March 23, 1999
|Waking up after sunrise, I took my time getting ready.
Had 1 powerbar for breakfast and got on the road at 10 am and headed north on
27. It was a very nice ride with plenty of tailwind. Passing all those
orange trees along the way I finally gave in to temptation. I stopped, picked an
orange, and sat by my bike and ate it.
As I got close to Lake Wales, and my exit for 60 west, the wind begins to change a little. Woooo Hooooo the wind gods are on my side today!! As I head west on 60 I continue to have perfect tailwinds. This part of 60 is newly paved and has a good shoulder to ride on. Then after a few miles I pass the road workers and the new pavement ends, and so does the shoulder! Ahhhhh! Not again! I ride the white line and hope for the best. My knuckles turn white as I grip the handlebars and focus on this bumpy white line. I pedal as fast as I possibly can just to get this over with. My speedometer is now reading 23 mph which is really fast for me with a loaded bike. I maintain this speed and keep pushing myself as I feel the adrenaline coursing through me. If I can just survive this! I keep thinking... "What the hell am I doing on a major 4-lane highway with no shoulder... I'm surely going to die!" My mind just kept pushing my legs to work harder and faster. More semi's blowing by with only inches to spare.. My bike wobbles as each gust of wind blasts me with the passing trucks. Then after 6 miles of this non-stop push, new pavement appears with a shoulder. I had to stop for a couple of minutes, that 6-miles really drained me, even though I was mentally prepared to maintain that for 15 - 20 miles into the next town.
Arriving in Bartow, I discovered that there are no campgrounds here. I only went 52.87 miles and still had plenty of energy to go farther, but I didn't want to arrive in Tampa at dark. I checked into a run down Budget Inn motel and showered. I proceeded with my now daily ritual of washing my clothes with me in the shower, then cooked in the room on my camp stove.
Later, I called Kathleen and let her know that I was ahead of schedule. She said her daughter had a softball game tomorrow evening, so it would be good if I could get there by 4pm. That would mean leaving at first light to allow enough time. It looks like about 80 miles and with my current slow pace that would take me about 8 hours.
today- 52.87 miles
total- 411 miles
high today 85 degrees