Just a wonderful E-Z Peazy day. Covered 39.1 miles. Stopped at couple of roadside fruit stands and grabbed 4 small peaches and practically slurped ’em down. Stopped at a Publix Supermarket and sat on the ground next to my bike gulping on some water to cool down when a heavy set black woman approached me. She had a cane with her and seemed to be struggling with her cart. “Young man,” she said as if I were her son, “Come help me with these bags.” I smiled on the outside but was laughing on the inside at her audacity and comfortableness with me. “Yes Mame” I replied as sprang up off the ground and took the two HEAVY bags from her hands. Looking at the eggs still sitting in the cart I said, “You look like the gentle grandmother type, I’ll let you take care of the fragile stuff.”
I walked with her to her car making some small talk as I kept looking back over my shoulder to keep an eye on my bike. “You want these in the trunk?” I asked. “Yes, let me open it first.” she said while digging for keys. She open the door and leaned inside and I waited for the trunk lid to pop up. Suddenly the door for the gas cap popped open. We looked at each other and laughed.
When we were done she asked how much she owed me. “$100.” I shot back quickly. “Or if you want to help sponsor my bike trip across America, I accept donations.” Her eyes went wide and she turned around to look at my bike and said “ON THAT THING?! I laughed and told her “Come late February I’m going across the country and maybe back again if I feel up to it.” She peeled a few bills out of her wallet and handed them to me and said, “You have a safe trip, hear?” I thanked her and asked if there was anything else I could do for her. “No, I think I got it from here. Thank you young man.”
As I was leaving Lakeland I thought about the flat I had the day before and decide I better pick a up few more inner tubes and an air pump. I found a bike shop and got the things I needed. The clerk sold me a $50 air pump for $40 just because he thought that what I was doing was “Neat.”
A few hours later I was coasting swiftly on the down side of a bridge reaping the fruits of my previous hard labor on the up side of the bridge. There was dip at the bottom end of the bridge and when I hit it the lower corner of my saddle bag went into the spokes of my rear wheel. It made that terrific sound that I had always tried to create as kid by attaching baseball cards onto my bike with clothes-pins and angling them into the spokes to make believe I had a motorcycle. I finally achieved my goal after all these years!
I clamped down hard on the rear brake and assisted with the front. I was stopped in about two seconds. Luckily and surprisingly there was no damage to the spokes and only a minor deformation of the thick plastic guard on the bag. I wiped the sweat from my forehead and cautiously went on my way.
As I got to Plant City I happened onto a flea market. The very first stand I saw was Tony’s Bike Shop! WOW! What luck! Maybe Tony can help me adjust my bags better to keep them out of my spokes. I whipped into the flea market and up to Tony’s.
Tony was behind the counter working on a bike as I walked in. It’s a nice little shop just packed with all kinds of bike goodies that were priced much lower than the bike shop I had just left in Lakeland. (The story of my life)
We chatted for a bit and I told him about my problem with the bag and the spokes. We tossed around a few ideas and Tony loaned me any tools I needed to work on it.
Tony is not only the owner of the bike shop but he also started the whole flea market. He told me a story about his grandfather being a bike mechanic and shop owner. He remembers his grandfather helping the long distance riders with their bikes and how generous he was to them. Seems like a little of his grandfather lives in Tony also. Together we were able solve my saddlebag problem and I was back on the road again. Thanks Tony.
Next, I’m headed to Tampa to see my computer guru and friend, Al. This is the man that built my PC and has always maintained it like it was his own. My PC would practically maintain itself with little effort on my part because of Al.
Al set up the ironing board and threw a few blankets on it and invited me to stay the night. He made me take a shower and later fed me a hamburger that he cooked along with corn on the cob. He introduced me to V8 Vegetable & Fruit Juice, which I will start drinking once a day and gave my laptop a physical and a clean bill of health too. I woke up early and was off again.