Bike Across Florida 2008
Sunday, April 20th: The One-day, 166.9 mile, Bike Across Florida Adventure took place from Cocoa Beach to Crystal River. The Bike Across Florida race is considered to be the 'toughest single-day cycling tour in the U.S.' Billy and Rogers attempted the task after being notified the event had been canceled the day they arrived to Cocoa Beach.
Undoubtedly stubborn, they attempted to complete the course with a two man cycle team and Selman's help.
Read Clint Rogers' Bike Across Florida 2008 Journal below.
Excerpts from the Adventure:
"Gnats. Lots and lots of gnats. I don't think I really needed the banana, but it got the taste of gnats out of my mouth."- Rogers (Mile 59)
"Riding 166 miles? No problem. Smiling for the camera? The next challenge for Billy."
See the photos from the Bike Across Florida 2008 Adventure!
Bike Across Florida 2008 Journal
- Clint Rogers
Friday, April 18th - The Reunion
I decided to go into work today, but got nothing done. After I clocked in, I was basically parked at my desk with purebound.com, mapquest and assorted sites including the BAF 2008 site pulled up on my screen reading all I could about what we were about to do. I told Billy about a blog I found several months ago by some guy who did the race last year, but was having trouble finding it. After a few hours of searching, I finally found it, reread it and realized we had a lot of shopping to do. I couldn't believe how much this guy ate and drank while on a bike and never once mentioned how he went to the bathroom, if he even needed to or, and this was my assumption, he had lost all feeling of his nether parts a few miles in and just wasn't able to go. Needless to say he probably wouldn't leave that in.
At 1 PM I clocked out and headed over to the Trek store on San Jose (Jacksonville, FL). Great service, huge selection of bikes/clothes/etc and a large staff milling about in absolute boredom. I walked in and spoke to no less than 5 guys who were all asking why I was buying 10 canisters of CO2, extra tubes and feeling up the gel saddles. At 210 lbs and 6' 2ish, I avoided the stares and possible laughter that would have come along with a mention of a 170 mile ride and just said they were "for a friend". I guess all I was missing was the trench coat, and I don't even want to know what they thought about my squeezing the gel seats.
I'll skip the details of driving way too fast home, throwing everything into the car to be sorted out later... er... "packing" and cursing whoever sets the gas prices as I filled up for the drive and go right ahead to the phone call. Supposedly the registration was today and tomorrow, but at 5 PM my phone rang with a number I didn't recognize. I answered it and it was the organizer for the BAF telling me the race had been "postponed" until November. Evidently the news had been up on the website for a week in the form of a small scrolling banner that slowly made its way across the screen. How obvious! Of course it was my fault for not pulling up their site daily, or for expecting some sort of email notification, just like it was Billy's fault his and several other peoples registrations didn't go through via active.com's online registration. However, after a quick conversation with Billy our goal didn't change. We hadn't come all this way to not at least try.
At 7 PM, after checking in and unloading my car I headed over to Billy and Ashley's hotel where I found him outside playing with his bike and unloading, having already scoped out the parking lot for any sign of a bike rack. It was great to see him and even after the weekend was through I think we both know it won't be another 10 years until we see each other again! Ashley, his friend from home who was to be our biggest supporter, was very quiet, but won me over immediately with her cookies. Take note guys, if she's single the cookies are worth looking her up!
For dinner it was a short walk to a BBQ place where we got a chance to catch up, finding out that although we had both grown up, our ideas and attitudes about certain things were still very similar. For all of you out there who asked me if he had changed since high school, he'll say he hasn't, but in truth he, unlike so many others, has forced himself into new situations that are nowhere near his comfort zone. If you're reading this you've already figured it out, especially if you know him, but if you ever find yourself in a rut follow his lead. Find something you've always wondered about or been interested in that's an adventure, save for it, make it a reality and do it for yourself, not for the story you can tell others.
After dinner I went back to the hotel, met a friend who was staying briefly with us and eventually passed out. I'm not sure if it was just the amount of stuff that had happened that day or the three hours of sleep I got the night before, but the 10 hour sleep did wonders that night.
