It’s easy to start out on this route because it’s mostly flat, letting me take my time to stretch out, slowly building my speed and cadence to get into a comfortable “cruising” speed. The hills will come later and I will be ready for them.
There are certain waypoints along the way. The cool looking house just under a mile in with the two pit bulls that have an invisible electronic fence system that keeps the dogs in the yard. The stop sign at Bay Street, almost exactly two miles from our house. Main Street in Tavares, about 4.5 miles from our house. The Woodlea Road Sports Complex about 7.25 miles away, and others points as well. They all have a place in our now familiar ride. Our familiar ride is about to end for an everyday of an unfamiliar route and unknown challenges, but with a wonderful partner pedaling along the TransAmerica Trail with me. Today though, I revel in the familiar.
The first time we rode by the pit bulls, they knew about the invisible fence, but we sure didn’t, so there was some real anxiety as we watched the two pit bulls turn into white streaks of muscular legs and snarling fang hurtling towards us, then abruptly stopping to avoid the electric shock. Whew! After a few rides, they lost interest in us, or were happily inside, out of the humidity.
Ahh, the humidity! It’s ever-present this time of year in Florida and even though it’s only 75 degrees, the humidity reminds me to keep on toward my goal, before the heat fully partners with it to make the riding more difficult. Surely, if humans had started out in Florida, saunas would have never been invented, right?
I reach the Bay Street stop sign. I know I won’t pay much attention to the distance now, but will be very focused on the return leg, as this signals the trip for today is ending. I always get that “heading for the barn” urge to finish; to unclip from the bike and the heat and the humidity; head for the air conditioning and a cleansing shower. The stop sign is my signal to go, go, go!
Rolling past Main Street and the County Courthouse in Tavares. I take the back roads over the cool and inviting Dora Canal and on to the Woodlea Road Sports Complex. We often see Travon there. He works for the City of Tavares and we have a chat. I didn’t see him today, but thought of him and his 9-year old son, wondering if they were exercising together (just one of our quick conversations). Travon always has a great attitude regardless of the project he’s working on.
On past the orange groves. The road has recently been repaved. Our bikes run so quickly and the tires hum a little happy tune, “zzzoooommmm!!” – Lucia and I joke that ALL the roads on the TransAmerica Trail will be just like this … NOT!
It’s a short stretch where the tree canopy completely covers the road, there are swampy wetlands on either side of the road and it is cool, cool, cool with nature’s own air-conditioning.
Next, I ride past the Hideaway. In the mornings it’s all closed up. The parking lot that eagerly awaits the arrival of two and three-wheeled motorcycles is barren. The country music is still in bed, getting its twang geared up for another round of heartache and heartbreak. My greatest challenge for this ride is just ahead, and it’s a hill.
It’s about 0.4 miles of a nearly 10% grade. Today, I’m riding light, without the fully loaded panniers, so I climb it with relative ease. Yes, not a big distance, but still, this hill requires concentrated effort and makes me glad I’m balanced on three wheels. When I reach the summit, I exhale and exult just a little. The top of every hill gives me positive energy, this one more than most because of the steepness and because I am close to the “bingo” turn around. A downhill, a short uphill, a long slide downhill, a short, but steep 0.3 mile climb up North Eichelberger Road to this summit, then reverse my route home.
After successfully reversing the route and arriving home, I know that I am physically ready for this trip, I know that we are physically ready for this trip, or at least as physically ready as we can be.