Today did not go well. Things started normally enough when I got up around 8:15, had breakfast with Sharon and Bob, packed up, and hit the road around 9:30. I did a test ride before leaving and my knee was feeling normal enough. I had two potential stopping points in Mary Esther FL, and in Pensacola FL depending on how far I made it with the outrageous headwind.
But over the first few km of my ride, my knee began to hurt again. The same pain as yesterday. When I wanted to get off the bike for my first rest, I looked at the clock and had been riding for a mere 28 minutes. That was not a good sign. I decided to press on, and my knee continued to nag at me to stop. Rather than thinking continually about it, I decided I would ride for at least an hour without stopping. No more decisions to be made until then. Just keep pushing the pedals.
As the ride went on I looked at the clock more and more... seven minutes until I can stop... one minute... fifteen seconds... and I did. I stopped right at the one hour mark. My knee hurt, the wind sucked, the forecast wasn't promising, and both potential stops seemed impossibly far away. I called Julie, thought, called mom, thought more, texted my friend Beth for medical advice, and eventually just got back on hoping for a miracle. I made it nine minutes.
At that second stop I made a hard decision to head back to Panama City Beach, not having a real plan in mind. I kind of wanted to be done entirely. I kind of wanted to shell out for a doctor, but knew a doctor is not the same as a miracle worker. So I just rode. As I cruised back in direction I came, it barely had to pedal. I cruised easily with a strong tail wind and felt relaxed. I remembered that not every single day of riding has to feel like a grind; it's just that I had several unlucky days in a row. Katie summarized it bets, "This is a vision quest, not a race."
I felt defeated as I approached the day's starting line. But I also pondered those words. The idea had been expressed by most of my support group. And it began to sink in. I just needed to process.
My plan is starting to come together, but I'm not ready to disclose all of it, nor does it all even exist yet. Here are some things that have been on my mind for those of you who have followed and supported me.
- I couldn't have made it this far without all of your support, and I will do my best not to let you down.
- The trip is not over, and I will return to ride more, but I need to heal a little.
- I may move the finish line. This breaks my heart, and I haven't fully processed the possibility yet. But I want to be in good faith. If I do move the finish line it isn't because I "had to" it's because I've "decided to".
- I need to do some better planning and some slight gear upgrading before I get back on the road.
- This trip has certainly in "challeng[ed] me and requir[ed] me to be tough when it would be easy to quit". More than I even expected.
- I've traveled 10.9% of my originally planned distance.
- It's a vision quest, and the vision is forming. It's not fully formed, and probably not close, but it is forming.
Daily distance: 40.79 km
Average speed: 18.4 km/h (because the second half was a free ride)
Trip odometer: 1258 km