I put this photo of a Piliated Woodpecker up today because for the first two hours of Bike Church yesterday this was the lone thing I remember seeing other than my handlebars. Fifty-five miles of riding that included hiking through snarled thickets of briar and muck, a 20 mph peloton for 40 minutes, and one endless hour of sugar sand riding exposed under an 80 degree January sun. All of that was just to get to the entry point for the real ride deep into the Wildlife Refuge to the fabled Pinhook River.
I missed the Pinhook, yet again, happy to escort my old friend Mystery back to town. I promised him a 3 hour excursion that ended behind a dewy pint of ale, and his accusing eyes, so far far from home, made me feel guilty for being the liar that I indeed was at that moment. Besides, I could have gone on, and ridden further into the salt-marsh and possibly even out of it, but at some point I would be left broken and alone and far from a pint myself.
We turned around and bid the other church-goers adieu, and the day immediately brightened into a benevolent place. Lunch by the St. Marks River, a dirt road track to a newly discovered swimming hole, followed by the final soul-crushing miles back to town.
Mystery gave it up after 44 miles, many of which were unfriendly in pace and surface. He sent me ahead with his blessing to get the van and return, but I found I could not do it. A mile on from our parting I called in a rescue, thanks Magnum! I went back to tell him the good news only to find him darting into the grass behind a church and curling up for a nap. While he mewled and moaned, I coaxed him back into the saddle and up the road to a rendezvous point.
Me? I felt fine thank you for asking, and I sampled some Munson single track on the way home just to put a fine point on things, then I ached and creaked across town, arriving at the van 5.5 hours later, with 55 mixed-surface miles that nobody can ever take away from me. That is 68% of the 80 mile total the rest of the group completed, and that is a D+ in any school district.