I left Gainesville on Sunday morning around ten-ish. The bike was loaded with my new packing method (more on that in the video to come), and felt very stable.
This was my first trip with my new transmission on the bike; the old one had finally worn to the point where it was skipping under load occasionally. Not bad for a stock transmission at ~4,000 miles, and I was shocked when the bike repair guys informed me that most folks replaced their transmissions somewhere in the 1,500 to 2,500 mile range due to wear. I almost wanted to have a funeral for the parts...
Anyway, the new chain, rear gear set, and crank held up beautifully. I got a better granny gear on this one, and my only complaint so far is that second gear is about where third used to be. I think I'm going to take the old girl in and get a smaller front gear to reduce that down to her old ratio, while making the granny gear an even lower ratio. It'll be good for my knees on some of those uphills.
So, I left Gainesville around ten-ish. I headed northbound along US-441, making decent time until I hit Alachua. There, I stopped to refill the Camelbak and eat a Snickers bar at a gas station. Continuing on, I rolled into High Springs (roughly halfway between Gainesville and my destination) around eleven-thirty.
My intention had been to stop at the local Caribbean place on the corner of US-27 there. Unfortunately, it seems that it has closed since the last time I rode on up to Ichetucknee. So, Hardees down the street got my business. Meh. Calories is calories.
Around twelve-fifteen, I hit the road again, pedaling northbound into the heat of the day. It was already up over ninety degrees, with more to come--mostly in the heat index from the humidity. I passed through the edge of a storm about halfway between High Springs and Ft. White: it didn't do anything for the heat, but it raised the humidity well over seventy percent.
By the time I hit Ft. White, I was sodden with sweat. That's okay, though. The advantage of biking in the summer is that you constantly have a breeze, even if it's not a cool one.
The route went easily enough, and I rolled into camp around two PM. Knowing that I was likely to be the only one there, I made sure of that before setting camp up at Site L (in the video, I say this is Site N; I was wrong, mostly because I had been looking at all of the primitive sites up that way before settling on one). I texted a couple of friends from Gainesville to let them know where I was, and set camp.
By three PM, I was swimming in the springs. Despite the hordes of screaming children (well, maybe not hordes; what's the term for "more than a passel but less than an horde"? Somewhere in there), it was relaxing. A cool 70 F stream comes surging up from under the limestone there, and it was welcome--let me tell you!
By five-ish, I headed back to camp to make dinner and settle in for the evening. This was to be my first night sleeping in the new DIY hammock. It's a cross between a Speer (I borrowed his Velcro closure system for the netting) and a Warbonnet (I borrowed his whipping method). Based upon sclittlefield's and MAD777's advice and designs shared here on the forum, I decided to go with a full-width (60" before hemming), 11'-long hammock. I didn't worry about the exact ratio for my SRL; instead, I set it up how I wanted it and tied the SRL to the whipping knobs at that length.
It was the most comfortable I've been in an hammock yet. Aside from the bug net being floppy (going to have to add a tie out on my face's side), it worked wonderfully. I find that I actually like slightly floppy hammock sides; I was going back and forth on whether or not to do a Knotty stretch-side mod, and I think I'm going to skip it for now.
I did find that the mosquitoes were able to bite through the bottom fabric of the hammock. I used 1.3 oz/sq yd ripstop for the hammock body, and apparently the flying hypodermic needles can bite through that. Even with Permethrin on the fabric, I woke in the morning with a couple of bites--not many, but a couple.
Then again, the mosquitoes down at the campsite were voracious. Despite Permethrin on my clothing and Picaridin on my skin, I still occasionally had one buzz my head when I was sitting outside the hammock. I'd imagine that anywhere where they weren't quite so...impressive...the Permethrin would do the job just fine. Instead, I wore a shirt to bed the second night. No bites when I woke, so I'm guessing it worked. No ticks this time, though! Which is always nice; tick saliva winds up giving me nasty seeping sores for a month or so after they bite me, even when I get all of the mandibles out.
The second morning came and went; I'd waited to see if my friends from Gainesville were going to show. As it turns out, they weren't. So, I headed on down to the tube rental place and then to the southern entrance of the park. I spent a lazy afternoon tubing down river there and then headed back to camp. A couple of $0.25 video games later (they have a game room there, and it's been forever since I've actually played an arcade game, let alone one of the old Midway classics), I turned in for the night.
Around three AM or so, a raccoon decided that my gear on my "front porch" was interesting enough to investigate. Fortunately, I've got a pretty good yell on me when I decide to; not so good for the other campers in the campground, but that raccoon didn't come back. I fell back asleep quickly...only to be woken at about three-forty-five or so by a doe munching on the plants next to my hammock. This one I stayed awake for a minute or two watching. When I shifted position to get a better look, she took off like a shot out into the woods. I figured that'd be it for the night's entertainment...not so much. At about five-ish, an armadillo woke me by rooting near the hammock. Really? Am I really that interesting to the night life around here? Did I hang up a sign that said, "Party at the Hammock!" or something? Meh, it was funny being in an established campground and seeing that much wildlife.
I convinced the armadillo to move along and then went back to sleep. Waking around eight-ish, I showered and packed camp up slowly. By nine-thirty, I was back on the road and headed south towards Gainesville. I made good time on the way down; I had a tailwind the whole way. Only making one stop in Alachua for lunch, I just beat the rain coming into my house. The humidity was brutal on this one, though; none of my sweat evaporated on the road this time.
Arriving safe and sound, I unpacked the bike and prepped for work. The Hotter'N'Heck Hang, even though it was an hang of one, was exactly what I needed. Relaxing, revitalizing, and revealing, it soothed my nervous energy and made me much calmer and happier at work last night than I've been for a few weeks.
The new DIY hammock:
With the bike:
Video will follow today or tonight.