December 10 - Bellwood, Florida

Today was a monster day of 119 miles, where everything imaginable went wrong.

My plan was to make a big push to Titusville, where there are a cluster of cheap motels. I had to keep the same pace as yesterday, and I doing just fine up to lunch. I stopped to eat at 1:30, and I had 75 miles done.

While I was eating, it started raining. A few miles later, the cold front arrived, with a wind shift that took away my tailwind. Check out the stormy skies over Cape Canaveral.

Tour2004-24 005 (165K)

When the cold front came through the temperature dropped 15 degrees instantly, from the mid 80s to the high 60s. It was like walking into an air conditioned house.

Then I missed my turn. I wound up at the gate to Patrick Air Force Base, and my only options were to turn around and go back five miles, or to go on an expressway for two miles over a causeway. The ramp to the expressway had a big sign that said "No Bicycles". I eyeballed it, and saw no sign of a shoulder whatsoever. I retraced my route. This put my arrival somewhat after sunset.

I was making good time, though, and just as the sun was setting, I lost my nice back roads and had to ride on US 1. Route 1 is a divided highway with a narrow shoulder and heavy traffic, just like at home. But I still have enough light left to make it. Then I got a flat.

I pulled off into a church parking lot, and sat under a streetlight on the steps of the church and fixed my flat. I pulled a bunch of pieces of glass out of the tire. By the time I was done, it was pitch black outside. I decided I was staying at the next motel, even if it was the Executive Bigbucks Suite Resort that was going to cost $100.

After about five miles of terror, I came to Pinto's Bar and Lounge. I think it's called that, the sign out front was blown away by hurricanes. There was a tattoo parlor attached, and a ramshackle motel in back. Some of the rooms did not have a pickup truck parked in front of them, so I was hopeful. The motel office was closed, and it had a sign to go into the bar to see about a room. I went into the first door, which was the tattoo parlor. The guy there said to go next door and talk to the bartender.

I went into the bar. It was thick with smoke, with lots of pool tables. The decor was NASCAR memorabilia. The bartender said they absolutely had no rooms, but I might be able to get a room up the road at the Bellwood. I asked her how far, and she pointed to it out the window.

I think at this point, I got run over by a truck and died. Or maybe I was murdered by one of the patrons of Pinto's. I figure I'm in heaven, and my ghost is writing my fevered hallucinations. The Bellwood looks like a typical old motel with a restaraunt out front, although it's hard to tell because of the extreme amount of Christmas lights and decorations. I go into the restaraunt, and there are nice people sitting around drinking wine. The food smells great. There is a guy playing classical guitar. The nice old European gentleman who runs the place says he has one room left. $40. I can't believe my luck.

The Bellwood is run by a Polish family. They have excellent Polish food and imported Polish beer. I had pierogis and kielbasa for dinner. It was fantastic.

0424Actual (96K)