Monday, April 11, 2011

I Want To Ride My.....Bi-Cycle.

Last Saturday I left the park...on my bike !

Although momentous, this wasn't the first time I'd left the park since coming here several years ago but it was the first time this season. You see with over 1,000 homes here, this park is large enough to ride around to provide enough exercise for anyone.

But most streets end with stop signs and so you can never really get a good sustained ride going as although you can easily see for some distance at these junctions and therefore not need to come to a complete halt, the park rules say you must stop. The last thing I need to do with my dodgy heart is to have to keep setting off from zero every few hundred yards so, and please don't tell on me, I tend to use a "rolling stop" policy at such junctions.

But last Saturday I was riding along the street closest to the outside world and in a moment of unusual impulsiveness, I made a break for it ! Within seconds I was on the open road, literally, with the wind in my hair (shut it !) and my little legs pumping like a Tour De France cyclist.

Admittedly a Tour De France cyclist trailing at the rear of the field as his drugs hadn't kicked in yet.

But it was 92F in the shade and having made this impulsive move, I'd no ideas or plans to draw on. I'd only gone around inside the park a few times this year so my fitness levels were pretty much set by trips to the fridge for food/drink. I knew I had to be sensible but a lifetime of loving to push the limits when on any form of transportation kept wanting to take over.

I decided I'd ride for another 20-25 minutes and then turn back no matter what and with that simple plan in place, I focused on enjoying the experience. As I've said many times before, despite Sebring being in Highlands County, this area is as flat as every other part of the state and on Saturday I was glad of it. The road before me stretched out long and straight as if the Romans had been responsible for it. The only slight high point I encountered in the first few miles was a bit of roadkill that the vultures hadn't quite finished off. I was able to peddle and coast, peddle and coast, peddle and coast for most of the ride and so expended little energy.

I crossed Rt66 and headed in the general direction of Sebring but I'd no idea how far away it was. Not a problem in a car, but for an unfit and overweight Brit on a bike in those temps, a definite problem. So despite my natural desire to keep going till I got to town, common sense and my plan of action both held firm and I did indeed turn around after 25 minutes.

The ride back was still enjoyable as of course being on the same flat route, I was able to invoke the same peddle/coast procedure I'd perfected on the outward leg. Well both legs actually, physically and geographically !

I still arrived home drenched in sweat but was relieved and a little surprised that I didn't feel tired at all. In fact, quite the opposite and decided if I had no adverse effects from the ride, I'd try and make it to town the next time. I looked at Google Maps and worked out I'd gone 4.5 miles before turning round and had only been about 2 miles from town at the time. The road led right to US-27 and came out by Lake Jackson, just where I wanted to get to.

Next day brought the next time and by noon yesterday, I was twitching to get on the road.

Mad dogs and Englishmen, remember !

So just before 1pm, I slapped on the sunblock, took a big slug of water (have no water bottle carrier on the bike) and set off with Burger King in mind. My mind often turns to food when left to its own devices and so this was to be my destination. I still had visions of collapsing in a drenched heap by the side of the road and with little traffic on this backroad and no phone, I'd be cooked to a crisp in 5 minutes if the gators or snakes didn't have me for lunch before help arrived.

Of course I might also have had a fatal heart attack and then wouldn't really care.

With these happy thoughts in place, off I went and within seconds was out on the open road can be seen from this map of my route.

View Larger Map

Before anyone asks why I didn't just go out onto US-27 for the much shorter ride to town, if you've EVER watched people drive on a 2 lane road in Florida, you'll know that a bike lane, if there even is one, often gets used as a 3rd lane by senile old drivers who shouldn't BE driving or yutes who are so busy texting or tweeting that they stray off lane too.

Anyway I loved the backroads. For one thing, I was constantly near the undergrowth where my passing initiated movements ranging from small (birds, rodents, snakes) to large (gators, elephants, dinosaurs). You get everything in Florida, y'know and it doesn't half make you want to keep peddling !

After 20 minutes I'd passed my point of return from the previous day and was feeling great. I'd forgotten my MP3 player so was doing extremely bad versions of every 60's upbeat song I could remember and as you know, I remember a lot.

After 30 minutes I'd arrived victorious at US-27 and could see the lake. Hurrah.

Being used to the silence of the backroads, the noise from the few cars out on US-27 came as quite a shock. I was still about 5 minutes ride from Burger King and as its location meant I had to cross US-27, it was a well dodgy 5 minutes. I kept to business premise drives wherever possible because as expected, I saw plenty of drivers veering onto the southbound bike path.

By 1:35pm I was outside Burger King and then it hit me. What to do with the bike while I went inside ? I'd no chain or any other way to lock it up but decided in this land of private transport, no one was likely to arrive on foot and decide.....oh look, there's a bike...I'll have off with it.

So I left it in full sight of the large window, went inside, ordered my meal and ate it while keeping a beady eye on my property. Of course if any kid made off with it, I'd be in no position to give chase and would have to content myself with standing by the door giving out lots of loud 'tuts' as is the British way. And then walking home !

But fortune favoured the idiot and 20 minutes later, I mounted my trusty metallic steed and was on my way again. I did fancy a ride along the edge of the lake as an excellent bike route around it does exist, kept well away from the main road. But again common sense stopped me and I worked out that a mile around the lake would mean a mile back again when tiredness could be setting in. I'm clever like that.

So I just went back the way I'd arrived and despite being a little bit tired and extremely moist all over, I was home for 2:30pm and able to watch poor Rory Mcllroy implode at The Masters and then have to read platitudes on Twitter like "whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger." I'm sure that knowledge was a great comfort to him during his evening meal.

So my great bike ride of 2011 was over. Almost 15 miles and I have no....repeat NO...intention of doing it again any time soon. Yes I loved it at the time. Yes I thankfully had no adverse after effects at all. Yes I probably sweated off about 2 lbs but there are still plenty left.

No it's just that I did it so I see no reason to do it again.

Anyway I have a new destination in mind.


S'only 180 miles away. Peddle, coast. Peddle, coast. Peddle, coast. Coast.


Daphne said...

The thing that absolutely astonishes me is that you did that ride in that heat without taking water with you. I am not sure whether to be speechless with admiration or to throw a large "Tut" in your direction!

rhymeswithplague said...

If you are trying to imply that your leg muscles are not sore and aching after a 15-mile bike ride, well, let me just say that I don't believe you.

If it didn't hit you Saturday, surely it did on Sunday! If not, you are in much better shape than you let on!

Me, I would not be able to walk for at least a week.

Silverback said...

Daphne, I knew I was only going to be 30 mins or so from BK so could get a drink there and again only 30 mins on the way home. So like a camel, I refuelled mightily when I could.

Bob I'm aches whatsoever ALL down to having biked regularly around the park and doing those 15 miles were so easy on the flat roads. I did coast a LOT and never came close to needing to change gears. I biked 6 miles yesterday.

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