Sunday, June 24, 2012

The HuRaCaN 260: Croom To PruiTT

530am or so a truck showed up with riders.

I wondered if they could see me, or if I had enough distance and shadows to be hidden.  I tried to ignore their presence but I could hear everything they were saying, It was in some ways annoying.  Another car pulled up and shortly they were all off on a 25 mile ride, the weather report said NO Rain according to a man who called himself, Mr. Doppler.

I decided to get up, use the bathroom, tend to my chapped bottom and then get some food in me and prepare to leave at the crack of daylight.

The day before, somehow, my seat had slipped.  I hadn't noticed and I rode for HOURS with my seat too low.  This put my butt on a part of the seat I don't normally use and that I don't normally lubricate and ended up chapped raw.

I ate my breakfast.  Rolled out and headed towards Croom.  It was 7am and my goal was to be out of the singletrack before ten am.  3 hours I figured at a modest pace was realistic.

 For the first time since mile 40 I actually started having fun.  Croom was green and in full jungle forest glory.  I carefully made my way keeping good pace, ticking away the miles, heading towards he infamous pits that this section of croom is known for.

As I made my way through pit one, the rain started.  I thought about Mr. Dopplers prediction and laughed.  I kept moving.  I checked the time and I was ahead of my anticipated finish time.

I get to the next to last pit and right in front of me drops a rider, and as I pass the junction point another was coming out of the same hole.  It was a bit surreal. I just had zero expectations of seeing anyone.  I had to actually keep the pace through the bench cut and crested the next short uphill and let the guy pass.

I started losing my pep.  I was getting tired, only 2 miles left in this section.  Once I got off the singletrack onto Nobleton road, I was super happy to be done with the skinny undulating trail and was ready to pound out some thoughtless bike path and pavement miles.

The lack of sleep, the long road, the rain storm had left me  tired.  And I saw a bench and decided I needed to stretch my back.  I laid there, resting, sleeping a very blissful and wonderful sleep.  When raindrops hitting my face came as my wake up call and I had to get up and go again, off to chase Santos which was closer then ever at this point.

Floral City was my next Oasis.  I started dreaming about hot food, I was really wanting something cold to drink.  The rain was fine.  It actually felt good and in spite of my raw ass cheeks I felt great.  The miles were coming quick and I was greeting all the riders traveling opposite my direction.

Low and behold I caught sight of the riders I had heard plotting their 25 mile round trip voyage.  I know its not nice but all I could think was, damn I rode the 14 miles of croom and got 6 miles past that point, 22 miles or so, in less time then it took them to do half their trip???

By the time I got to Floral City I was water logged.  I was soaked.  My hands are all pruny.  They had outside seating at the restaurant.  Which I was thankful for.  As hot as it is outside, the AC inside the building felt even worst.  The whole trip anytime I went in a convenience store I ended up shivering so much that I wasn't free to comfortably think and shop, Forced to move fast.

She served me hot food and sweet potato fries. I had several cokes, cokes are not part of my normal meal plan but I am in survival mode.  It all felt great, but halfway through my meal, I feel asleep head down, for a long while.  The storm was in full force, I would wake at moments and eat a little then go back to my nap.

Awful I know, but it was what I felt my body needed to continue pushing forward.  And after I finished eating, and drinking I stopped at the gazebo and restocked on my water and continued forward.  I had been on the Withlacoochee bike path several times.  And today it seemed different.  Although I was on pavement, the trail had such a backwoods feel.  Everything was green, lush and tropical.

I had packed away my shirt.  Riding only in my base layer and my jacket.  Finally after several hours of riding in the rain, it stopped and I took off my jacket and packed it in the back as well.  I stopped at wal greens in Inverness to get lithium batteries, I had been getting reports that my spot quit working and since I left the convenience store in Ridge manor the battery light warning had been going off on my Spot Tracker.

I put in batteries and continued on my trip.  Before Long I was entering Potts Preserve.  I came across a group of people barbecuing, I was reminded that it was indeed Memorial Day.  I rolled on, exited the park, rode the grassy canal road, seeing several ATVs.

I went through the fence and stopped at the convenience store for more drink.  I was really tired, I wanted to sleep more, but I was noticing my time was running out.  I had gotten a call earlier that Kailan didn't have a ride home and now I had to make an unexpected trip to New Smyrna, AFTER I finished the sleep deprived Hell ride and be home BEFORE he goes to school in the  morning at 8am.

