Day 11. 659 Miles. Hodgepodge Pedaler.

Bottom of the shift chat with Gustavo. He’s the engineer and paramedic. Really great guy. Educated. Married with kids and coming off a 48 hour shift. I’m surprised he even wants to chat with me, but he’s waiting on relief. Sitting around the lounge talking with him about the job. Even in Budapest, firefighters put the wet stuff on the hot stuff. Fire science. The same gig everywhere, mostly. Over some great coffee, we discuss the intricate differences between our workplaces. Basically our employers and our unions. They have a brand new station coming. The have two mandatory 24 hour shifts per month and are having trouble hiring people. The career isn’t as attractive and I soon find out it’s probably because they make less than I do. I already feel like I’m underpaid. Inflation is out of control. Rap is out of control. Wages been have been stagnant, mostly since right around the time I came to be alive on earth. Sorry not sorry. I didn’t do it. It ain’t my fault. So the firefighters at Polk County Fire have top of the line equipment, apparatus and houses. And also shit pay and what I consider a shitty schedule. No wonder they aren’t lining up to take the job. Gustavo says it’s also like this in orlando as well. He’s hopeful that they might get that 24/72 rotation that I have. I hope so too, because those guys deserve it. Tell a friend and tell a neighbor. Join or create a union wherever you work. If you’re retired or self employed, let your local government leaders know you support better pay and working conditions for the fire fighters that your tax dollar pay for.

My mind is wide open and relaxed. Thoughts arrive and I think on them and then they leave. I process and pedal. Mind and body both working congruently, at a scientific frequency in time with the living world and universe. It’s all so inexplicable and indescribable, so I’ll just say that this long ride shit is the cure. Not the band The Cure, an actual cure. Certainly the cure for my tendency to be pulled in many directions at once; a sanity refreshment. A mental rebirth. Probably the cure for the growing wave of ADHD. Maybe even peanut allergies. Definitely digital dependence. Pretty much everything everyone is getting. Attention here and now matters. Missing a turn can be costly. Doesn’t feel good at all, going back 5 miles or more. I can only measure time through space. Time isn’t real. Fight me about it. Timespace is the realest thing happening. It’s happening right now. It just happened and is still happening and is about to happen. Wrap your puny human brains around that. Through only the lens of distance can I tell how much time has passed. Pioneers of time measurement use the sun and it’s effect on a fixed space to measure time. There you go. I realize I didn’t take note of my mileage after a turn, I have no idea how much longer until the next turn. Only with both time and space considered can I be certain where and when I am and where and when I am going next. I make the next turn, there’s isn’t even a sign for what road I’m on. Get on this level.

A brief little route and wind update: it’s windy AF out of the west. Clear sunny day. Big same as yesterday. My route is not though. It’s turn after turn after turn through gridded out rural roads. Pythagoras would have a god damn brain aneurysm if he saw it. Zero hypotenuse available dude. Also, 90% of it is through farmland, citrus groves to be precise. I’m passing what must be millions of dollars in orange juice commodities. Looking good Billy Ray! Feeling good Louis. I stop and grab one. Not sure how ripe it is. Might give it a day or two. I catch a field worker harvesting. It’s straight ninja steez with their head to toe sun coverage and how quick they’re pulling fruits off the tree. Karate man cries in the inside.

I make it to Lake Wales. “Historic”, of course. I chill at he public park. Eat a snack. Cruise the lite downtown for signs of interest. I nice example of architecture and a nice example of street art. I move on.

“Historic” is baffling. People throw the label on everything they can. Historic cities and downtowns. Historic buildings and swaths of grass. I live in the historic Fruit Belt neighborhood. Just my neighborhood? The entire damn city up to North Street is historic. Isn’t each and everything that has ever happened at any time anywhere historic? It’s part of history. I sense false motives. Not to mention my timespace concerns. The entirety of the USA is a historic cemetery for millions of Native Americans. I could use the slave trade as another example if I need to. I don’t mean to rain on the rich (or “pretend rich” folks parades; just for cherry pic history and we’re good. And stop trying to make an extra dollar of throwing “historic” at the end of shit.

So yeah, looking at the map one might think I was going south and eat all day. Look again the map is not of the normal “north as up” variety. Adventure Cycling Association maps are oriented to maximize mileage per panel. It confuses some. I love it. So I’m going south and west most of the day. Which equals headwinds about half the time. Not too bad.

Peace River is, well, pretty peaceful. Nice break from farms and oranges. After 80 miles or so I arrive at Pioneer Park in Zolfo Springs, Hardee County, USA. Did Hardee’s pay for naming rights to the county? They’ve got tent sites and showers and don’t take reservations. The sign says vacancy but the office is closed. I call and no answer. I take a site on the water. I haven’t seen a single gator and so I figure this site is the most legit. Thoughts? Unfortunately, molesting alligators is prohibited, so I’ll have to control my animal instincts. The sun is setting so the pop up penthouse goes right alongside the water feature. I lay out the feast on my nearby picnic table.

A little about what I call tour gourmet before zonking out. I kept simple and effective. Thanks to my BFF and last year’s coast to coast compaction Damon, Lenny and Larry’s cookies has taken a spot on the menu away from pretty much any sort of cliff bar type thing. They are dope, I like the white chocolaty macadamia. Trail mix full of nuts and dried fruits all day or course. The peanut butter banana burrito has been my personal long ride go to since 2004. Quick ramen noodle has been a great addition for a few years too. For saltiness, I dig either Frito’s or plain old pork rinds. Whatever refreshingly cold and bubbly beverage I can find. That’s pretty much it. Easy and effective. Minimal effort or cleanup, maximize caloric nutrition. Oh also, electrolytes because you know — it’s what plants crave.

I knock out a PB-B-B and a bowl of Ramen and a bag of pork rinds and then I knock out myself in the tent, happy to be on a much quieter swath of earth for the night.

About tonycaferro

Entrepreneur, Citizen, Marketeer, Fire Fighter / EMT, Bicycle-Tourist, Booking Agent, Youth Mentor, Activist, Agitator, Coffee Addict, Foodie, Social Media Nerd, Amateur Film Critic, Son, Brother, Uncle & Rust Belt Representative. Follow me on Twitter @dtr45
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1 Response to Day 11. 659 Miles. Hodgepodge Pedaler.

  1. chuchi3782 says:

    When I think one word is only used for people… behold its used for alligators!!! Oh mylanta! 🥴… why couldn’t they just write “bother” because my brain was actually thinking people were that bold to … 🤦🏾‍♀️ and as I looked it up for the reason, I see others share the same confusion 😂🤦🏾‍♀️.. well anyway it looks beautiful there.. looks like perfect weather 🤙🏾

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