After finally getting to sleep around 1 or 2 AM due to the subtleties of a Best Western mattress, I made it back to Billy and Ashley's room at the La Quinta around 10 AM. We walked back up the road about a mile to a Waffle House for breakfast before visiting the "World Famous" Ron Jon Surf Shop, which was little more than a massive, well-decorated warehouse with thousands of shirts with identical logos differentiated only by color. It was still a little early, meaning that it was the perfect time for tourists to be out shopping in clothes they would never dare wear in their home state . . . or province.
For those who don't know, or who don't live in Florida, there are two ways to track the weather. The first, of course, is watching the birds. The second? Quebec tags. They're typically spotted driving in small caravans in the left hand lane at just under the speed required not to piss everyone off. Trying to pass any of these will result in the caravan speeding up and blocking you only to slow back down after you get behind them and wait for them to pass slower traffic. On the other hand, if you spot one by itself it might be hard to read the tag considering they're going roughly 120 mph no doubt in order to find and latch onto a caravan miles up the road at half that speed, but here in Florida we're not bitter.
After trolling Ron Jon and the Cocoa Beach Surf Company, we made our way back, past an ice cream stand, somehow, and to the La Quinta. After suiting up, we left for a short ride to get use to each other's style, or lack thereof, cadence, etc. The ride went well with each of us taking turns at the front, setting the pace somewhere between 17 and 23 mph, until the halfway point. 10 miles out we decided to turn around and go back, this time with the wind helping. For most of the ride back I kept Lance in sight, but for the last few miles he decided to "stretch it out". After getting caught at every light just south of the hotel, watching massive crowds with coolers of beer so large they could fit bodies, I made it back. We got into our swimsuits and crossed the street to the beach. After relaxing for a little while, the guy who hasn't seen a beach in a while and obviously had no true sense of what cold water was decided to run in for a swim. Peer pressure ensued and I joined him for body surfing, keeping an eye out for fins and swearing I saw several, and enjoying the downtime.
Later, after showers and finding a seemingly nice seafood place on the Indian River, we sat down for the most disappointing part of the trip. Not only was there a dwarfish pedophile-looking man walking around making balloon animals, but both Billy and I decided on the very inadequate "Seafood Volcano" since it looked like it had a ton of food. At $17, it should have. We were starving by that point, but even at our hungriest, the food seemed, at best, average. It was small, there weren't very many shrimp, and the seafood that was supposed to be mixed into the pasta topping was absent. Also, because service was terrible we got out too late to make it to Publix and had to settle on Walgreens for all our nutritional needs. At 11, we finally finished shopping, noticed that we had to be awake in 6 hours, and went our separate ways. At this point, we knew the ride would be hard, but part of us still wanted to believe that it would have an element of "fun". As it turns out, the fun would start with my alarm.
On my sixth hour of sleep several randomly placed alarms announced their presence. Two broken toes, a broken remote, and a minor laceration later they finally shut off as I rolled around on the floor trying to stop the bleeding. I managed to bandage myself up, no doubt incurring some unknown infection from the "clean" towels. Whether or not the cleaning lady reported bloody towels to the police as evidence of some murder, I don't know, but I live next door to a policeman and so far he hasn't tackled me when we see each other at the mailbox in the afternoons. Just to be safe, I think I'll let Erin pick up the mail from now on.
I packed everything into my car, checked out, and headed towards the La Quinta. Too early for McDonalds, or any other fine Cocoa Beach establishment, to be open I opted for the first gas station I saw, found something that resembled orange juice, a water, and a few early energy boosts to wake me up and get me started, and immediately took a wrong turn out of the parking lot. Three or four miles later on a road that looked identical to the main road, I hit a dead end and panic set in. Already running a few min late, I turned around and sped back to 520. The whole way to the La Quinta I was looking for the dozens of riders who SAID they were going to do the ride with us, or leave a little earlier than us, but there was nothing on the road aside from a homeless guy walking next to his bike. Slacker.
When I got to Billy and Ashley, they were still packing. There were no other lights on in the hotel, so at that point we knew the other riders were either less motivated or more sane than we were and that we were going to be alone today. After a few more minutes of packing, getting a few of my things into the car and a few last minute photo ops we headed out.
7:00 - Sunrise on Cocoa and, as you can see from the photos that are up, we're bright eyed, fully prepared for the day and smiling. Well... one of us is.