Amazingly enough Stumpknockers was closed.  I got into Haltapa.  It was exhausting, so hard, I was hating it, and after a long slog I got to the parking lot at Pruitt and laid in the grass under the shade of the oak tree to sleepy and tired to continue.

I don't know how long I slept, it was so nice and peaceful, it truly felt like heaven.  I got a text and that woke me up, I got on the bike and left noticing time was really getting short now and in a few hours it would be dark.

I trudged through Pruitt got on the limestone, marveled at the baby armadillo with his cute little claws who didn't have enough sense to run and hide when i rolled by leaving him only 8 inches of space.  As I exited Pruitt I was really out of time now and exhausted.  I wanted to sleep, get some more hot food and then continue with the 20 or so miles I had left.  So sleep would of took an hour or so, food would of took an hour or so and the ride 3 hours or so at best.  That's 5 more hours and it was 730 pm. Putting me back at the car at midnight, with a drive to from Ocala to New Smyrna back to my home in Deltona, to get up at 7am and get ready for work and school.  The math seemed like more then I was willing to deal with, so me and my chapped ass decided that 260 was more then enough knowing if I would of not had the pressure of picking up my son, I could easily finish, it would of just took 5 more hours.

The route is powerful. Some of it is really too much though and there are some sections that I will change for the sake of continuity.  It is after all what I think is best to promote flow.

Take care,

The NaKeD InDiaN

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The HuRaCaN 260: Day 2, LaKe ApoPka to RiDgE MaNoR

I turned my phone off at 2 am when I went to bed for a reason.  I wanted to be natural this a.m. and let my body wake when it was done resting.

Instead, like a giant eager playful Labrador, The Morning Sun licked my face and woke me up much earlier then I had plan.  I rethought things instantly, whats more natural then rising from a suns Kiss.  And I began gathering my breakfast and getting ready for the day.

It doesn't ever take me long to pack if I want to go fast.  But if I am not in a rush, I lolly gag, I listened to the birds, I listen to the wind, I listen to the water.  I sit and just absorb the moment.  I had two oranges and a handful of nuts for breakfast.  I really didn't feel much like eating, my stomach still felt weird, but I did what I had to do and before long I was rolling along the grassy double track taking me towards Wolf Head Road.

Wolf Head Road is total garbage and If I can get rid of it I will.  I mean it was even worst then the last time I rode it and it sucked then too.  Regardless, I did some hiking, and some riding, and some conserving my energy and was motivated by the sound of the cars off in the distance.  I passed over the yellow gate and got on the road, taking a moment to dump out about an ounce of sand out of each shoe.

I took off up the road.  It had been awhile since I had been on this part of the course and I made a pact that I needed to keep it moving so I could get to Hancock and eat and relax.  It was already getting hot and I had a dozen or so big hills ahead.

I'm pedaling along and look and see two riders coming around the corner fast in full on road racing style effort.  Not long after another rider came along dipped in Tri Gear and on a Giant Cycles Time Trial bike, seemingly giving chase.  I thought to myself, what a dramatic morning on the road.  These guys are serious about riding!

Up and Over one hill and as I start the next, a rider comes flying by.  Normally I am a cannibal.  I give chase and refuse to be passed.  But today I was humble and determined to stay steady and not pop.  I had made a goal for myself for a cool drink at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.  For as long as I can remember there is a residence that puts out ice cold water coolers that you can pour cold water from.  Lately on my rides some of my biggest craving and desire fantasies have to do with Ice Water.

I saw all kinds of people.  I mean, like thirty riders when it was all said and done.  People parked and gathering at spots that I have never seen them gather out.  Not only riders but runners which at the time I thought nothing off, but in retrospect it seems weird.  Usually when I'm riding Clermont in the fast curvy downhills I might scrub some speed for safety, but not today,  I was hell bent on getting as much free forward movement as possible.  I was hungry.  And really wanted to get to refuge.

I got my drinks at the top of Sugarloaf.  Making every climb, no walking.  Roll up Scrub Jay and into Grassy Lakes and before long I was at Minneola Trailhead.  Up onto the bike path I go, I can almost smell my temporary finish line.

