Attacked? Tick!

Posted by on 14, Apr 2018 in 2018 - Florida to Canada, Tilly the Tandem, USA

Attacked? Tick!

We’ve learnt the hard way that you can’t cycle day in day out without a rest, especially if your bike weighs a quarter of a tonne! You must have days off. Incidentally, learning the hard way involves getting slower and slower and eventually pedalling as hard as you can and falling off as you’re not actually moving!

So, for our days off we’d decided to coincide our rest time with a rainy day and visit the Floridian capital Talahassee. There’s a lovely rails to trail path that leads up from the Gulf coast to the state capital which is the oldest in Florida. A fellow cyclist gave us the history letting us know that the local residents objected so much to the installation of the trail (presumably much preferring the diesel fumes from a train) that they tied their dogs up to stakes along it to bark at the cyclists and encouraged their kids to throw stones at the cyclists! Fortunately they don’t do that anymore and we had a gentle cycle to the city to be met by another friendly cyclist who guided us into a real ale brewery showing Premier league football live! It would be rude not to at least try the ale, so we did, had a great chat to some expats who warned us of the mosquitoes and the heat and headed on to our AirBnB.

By now it was mid afternoon, the sun was shining, it was touching 35C on our cycle computer and I swear Enio Morricone was playing his accordion in the background as we rolled into town and were confronted by 10% hills at the top of which, according to our map, was where our AirBnB was located.

Alcohol, heat and hills and a quarter tonne bike are not friendly bedfellows. We sweated up the first bits and then got off and pushed, only to find the ONLY cyclist we had seen off the bowling green flat Rails to Trails was sailing up the hill on his bike. Fortunately he was in front of us or else pride would have insisted we continue pedalling and not be wimps and push!

After arriving at the AirBnB the attacks began! We always remove our shoes inside as they are classed as grade 3 biological hazards by NATO and so we walked into our room and started clearing up the broken glass on the floor using the age old method of sticking it into the soles of your feet. After retreating out of the room and removing the shards from our feet, which just laughed these puny attempts at damage off – remember these feet deal with cyclists stinky feet attacks daily – we cleaned the floor and settled in. It was then we noticed the bites on my legs.

We have a routine we use when camping to avoid becoming Mosquito fodder. Put the tent up, shower in anti mossie shower gel, and change into trousers and socks before it becomes dusk. It’s worked flawlessly here so far. What we hadn’t thought about was mornings and the taking the tent down. That morning there had been swarms of small flies buzzing around me when I was packing up the panniers. They weren’t mosquitos and didn’t seem to bite, but the sneaky buggers had turned my leg into a dot to dot book with over 40 bites on one leg between my ankle and my knee. I’d been bitten on my head, arms and even though my shirt onto my chest and never felt a thing, but it was about to get itchy mad time!

The itching was incessant and the only way to relive it was to put ice on my leg so when we visited bars, or restaurants picture the mad English guy happily rubbing ice all over his legs and head with huge grin of relief on his face!

Fortunately they only lasted 36 hours but were replaced by the next wave of US Special Forces (insect division) attacks – a tick. Quite where he arrived from we’ve no idea, but he was duly removed and I now wear a wet suit and suba gear 24/7!

Talahassee though is like a different world to the areas we had been cycling through. European style bars and restaurants, quiet cars, Democrat posters, museums and a wonderful Cascades cycle trail made it a real pleasure to spend 3 days ambling about in.

Again, we’ve learnt that days off shouldn’t be busy or else they don’t work. They should involve plenty of sitting down watching the world go by, preferably with a cold beverage or two in your hand. And this is what we did! We did manage to tour the state capitol – a sort of mini White House, and also an old cotton plantation mansion which were both really interesting.

Next stop Gulf coast…

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