Sitting here tonight, relaxing in a very nice rental condo in Rosemary Beach, showered and fed with a home cooked interpretation of Penne alla Campagnola, it’s hard to recall the challenges faced during yesterday’s cycle from Tallahassee to Port St Joseph let alone the 62-mile journey we’ve just completed from Port St Joe. Nonetheless, we feel compelled to tell you more about yesterday’s 115-mile endeavour and, of course, today’s short hop into paradise.
It was 8pm on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 when we started on the slippery slope to near death by exhaustion! Seated in the very cool Shula’s Grill 347, on the ground floor of Hotel Duval, and named in honor of the Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula, the most successful Coach in NFL history with 347 career victories, we were waited on by Seth who insisted on telling us about his past adventures playing soccer in England. He was especially animated when recalling his time spent partying in Newcastle; anyone who has partied in Newcastle would know it’s a place one would recall with fond memories! Riding the crest of Seth’s enthusiasm for life, we decided to join the party and ordered two pre-dinner Dirty Martinis. Now firmly embraced in the party spirit, we ordered a bottle of wine, a superb accompaniment to dinner followed by, quote: “that’s the best dessert I have ever tasted”. Kat now blissfully unaware of the 6am early start was easily convinced by Anthony that a quick visit to the rooftop bar for a little nightcap would be a good idea... 30 minutes and another glass of Martini later… we were in bed at midnight holding our heads, feeling sick and asking Whhhhyyy!
With a lot of effort we managed to get out of bed at 6:30am, spent 2 hours ineffectively packing our pannier bags in a hung over state and eventually had our wheels rolling at 8:45am (1 hour 15 minutes behind schedule). The rest is old news apart from (i) meeting a great man called Paul who donated $20 and (ii) Anthony’s spoke broke AGAIN at 99.95 miles, which meant we had to limp the remaining 15 miles into Port St Joe with the last 5 miles in the pitch black. Unfortunately, we didn’t have Riddick’s (Vin Diesel) surgically-enhanced silver eyes and therefore found cycling through cemeteries and forests riddled with Bears quite a frightening thing to do. But we’re still here, so obviously we got to Port Inn (our hotel) without being hunted by the Living Dead or flesh eating Black Bears.
After a great night’s sleep at Port Inn, we got up and had breakfast with like-minded adventurers, who preferred boats to bikes. Rachel, the daughter of The Adams Family, has already posted a blog comment …thanks Rachel. Fed and watered, feeling less hung-over, and with all four layers on (only quickly to remove a layer due to the relatively hot weather - 13°C) and extremely relaxed (despite the fact that Anthony’s rear wheel was broken and it was 40 miles to the next bike shop in Panama City), we set off for today’s ride. We reached Panama City along a beautifully planned route, where Dallas of Bay Cycle and Fitness quickly fixed Anthony’s wheel. Back on the road, with only 20 miles to go and a rear wheel that no longer wobbled like jelly on a plate, all in the world seemed good. However, when we were just 7 miles from paradise (Rosemary Beach), Kat experienced two successive punctures. Anthony, now proficient in the art of puncture repairs, got Kat back on the road with not much time to spare; the sun had nearly set and we still hadn’t visited Winn Dixie Supermarket for the compulsory wine and foodstuff needed for self catering rental condos. Weighing up the pros and cons of a night with wine & food vs. cycling again in the pitch black along a busy US Hwy, the wine and food option won the day. Quickly stopping off at Winn Dixie to buy said food items we then rode off into the darkness with bottles of wine stuffed into every free space of our panniers.
We’re now at Rosemary Beach feeling content and looking forward to two rest days. Rosemary Beach has some special memories for us because this is where our friends Dave and Fran got married in 2007. It was a wonderful ceremony, they both looked gorgeous, the backdrop was breathtaking, and we had the BEST time. We promised ourselves that we would return one day, but never really knew if we would. And now we’re here…yay! Big toast to the Andrews-Cooks.