For me, the ride is restoration—a way to refresh the soul. I take a few solo trips each year just to recharge and it was about time. My destination was somewhere sunny, windy, and warm—Pensacola, FL.
I slipped out of bed, trying my best to match the quiet in the house. The bike was prepped and packed, so my to-do list was short. Eat breakfast, put lunch in my tank bag, and find anyone willing to wake before dawn. Unsurprisingly, my daughters slept soundly and I kissed my wife goodbye.
I started the bike, donned my gear, and was off.
There are few things more sublime than riding with the rising sun, and this morning was no different. To my left, the sky began the imperceptible shift from black to gray to pale pink and blue. I could feel the cold through my jacket but knew the sun would show eventually, burning off the chill and forcing me to lose layers along the way.
My plan was to use the interstate for fast travel. From Tennessee, I could cover the miles to Birmingham, AL, without stopping, but I really wanted to make Montgomery. I fell far short, my fuel light urging me to stop 30 miles beyond Birmingham. I reluctantly stopped and filled the tank.
But here I am complaining about first-world problems. I was riding my bike to the beach. No more whining.
Meal Times in Parks
I stopped as planned in Montgomery, AL. I wanted to try Prevail Union Coffee, which proved a great choice, except I had to park out of sight. No bueno. I left the sleek, modern lines of the shop, nestled my hipster coffee in my cargo net, and gently rode a few blocks to a more rustic setting—the Wright Brothers Park. Being from North Carolina, I grew up fully aware of the Wright Brothers and was curious about this park. Plenty of parking and a full-size replica of the Kitty Hawk Flyer made this a great pit stop. I stretched, enjoyed my coffee with lunch, and then continued south.