The temperature was somewhere in the mid 30’s to start the day. Cars parked on the street had ice covering all the windows. When I started off I was rather chilly. My fingers were tingling, my toes were cold (even with the plastic bags on my feet) and I had to sniffle or wipe my nose every thirty seconds else bear the consequences. It would be a day that would see me wearing my jacket for its entirety. By the time the temperature crept in to the mid 40’s though I was warm enough. Not warm, but warm enough.
I had grown comfortable and out of shape sitting around at my dads, so the mornings ride was an effort. I was also riding near the coast, so there was quite a bit of swirling wind. At times it felt as if I were riding through inches of mud; sometimes eight, sometimes two. My legs seemed to move in slow motion.
As I rode inland I was riding through a green tunnel. A swath was cut in the forest for the road to run through, but to either side were 40-foot pine trees growing straight up towards the sky. With the exception of the periodic dirt side road, the trees were undisturbed.
I caught the height of pollen season in North Carolina. A grainy green blanket covered everything that stood still for more than a few minutes: the road, cars, or my bike. At one point while riding my tires were completely green as they collected pollen off the road. When I stopped at to buy a drink I wanted to write a message with my finger on the hood of a car that was freshly coated in pollen. I figured that I acted enough like a child in the last few days coloring Easter eggs and having to borrow a collared shirt from my dad for Easter dinner.
The afternoon took me through the town of Wilmington, NC. It was just another case of having to ride through a city in heavy traffic. I wasn’t exactly sure which route I needed to take to get in to town, but I was almost certain that it wasn’t the one that made me cross two lanes of traffic where the Interstate began. It was better than the Interstate itself, so I opted for it. Getting across those two lanes was like playing a game of chicken. For some reason, drivers aren’t really patient when a bike tries to cross two lanes of traffic. I totally lucked out getting into town proper as one lane of the road was closed crossing over the open grate bridge and for the last half mile into Wilmington.
I had all the scenery I was going to get for the day in the morning. The afternoon saw me riding along the highway again. I was just happy that there was a shoulder on the highway, at least between towns anyway. In towns there just seems to be no place for a bicycle to ride other than in a lane of traffic.
By late afternoon the day was dragging on. It may not have been the best idea opting for a day of over 110 miles after having a five-day rest. My left knee was bothering me to some degree, but not to the point of concern. I was eager to get to a hotel and relax with the first day back on the bike behind me.
I ended my day in Jacksonville, North Carolina. I infinitely prefer staying in Jacksonville, NC than Jacksonville, FL. As the town is on the outskirts of a military base, there are men with closely cropped hair in the streets instead of women practicing the oldest profession. I had a large selection of hotels, but better yet, I came across a bike shop. I found out one of the reasons why I was struggling a bit during the day. My tires were inflated to 80 PSI as opposed to the 120 that they should have been. If you let a third of the air out of a basketball, it wouldn’t work very well. Neither did my tires. Again, there is no one to blame but myself.