Sunday, October 15, 2006

Florida: Flat, Straight and Hot

I like visiting Daytona Beach. You're surrounded by many cool things: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (someday I will be a pilot), Daytona Speedway (someday I will be a Rolex Sports Car Series Race Driver), the ocean, great beaches...But most of all, I like it because it's flat. Zero hills. Just what I long for after the Poor Mountain Hill Climb a couple weeks prior.

Pookie and I venture here every year to spend a week with her Dad and his new bride (they're newlyweds in their 80s! - very cool).

Usually we go bikeless. This year I took my newly assembled fixie and Pookie took the Green Booger Commuter Machine so we could explore the streets, bike paths and beaches.

Leaving Virginia in October is always difficult - the weather is usually perfect for just about any outdoor activity. Little rain and moderate temperatures have greeted us in Florida the last few trips we've taken. No rain again this year, but the temperatures mid-week topped out in the 90s!

The week began however with daytime highs in the low eighties and little humidity. We took advantage and set out to do a ride that the local Daytona Beach Bicycle Club suggests on their website called the Ormond Loop. This 22 mile jaunt skirts the inter-coastal waterway then brings you back along the ocean. A stiff breeze on the first half of the trip made me realize that flat isn't always easy. I worked a little harder than I thought I would on a "recreational" ride. I think my brain was still on the training and racing setting. Once we reached the half way point, we decided to stop and watch some boats float along the inter-coastal before heading back along highway A1A. The coolest thing about the second half of this particular loop is that you ride on a wide, paved, straight-as-an-arrow bike path along the ocean. The picture tells the story pretty well. You don't have to worry about hair-pin turns on this one!

We finished up by having a bagle sandwich at a little shop along the way. A perfect day for a bike ride.

Before this year's trip began, I had visions of riding mile after mile, day after day along the beach, through the inland parks and on the bikepaths and backroads. Then I realized that we do that all year long when we're training and racing. We gave it a break and didn't ride nearly as much as planned...and it felt good. We shopped, we toured, we lounged, we went to the dog track. We did the tourist thing.

We decided to do a "tourist" bike ride on Thursday (I think it was Thursday. You know how easy it is to lose track on vacation?!) We began by heading back to an area we had visited on the prior year's vacation that we really liked called Ponce Inlet. It's basically the Southern-most tip of the pennisula that is Daytona. Our favorite attraction is the Ponce Inlet Light House. We toured it last year and it's awesome. You gotta do it if you ever visit Daytona - the view is great!
A large natural area borders the lighthouse grounds and we rode very slowly and tourist-like on a cool nature trail we found-paved, no less.

I discovered that 23c road bike tires at 100psi are the worst thing ever when you suddenly find a 3 inch deep pile of sand along the roadside. I did some acrobatic moves and bobbles and somehow managed to get unclipped and stay upright at about 12mph. My life flashed in front of my handlebars. 12mph may not sound fast, but go ahead and try it on your fixie.

So we made it safely to the base of the lighthouse, grabbed a postcard for a friend in Colorado who digs lighthouses, snapped this photo and headed to the beach.
In Velousha County you can drive your car on the beach, tide permitting. We decided to have a go at it on the bikes.

Remember the three-inches-of-sand-along-the-road-life-before-my-handlebars incident? Repeat x 100! Wasn't going to happen. You need extra hard-packed sand and big giant balloon tires with about 20 psi . We had neither. So, we snapped a few more photos and rode around on the pavement a bit more.The week went by quickly, as all vacations do. We're back home just in time to witness nature's spectacular fall color display. I've become pretty comfortable riding the fixie around on the glorious flatness that is Florida, now I have to learn how to ride it around the hills of Roanoke. I better not run into any more sand.

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