Day 44 – Tailwinds and Flat Tires in Pensacola (December 15, 2020)

Night 44- Pensacola, FL

We’ve had headwinds, cross winds, no wind, rain and cold for the last few weeks.

This day we had tail winds. What a great day.

Waking up in a room full of pink, we were given guest rooms at a our friend’s parents house. I had gotten the room that is usually reserved for the granddaughter. But up in the morning I met June Argenta Walker out in the kitchen for breakfast and coffee. We talked of family, how our families immigrated, how most of our families have been in the service, and Eric Walker. (Just kidding Eric, we talked about drum corp). I couldn’t bring myself to sit on my phone and write at the time. The rest of the house woke up and we ate breakfast.

Much like my own mother or grandmother, we were offered more food than we could carry and they donated even more. Again, another host who is more kind and who has given more than I could ask. We are incredibly thankful for the hosts we get. They make the days go by easier.

But today was also different. Watching the weather I feel for my friends and family in the north east. I love the snow, but not on bikes. Fortunately it’s going to miss us by a state or two. The morning started as cold, but by the time we hit the road it was quickly warming up towards 60. And then Russell saw the good news. “Winds from the east”. WE HAD A TAIL WIND!

The timing couldn’t have been better as we were making out way down from the Florida “highlands” and were going back to flat. A 5 to 8 mph tail wind meant we were averaging 15-20 mph. 60 miles goes by effortlessly with this. We could have pedaled hard and held 20 the whole way, but here we could just ride and enjoy.

Half way to our goal we were on the move through a food and business strip when Russell quickly pointed at the Arby’s with an accompanied glance at me…. I’m looking for something crazy. Some weird vehicle or person or something? Kind of.

It was Stephanie’s bike. We caught her again. So we roll in and hang out. She had been in this small town for a few hours. The bike shop replaced her spokes and showed her some tips. She just moves at her own pace. With a host just outside of Pensacola, she took off again for a donut shop. Tour of bakeries.

We looked ahead a few days and found a cheap motel downtown that would put us at 60 miles from the next campsite in Dauphin. Florida, your days are numbered.

Off we go down the next long stretch of 90. Just down the road we were losing light when we saw another yellow vest up ahead. Caught her again. This time she held a 500 yard lead for quite some time… then her luck ran out. We saw her pull off and flip her bike. Her tour without flats came to an end. We rolled up and hung out. She’s done more and ridden more than both of us, so we weren’t going to insult her by doing it, but my tools were quicker to get to. So we hung out and enjoyed the sunset.

Packed up, we rode with her in the middle. Russell with GPS, and me covered in lights in the back. We only rode for an hour or so before she split off to hang with some host friends.

Russell and I went into the depths of Pensacola. Our cheap motels made Google take us on a tour of some dark spot. We got hung up at a cross walk for what seemed like forever. It felt that way because two guys walked up towards us. The first guy was just minding his own business. The second guy, the kind you see with the headline “Florida man…”, walks up and starts circling us. Kind of pacing kind of freaking out and mumbling to himself. He looked at the first guy and said something about someone stealing his backpack. He was fairly out of it, so I kept one hand on my spray can of deterrent. He followed us to the next corner, where he just came from.

So we took off as soon as possible. Riding into darker and darker regions. I’m fairly confident in my ability to get out of trouble on foot, but my bike-quan-do is fairly lacking. So we got to the motel, ditched the bikes in the room and went for food. Between the land we were in, the pandemic, the darkness of night, and the regular homeless population around, it felt like the walking dead. We just wanted pizza. So we got it and settled in for the night.

Today we ride for a boat and another island. Flat, but some rain. That tail wind felt great though. Have a great day everyone. Take care in headwinds and try to take care of others when you have a tailwind.

As usual-

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