It’s the morning of my 7th day on this long ride so call me back at at the god hour, I’m studying 120 right now. If you don’t understand, I’ll lie and tell you that it means I’m digesting janet’s glorious sunrise feast of French Toast, bacon, fruit and coffee whilst sitting on the shores of Daytona Beach — self-stylized as the “World’s Most Famous Beach.”
Sexy, fit blond people jog by smiling at each other, I am fairly certain I’m not in Sweden anymore; I check my 360 to see if it’s a Hollywood production. Does anything self-styled really matter? Did it ever? It’s sorta like how saying “I’m cool” is the least cool thing one can do. Becoming cool is uncool. What is cool? Cool is what? Is what cool? I turn down the acid-jazz in my head for a hot second and realize that cool is this breeze coming off the ocean at 8am. Here on this park bench it’s 77° Fahrenheit and all I hear is the sound of waves crashing. It’s the not sound of cars and people and shit for sale. At least down here.
In due time the pool noodle is put in full capacity position and I’m back up A1A for a bit, bearing witness to the endless flood of stores and shops and sales and so much stupid shit. Spring Break sells everything; everything sells spring break. The infrastructure and process to relieve one of every dollar possible is in place. Over and over and over until no one can resist. What is simply a beautiful holiday locale is instead an affront to vacationing American citizens; a one percent wealth-increasing wet dream come to maturity in the 80s and 90s. Abs and glutes and empty your wallet, working man. Fucking Eric from the Grind, we all know Heather B was the one who always kept it really real — all glocks down.
Twenty years later it turns out 50 is not the new 20 in the real world and feels to me like there might not be enough dollars to go around. Squeezed dry for every bit of juice. Even on spring break. This wrinkly dried up peace of citrus. It smells like an oroborous to me. A snake eating it’s own tail. Or a dog actually eating a dog while it’s being eaten by another dog. Probably not a good smell. The kids call this late stage capitalism in all their memes. Yet that’s just propaganda no different than the stupid flags that are now everywhere. And look, just now… here’s a new sign in big bold lettering “everything the corrupt communist democrats touch turns to shit”. Wow. You better ask somebody, comrade.
With civic vitriol the highest it’s been in my lifetime, I cruise northbound toward my turn inland. My time in the ocean limited, I’m focused on a state park on an island requiring a ferry ride. The last ferry leaves an hour before sunset and is 80 miles away. I’m leaving the beach life behind; the wind has shifted AGAIN; I now have a 12 mph tailwind. Yay! Yet. I’m basically going north, then west, the southwest, then south. So yeah this means headwinds soon come. The route looks like this:
Riding is not driving. My route is not direct in the typical sense because I want to enjoy my ride and also not get killed. And I’m not a crow, flying as it does. So 30 miles to west in distance (which would in this case also provide me with a total tailwind) becomes an 80 mile adventure, much of which is of the fighting-the-wind variety. It might sound absurd. Bike touring crazies like myself accept this and move forward, one pedal at a time. It makes sense. It happens all the time. It hurts. A lot. Physically. Mentally. We push through and do it again and again. Others, maybe not so much. It’s takes a special kinda person to choose the long way AND and the hard way, especially when the world is wired for quick and easy. Therein lies why I love doing this. Put me on the short bus.
The scenery switches up and I move away from the Atlantic. Ferns farms get more shade than I do. I realize I’ve gotten to my first actual “hill” on the ride. Takes a second to notice because it’s downhill and upwind. Hills are fun. Wind is much less fun. I dread when it goes back up. Uphill and upwind. Fuck. I drop gears and just spin. Gentle rolls. I’m back to navigating via ACA maps, which is my jam. Theres pretty much nothing in this current 36.5 mile panel outside of a couple turns and a store. I set mini goals and grind it out. My mind drifts with the miles. Back into the deeper meaning and purpose for these long rides. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable is what we’ve been saying for years. Rap shit with Drease and the Brain. Now with bikes, I’m out here pocketing each chunk of distance at a time, I learn to unexpected the expected. Get outside my bubble. We’re programmed to associate and enjoy the company of others with similar interests, ideas and perspectives. Geographically speaking, we are simply closer to others like us, basically because together we’re already subjected to the specific cultural distinctions that develop in whatever location we’re in. We have to make the choice to get move beyond. If it’s gonna really happen. Everything is a choice. I choose to engage people different from myself. Especially out here. I choose to fight this wind, my legs sore, my hands numb, my skin cracking and peeling and dry and…. Oh fuck…. I miss the turn on to county road 3. I circle back and for about 77 seconds, I get a vanglorious tailwind. I make the turn and CR3 bends to parallel the busier state road 11. Less traffic. Same headwind.
Fast forward a bit and I’m on the ferry to Hontoon Island State Park where there’s a “primitive” tent site available for me. And cold filtered water at the ranger station. His name is Peter. I’m pretty sure he goes by Pete with his friends. He’s Ranger Pete. Ranger Pete, probably 25 years old, is straight out of Super Troopers. He’s got the cop mustache and soul patch combo down and I can tell he really loves his job. Pete’s a cool motherfucker and he captains the ferry and runs the museum too. So yeah. I make it in time to get there. So close to an advanced stealth remote sleep, I decide instead that $20 is a fair price for all of this legal primal living here on Honsoon Island, especially with the picnic table and outlet in the bathroom that has showers. There’s a van that bring people and their shit from the ferry to the campsite… Primitive, lol. Everything I need. Nothing I don’t. I pop up the palace. I eat trail mix. I eat Ramen. I look at maps. I crash the fuck out.