Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day Eighty, 090519 - Pensacola, FL

Day Eighty, Date Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:27
Distance for the Day: 56.14 miles From Gasque, MS To Pensacola, FL
Accumulated Trip Distance: 3569.69 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 10’/60’ Highest: 67’ Accumulated: 781’
Speeds: Avg: 8.6 mph, Max: 28.2 mph
Weather: 55° in AM, warming to 76°, clear and breezy ENE 10-12mph
Expenditures: $110

Woke up at 5:30am to see a waning crescent moon and Venus in a cloudless sky. I broke down and was ready to roll by 6am. The headwind was still there, so progress was somewhat slower than I would have liked. I stopped at a mini mart to get a hot cocoa, Danish, and Gatorade ($9 – think I got overcharged, but didn’t think about it at the time). At 10:15am I crossed from Alabama into Florida (yay!), still along the Gulf Coast, and still headed for Pensacola. Passing through Alabama was short; it’s actually a lot wider, but along the coast, it’s only about 60 miles wide. Got lunch at Burger King ($6) with about 12 more miles before getting to Cho’s. I went on this route that took me on a brand new road that had no shoulders. The usual problems occurred with traffic on such a road as that, and it got me to thinking of “The Gripes” (my growing list of what’s wrong with this world from a touring cyclist’s viewpoint). The last note (to cyclists) isn’t really a gripe, but somehow, they seemed to fit in. Here they are, then, in all their glory:

Notes to Motorists: Don’t get mad at cyclists if the road has no shoulder and you get delayed a few precious moments behind us; blame the idiot who designed and built the road with no shoulder in the first place, or get mad at the weenie who insists on “protecting” us by waiting for an invitation from the Queen before passing; besides, unless you’re James Bond on the way to disarm a nuclear bomb, the World is not here to get out of YOUR way – deal with this fact in a mature manner; it’s okay to pass cyclists close – just don’t hit us, and don’t go so fast that the turbulence from your passage causes us to swerve; I don’t need you to go all the way into the opposing lane to show me how much you care, and wait until you’re a hundred yards in front of me, playing chicken with oncoming traffic, before moving back into the right-hand lane; in fact, with most passenger vehicles, I can share one lane with you – all you have to do is put your left tire on or just to the right of the centerline of the road, and you’ll still miss me by a foot; don’t be afraid – I’m a pretty tough customer; the more you poke along behind me waiting for the road to become six lanes (don’t hold your breath), that line of cars building up behind you is a lot less likely to treat me with as much respect; pass me by – closely but cautiously; a very few of the more sadistic of you think it’s funny to blast your horn as you pass by us – what can I say: you’re a moron, and I don’t mean that in a nice way.

Notes to Road Builders and Maintainers: Please consider cyclists in your designs for ALL roads; don’t utilize coarse material or make “textured” surfaces; NEVER install expansion joints – at least cracked pavement is random in direction and dispersal – much easier to take then regularly spaced gaps that act like water torture to a cyclist (ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk); do make shoulders at least 4’ wide; do use smooth asphalt; don’t use concrete; if you must, use *narrow* vibration strips (5-inches), and put them right next to the white line between the roadway and the shoulder – not inside the shoulder, itself; they don’t have to be continuous, either – make them with 10’ gaps between sets; a car feels a buzz, but a bicycle can shake to pieces or lose control on those strips; consider implementing a tax on truckers who use tire re-treads; the funds from said taxes to be used to clean re-tread remnants from the roads; they are everywhere, contain stainless steel wires that can easily penetrate even thorn-proof tires, and are a hazard; and how about cleaning the shoulders of the highways and freeways regularly, to take care of the trash, broken bottles, dead animals, nails, etc.; just where are my tax dollars going, anyways?

Notes to other cyclists: Don’t do it – don’t get angry, or, rather, don’t let it show – NO MATTER WHAT. You are in no position to vent. Any loud verbal response; any rude gesture, any in-your-face maneuver, could get you into real trouble. As in, *real* trouble. Road rage is a very real phenomenon, and anything other than a bland, generic acknowledgement (such as a slow wave of your hand) could spark it off, and make that on-the-edge nut-case behind the wheel of that highly maneuverable two-ton hunk of mass lose it. I know – I got a broken rib because I mouthed-off to such a motorist, once. Learn from my mistake by reading about it – not by doing it. Keep your anger in check. Use just one visual response to all input, friendly or antagonistic: a slow wave of your raised hand.

I hope you enjoyed reading those as much as I had compiling them. To continue my story: I finally made it to Pensacola, and found Cho’s home. She wasn’t at home at the moment, so I went looking for Cyclesports Bicycles in town to see if my tent arrived – it had. (Big YAY! No more hot, sweaty nights, fighting off bugs when the hammock isn’t an option.) Thank you Nancy, for FedXing it for me. Interestingly, I told my cousin, Nancy, the incorrect spelling of the street (I thought it was Talafox, when it was actually Palafox [and Nancy spelled it Talafax]), and FedX still delivered it to the right place. They are AWESOME! I jawboned with the guy there, and he told me about some routing options for heading down into Florida. I bought some extra CO2 cartridges and a lighter pair of gloves ($43) and found out where the local library was, and took off again for Cho’s. When I got there, I took out my tent and figured out how to set it up. I would also have to figure out how to pack it into my panniers, but didn’t anticipate that would be much of a problem (it wasn’t). Cho showed up around 5:30pm, and we chatted while I finished securing the tent, and brought my panniers inside the house. We went out to The Fishhouse for dinner ($52); I had the filet mignon, and she had scallops. Afterwards, we went back to her home, chatted a while more, and then she went to bed while I blogged until a bit after midnight. I’d only gotten about 5 hours of sleep the night before, so I wasn’t quite up for a heavy blog session. I had a good night’s sleep that night, on a real bed. Ahhhh!


Julie said...

Wow - you're moving along quite swiftly - the states are getting a bit shorter which is nice... Texas was a big one. Going around the edge of Florida will take a good bit of time too - be careful for aligators and such. Call and let me know when you hit down by Naples. We have friends there - Tom and Ann Ruane...if they are still there, they might host you too. Glad you are moving along - I have a feeling you might gone from our area before Scott and Katie's wedding in September. We had dinner with them and Katie's parents tonight at the place they are having their wedding - Shadowbrook. Food was good which is one less thing to worry about.
Love you-

obi_donkenobi said...

Hi Poo: Yeah, I'm chugging along, aren't I? It's a good feeling, to make progress. Okay, yes - I'll be passing through Naples. If you could give me your friend's contact info, and let them know I'm coming (should be down that way within a week), that'd be great. I *hope* I'll be well past New Jersey by Sept! If I'm not, I'll never finish before Winter. I'll see if I can make that wedding, somehow, though. Love ya! ;-Don

Igor said...

Where did your tax dollars went? Well, most of them ended up in Iraq ;)
700.000.000.000 of them, to be more precise :D
So I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the government to clean the shoulders,
they just can't afford it.

Anyways, it's a great pleasure to read your blog.
It's raining today since the morning, so no going out and laying about on a bike, and what a batter way to kill a rainy day then by taking a virtual tour round the US :)

Happy triking !

obi_donkenobi said...

Hi Igor: Yeah, really. (Response to your comment on where my tax dollars went.) Can you say, "Corporate Military Industrial Complex Rip-Off - thank you very much you lying sack of s*** Bush?"

I'm glad you're liking my blog! Be sure to buy the book, when I ever get around to finishing it. ;~Don