Day 3: 71 miles from Jensen Beach to Delray Beach

Bike disaster!

Yup, more beach-to-beach riding. And wow that Florida sun is strong! We keep lathering on the sun block (got to remember to put some on my nose tomorrow) and breathing a sigh of relief every time we get some extended shade.

But first, the day’s bike drama. This is my seventh Week-a-Year ride with the East Coast Greenway, and I’ve not had even one flat tire. Today, though, we were only 2, maybe 3 miles into the ride when I heard a loud boom. My bike struggled to move. Then it wouldn’t move at all. The tire was rubbing against the frame in spots.

Fortunately, this ride comes with a mechanic on speed dial. Alan the miracle worker showed up as soon as he finished fixing someone else’s bike. My problem was a broken spoke. On the rear wheel. And when a spoke breaks, the wheel no longer stays straight.

Off came the wheel. And the tire. And then the cassette (that’s the set of gears in the back).

Alan had to cut a spoke to fit, use his threader to add more threads to the spoke, insert it and then put the cassette back on, then the tire, then the wheel. It took an hour, but then I was back to riding.

Alan also warned me that this broken spoke could just be a fluke. But with more than 6,000 miles on this wheel, there’s also a chance that the spokes are getting tired. If another one goes … I may have to replace them all.

The sight of all this bike repair on the side of the road was all the excuse a pair of runners needed to stop. Turns out Eddie and Ray are retired professional ballroom dancers (and I do not mean the Sean Spicer level of dancing) who sold their business in Vero Beach and now live across the causeway in Port St. Lucie … on the greenway. They like it so much that when they moved, they stayed on the same street so they’d still be on the greenway. Yes, people like living next to trails!

Looking forward to your blog, Eddie. Will you be spelling out two or using the number 2 in your blog name?

The hour of repairs meant we were also an hour behind in our plan to make it to Palm Beach, where a friend’s mom had invited us to lunch. And we were now the last among all the riders, so the “sweep” had to stay with us. Well, for a few miles, until we came across Alan dealing with … yet another bike repair. This one was just a flat tire. I think there were a lot of those today.

Bye, sweep. We passed a fruit stand. Oh that looked tempting. Especially after a salt-laden gas station breakfast of pizza slices and empanadas (the sort of thing you tell yourself is OK when the hotel doesn’t include breakfast.) Four grapefruits for $1. Ten oranges for $1 — too much to carry. I told myself we’ll stop at the next one. Sadly, there was no next one.

Instead we came across some Canadian cyclists taking a break at the northern end of the Seabranch Preserve State Park Trail. (Finally, some trail!) We chatted with a couple of them and explained the East Coast Greenway before pedaling off.

Maybe 10 miles later, when we’re on Jupiter Island, they come roaring by us in a line. I decide “why not” and we jump in at the end of the line, letting them block some of the wind and lessening the work for us. We hang with them for a few miles before I pedal past a couple of them, say au revoir and drop back. They’re impressed; heck, I’m impressed with myself. This, I decided was my “beast” moment of 2019 (beast moment of 2018 is here). It’s also why, I decide, that I didn’t notice Tiger Woods’ house on Jupiter Island (tip-off apparently is the putting green in the front yard). At least that’s my story, and I am sticking to it.

By this point, we are catching up to other members of our group. Still, it’s all about getting to Palm Beach. No breaks. We’re late, but we finally make it.We have a lovely time with Barbara, and we head out suitably refueled — thank you! Without you, we couldn’t have powered along at 15 mph (no powerful tailwind, alas) and made it to Delray Beach in just an hour and 15 minutes. Those brownies you sent us off with will fuel us tomorrow morning as well.

And thanks to her advice, we go further east, straight to the ocean rather than back to West Palm Beach and the East Coast Greenway route. So we see jawdropping mansion after jawdropping mansion (one that is oh-so-discretely for sale has a $29.5 million asking price, with property taxes of $215,000 a year) before we swing past Mar-a-Lago that boasts one of the biggest American flags I’ve ever seen, before rejoining the East Coast Greenway route. That’s after the jawdropping yachts moored in the Intracoastal Waterway. And the pair of Lamborghinis parked oh-so-casually on the street at the edge of the shopping district, only $250,000 or so a pop with not even enough room for golf clubs (or so my car-loving bike buddy tells me). And the homeless in the park in West Palm Beach.

Finally, after 71 miles, we are in Delray Beach. And thinking of the pizza we’d already picked out at Scuola Vecchia, ranked (at least according to this) the 97th best pizza in America. And getting there just before happy hour ends because why not? My tip: Get a pizza, but also get those meatball appetizers.

I also came away with a pizza recommendation for Key West.

Remember, it’s all about the food.

Author: alliumstozinnias

A gardener (along with the Brit) who has discovered there is more than hybrid tomatoes. And a cyclist.

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