7:10 - *Warning - All times are badly estimated* Heading down 520, we went over a small bridge already, but our first big climb of the day came at a very steep bridge. Lance, on his fancy carbon frame, surged on ahead, but I took a slower pace, alternating standing and sitting, playing with gears and stretching my legs to get them warm in preparation for a long straightaway on a 65 mph highway that I wanted to finish as quickly as possible. Side note - I hit 34 mph on the descent without any pedaling.
7:10 - 8:30 - We took our time, screwing around with placement of ipods, food and whatever else in our jersey pockets, taking our mind off the straightaway and looking around at the scenery when we weren't praying that some small piece of chrome navigated by an early morning driver wouldn't surprise us. Not long after we passed I-95, we passed a deer standing only a few yards away. Billy passed first, scaring it and causing it to run head first into a chain link fence, struggle to get free, then run through a fenced off pond and leap over the fence at the opposite end. It was a hell of a sight, but when I asked Billy what he thought about it later he had no idea what I was talking about.
Day 3, Part 2
For those of you that don't know or have never been to Florida, there's a stretch of I-95 from just south of Daytona until close to Palm Beach County that's desolate. To be a little more clear, a look to the west will only give you a view of prairie and swamp with intermittent pine stands ending in what seems like a wall of pine trees in the distance. In other words, flat and boring. From the time we passed under I-95 until Taylor Creek Road, it was a boring ride. Like I said before, there were the cars traveling at high speed, but other than a few close calls it was pretty nondescript. When we finally got to our first real turn it was a nice change. It seemed mostly flat with a few gentle rises and falls in elevation. The next few turns were onto roads that were basically the same. At this point we were making our way northwest, around Orlando into the nicer suburbs of Winter Springs, Wekiva, Rock Springs and a few others. The roads were good, even though they lacked shoulders, and the drivers were better. I don't remember once being honked at or run off the road, though we probably angered a few drivers that were either late for church or coming home from it, depending on where we were in the city and at what time. Thinking back, it probably wasn't the best decision to blow off the idea of starting earlier since we would have missed church traffic in Wekiva and Rock Springs. The roads were packed, we were trying to get up some unexpected big hills (at least big for Central Florida) and going 15 mph up a hill in on a two lane road probably wasn't the safest. At one point, Billy and I were separated... or rather, I was trying to push through cramps and couldn't keep up. Going at the traffic alone was tough, but we got through it and were onto Kelly Park Road.
It was on this road that I forced myself to drink every ounce of fluid I had on my bike while plodding through the hills. To Billy, these weren't hills... probably would consider them speed bumps, but to someone who's lived and biked in Northeast Florida they were friggin' mountains. By the end I had lost sight of Billy, but saw Ashley waiting to refill whatever we needed. When I pulled over and tried to get my clip out of the pedal, my shoe and clip separated leaving it lodged inside the pedal. After several minutes of prying, cursing and examining the shoe, it was pretty obvious that the screws securing clip to shoe were totally stripped and there was no way of putting it back together. Weeks later when I finally tried to ride again, I got it out of the pedal and sure enough, the screws, and shoe, were a total loss. At least it didn't happen in traffic!
From this point on, I rode with Ashley. Billy will have to tell you his story, or what his dehydrated brain can remember. If you start reading about strange animals talking to him, voices in his head, etc just skip over those parts until you get back to the bike ride. My time was spent screwing around with the GPS trying to find our turns (the BAF organizers gave the wrong names for some roads), finding a Wendy's at one point so Billy could have a Frosty, taking pictures while Ashley drove or taking pictures on the side of the road so we could get something good for the website and otherwise being another support team member for Team Purebound that had gone from two riders to one.
I do know that ever since I met Billy in 6th grade, I've never seen him closer to quitting at something than I did when we were 7 miles from the finish. In hindsight, the alternative route to get him his 7 miles and call it a day would have been smarter and safer, but it would not have been the real route... the Pure route. He finished, in the dark with us behind him, flashers on. The gate was closed, but we got a picture in front of the school regardless. Despite the comment "I f***ing hate cycling." that came out immediately at the finish line, he has told me he still wants to try again in the real race in November. Glutton for punishment? Yes, we are.