Sixteen Splinters

Beat up, splinter filled jersey after a really stupid fall.
Today was a day made for some big miles. The weather radar was clear and the wind was a non-issue, so i ate a quick high carb breakfast and was out the door and on the bike by 8:00 AM. The plan was to ride 60+ miles as my legs were well rested. My midpoint/turnaround was going to be North Collier Regional Park, a large, extremely nice athletic park down in Naples, a little over 30 miles from my starting point.

I headed out pacing myself as I did on my last 50 mile ride by riding a higher gear but lower cadence as I was going to be in the saddle for a while. I felt a little more gung-ho than planned and maintained a cadence of 94, which put me around an 18 MPH average speed. I reached the Estero Parkway bridge, which crosses I75 much sooner than expected, and rode over it without dropping down to any smaller gears while maintaining a speed of 17 MPH (makes me wish we had some real topography down here in FL as hills would be fun to ride). Unlike the last 50 miler, I crossed the bridge unscathed (btw the bike bites on my ankle are still healing and well scabbed over. I guess deep gashes made with a greasy cog heal slowly).

My quest continued down Three Oaks Parkway, beyond what I like to call the “Country Club Trifecta” (the three country clubs surrounding the Coconut Point area which include Copperleaf, Shadow Wood and Spring Run), where in todays depressed economy you can still find a “starter home” for a little over a half million dollars. I still chuckle whenever I ride by and see the big sign which says Villas reduced, now starting at $500,000. By now a little headwind had started up so I stayed in the drops.

While nearing the 25 mile mark, and still in the drops, I hear a voice say “left”, which obviously meant someone was behind me and wanting to pass. I slid over to the right and a mini peloton in a perfect line began passing me. Each rider greeted me while giving me a pat on the butt. Five pats later, the last rider, a female in a leopard printed saddle, said hop on. Unfortunately they were riding about 2 to 3 MPH faster than I was, which I’m sure having them cutting the wind for me would have been easy to keep up with, but I was quickly approaching my turn around point, so I just thanked them and waved them on. I love the camaraderie of riders, in particular group riders and clubs down here in Florida. One of these days I’ll find club which matches my abilities (I’m still officially a B rider, but I’m getting very close to A) and finally enjoy the pleasures of group riding.

Birdseye view of the sprawling North Collier Regional Park complex
Upon reaching North Collier Regional Park, I rode towards the club house located by the myriad of soccer fields. There’s some very nice shade there for a quick break, as well as some very cold drinking fountains to replenish my bottles. While heading towards the club house, I lustfully stared at the oh so refreshing looking water park of Sun N Fun Lagoon (North Collier Regional Park not only has fantastic athletic facilities, but also has nature trails, boardwalks, a soon to be completed children’s museum, a very cool playground and a full blown water park all within its boarders) and that little devil named temptation whispered into my ear saying “you really should be cooling off in that big lazy river”. With the heat index nearing 100, not to mention a return ride of 30+ miles, the little angel on my shoulder just shrugged and agreed. So I called my wife and said pack the beach bag, grab our son and meet me out here for some “splashtacular fun”. They were in the car and headed down to meet me in nothing flat.

While waiting for my wife and son to arrive, I rode around the park checking out all the amenities first hand. I remembered seeing a network of boardwalks on my last visit and found the starting point. I casually started riding on them, enjoying the nicely shaded forested wetland area. In fact I was enjoying the surrounding so much that I really wasn’t paying any attention to the boardwalks surface, and in the blink of an eye, my bikes rear wheel slipped out from under me while I was breaking, sending me careening into the wooden walls of the boardwalk.

The slippery, splinter donating boardwalk
It was a slow motion sideswipe of the wall, almost like watching one of those NASCAR race cars scraping, sparks flying into the racetrack walls, only much, much, slower. I could not have been going faster than 8 or 10 MPH, but I stuck to the wall like glue and eventually ended up lying on planked ground on my left side…still clipped into my pedals! I unclipped, got up and gave the bike a once over (funny how the cyclist mentality always thinks of the bike first) and found no damage. Then I took a quick look at myself and found that the left side of my jersey  looked as if it had been attacked by an angry porcupine, as it was filled with small wooden Splinters and covered in the black pitch they use to weather proof the wood. Unzipping and opening the jersey gave a velcro-like sensation as a good number of Splinters went right through it into me.

Getting soaked...the best way to beat the Florida heat.
The Splinters were all too small to pull out bare handed, especially since I was still drenched in sweat from the 30+ miles I had already ridden. I knew I had a date with some tweezers when I got home, but that would have to wait as it was time to enjoy a sunny, albeit splintery afternoon at the water park with my family.

The Sun n Fun Lagoon water park was great fun. We stayed till close and then headed over to Hooters for a quick informal, and slightly sunburnt dinner. BTW Hooters was my 4 year old son’s choice. When we asked him where he wanted to eat, he said, “let’s go to eat with the girls”. Like father like son I guess! Upon arriving at home, I showered off and went to work removing the splinters from my left flank. Sixteen in all. I got most of them out, but some will have to come out on their own. As I mentioned, the bike is fine, but my jersey is a little beat up and my shorts also have a good number of small Splinters in the left leg. Hopefully a run through the washer will get them out.

So all in all a great day, even with the silly slow motion fall. I know the original plan was to ride a full 60 miles, but that will have to wait until next time…hopefully a next time sans any incidents, silly or not.

**UPDATE** The jersey is pretty much toast. The black pitch washed out, but there are a good number of small holes and tears. It might hold up to one or two more rides at best before it really starts falling apart. The shorts had a huge number of tiny splinters which luckily washed away. Also, before you grammar nazi’s get on my case, sliver and splinter are synonymous names for a foreign body. Now if you want to get technical a splinter is typically organic in nature, such as wood or a thorn, while a sliver is typically inorganic in nature, like glass or metal. I’ve edited the post to reflect this.

Route: North Collier Regional Park
Ride Time: 1:55:18
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 30.10 miles
Average: 15.66 miles/h
Fastest Speed: 25.04 miles/h
Ascent: 91 feet
Descent: 66 feet
Calories: 1853

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