel.
  • Ferndale to Myers Flat -- the easy way. Remember when I told you that failure to plan is a plan for failure? Well, this route is just in case the previous two weeks have been a little rough on the old body, or the old bike, or the weather sucks, or my gingivitis is acting up. Basically, this version heads back to 101, getting off about halfway onto the Avenue of the Giants. It meets up with the long version just before Burlington. There are plenty of climbs and miles in this route -- and more towns to get water and food.
  • Myers Flat to Leggett. On paper, this almost looks like a day off. Then you look at the elevation profile, and realize that it's mostly a rolling 45-mile climb to 1000 feet. I think it will seem like a break after the Lost Coast Alternate, but climbs this long can sap your strength. The road is either the Avenue of the Giants or 101, with a detour to Redway or Garberville for a second breakfast. Most of the route is 101, with some breaks on CA 271. Just past Leggett, we stop at Drive-Thru Tree Park, which has a hotel and camping.
  • Leggett to Albion. This one really should be more of a day off. We stay off 101 for a few days, and start with a little descent from Leggett. Unfortunately, we then climb about 1200 feet in just under five miles. From there, it's a gentle 12 miles mostly downhill on CA 1 to Rockport. There's another little climb past this town (700 feet in two miles), and then it's rolling for the rest of the day. After a store stop in Westport and a lunch break in Cleone, we pass through Fort Bragg and Mendocino, over the Big River and through Little River, and wind up in Albion. There's a nice hotel on one side of the river, and camping on the other.
  • Albion to Bodega Bay. So, we kind of had two days off. It was so we could survive a 90-mile day with almost 5500 feet of up and down and up and down climbing. Sorry. Navigation should be simple, as it's CA 1 almost all day. And, although they are quiet roads, there seem to be enough small towns or stores to keep us supplied. About mile 80, we cross the Russian River, and maybe some good wine will help ease our pains. Tonight, we can either camp or get a hotel in Bodega Bay.
  • Bodega Bay to San Francisco. This day should be a blast, with just enough length and climbs to make it hard, and a few scenic trails as we approach civilization. We climb inland, then climb back out to the edge of Point Reyes National Seashore. There, we leave CA 1 to get on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard for 10 miles of mild uphill. We continue through the small towns of Sonoma County using back roads and bike trails, heading into Sausalito to cross the Golden Gate. San Francisco is supposed to be a bicycle-friendly town, so it should be easy to ride to a good hotel and finally get a bath.
Anyway, that's the plan right now. I've got six months before I start, so things may change some. I'll probably try to reserve campgrounds and things in a month or two, so if you think you want to join me, let me know. Either way, expect a few blogs and pictures during this -- it will almost be as good as being there.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Noodling Around Naples

Friday is RandoGirl's day to bike in to work. I went with her, and then noodled around Naples some.

Heading to work

Cut through the parking lot ...

... next to Nordstrom, and kiss RandoGirl goodbye at her office.

Then past the symphony hall ...

... and through Pelican Bay

By the golf course ...

... and high rise condos ...

... and shady lanes.

You see joggers ...

... strollers ...

... and walkers.

Go by Fit & Fuel Cafe to see who's hanging out post-ride ...

... and then go down Vanderbilt Drive ...

... where they're picking up recycling.

Turn left at the graveyard.

Take the bridge over 111th Avenue.

Then use the bike lane going south on Gulf Shore Drive.

Sometimes, the bike lane is almost empty.

Get a quick gulf glimpse ...

... and then back east on Vanderbilt Beach.

Cross Tamiami Trail and go into Pine Ridge ...

... where you can sit behind another truck.

Pine Ridge has lots of big houses ...

... on big lots ...

... and some smaller homes on big lots.

There are also horses ...

... and gated estates ...

... and more gated estates ...

... and orange-gated estates.

The landscaping is ...

... brilliant ...

... lush ...

... and tropical.

And the landscapers never stop.

From Pine Ridge, it's back over Tamiami Trail and cut through the Saks lot.

This church is always busy, and very pretty.

On noodling days, cut down Seagate ...

... past the huge banyan trees ...

... and take the sidewalk past the hotel.

This puts you on Gulf Shore Boulevard, where you have a bike lane full of walkers.

Venetian Bay is on one side ...

... and shambling zombie runners are dead ahead. 

Cross over Outer Doctor's Bay (don't ask me who named these) on Harbour Drive.

Some walkers use the sidewalk. This man's boobs were bigger than his dogs.

Then take Mooring Line back to Gulf Shore Boulevard, where you again have a bike lane full of runners ...

... seguing to Segways.

When you get into old Naples, watch out for pedestrians heading for the beach.

The houses as you go south get huge. And they're on the beach.

We like to joke that this is Robin Masters's estate. You have to be old and a Magnum, P.I. fan to get that. It has at least 500 yards of beach front at 10 acres. We're talking money here.

A lot of the homes are hidden behind gates ...

... and landscaping ...

... and vast acreage ...

... of really green lawns.

And lots of palm trees.

You get lots of people on bikes just stopping to look.

And, of course, runners. But at least these guys aren't quite in the bike lane.

As you head south on Gordon ...

... the houses are still nice ...

... when you can see them ...

... because the gates are open ...

... or even if the gates are closed.

You get glimpses of the gulf, too.

There are a few empty lots to build on ...

... and some already being built on ...

... and some almost done.

This is a really pretty one near the bottom.

These are signs that you've hit bottom.

Rolling north Friday, I turned into Port Royal a bit. You have to dodge the landscape trucks here, too. 

Again, beautiful homes ... 

... with more under construction ... 

... all getting their grass cut. 

There are a few lots to build on ...

... and some being built. 

Lots of folks out riding this fine morning.

 Like me ...

... they were ... 

 ... ogling houses ...

... and saying, "Damn." 

As the song says, "Little pink houses for you and me." Yeah.
I got back on Gordon and headed north, encountering a peloton of pedestrians in my bike lane. 

I thought about stopping for coffee, but ... 

... all of the tables were taken at 5th Avenue Coffee. 

So, I got back on Gulf Shore Boulevard and went north, turning onto Crayton at the golf course. 

Soon, I was back in my neighborhood ... 

... where they are also building more houses ... 

... and are plenty of nice ones already.

Sometimes I wonder why I would possibly bike further from home than I do on this route. It must be restless legs syndrome.