The night I’d arrived in Pompano, I’d met Noelle’s co-worker Gary. He put me in touch with a friend of his called Thomas who had also cycle toured and lived in Palm Beach. We’d been e-mailing and arranged to meet up just down the road from Mike’s place at 8am. It meant I had to get up early and Mike was a great help. While I was packing my bike, and cursing that I didn’t have a Click-Stand, he was arranging breakfast.
Since finding my Click-Stand wasn’t in my bags back in Homestead, I’ve been having to make do and lean my bike against things. It’s what I did before Utah, but having grown accustomed to having a Click-Stand it’s definitely something I miss. Having it makes packing simple. Without it, there’s a bit of a balancing act and when it goes wrong that leads to your bike, and often whatever you were leaning it against, falling to the floor with a loud bang. Thankfully, I’ve been in touch with the owner, a man called Tom, and when I get up to Fanning Springs I should find a new one there waiting for me. Wonderful customer service.
I thanked Mike and rode off to meet Thomas. We headed up US-1 and onto A1A where we could ride two abreast and talk. Back in 2009 he had done the popular Alaska to Argentina ride with a twist on the Panamerican Peaks Project. Not only had he ridden the length of the Americas, but had also attempted to summit the highpoint in each country. He explained about all the planning that it had involved, trying to ensure he was at each mountain during the climbing season and I was amazed. He’d done the regular ride of Alaska to Panama, but then flown down to Patagonia and headed north. That helped him get to the mountains on time, and as he got to Panama in December meant he was down in Patagonia during the summer as you have to be.
We rode together for about 30 miles (50 km) and it was one of my favourite rides for a good while as we made our way along the Atlantic past the houses of celebrities such as Celine Dion. As I mentioned yesterday, riding with a local gets you that insight and where we went was Thomas’ regular training ride so he knew it like the back of his hand. He also said that for him it was a different experience than his usual ride and enjoyed seeing it through the eyes of a cycle tourist.
During the ride I heard so many interesting stories and enjoyed his look on things. Although he has been in the US for a good while, he is not American, he’s Austrian. It means he has a perspective that you can only get on a country after you have spent a considerable time elsewhere. It’s why living in Asia for 6 years and being on this trip for 9 months has allowed me to learn more about the good and bad points of the UK, one such view is that of travel in Mexico.
People are often amazed and full of positivity to hear about my trip around the US, but as soon as I say I’m heading south, at least 80% of the people I speak to strongly warn me against the idea of heading that way. To me, it’s an amplification of things such as the idea that I’ve met from people in most states that the drivers in the state over are the worst drivers in the union. People latch onto the negativity in some stories that the media talks about and so get an image of places that is blown out of proportion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Mexico is some kind of mecca where I’ll be met with smiles and joy at all times. I know of the drug war, and am aware that something bad may happen there, but then it might in every country I go through. The cycle tourists I’ve met who have been through Mexico are often full of happy anecdotes and don’t warn me against going there, and so I’ll go. Thomas was another example of a rider who has been through Central America on his bike and recommends it.
After 50km, we stopped for an early lunch at a restaurant where we ate a well-earned lunch of a sandwich and salad bar while looking out over the intracoastal. As my lunches usually involve sitting alone by the side of a road, in a park or outside a supermarket, it was a treat on multiple levels and I was amazed again at the way the universe works. No matter how much time I have to think on a bike, it’s not enough to try to work out how small things lead to huge changes. If I’d not procrastinated about heading out from Naples or things had been any different on the morning I’d rode to Everglades City, I’d have not met Noelle and Tom, had the experiences there, hung out in Pompano or found myself enjoying the salad bar hearing about showering using snow and drying off in a tent that was acting like a sauna. It’s why I try not to control things and just let them flow.
After parting ways with Thomas, the highlight of the ride was a 30 minute nap on a bench as the 3 plates from the salad bar while delicious weren’t really co-operating with my need to cycle for another 4 hours. As I neared my destination the clouds that had been threatening for the past couple of hours emptied themselves and I got drenched. With the warmth and being near the end of my ride with a bed and shower close, it was actually really rather pleasant.
I arrived at Trevor’s place and after the rain stopped was wowed by not only the beauty of the sky, but the wonderful positioning of his house. He works for Florida State Parks and so lives in the park with private beach access behind his house and the intracoastal from his front door. Sat on his porch, you can hear the ocean lapping up, and looking out of his front door if you’re lucky you can see dolphins jumping. It’s an amazing place to live.
Trevor is a prolific host having hosted around 300 people in the last 3 years on both Warmshowers and Couchsurfing. He doesn’t have a TV and has travelled both through his visitors, and also for pleasure. You can see his love of travel by the huge map of the world that is on his wall with dots and writing on it showing some of the people he has hosted and the place he has been to. It’s a great conversation starter! He has done some shorter tours, but has plans for more travels when he retires in a few years and having met people from all over the world has a great knowledge of places to go and what he’s interested in. Some people don’t really understand Couchsurfing or Warmshowers, but seeing the happiness he has when he talks about people he has hosted makes it obvious why he does it.
Riding along past swanky houses