Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One More

A few days into my “quit shitty job and getaway” adventure, I was pretty damn satisfied.  I rode some fun trails, hung out with friends and family, and reminisced in my hometown.  I wasn’t done though.  Since I brought a bike, I wanted to ride some more. And no trip to Florida would be complete without a trip to one of the first trails I’ve ever ridden…

I got to the trail pretty early, ready to enjoy a leisurely ride.  The last time I was at Santos, I did a 12 hour race on a rigid singlespeed.  That was a different kind of fun I guess.  Anyway, looking forward to not having to push myself for 12 hours I took off…

And immediately experienced some of the most horrific knee pain ever.

Not even in the trail yet and I was hurting.  Instead of canceling my ride to nurse my swollen knee, I opted to play around on the skills course for a bit to see if things would “loosen up.”  It didn’t help one bit, but my stubborn ass decided to ride anyway.  The trail starts out pretty flat so I figured I’d be fine.

The pain was subdued as long as I didn’t stand up to pedal, so the first few miles weren’t so bad. I still stopped a lot just in case.

I couldn’t resist playing around though, even if it did hurt when I stood up.

That was fun, but this one was fun-er…

I somehow made it all the way to the Vortex (as seen in the photo above.)  My knee seemed to be getting worse, but seeing the Florida “mountains” made me forget about it a little.

But I still wanted to crawl in a hole and die.

The Vortex section is tough.  It’s where you find quite a bit of climbing, and with my knee getting much worse I ended up walking a lot.  I sat down for a while, wondering if I would even be able to make it back to the trail head.  I considered asking someone out there for a ride back, but I can't go for that.  Eventually I fought through the pain (making matters worse no doubt) and rolled slowly through the woods to reach my truck.  I sat for a while with my leg elevated and wondered why I had been a complete dumbass.  My knee was the size of a softball at this point and I could barely bend it.


Somehow I managed to pack up my stuff and went on a quest for some liquid “medicine.”  Luckily I only had to travel across the street…

They sell beer, and of course you can drink it right there in the shop. 

I felt better, but my knee hurt (alcohol is rad but not that rad.)  I piled into my truck and drove away, wondering if I would be able to walk the next time I stopped.  I took frequent breaks from driving to stretch my leg, and it helped just a little bit.  Luckily when I stopped in Jacksonville to get beer I had a cart to hold on to.

The mystery injury was a few weeks ago.  I still haz pain.  I’ve been on one road ride since then and it seems to be a little better.  I have a long way to go I guess.  Who knows.  I didn’t do anything to hurt it, but at least the diagnosis isn’t too bad (bursitis.)  I may have a bum knee for a while, but damn if that trip didn’t do me wonders.

I’ve since started a new job (pretty damn awesome), and I have a new outlook on things these days.  This is the first time in a long time that I’ve consistently been in a good mood.

Who gives a shit.

I do, I guess.  For now.

See y’all next week.  I have a four day weekend because natives saved some white people from starving to death many moons ago.  

Don’t eat too much tomorrow, tubby.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Back To My Roots

You’ve heard it before. I took a chance with a career move and it really sucked.  It affected me daily and I was in a dark place mentally.  When I finally got a chance to get out of there, going back to Florida (albeit temporarily) seemed like a logical choice.  Head back to where I grew up so I could clear my head before I took my next step?  It was just enough of a plan.

I camped (and rode) in the swamp, getting into a fun adventure with my pal Mr. Shepherd.  I left that afternoon and drove to a few different places around the state to see some friends.  Spending time with people from various parts of my past was good for me, and I capped off my second day with a drive back to my hometown with another childhood friend enjoying some beer at a local watering hole.

It was a long night but it was good to catch up.  Since he had to go to work the next morning, I got out of his house pretty early.  I decided to ride around town and do a little reminiscing.  The sleepy little city where I spent most of my life has changed quite a bit, but in a lot of ways it was the same.

  In some ways it was like I never left...

One thing I saw made me a little sad that I left.  Just a short walk from my old house, the craft beer trend has finally infiltrated the place where I was born.

I guess I'll be back there really soon.

I drove around for quite a while, but then I heard from my brother.  He works at Gatorland (just across the county line) and invited me to spend some time with him.  I wasn’t about to miss a chance to see him and hang out with some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet.

And as a bonus, he took me on the zip line where I flew through the air over lots of hungry reptiles.

That was a helluva ride.

It was nice to spend a few hours with my brother, but it was time to ht the road.  With no definite plans and no destination in mind, I drove back to my hometown to spend a little alone time on the lake.

When I was a kid, there was a much older and shittier version of this pier in that spot and aside from fishing there, it was a right of passage to jump off of it into the lake on a hot summer day.  This day though, I just sat at the end of it for a long time, thinking about how much fun it was to be a kid in that little town.

And as the sun went down on “my” lake, I thought about what I would do next.

It didn’t matter.  For the first time in a long time, my head was in the right place again.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I’m Still Alive

Much-needed break:  accomplished.  I quit my shitty job and took a vacation back to my home state of Florida to unwind for a bit until I started working somewhere else (more on that another time.) 

It was raining here when I left for the Sunshine State, after some morning rush hour traffic delays in Charlotte it was smooth sailing down to Orlando.

I was just passing through my old stomping grounds though.  No Mickey Mouse, no touristy shit, and no more city.  My first destination was Alafia River State Park, about an hour further down the road.  I hit a little more traffic (and a little more rain), but I was rewarded when I stopped for gas with some natural beauty.

A few minutes later, I was “home” for the night:  a campsite at the State Park.  I setup my tent just before the sun went down, and I figured that the next thing I should do was go looking for alligators.

Apparently gators aren’t allowed to swim there.  Sucks for them.

All alone, I enjoyed the tranquility of being out there.  I drank a few beers and just relaxed.  The next morning I woke up just in time to watch the sun start to come up.

After breakfast and other morning things, my pal Mr. Shepherd rolled into the campground.  He lives just up the road and we decided that an early morning ride would be pretty damn awesome.  It was nice to chase my old pal through the Florida woods again.

And it was definitely nice to be back in the swamp.

You know, with all the critters.

You may have noticed that I brought my big bike, The Executor.  While it could be considered overkill for anything in Florida (I built it to ride in Pisgah), I thought that having a drooper post would make my vacation riding a helluva lot more fun.

It turned out to be a great idea.

Just like a lot of rides with Mr. Shepherd though, this one was not without incident.  At one point when he was up ahead of me I heard a crash.  When I rolled up on him I noticed that his shoe had a slight malfunction.

We still had plenty of riding to do, and luckily we were near the trailhead.  After asking around for a bit a couple of good Samaritans lent us some items to repair his shoes.

Laugh all you want.  That shit worked.

And it allowed us to continue our ride.

Over twenty four hours into my trip and I was having a blast.  I had plenty of alone time to collect my thoughts and contemplate my life and all that, and I got in a good ride with one of my best friends back in my home state.  With no time limit and a loosely formulated plan, I hit the road again in search of my next adventure.

Still in Florida, of course.

And yeah, I’m back to blogging again.  See y’all tomorrow.