I had to work on Sunday and chose to do my third challenge on Monday. It was windy but I wasn't going to let that stop me. The wind was coming from the NE so I chose a route that would take me in that direction on the way out. There isn't much in that direction until one gets closer to Zephyrhills. That meant a longer ride. I wasn't sure I was up for that but decided to see how far I could get. I could always turn around and go to the Panera on the way home.
Google maps only showed a couple of coffee shops in Zephyrhills. One is Oanera and the other is a Cuban café. I opted for the known and headed for Panera.
The wind didn't seem to bother me much but I was glad it would be behind me on the way home.
I have only ridden along eastbound SR54 once before and couldn't remember the shoulder condition. It was wide and generally clear. It wasn't a marked bike lane but felt comfortable enough. Once I got east of Eiland/Morris Bridge, the bike lane was marked but also unusable due to construction. I did ride on grooved pavement once to allow an oil truck to pass. I was not comfortable riding in the lane.
I turned north at Dean Dairy. DD has no bike lane, not even a shoulder. It is a narrow two lane road with posted speeds at 30mph. I was a little more comfortable riding along this road. I turned at Eiland Blvd which has a rough paved shoulder. It was nice until I got closer to Gall Blvd and the shoulders filled with sand and debris. I rode the line.
Gall Blvd has no bike lane but the shoulder is OK. I finally got to my first real hill. It felt Like a mountain to me with the wind and my lack of climbing legs.
I got to Panera. There is no bike rack but the tables are steel with spots to secure my bike. I got a smoothie and an Asiago bagel. I don't usually eat so much on my rides. I was a little worried it would be too much and I would feel bad.
My return trip started downhill. I was surprised how twitchy my bike felt. Was it always like this? The longer I rode, the more I realized my back tire was failing. I pumped up the tires before I left the house but it felt low. I could feel every bump and stone. I turned onto Eiland and rode it to SR54. Most of the shoulder was wide enough. A part of the shoulder was very smooth but this section also has a few spots of broken glass.
When I got back to MPB, I filled up my tire. It was really low. I couldn't get it to get that hard but I only had about 6 miles left. The tailwind helped me feel like I wasn't pedaling harder because of the low tire.
I got back to SR56 and my usual route. I flew along the MUP. I turned left onto Mansfield Blvd and almost stopped dead. The road turns east and the wind had gotten stronger. It was a struggle to stay upright. After 30 miles, I feeling tired and happy to be close to home.
I got home and put my bike in the car to take to the bike shop. It is time for a new tire and I want something wider than 23mm.