Up and down and under the road I went, one more Lil up, o here comes another and then right before the final little crest so I can roll downhill for a minute into the Starbucks.  I just decided I'm tired of pedaling and walk the tiny little last hill.

I walk into Starbucks.  Although I'm so hungry and so tired of the bright sun I have no motivation to eat.  I order a drink and then sit and order out some food, sitting inside till the delivery person shows up and I go outside and have an impromptu picnic.  Anyone that knows me reasonably well, knows that when it comes to eating I can finish a dish FAST.  Well, not this day.   It was small bites and chewing and it took me nearly an hour to finish something that usually takes me a minute.  I had to put effort into eating, stay on task, and work at it, It was not a fantastic experience to say the least.

After I finished eating, I still had half my drink.  I made a new plan.  I didn't think it was smart of me to keep pushing through the heat of the day.  Figured it was smarter for me to sit and wait and let things cool off.  Plus I had heard that there were chances I may have to deal with a tropical storm.  I wasn't too worried about the storm, because I know what the environment looks like when a storm like that is approaching.  BUT, I also know that a storm like this will push rain in all directions and know all too well that if it rains, the outside temps can drop sometimes 20 degrees which would make a long push across Green Swamp even easier.

So I waited and charged my phone and slept.  I basically used my left over in school class sleeping techniques to undercover catch a snooze inside the air conditioned coffee shop.  It was actually kind of nice.  I rested, and started getting ready to go again, when a person I know from my previous Career who heard I was at the shop came by to chat a bit.  I admit, it was nice to talk to someone I had been on my own and in my own world for hours and hours.  And sure, that is a great thing to experience, but I have done so much of it, that I think I am burnt out on being alone and doing long long miles.

We wrapped up our chat and I packed up and left, choosing to restock a few miles down the road just to get the legs moving again.  The air was indeed cooler and I felt strong again.  I made my restock, grabbed lots of liquid calories and kept the pace steady.  It was actually easy and nice pedaling out of Clermont.  I thought about how one more town was in my rear view mirror and grew ever more anxious about crossing Lake Louisa state park.

Before long I passed the walk in gate an made my way up and through the old orange groves.  I hit some very sandy spots and instead of battling the sand I did some hike a biking, choosing instead to save my muscles for what would be the next two big challenges getting to ridge manor and getting across croom.

Once I got to the fence hop in Lake Louisa I took a moment to put some calories in the system.  I sat with my back up against the gate.  In the distance I could hear the thunder.  Up to this point I had not been rained on and I thought for sure by the sounds I was hearing that the rain was gonna catch me this time.  I got over the fence and half way to the next fence when I noticed something pinging my front wheel.  I had forgotten to put on my headphones and once I retrieved them they were in four pieces.  I then backtracked searching for my red mp3 player but had no luck.  I really needed the music as I had gone all day before Starbucks without it and found it was giving me strong steady legs.  I had no choice but to play my collection from my telephone on speaker and continued my forward motion after the search turned up zero results.

I was on dirt, hard clay for awhile.  Then I was on pavement, for what felt like forever.  The roads that take you to the intersect of Van Fleet and then into Green Swamp seemed so so long.  It was starting to get dark.  I made it to the Van Fleet trailhead and took another break at the little pavilion taking a moment to layer up as I felt a chill in the air, and stretch my back.  I could see big tall 4 x 4 pick up trucks rumbling into the swamp and it made me nervous thinking that I would be back there with all the rift raft.  I thought briefly what I would do If I encountered confrontational people, but dismissed the thoughts and took off.

On the my  Dakota GPS it says Logging road.  It was a piece of garbage today.  If there had been rain, the green swamp hadn't seen it.  I walked for several miles through here.  Eventually having to swap the lights in my Princeton tec push which lasted incredibly long.  The new batteries made the light super bright and eventually I got on to Center Grade road which is limestone and I was done with the hike a bike.

I rode across the forest quick, several trucks passed me, but no one fussed at me or yelled or started any problems.  That was good.  When I got to the start of Richloam I took another break, and then rolled out into the jeep roads that make up the tract.  This place had seen rain and it had been very recent.  I could still smell it in the air and the ground was still wet with puddles in places.

Somewhere on Trail number 6 I spotted what I thought might be a baby alligator but thought it was weird that it didn't have any scales.  In fact if anything it had lizard skin, and just as I got closer to take a look, it took of like a bullet shot so fast that I screamed like a woman and veered my machine in the opposite direction.  Yeah, that wasn't cute!

