This past Sunday, the mister and I completed a 47-mile gravel grind in the Florida Everglades. The ride, billed Fakawi, is a highly anticipated annual gathering of riders of all ages and skill levels. Riders choose between 12, 30 and 50 (47 in this year’s case) mile routes. Although the ride is not billed as a race, the high-level, competitive riders treat it as such. This was our first year to participate in this wild, raucous event. Why wild and raucous? Well, that’s what you have when well over a thousand riders hit South Florida’s streets, trails, levees, highways and byways. Florida riders know how to have fun.
To make this ride as efficient (easy) as possible for us, we decided to stay overnight Saturday at a hotel two miles from the course. We opted to do this because of the distance from our home to the park where Fakawi is held. Otherwise, we would’ve had to get up and be on the road by 5AM to arrive in time, park, check in and get suited up. This was not something we were prepared to do. This was only the second time we’ve ever been away overnight from J-man. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to most folks, but when you’re paying an event fee, a baby sitter (27 hours) and the cost of a hotel room, an event like this ends up costing hundreds of dollars. I wasn’t itching to do the ride, but I’m glad we did. It’s an experience we’ll not soon forget.
I awoke the morning of the ride with the start of what eventually became a full-blown head cold. I had a sore throat, a stuffy nose and sinus headache. I chalked it up to allergies, which I’m prone to, and suited up for the ride. Aside from being weigh laid at a single-file only water crossing for nearly an hour and a half at mile 11, the ride began without a hitch. The first 28 miles or so (above-mentioned water crossing aside) were relatively effortless. We breezed along with fellow riders. After that we hit a stretch of levee that literally took the wind out of my sails. I don’t know what the actual wind speed was, but we had a headwind that was otherworldly. The wind, coupled with hot mid-day Florida temperatures, in excess of 100 degrees, zapped my energy and strength. I felt like Superman saddled with a block of Kryptonite. I became so fatigued that it was hard to focus on anything other than the rocks I was avoiding. Every other function of performance was on autopilot.
I was giddy with excitement as we finally approached the end of the levee. I filled my water bottle with ice and cold Gatorade at the final SAG stop and we hopped back on our bikes to complete the final 17 miles or so of the ride. I was so happy when we finally pedaled into the park and back to our car. I had so much fun riding and met some super nice people but was ready to be out of my sweat-saturated kit and in the car with the AC humming. It wasn’t until Monday morning when I awoke with a whopper of a head cold that I realized why I struggled so badly on that stretch of levee. It’s taken me a few days, but I’m finally starting to get over the cold. Thank goodness. I’m hitting the trails tomorrow morning.