I’ve been experiencing a cycling deficit as “real life” has kept me out of town during the week. I thought about bringing my bike with me while away, but limited time and unknown roads would not provide beneficial two wheeled time…and in hindsight it’s a good thing that I left my bike behind, as the monsoon-like rains would have curtailed what limited riding time I would have had. Luckily I was back home for the weekend eager to see my family, and itching to ride…and ride I did.
A few quick text messages laid the groundwork for a Saturday metric century ride down the beaches with the Fort Myers NutBags (more on them in a future post) as well as a few other friends. The route was to head out west towards Fort Myers Beach, cross over the Matanzas Pass bridge and then cruise down the entire length of Estero Island, hop on Vanderbilt for a mid ride break at the Fit & Fuel, returning on Livingston/Three Oaks and Tree Line to our start point. All together, a little over 75 miles of cycling.
We headed out under some light fog which gradually thickened as we approached the coast. By the time we reached the Matanzas Pass Bridge the fog was so thick that it looked as if we had cycled into the set of a seaside horror flick, but the Florida sun would have it’s way and burn it all away in short order. In fact by the time we reached Big Carlos Pass the fog had all burnt off leaving behind stunning blue skys and lots of sunshine.
We maintained a comfortable 20 MPH pace through Estero Island dodging puddles from the previous nights rains, quickly passing through the natural undeveloped beauty of Lovers Key, home to the Carl E. Johnson State Park, a 712-acre state park encompassing Lover’s Key, Black Island, Inner Key and Long Key. The park is wonderfully secluded deriving it’s name from a time when couples would boat to the island and picnic (I’m sure some frolicking was involved too). Nowadays, the park offers unspoiled native landscapes and a plethora of outdoor activities including shelling, swimming, picnicking, boating, and sunbathing, as well as canoeing/kayaking, hiking, bicycling and wildlife viewing.
We continued our pace through the key, until reaching Little Carlos Pass Bridge when I got out of wheel sucking mode and finally took a turn up front of the pace line sprinting up the bridge…what can I say, it’s a reflex of mine to sprint up bridges. The group knows me well enough, so they just let me go on my pedal stomping way, as they continued their steady pace. We all eventually regrouped before leaving the key and crossing over the Big Hickory Pass Bridge to Bonita Beach.
A quick “refueling stop” at the Seven-Eleven let us top off our bottles before heading down Vanderbilt Road to our scheduled mid ride break point, the Fit and Fuel Cafe. While there we enjoyed some fresh baked goods, coffee and drinks. Be sure to grab an orange cranberry muffin while there, it’s a tangy delight that hits the spot, especially after 40 plus miles. As usual, idle cycling banter prevailed while enjoying our well deserved treats, particularly talk of our upcoming tour down to key west…yes the “Isle of Bones Tour” I spoke about is a go!
Before heading out, we recruited a pair of innocent bystanders to snap a picture of us…recruited after intruding on their java break that is. I handed my iPhone to one of the ladies, who apparently had no clue how to use it as she accidentally snapped three close up pictures of her boobs before figuring out how the camera worked. Needless to say she was more than mortified, particularly after I told her that the pictures would find their way to this blog…nothing is sacred nor safe from my ever present iPhone!
We mounted back up for the return ride up Livingston/Imperial. I took my reserved wheel sucking position near the rear of the group striking up a conversation with Joel, who by the way, has been making amazing progress on the bike. He asked if his saddle bag could be adjusted as it was rubbing his bibs. I called for a mechanical stop and discovered that his saddle bag had not not just rubbed his bibs, but had rubbed through them as well as a few layers of skin underneath!
As he repositioned his saddle bag to the front of his frame, Gus took advantage of the situation to document the incident with some up close and personal shots of “Joel’s Raw Hole”, which curiously became the working title of his post ride video…Gus is just as dangerous, if not more so, than I am with his GoPro!
As we approached Via Coconut we found a stalled automobile in the intersection. Now one would think that with all the animosity that there is between automobiles and cyclists, we would just snicker and ride away, but instead we took the higher road and offered to help, pushing the car out of the intersection (mind you not an easy feat while wearing cycling cleats) all the way to the Sweetbay parking lot. So take note motorists, we cyclists are not the pain in the ass you think we are…especially when the driver of the car is a stunning blonde!
After the rescue, a quick break was in order at Panera before our final push home. Our coastal tour was coming to an end, but not before we put the hurt on Joel….especially after we learned he flopped while we assisted the stalled motorist. With less than a mile to go, Gus and I pushed Joel into a “make it really hurt”, anaerobic threshold busting sprint. I take my hat off to Joel, he set another another distance PR, survived his saddle bag rubbing his leg raw, almost hid a flop from us, and even sprinted at the end…not bad for a runner at all.
It was great to be back on the bike after a week off. The Mistress was kind this time out, even after 78 miles. I’m sure all that wheel sucking had something to do with it. We’ll see how she treats me tomorrow as we work on some base miles for Key West.
Route: Coastal Tour
Ride Time: 4:31:50
Stopped Time: 3:18:11
Distance: 78.49 miles
Average: 17.33 mph
Fastest Speed: 30.35 mph
Ascent: 2475 feet
Descent: 2535 feet