This is too long for a single post so I will break it into two posts. Our latest FFO (Forced Family Outing) was the Fakahatchee Grind in Southwest Florida. The ride had three options, full century, half, and a backcountry that was roughly 79 miles. Truth be told, the half and full were a little longer, the half coming in at 59 miles. We chose the half, which took us through the Big Cypress National Preserve and along the borders of the Panther Preserve and Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. The other rides went through all of the above.
As with most of the great FFOs, little planning and preparation went into this event. Don’t get me wrong, it takes some effort to maintain bikes and load them in the truck, but training.......we did none. While not the preferred method, it can be done. So I loaded up the truck the night before to make sure everything would work. Then I took the bikes back to the garage, we live in Miami after all. I went to bed way later than I wanted too. I still needed to fill the truck with fuel so I planned on getting up early to do that.
After four hours of slightly refreshing sleep, I jumped out of bed, got dressed and ran out to load bikes and get gas. As I loaded the first two bikes, “I thought, why am I doing it this way?” I have a redneckedly engineered system using 2x6s with bolt on fork mounts. One in the front of the bed and one in the rear that sit in slots for such a purpose. Then I ratchet strap those down to make sure the bikes don’t fly out when I hit a massive pothole. It works, it is far from pretty but it works. So back to my thought. I had the bikes alternating front-rear-front but I didn’t want to have to crawl into the bed of the truck so I pulled the board near the cab of the truck out, took the mount off and bolted it to the board near the tailgate. Then I remembered why I had them alternating. The flare on my off road drops is such there is not room for three bikes all pointing the same direction.
So there I am at 4:15 am determined that I am going to.....wait, wrong story. We took the suburban….never-mind.
So after four hours of slightly refreshing sleep, I went to get gas. I filled up then decided that I wanted to get some donuts for the kids. I drove down the street to Dunkin’ Donuts where I saw people inside making the donuts. They didn’t open until 5 a.m. and it was 4:40 am so I listened to a radio show called Coast to Coast. I you haven’t listened to this show you are missing out on people who wear tin-foil hats and call in about conspiracies, Alien Stuff. In my case, it was a lady who called in to discuss this recent trend with ancestry and getting your DNA tested. According to her, this is a government conspiracy to collect and consolidate everyone's DNA into a central database. Hhhmmnnn, I just thought it was a ripoff…… So then at 5:00 am, I went to the door which remained locked with the lights off inside. People were cooking and putting out donuts, I waited about 10 more minutes before I realized they didn’t open until 6 am on Saturdays.
Undetered, I went into a gas station to get donuts, apparently even though we are in America, donuts are not stocked in not so convenient stores owned by Columbians or Venezuelans, not even the little hostess white powdered donuts. So I went to the gas station across the street and there were three 15 passenger vans for a highway construction crew with about 20 people in the store in line to purchase one or two items each. So I drove to another corner store where they also didn’t have donuts. By this time it was 5:30ish am so I went home sans donut.
By the time we got the kids and bikes loaded it was almost 6:00 am and I had been up nearly two hours and still hadn’t got donuts. So we hit the road. About 1/8th of a mile later I realized that I hadn’t tighthened the hitch rack cinch bolt and it was wiggling around and I left the special wrench needed to do so. So we turned around and I ran into the house, grabbed the wrench, tightened it and we were on our way. By that time Dunkin Donuts was open and we grabbed a dozen for the road. So began the day.