Thursday, February 23, 2012

Randonnuering as destination travel - The 134K prequel

A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for
William Shedd

Wednesday, February 15, 2012.  I finally got around to printing the cue sheets for the upcoming rides. The 83 mile Cody's Corner Permanent on Friday. The 190 mile Central Florida Randonneurs "300k" brevet on Saturday. Holy crap. A tingle of energy zipped through me.   My hands got a little cold. 273 miles in two days. That's a lot of riding. The 200K I rode on New Year's day seemed a long way back and the sprinkle of short rides since then seemed woefully inadequate as a prep. After finishing the day at work, I rode the Brompton home, using the easy hour spin on its 16 inch wheels to calm the energy of my anticipation.

Later that night, Katie and Chris arrived at my house and we packed the now three seated minivan with bikes for five riders and gear for three.

The drive to Deltona in central Florida would take about 16 hours. We drove through all of Wednesday night then through most of Thursday. For one thousand miles, we followed the the charcoal gray highway of I-95 as it reached into the distance to pierce the heather gray skies at the horizon. We drove. We stopped for gas, coffee and to eat breakfast at Waffle house. Somehow, Katie managed to have the waitress give her the last Waffle House Princess button in the place. She actually unpinned it from her shirt to give it to Katie as a gift (after counting her tip). Road charm! And then we drove some more.

As we went south, the trees bordering the highway blossomed into the ephemeral hues of early spring. Puffs of green. Whispers of red. We drove out of winter into summer. From pines into palms. We arrived at the hotel in mid afternoon to bask in temperatures in the mid 60's.

On Friday morning, we walked out of the hotel into warmth. Experiencing this weather in February seemed decadent. We prepared our bikes and rolled onto the course.

We ride in a foreign land. The trees in central Florida wear softly flowing drapes of moss. Waterways and inlets waft ocean air across farmscapes. Clouds float between the horizons while leaving room for sun and sky. Citrus fruit grows wild along the roadways. In it, between it and through it, we ride - a long way from home.  

I documented the adventure with pictures:

Fish camp. Two nouns? Two verbs? One of each? 

The birds are large and varied. We see vultures, Ospreys, raptors and cranes.

Ponce de Leon searched for the Fountain of Youth. Reportedly the waters have a hard  sulfuric taste. I like the Fountain of Middle Age, a tempered drink available after time has softened the hard edges of youth but enriched the variety and depth of life's flavors.

The day is overcast and soft warm rains pass over us. We ride through it without pause and air dry along the route.

framed cow

circling on thermals

 Citrus trees everywhere. Oranges and Grapefruit flavor the air.

15 miles short of completion, I stopped to take this picture. When I remount, my Velo Orange Grand Cru seatpost breaks. My riding partners make some calls. We arrange to have a seatpost waiting at the next hotel before tomorrow's brevet. I ride the last 15 miles without sitting. Even that does not ruin the day. 

We finish in daylight. We repack the minivan and drive south into the night. We will ride again tomorrow. That story is pictured here


  1. The Waffle PrincessFebruary 23, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    while you like the Fountain of Middle Age, I prefer beer! :) great write up Nigel.

  2. Thank you, your Highness of Waffle.