I was sweaty all last night and had trouble sleeping because the dogs continuously woke to the different sounds of the night. We pack up and it begins to mist. I sadly put my camera away and wonder what today’s challenges will be. We decide to walk some of the park’s trails together. Our separation has always been forced by the Navy and we are having trouble agreeing to be apart when it’s not necessary.
It started to rain and Caleb took me home. I was sad, but still understood I was not fully prepared. I ate some food to console myself and started reading a new book. Once the rain calmed down I was ready to go – even if I get lost again, get another flat, or get caught in the rain. Life will always have obstacles and I was ready to hurdle the hardest – my inner demon that tells me it’s easier to watch this stuff happen on YouTube or to read about it. I am ready to tell my story.
Caleb dropped me off on the outskirts of town so that I didn’t have to worry about crossing any Jacksonville bridges. The map said it would take me three hours – it took over four, but my cyclocomputer says I was only spinning tires for two and a half. I averaged 8mph for 40 miles. It’s 67 degrees and I’m wearing compression pants and a t-shirt. I started to feel free and happy – I’d met defeat and slapped it in the face. And I was feeling good until my bum started to hurt. I don’t have the right seat and it’s not the right height – bummer.
Tomorrow I start fresh and only a day behind. I got to see lots of stars as I rode and it reminded me of times as a child when I used to wish upon them; now they are enough in themselves. City dwellers aren’t able to see stars like kids are that live eight miles away from a town with less than a 1,000 people. Riding with less weight is better, but riding with balanced weight and a bike made to carry so much would be the best.
Investing in some bike maps, Google print-outs, a compass, or an outdoor GPS would be helpful for street name changes and a change of sleep venue if you happen to ride more or less than planned. I got to ride beside a train and sing loudly – “I don’t want to close my eyes – I can’t!” I only have my rear panniers on with about 14 pounds of weight in each and the lane to myself. My headlight starts to dim and I let it rest. I will let the moon guide me and I still have full use of my blinking rear light. Note: carry spare batteries, solar power source, or neon vest on future rides.
I call Caleb when I see the turn for my campsite. I don’t want him to worry. Then I continue my night ride down a mostly smooth road. At this point I’m not worried about getting hit by non-existent traffic, but an unsuspecting deer. It is so peaceful, and exhilarating, for me to be out riding my bike at night instead of being stuck at the house doing lame civilized activities. What difficult work and a blessing, for me, it would’ve been to have been born prior 1860 – a time before cars, phones, TV. I would’ve liked a radio though or a mini-Bach in my pocket.
I have a sense for adventure, but I’ve been tamed by media and lack of funds. I sometimes thought it would be neat to be homeless – no bills, no responsibilities, but it would be better to be a nomad that has varying job qualifications so you can work and pay as you travel; though the best things in life are free – some, for now. I arrive to my campsite and realize this will be my first time camping alone. I set up the tent so I can crawl inside and get my light away from the bugs it attracts. Sleep will come easy tonight.