“I slowly rode from my warm hotel to the beach in New Smyrna, FL just before 8am on Dec 9th. I was heading to the start of the 2017 edition of the Cross Florida Individual Time Trial by Singletrack Samurai Productions. It was raining and in the low 50’s, which I was OK with until I remembered that this was as warm as it was going to get that day and I had 300 miles of road, bike-path, gravel, forest road, fire-breaks, single-track and game trail ahead of me.
I gathered with 70 or 80 other “unique individuals” and dipped my rear tire in the Atlantic. Among the crowd was a few with short sleeves and practically nothing on their bikes and I briefly worried about what they knew that I didn’t, but it passed quickly when I remembered the forecast for sub-freezing temps in the Ocala National Forest for that evening, and I silently wished them well.
First 80 miles was uneventful and actually great riding weather. The rain stopped early and the temps were pleasant. We entered the Chuck Lennon trail system and got about an hours worth of fun, tight single-track before heading out through Lake George state forest. Rolling into Fruitville at mile 127 we decided to stop and eat some real food. I ordered pizza and coffee and felt good about everything until I walked outside after the meal to get clothes from my bike. The sun was down and the cold was there big time. I dressed in the restaurant restroom, leaving while wearing everything I brought including rain gear.
When we got to Palatka at mile 150 my hands were numb and my lips tingling. I stopped and called the first hotel Google came up with and gave them my card number. An hour later I was showered and in bed as toasty as I could be. Slept till the sun was up and ate a warm breakfast. I had 150 miles left and the back half is notoriously slower with way more dirt to deal with than day one. I knew it would be a late night but at least I got rest and was warm to start.
The first new section to me was called the Ghost trail and it was a treat. I was happy that I got to see it in the daylight instead of plodding through there in the dark. Not only would I have missed the scenery, but it is hard to navigate when you can see, never mind in the dark. I came to find out lots got turned around in there, but it was beautiful.
The remainder of the day was on familiar forest roads and of course the whole length of the Santos single-track system which is always a treat. It gets a little hairy in the dark with a loaded bike, but you never feel sleepy through there, so its good. The final 20 miles of sand and bike path was torture and my hands were frozen. I can not imagine what real frost-bite must feel like, because I was nowhere near that and my fingers hurt so bad I could not wait to be done. At 2:35am on Monday morning I rolled up to the end of the trail and dipped my front tire in the Gulf of Mexico.
42 hours and 35 minutes total time and I had 4 miles to go to get back to the car where my wife was waiting to extract me. After running the heat in the car wide open and getting some food, she told me that the attrition rate was way up there and that it looks like a top 10 finish. I was more than happy, even though I decided to stop overnight. Sometimes you just have to take what the route gives you.
Next up is the HuRaCaN 2018 and I’ve got my fingers crossed for warmer weather.”