To prepare for my tour in September, I'm doing at least one long endurance ride each week. The goals around the ride are simple: Go as hard as you can at a pace that you can maintain for at least five hours.
Last Thursday was the only day that I could fit this into the schedule. Even then, the schedule didn't really allow me to start until 9:30 that morning. Since the "feels like" temperature here in Naples has been -- and apparently will continue to be -- in the 90's by that time, this meant I was in for a steamy ride.
Ordinarily, I do these rides on my Lynskey, but Thursday I opted for the Salsa. It's heavier and slower, but that didn't matter because I was just "doing the time." Where I've been able to do a century in 5.5 hours on the Lynskey, I would settle for 75-80 miles on the Salsa.
Another reason to ride the Salsa is because it's the bike on which I plan to do my tour. And I had added another neat little gizmo to the cockpit.
Almost makes you feel like you're in a jet cockpit, don't it? I've had the little basic Cateye bike computer there, and the Garmin, too. (By the way, it only looks like the headlight is sticking out of the Garmin, but it's still attached to the front of the Old Man Mountain rack.) The bell has always been there, as well, but the little thing at the bottom is a thermometer that goes on the headset plug. With all of this, I can not only tell where I am, how far I've gone, and how fast I'm going, but I can now see incontrovertible evidence that I am an idiot for riding in such ridiculous heat.
I went into old Naples, out Fifth Street, and took Tamiami Trail down towards Marco Island. Most of the tourists are gone, so the roads were not very busy.
Collier Boulevard still had the usual fast cars, but the shoulder going towards Marco is pretty good. For some reason, there are places going the other way where the shoulder gets thin, so I prefer to do the Marco Island loop counterclockwise.
Once over the bridge and on the island itself, I decided to explore the northern end. This is where the historic village of Olde Marco Island is, although most of the buildings up there don't seem much older than the Olde Marco Pub & Restaurant.
There's also a place that sells and repairs guitars up that way. There's got to be an interesting story behind this.
I went all the way to the tip of the island, where you can look out over the passageway and see the nicer homes on the bottom of the Isle of Capri. Although I've driven to the Isle of Capri, I've never biked there. One day, I'll have to see if there's somewhere decent to eat.
After a bit of dawdling, I headed south to San Marco Road. This soon takes you to one of the hors categorie climbs of southwestern Florida.
Once over the bridge, the road turned northeast. The wind at my back, I was barely turning the pedals here and cruising at about 22 mph. I could hear the hum of the Salsa's Schwalbe Marathon tires over my iPod, and was reminded of a line from an Eagles' song, "Don't let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy." Then, I actually saw a small Eagle perched on a limb of a tree at the edge of the canal on my right.
Soon, I was back on the Tamiami Trail, where the wind was no longer as friendly. Although San Marco Road had been fairly empty, it was nice to have a plentiful shoulder again.
As I got closer to Naples, civilization and cars returned. I stopped for a quick lunch at a Taco Bell, then went back through old town and down to Port Royal before turning back north towards the gelato place just north of Pelican Bay. The little thermometer was now reading 95 degrees, but it felt warmer than that as I rolled the last few miles back home.
I may have to start doing these rides at about 5 am. I may not do triple digit mileage, but I'd rather avoid the triple digit heat.