Things seem to be under control around here on the cancer front as my bride, Teresa, is powering through the new course of meds like the rock star that she is. (She thinks of herself as dainty, I think of her as a warrior goddess with the strength of a charging cape buffalo, in a dainty way, of course.) After our late summer scare, it looks safe, so:
I’m taking a really, really long bike ride next weekend!
I’m riding the 280 miles from Fort Myers to Key West Florida, a ride that is 130 miles on day one, a hundred on day 2 and “only” 50 on Sunday morning when we triumphantly ride down Duval Street to the end of Route 1, the southernmost point of the U.S. Day one, Friday, is through the famous Alligator Alley, the heart of the Everglades, a ride I’m anxious to take. I’ve managed to miss the Everglades during my twenty years in Florida; but in preparation I took a 60 mile training ride last week through the Green Swamp and saw a big ole gator resting with her head on the bike trail and mouth wide open, looking like one of those things you shouldn’t back over on the way out of a parking lot that warns you of “Severe Tire Damage.” Now gators, I should tell you, are no big deal, there are 6 and 7 footers in the ponds in my development and I’m counting on seeing some of my trail companion’s cousins on this ride. I also may see the ethereal Florida Panther, the only place they survive is here in the great River of Grass. Panthers, like all big cats, prefer to take down the old and slow:
I am… prey.
Day one ends at the Miccosukee Resort and Casino, because, after 130 miles on a road bike through the world’s largest alligator infested swamp, who doesn’t want to play craps? There’s a memorable scene in the novel (and mini-series) Lonesome Dove where beleaguered, injured, and exhausted buffalo hunters- to their misfortune- have fallen in with a renegade, Blue Duck, who bullies his semi-captors into throwing dice with him by exclaiming, “Let’s Gamble!” with the gusto of one who knows he will win- one way or the other. I know how the poor buffalo hunters must have felt…
On Saturday morning we head for the Keys and spend the next two days surrounded by warm water, fishing boats, key deer and tacky roadside attractions. One of my favorite things about road cycling is how little non-riders comprehend the distances we cover. Everyone I tell about this ride asks, with some incredulity,
“Are you going to ride that 7 mile bridge?”
“Yup, plus another 273 miles.”
“Wow, that’s a long bridge!”
I feel pretty good about this trip, it’s mercifully flat and I’m feeling relatively strong, just recently I added some time on the stationary trainer in my garage to my training regimen and it seems to have helped. My 75 new riding buddies have assured me that:
A.) The pace will be fine
B.) I’m not (quite) the oldest rider and
C.) Panthers are not going to be my biggest problem.
I’m looking forward to a weekend gloriously away from U.S. Election coverage and the routine- albeit glamorous- life of a Certified Financial Planner. I’m not a lie on the beach kind of vacation guy, I really crave some kind physical or educational experience to enjoy a trip and this one should give me all the experience I can handle. The thought of conch chowder and perhaps a cold beer in Key West (I hear they have bars there) will be all the motivation I need to keep me going if I happen to escape the carnivores.