I did get to take a few solo rides from our hotel on Sunday and Monday. First across Brandon and then looping down to Riverview and back following a local's MapMyRide route. Then, a ride up through Port Tampa and through Ybor City that I put together from memory. Both were good outings. On Thursday, I did a longer ride, up to Zephyrhills and then down Morris Bridge Road to Tampa, and back around to Brandon. 58 flat miles featuring a 26 mile pull dead into the wind. Mostly at my back on the return though. Plenty of birds to see on these outings. Storks, cranes, herons, egrets, ospreys, coots, ducks and vultures, all sizable and easily recognized not to mention all the smaller songbirds as well as more unusual sightings of shrike, kingfisher and woodpecker. This shot has an ibis, a roseate spoonbill and a wood stork for example. I paused climbing an overpass on Causeway Blvd to snap this picture.
I spent time with people really from Sharon's past this week, but who I now can call my friends too. That was really nice. We actually made preliminary plans to travel next summer with Ruth and Stan to Niagara and Toronto. It's not a "bike" trip, but I bet I can rent one up there..
Yesterday was the only day I rode with company this week. Collin (who grew up on Sharon's street years ago) and I have been Facebook pals but never met before. He rides all the time, and so we did about 30 miles of the Pinellas Trail together. We crossing a mangrove estuary here.
Someone fishing in a boat down below us caught me with a line cast. I felt it on my pants but broke the line easily. When I got back to the hotel, I saw about 10' of line wrapped around the left pedal and left side of the bottom bracket. Glad he didn't "hook" me!
Christmas was good. We went out Christmas Eve with Alisha, Alex and Kael and drove though a city light display in a park. One of those deals where they charge you by the carload. Then on Christmas day, we gathered at my in-law's and relaxed, opened packages and visited. Dinner was an early affair and very delicious. Everyone seemed pleased with Santa's work, which was also good. Sharon gave me a couple of merino jerseys and a Park MT-1 tool for the saddle bag. Wonder how she knew I'd like that stuff? :)
After yesterday's trail ride, Sharon and Kael (who were at Great-Great Aunt Betty's while Collin & I pedaled) picked me up and we stopped at Lake Seminole Park. It was overcast and cooling, but still not bad. Kael wanted to rent a pedal boat for "an adventure" but the rental booth was closed. It was also $30 to rent! He enjoyed the playground anyway and Sharon read/did Sudoku on a bench by the water. Here Kael shows a good upright riding position.
Today is our final day in FL. Alex and I are due to take kael to MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) and then Sharon & I are meeting other friends in Lakeland for dinner tonight. Tomorrow we head back to Prattville. I end the year with just shy of 3600 miles, about average, and with an avg pace of 13.9. I know, sounds slow. It's within 1 mph of my riding for several years so I'm not getting hung up on it. Just going to keep riding as far and at the speed that my body is comfortable going. I have enough bikes/tires/saddles/spare parts to get to the finish line I am certain. Enjoying the journey, keeping it new and fun and fresh in attitude is what my plan for 2013 and forward is. Passing this little guy at 14 mph was probably more enjoyable than it would have been at 20. I got a better look anyway.
Tentative plans for a New Year's Day ride are already afoot. I hope everyone enjoyed a Merry Christmas, and those who want to get back to riding (and Dove, I am especially thinking of you here) get to do so in 2013. Even if you have to start slow like me. There's room for some company here in the back! Happy New Year to all, and as Dickens has Tiny Tim say in "Scrooge," "God bless us, everyone!"