As mentioned in Monday's post, I pledged to begin my stupid long rides much earlier for the rest of the summer. Tuesday looked like the best day for this, so I left the house around 5:30 am, heading north.
Going through Pelican Bay, with the eastern horizon just beginning to turn a lighter shade of grey, I saw four other cyclists. Two were riding together, fairly hard, and apparently training. The others were just people that get around on their bikes, or were out doing their own pre-dawn centuries.
I stopped at the Panera Bread on Wiggins Pass Road for a quick scone and a cup of coffee. I also got the three-seed demi, stuffing it into a jersey pocket. By the time I headed back towards Vanderbilt Beach Road, the sun was up, and it looked to be a beautiful day.
I was actually chilly during the first hour, and it felt pretty good. Riding with lights is a bit more of a hassle, but it was worth it.
As I headed towards Bonita Beach, I saw a Naples Velo kit turn onto my route up ahead. When I caught up with the rider, it turned out to be Tim Cranch. He and I rode the next few miles together, up and through Ft. Myers Beach. It was nice having some company, and the quieter roads made it easy to cruise along and chat.
Once over the causeway and back on the mainland, Tim turned east and I west towards Sanibel and Captiva Islands. The road was getting busier, as people headed to various jobs on the islands.
Whereas the cars have to stop and pay a toll to go over this causeway, bikes have their own lane and don't pay. I wish the drivers in these cars would wise up and start saving some money like I was.
On the first island over the bridge, I slowed down to check out the ghost bike honoring Tracey Kleinpell. This memorial is still being well maintained, and is festooned with flowers and notes. I wish that other places with ghost bikes would take a tip from this -- although the stark white of a ghost bike is a powerful message, decorations like this help personalize the tragedy.
I cruised up Sanibel Island and on to Captiva Island. It was almost 9 am, and the heat was coming back as I hit 50 miles. While I wasn't doing a blistering pace, I was trying to get as much work done as I could in the cooler part of the day.
After a quick pause at the top, I started back south. The wind was a little against me, but still light. Whereas I had used the road for the ride up, I got on the multi-use trail to go south -- not so much for traffic, but merely because it was mostly in the shade.
A quick stop at Huxster's topped off my bottles, and I skipped the multi-use trail for the last mile south on the island. It was now chock-a-block (emphasis on the "blocked") with tourists on rental beach cruisers. A car passed me just before the turn towards the causeway, and the lady driver told me that I should be on the trail. Since I was moving at almost 20 mph, I would have been dangerous on that trail, and possibly breaking the law. Either way, she is wrong -- in Florida, you still have a choice as a cyclist to either be on the trail or the road.
Fortunately, another right we all have as humans is the right to choose whether we let putzes mess with our buzz. As a former guitarist of mine used to say, "Air it off, dude." By the time I was over the causeway and nearing Fort Myers Beach again, my mellow was back and I was able to laugh at the billboards.
Yeah, you gotta wonder if they also sell donuts.
I stopped near the bottom of Fort Myers Beach to refill my bottles with ice and Gatorade. Heat, humidity, and hard biking were keeping me warm, and I my bottles were nearing empty again as I neared Vanderbilt Beach Road. I could have turned right and been home by 11 am, but since I had finished the last of my three-seed demi on San Carlos Boulevard I needed some food and had a hankering for Arby's. I continued out Bonita Beach Road, past the dog track, to Imperial Parkway. A few miles north in the bike lane there, and I was soon scarfing a roast beef sandwich and some curly fries.
As I left just after noon, with about 25 miles to home, I looked down at my bike computer. I realized that the ride would end up being 125 miles -- or 200 kilometers -- and that if I rode fast I could finish in just under eight hours. I gave vent to my inner Max Watzz, and made it home by 1:25 pm -- five minutes to spare.
My water bottles were empty again, so I had not quite managed to keep cool for the whole ride. I'd kept my cool for most of it, though, and that was good enough.