Rules of the Road

January 24, 2017 – Tomoka State Park – Ormond Beach, Florida

Heading to just south of New Smyrna beach tonight and while I'm more grizzled than yesterday, I feel pretty good about today's ride.

Since this trip was designed as an experiment to see if I could travel simply and survive with just a bike and a backpack, I laid some ground rules for myself before taking off.

Rule 1: Absolutely no hotels. Only camping – whether legit or clandestine – is allowed and, more preferable yet, camping at strangers homes. If this were a real survival situation, I'd have to be comfortable asking people I don't know for help and offering my talents in return for their trouble. Better to develop a skill well before you need it, right?

With the internet this is rather easy nowadays, as there's a website specifically geared toward matching up touring cyclists with hosts, kind of like Couchsurfing for bike travelers. I signed up to host others several months ago so I could start building feedback to ensure hosts trusted me and so I wouldn't have any issues securing a yard or spare room in which to crash.

Rule 2: Carry only what's necessary for survival/safety. Even obeying this rule when I set out meant I was riding with a ridiculous amount of stuff. On just my second day out I mailed at least a quarter of my things to family for safekeeping until I returned. I just couldn't take it anymore. (That was the day with all the wind.)

I don't know why I had it in my mind that I'd be like one of those vagabonds in the movies with one tiny, frayed pouch mounted to a stick, flung over my shoulder. It's just not the way it is and the fact that I have to stay warm this time of year added at least 50% more bulk and weight to my rig. Things might have been different if I'd done this trip in the spring or summer. Oh well.

As I'll get into later in this story, “stuff” becomes my arch nemesis. If I thought I was a minimalist before this, it was but a quaint little gesture. I think real, militant minimalists are forged when stuff becomes a source of almost constant grief, frustration, expense, mental suffocation, and physical hinderance.

But I digress.

Since I'd camped my first two nights out, tonight I decide to hit up a member of the cycling host community near my destination. I reach out to roughly three available hosts on the website and get confirmation from one. He says I can camp in his yard and after I do my research, looking into not only his feedback but into those who left him feedback (remember, everybody is a murderer until proven otherwise) I feel pretty confident I'll emerge from his property tomorrow unscathed.

I've couchsurfed only a couple of times in my life, so this was definitely still a new world for me. I feel a little safer knowing I'll be outside and not trapped in a strange man's home should I need to bounce outta there for whatever reason.

Working out all the ways in my head in which this is a relatively safe decision, I recalculate my kind host's Murder Quotient™ and set out for today's adventure.

It's totally gotta be better than yesterday.

More Stories from This Trip

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