Anyways, I can see on my GPS that the road is getting closer and just as I am about 1/4 mile away, a truck springs to life in front of me and takes off really fast.  I guess they were spooked by my approaching lights.  There were LOTS of teenagers out in Ridge manors in their big trucks and in big numbers again, making my spidey sense go crazy with plans and ideas on how to handle any conflict.  BUT the conflict never came.  I got on Old Ridge manor road and then went to the Circle K for food and restock.  I wasn't much for hungry.  I was more tired then anything, but I choked down some food and then topped off the charge on my phone and slept on the hard dirty concrete for a bit while I waited.  Eventually I got my stuff and took off, deciding I would stop at the first withlacoochee trailhead and sleep there till the morning.

It was hard for me on this trip to figure out what the magic bullet would be to make me feel better and make me want to push farther.  I would eat, but then my stomach would hurt.  I would drink, but then I wouldn't feel thirsty.  It seemed as if satisfaction was always too far away.  Instead it was sleeping that would recharge the batteries and allow me to push in earnest, and by the time I made camp I had it calculated at four hours of sleep before I got up and took off into the Croom Forest.  At the ridge manor coochee pavilion I laid out my clothes hoping they would dry off a bit and slept on the concrete next to my bike.

It wasn't a deep restful sleep.  It was uncomfortable.  I didn't set up my hammock out of fear that a policeman would show up and give me a vagrancy ticket.  I didn't go away from the pavilion cause I was concerned that the rain would show.  So I cat napped on the hard concrete right by my bicycle.

Last Part next,

Take Care,


The NaKeD InDiaN

Friday, June 01, 2012

The HuRaCaN 260: Day 1, SaNtOs to LaKe ApoPkA

The week after the Stagecoach Trip I spent resting.  I had invested weeks of riding getting ready for that challenge and I felt a break was needed.  I admit my training is haphazard at best, and I have no real structure, I mostly go by feelings and desires.

The week after my rest week, I caught the worst Flu I have had in years and spent a grueling 4 days dealing with the illness.  First with me suffering feverish sleepless nights and then Kailan contracting the illness and me spending more sleepless nights looking after him.

I ended up having to take Anti Biotics to fight my infection and the problem with such strong medicine is not only does it kill whats ailing you, but it kills all the good bacteria  you have in your body as well.  So the week after my illness I spent it, feeling so tired and off balance.

I had only managed two rides since I had been back from California.  One was just a destination nowhere ride, where I felt good.  I had a lot of leftover fitness from the Stagecoach.  The other was the Saturday after my illness in between my low energy off balance week, I pedaled rather speedily to Guruv yoga in Lake Mary and did a class and then pedaled home.

Regardless, even though the week had been crappy I had made a commitment to go and tackle the Huracan and I was hell bent on doing it.  So hell or high water, when Saturday 430am rolled around I packed up and left heading to Santos to start where everyone else started this year and Begin my Individual time trial.

I have had alot of rides cut short lately.  Always for good reasons so I was eager to start getting some whole enchiladas under my belt.  Still, going into this, I was still off balance, and I had rested and stayed off the bike more then I had wanted.  I have learned, that is my fortune, I should always expect everything to not go right.  Maybe one day that will change, but for now, that is what I have grown accustomed too.

Everything went smooth and I actually left Santos trailhead early on my way to tackle this beast that I have dedicated so much of my time too.  I had a different plan then usual, I wanted to go out conservative and stay conservative.  Instead of coming out the box riding so hard and then falling apart I wanted to start up slow and build momentum.  Seemed to all make sense in my head when I made the Plan.

As I pedaled the pavement making my way to Baseline trailhead, I greeted the people picking wild berries along the paved trails edge.  Before I knew it I was riding Marshall Swamp trail, noticing lots of little off shoot trails that I had never noticed before.  I took a small break at the trailhead and kept on pedaling.  Up and over the Oklawaha noticing that they had used the old bridge as a greenway pedestrian bridge as they had promised.

Onward I went making quick work, easily averaging close to 12 mph even as I made my way across the forest and encountered numerous Dune Buggies out speeding on the hard pack forest roads.  I was trying to do everything better.  I was drinking, I was eating, I was taking supplements, I was on top of the situation.

