This morning I was headed West on HWY58 on the way through Emerald Isle by five after five--am. I wanted to be up at 4am, but I guess I slept in. Lazy! I went easy over the bridge and headed all the way to Maysville where I hit HWY 17 North.
When I was a young boy we moved a stone's throw off of HWY 17-92 in Maitland, Florida. I don't miss much about life down there, but whenever I see HWY 17 up and down the East coast and never far from the beach, I think of my formative years in Central Florida. I was not riding bikes back then, but some teams down there did teach me how to push hard during training. My mama spent her early years off of 17 in Port Royal, Virginia. An important road for our people.
As I headed north on 17 I hugged the shoulder and was only scared off the road to New Bern once. I know that truck brushed me just because he could. Most gave a few yards, and for the many considerate drivers I was thankful.
In the first couple of hours I was mindful to keep the pace relaxed and also mindful of the headwind coming from the West and North. My heart rate was rarely in triple digits even when I was upwards of 20mph. My muscles were working pretty good, but my ticker just will not pump that fast in the early morning. It is not a time for sprints and such, but definitely a time of day for efficient slow-twitch work. I knew I would be thankful for the easy effort later on in the morning. I drank a lot, ate some snacks. I was a little depressed when the iPod battery went dead less than an hour into the ride, but no use crying over spilled skim. Better to enjoy the views and sounds of the early morning. It was a sleepy Thursday morning and I could sense the napping students on what I'm sure were long school bus rides in these rral Crystal Coast counties.
I rolled into a New Bern McDonald's at mile 50, ready for a break and some breakfast. I was anxious to know a way back other than turning and retracing my steps, never my first inclination. I knew I had been headed basically West and North and I needed to make my way East and look for signs to Morehead City and/or Beaufort.
After a nice breakfast of coffee, biscuits, and a top off of Powerade in one of my bottles (good to remember that McDonald's has an energy drink among the many fountain selections), I tried and failed to get directions off my phone. I headed in the same direction and quickly saw what looked like an Interstate, but the road was marked 70 and pointed towards Morehead City. I was thinking that 70 should be manageable and not truly interstate-like, but the first few miles felt like I-40. I got off at the next exit and decided to look for a back road. This took me into downtown New Bern and I recognized the historic area where I had not been since Hugh Bailey's wedding about eight years ago. Kristen and I were engaged and readying for our own wedding in August 2002. My how time flies. I crossed over a big waterway in a long line of cars who had awaited the drawbridge and I took the lane back onto 70. Now it looked more manageable. Still 55 mph for the cars, not for me, though I guess I could have if I was Cancellara, but a big shoulder where I could dodge debris and enjoy the next hour of tailwind. I could get down in the aero-bars and do 25mph easy or sit up for a breather, and spin to an easy 22mph. What fun!
I rolled into Morehead City still without my barrings, but looking for the Dunkin Donuts I love that marks 15 miles back to the beach house. Somewhat sadly at the time, I went the wrong way on 24 and that added about 10 miles. Tack on the 3-5 before I remembered to start the Garmin after rolling out of McDonald's and I rode somewhere between 110 and 115 miles. Still, 108 it is because the Garmin is what is keeping me honest. I'm well on my way to 1000 miles for May. Maybe I can get even closer to 1500 if I work really hard. The longest I had ridden before was 72 miles about a month ago with David Tallon. 40 more miles was harder, but not unmanageable. I was ready to get out of the saddle when it was over, but I know my first century is going to pay dividends getting over the Appalachian mountains somewhere around June 16 as our RAAM team turns the final chapters on our epic adventure.
I have bought a RoadID and it is making me feel safer on the chance that I wind up a tangled pile in a ditch. The last line reads, "Run and Ride for Christ." I am trying.