I slept better that second night of camping. I didn’t wake up that I can remember, except to roll over occasionally.
I woke at sunrise, rolled out of my sleeping bag, and walked to the bathroom to put in my contact lenses and do my business. I went back to my tent and took my time eating the breakfast sandwich I bought the day before. It was delicious even cold. I was glad to start the day with some heavy calories. I realized that was a mistake I made on the ride up: not eating enough.
I started tearing down camp. I rolled my sleeping bag and sleeping pads as tightly as I could to make sure they would fit back in the panniers. I tried to put everything back in its place just the way it came out so everything would fit again. I did a pretty good job, because I was able to load up my bike the same way I did on the way to the park.
I was ready to roll by 9:00. It was a little warmer and sunnier than my Monday ride, so I started with just a long-sleeve T-shirt. No jacket needed. I rolled around the park road to the exit, dropped off my little ticket, and rolled onto Hwy. 301.
I started off slowly, my legs a little grumpy from the long ride a couple of days before. Pretty quickly my legs loosened up. I was able to cross the highway safely to get onto the backroads. I took the south road around Thonotosassa Lake this time, which had nice tree cover, not too much traffic, and a nice view.
Mostly I followed the same paths that took me to the park. In downtown Tampa I got a little confused and had to improvise. A couple of drivers on the way back got frustrated with me riding on the road, which is where bikes are legally permitted to ride and statistically safer. One guy leaned out his window to cuss me out and tell me to get on the sidewalk. A woman honked at me through an entire red light. (She wanted me to move over so she could turn right. I said I would if she stopped honking. She didn’t, so…) Good times.
Since I didn’t have to fight a headwind the entire way, the ride felt much easier. My average mileage was 1.5 mph faster going back home than going to the park. Still not fast (a speedy 11 mph going home), but it certainly felt better. I rode the whole thing with just a couple of small breaks. Even the Gandy Bridge didn’t seem quite so tall, though I was still going up it quite slowly.
I arrived home at 2:00. I was tired and in sore need of a shower. But I didn’t feel exhausted like I did on Monday.
I did it. A long trip, mostly self-contained, to serve as proof of concept for the Canada trip in June.
The trip showed me some of the challenges I’ll be facing: hills & headwinds. It showed me some of the gear I might want to get: a front rack for my bike. But overall it showed me I can do it. I might be slow. I might be really pushing it up those hills. But I can do it.