A Sign of Things to Come?

January 24, 2017 – 11 AM – Somewhere in Daytona Beach, Florida

Turns out today is a heckuva lot better than yesterday, although my left knee is giving me some issues. After years of putting it off, I finally made it to a sports physiologist a few months ago and she assured me it's not the knee at all, but tightness, knots, and lack of mobility in the joints, ligaments, and muscles themselves. Basically, the muscles and all the other crap in my leg can't play nice together and slide past one another properly. They're too rigid and too neglected. All work and no play has made them rebel.

The only thing that's ever provided relief is a muscle therapy doohickey device that I can best describe as a nubby, plastic rolling pin. You basically sit down with this thing and go to work on your meat like a it's a wad of pizza dough, flattening all your rebellious parts into submission. In a fit of rage – back when I realized I had to abandon 50% of my gear on the second day of my trip – I left it with [Friend]. Well, damn.

The best I can do now is stop every hour, or so, and force a really good stretch. It's not the same as the doohickey but it's the only way I can take care of my knees without machinery right now. I'm going to need them in tiptop shape.

I arrive in Daytona Beach without a snag. Time for a proper break.

After grabbing some coffee I stop to rest along the waterfront where I luckily find my own little hut and have the place all to myself, save for a couple of crows. We all sit there together and stare at the water.

I should be ecstatic right now. If you could see the gloriousness of this landscape with its crystal-blue sky and light breeze, and the Intracoastal Waterway with its calm, rhythmic rocking and occasional gurgle you might be instantly lifted. But I'm not.

I can't put my finger on why, but I'm uptight. Antsy. Impatient. People travel from all over the world to bask in this sun and I suppose it's positively magnificent for a couple of controlled hours at a time, but I've been in it since 7 this morning and right now all I want is a cool spot in a dark cave.

Is this another case of too much of a good thing?

Then a realization: when I set out to ride this distance I was convinced I could do about 30, 40, maybe 50 miles a day. I've easily done 35 miles before, like a champ, but not with all this obnoxious gear strapped to my bike. These were also times I didn't have to worry about traffic, or the availability of bike lanes, or navigating crumbling sidewalks that eventually just stop. No, in the past I rode in nice places that were made with the cyclist in mind. Not the case now. This is riding in the real world with all its dangers and imperfections that tax the mind and spirit.

Plus, those times I did ride 30 or 40 miles, I did it in one day and then stopped. Not several days, back-to-back, with no time for the body to heal and renew.

Maybe I'm just tired.

Give it time. This is all new. It's only day three. Perhaps I just need to get into the swing of things and I'll start having fun.

Another few minutes pass and I shift my gaze from the water to the inside of my little hut. Some graffiti “artists” have left a couple of messages for us weary travelers. I study the first:

Fuck you

And the other:

I love nobody

The crows engage each other in a weird little bird joust before making a flappy exit. I don't want to rush today, but I certainly don't want to be on the road longer than necessary. I cringe at the thought of forcing enjoyment on myself.

I stop at another private beach area and ceremoniously snap a few photos. Maybe if I share these with everyone back home I'll feel better.

Then it's onto the beach. Crackled sand dunes. A lifeguard tower. Meh.

Time to move on. Obviously this isn't what I want to be doing right now. Last stop of the day is New Smyrna's downtown area and it's totally adorable, but my mood is not lifting, my vigor not awakening. Walk down Canal Street. Lunch at Yellow Dog Eats. Oooh, let me take a photo of my healthy and yummy wrap to show everyone. Snap.

Look at the map. Only 440 miles to go.

I give up. Time to find my host's place and take a load off. Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow will feel like an adventure. I'm sure of it.

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