Today was the mulligan day for our ride to the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Our friend, and fellow Key West NutBag, Jon was down from Georgia looking for a picturesque ride. We had promised him an island ride yesterday, but the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. Today’s outlook was clear and sunny, as is expected in SW Florida, yet it was far from inviting with ride time temperatures sitting at a bone chilling 44° accompanied by a viciously cruel 20 MPH wind. Definitely not typical by any stretch of the imagination.
I broke out all my usual, and dreadfully inadequate, cold weather gear including my sauna producing rain shell…Santa did not bring me my Gore Jacket, I guess I was on the naughty list. My biggest worry was keeping my ears warm in the strong winds. Not having ear covers, I made a quick stop at Wally World (hey it was the only thing opened this early) to find some kind of headwear/ear protectors. I couldn’t find anything in the clothing sections, so I headed over to the sports area, again finding nothing. I asked a blue vested worker if they had ear warmers or even a stocking hat. He just looked at me with a perplexed look on his face and said, “we have shooting ear muffs”, to which I just rolled my eyes and walked away.
Luckily, I brought my son’s hand made froggy stocking cap complete with braided hanging pompoms. Sure it was absolutely ridiculous looking, particularly when squeezing the bulging froggy eyes under my helmet, but it provided the needed protection to my head and ears, and worked flawlessly to boot…actually I thought it looked pretty cool riding with trailing pompoms!
The ride to the causeway was effortless, as well as the crossing. Tail winds always make crossing the bridges effortless as our speeds easily passed the 30 MPH mark on the flat spans between each bridge. Once on the island we met up with a little resistance as our direction of travel changed. Nothing sever mind you, but just enough wind to let you know that the return ride was going to be a bit of a chore.
We met up with some friends from the Caloosa riders during a nature break stop, and integrated our groups. We made quick work of the long stretch to Captiva and stopped to enjoy some warm drinks at Starbucks. By now the day had become rather pleasant…that or we just got used to the cold temperatures…allowing us to remove some of the extra layers of protection, namely the silly frog hat.
We were back underway after our tea and coffee break, riding into a stubborn oblique wind which made the normally bathtub-like smoothness of the gulf look like a scene out of the “Perfect Storm”. I think you could have actually surfed out there, not that one would want to with the cold wind, although we did see two wetsuit clad, surfboard carrying, vacationers heading towards the beach.
We kept the pace easy all the way back to the causeway. As expected, the crossing would be against the brunt of the wind, resulting in a very slow and methodical climb. I didn’t even break 25 MPH when descending the main span as the wind made it feel as if my breaks were on the entire time.
We eventually made it back and enjoyed a well deserved lunch at the Outback (thanks Craig). The final mileage tally was 66.46 miles, roughly 107 KM, leaving 99.2 KM to wrap up the Festive 500.
Route: Island Metric Century
Ride Time: 4:01:55
Stopped Time: 1:38:28
Distance: 66.46 miles
Average: 16.48 mph
Fastest Speed: 33.21 mph
Ascent: 1306 feet
Descent: 1278 feet