I cleared sellers lake after a brief stop and water restock and then ventured into the first real challenge of the course Billy Bay.  It took some effort and I really got hot through that section, but I kept my pace up and ventured right into Paisley Mountain Bike trail.  Seemed like all the places before this had seen rain in the past week, but Paisley looked just as sandy today as it did the last time I rode it with Kailan.

I kept moving, ticking off the miles, getting hungry and anxious to be done with this section of the ride.  After what seemed like forever I exited and made my way to a cold drink and food restock only to discover that my normal store to visit was locked up???  Ugggghhh, I continued deeper into town, past the Pirate's Pub and to the next store, where I ate and drank and ate and then feeling a lil depleted decided I would nap under the oak tree and give the sun a little time to burn off.

Around 4pm, I left that spot, after soaking a rag and placing it under my helmet, I rolled onward towards Maggie Jones.  Again, apparently no rain had come this way as Maggie was sandy and washboarded the entire way.  About 20 miles ago the ride started feeling like work, and I must admit the feeling had not dissipated.  But work I did as I made quick work of Seminole, stopped road side to score beverages and oranges and reached and passed the gate in Rock Springs.    I made my way through the park, pedaling the challenge trail.  I was liking the single track, but the double track was a mess and recently graded.  At least it seemed it had seen rain so although the ground was not fast rolling, at least it was rolling.

After what seemed like a long time I crossed the river passing a couple of boy scouts and several canoes along the way.  Not saying a word.  By this point I was eager for real food and darkness was coming and I still had five miles of complicated trail to negotiate.

The trail was green and dark.  Cypress knees everywhere eager to grab at your pedals if you didn't time things just right.  I kept the pace high knowing that after I emerged from the basin I would reach more of a scrub and open environment providing brighter light.  I really didn't want to stop to pull out my helmet light and after what seemed like another long long time I made it out in the dark.

As soon as I hit pavement, what I thought would be a two hour trip to Zellwood had already become a 2.5 hour trip and I still had a good 8 or 9 miles to go.

I pedaled and moved along the pavement, using my Fred's as much as possible and then eventually taking 441 to the Mexican restaurant that Curt had told me about.  I parked my bike and went in.  Sweaty, dirty, grimy with a rag under my helmet and muddy sun warmers on my arm.  As soon as I go in a guy starts talking to me, but I was on a mission for food and the music was blaring so loud that I pretended instead to not hear his stupid "your exercising alot today" comment.

The young waitress came over and we had to practically speak in each others faces.  She was surprised that I could speak Spanish and I ordered two sandwiches but she talked me out of them and into only one.  I didn't care, I wanted food.  All the while I waited for my food, I shivered from being wet with sweat in an air conditioned small building.  The Man who had spoke to me when I came in kept looking over at me with a glaring stare as if I had been pinching his girlfriends ass or something.  I admit I was nervous at the numbers.  7 of them, 1 of me, I am not going to even look over in their direction.

I got my food, ate, paid and left.  As I got on the bike the only late convenience store was closing and I realized I had two small bags of gummy, two oranges and a bag of cashews.  As I fussed to myself over missing the restock, I saw a electric plug on the outside of a building with a chair right by it.  I took advantage and sat and charged my phone while I sat in a comfy chair waiting.

After a few hours at midnight I rolled out and rode about ten more miles making quick work of the Lake Apopka all the way to the tower. I didn't see any gators as I only had my Princeton Tec Push lighting the way.  But I did come up on a 3 foot tall white faced owl in the middle of the road.  I had only seen an owl like this 18 years ago and was surprised to see one again.  Being the Indian that I am, I wondered if there was some sort of warning I should heed or did he come to give me inspiration to keep pushing. When I finally got there I carried my bike all the way up and set up camp.  Stripped off my wet clothes and hung them up put on my dry gear and laid down in my hammock fighting with the mosquitoes for a lil while before I finally got them to leave me alone.  I fell asleep to the sound of all sorts of owls and animals creeping and crawling about.  Briefly I regretted not peeing on the stairs leading up to the loft, thinking that the smell would of discouraged coons or possums to come up to my perch.

It had been a 110 mile day, and the sleep came fast, I needed all the rest I could get, as the last 90 miles had become a chore and had become way more work then I anticipated.

Part 2 next.

Take Care,


The NaKeD InDiaN