What a day yesterday was. It was a tricky route, starting in the beautiful rural area around Ruskin, then cycling a good distance up the main highway (the only road around) to the Port of Tampa. Getting ourselves through Tampa was a complex matter, involving a similar road network to Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham (UK), and then a couple of significant bridges. Needless to say the Gamines did their usual throwing of hands in the air, pretending that the main bridge that we were going over did not exist, and trying to persuade us to go all the way around the bay of Tampa instead (yeah…real sensible girls). Luckily, Anthony had enough recollection of the route that he had set the night before to be able to guide us safely through the twists and turns.
We stopped to eat lunch (bacon and sausage sandwiches courtesy of a good breakfast at the hotel) around St Petersburg, just below Tampa. As we were pulling up to the Starbucks (Kat’s first latte since Savannah) a friendly guy called Chuck stopped us to ask if we were part of an organised group. Getting chatting to him, we found that he used to do a bit of cycling himself, and he had a number of helpful suggestions about bike trails that we might take to get ourselves through our next few stages. We gave Chuck one of our newly printed business cards and sat down to savour our yummy sandwiches. To our surprise, just as we were about to hit the road again, a pick up truck pulled up and Chuck leaned out of the window to hand us a number of printouts that he had downloaded while we were having lunch setting out the biking trails in the area. What a star! We’re using them as we type to plan our route for tomorrow…
So, approaching Clearwater Beach, our destination, we were happy to be out of urban sprawl and back onto the beach roads with cycle paths that we have been spoiled with on our coastal legs. However, on reaching the hotel, we were a little dismayed to find that one of the spokes on Anthony’s back wheel had broken… disaster. It sounds minor, but in fact you cannot ride any distance on a wheel with a broken spoke, especially not carrying over 60lbs. In our usual relaxed fashion, we thought that we would get this fixed tomorrow en route, until it suddenly dawned on us at about 4.30pm today that tomorrow is New Year’s Day, and everywhere will be closed… A number of hurried phone calls later, we managed to identify a bike shop that was still open. Anthony zoomed off the 6 miles to the shop, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Adam was able to fix the problem. Big shout for Adam and Clearwater Cycles (Drew St).
The hotel has been a great find, but we’re not too sure about the local restaurants… We found a fab Italian restaurant near the hotel, however, and have been happily gorging ourselves with pizza take out in our room, washed down with some rather nice plonk (and tonight a little Champers). We had been planning to grace the nightclub at our hotel with our presence when we booked it, as it boasted that it was the best club in the area. However, finding that it was $120 to get in, we opted for the Ant & Kat Club instead…bargain, and very exclusive.
And we even have the opportunity to pop out onto our balcony and check out the Blue Moon whenever we like…yes, the second full moon in December… and on New Year’s Eve.. Who’d have thought it.
Thanks for all the New Year wishes and a Happy New Year to all of you!