Wednesday 25th January – My Idea of a Relaxed Day

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The sun woke me, but I didn’t want any of it, I still felt tired. After trying to go back to sleep, I gave it away and went for a walk to the nearby lake with the intention of waking myself up with a stroll and filling one of my water containers so I could have a shower (my water supples were running low). It was a pretty little lake with lily pads around the banks, I half expected to see my first alligator. No such drama.

I had a much needed hot shower and, after being a bit stressed out yesterday because I had no plan of what to do in Florida, by the time I was clean, I’d decided I would take it easy today. I watched a TV series episode over breakfast (a special treat!), then decided I’d play around with the surfboard and figure out how to mount it to the roof. While I was mid-process, Chris came over and filled me in on last night’s activities. The man who was being marched out was eventually arrested by the police and taken away. Chris gave me his advice on the board mounting, then went off to start his day of fishing.

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After trying a few different things, I decided I wanted the board between the solar panel and the bike so I moved the bike rack over a few inches, which meant the surfboard fit nicely between the two. I got a bit frustrated trying to figure out the best knots to use to tie the thing down, so I took a break. During the break I decided to cut my hair. I’d been toying with the idea of growing it since I was a travelling hippie, but it was pissing me off so it was time. Using the window of the van as a mirror I got to work, trying not to be too aggressive. I was happy it was warm enough to be shirtless outside, I am happy that I’m not in Colorado! By the time I’d finished my hair, I’d had time to think about knots so had what I thought was a pretty good system.

With everything tied down, it was 1:30pm and I decided I would go for a ride at the MTB park Larry had suggested. It would be a good test drive for the board too. The trailhead was half an hour away and I drove back the way I’d come the night before, seeing what I’d missed, which was really pretty bush and a beautiful lake, which seemed to be only accessible to the locals.

My first stop was the bike shop right across from the trailhead. The guy there told me it would take around three hours to ride every trail in the park. Sweet! After faffing around having lunch, getting the bike off and talking to Fred and Sarah, a travelling couple returning from their ride, it was 3pm by the time I got my wheels rolling. I was in shorts and a singlet, it was warm, hot even, and I was definitely sweating a few minutes in!

The Santos trails were awesome. No hills at all, you can make it as fast or slow as you like by setting your own pace. The main set of trails were entertaining enough, the double-blacks offering real entertainment and some challenge. They weren’t especially technical, but it was nice to be able to get up steep rocky climbs, having the energy because you hadn’t just climbed a huge hill already. I was having heaps of fun, doing some trails twice because they were so good. Everything was bidirectional and the trails were really well-signed which made navigation easy. Across the road in the Vortex area, this was a place for honing your skills. They had a jump park, a pump track and really sweet technical trails. After following a guy on one of them, we got talking and I found out he was a local, so he showed me around the rest of the area. I would have never found these off-map trails otherwise. Houli (I’m sure I’ve spelt that wrong) was great, he took me all over the place, including to the actual Vortex which was a spiral timber bridge and next to it was a massive timber rollercoaster which he suggested to lean back for since it was quite steep. No shit! My heart went nuts as I went down it, it was pretty much vertical! There’s no way I would have done it if I hadn’t seen him go down first!

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We did that twice, then carried on the trails which had huge timber berms that you can easily ride really high. This was absolutely heavenly! After getting a bit lost around some closed trails, we were back at the pump track and sat chatting for a while. The poor guy is at university to become a vet, which is an eight year endeavour. He’s 26 and still has three years to go! I can’t imagine a life like that. Turns out we’d both been all over the country riding so we had a lot of stories to share. As the sun was setting, we parted ways, me wishing him luck with his studies, him wishing me well on my travels. He’d made my day!

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I rode as fast as I could back to the car, all on single track. Once I’d hit “Anthill” and “Dr. Ruth”, I’d ridden every single trail in the park, which I was chuffed about. If this place was in your backyard, your skills would be honed to a sharp point. Near the end, I was not happy that my derailleur started jumping around everywhere, not selecting gears properly. After inspection, I just had a case of excessive Spanish moss, which took me a few minutes to clear away. I went back to the bike shop to thank the guy that had given me advice and he was glad I’d enjoyed it.

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Not wanting a repeat of last night, I didn’t muck around getting the bike and the surfboard sorted on the roof and driving off back to camp. I made it back just before dark and the board survived the trip both ways so I was happy about that. I had another shower (two in one day!), then made dinner and went over to Chris’ camp where he had a small fire going in a mini-Weber. After talking about our days’ adventures, we picked up where we left off, talking about motorsport, cars and travel. I retired back to the van pretty early, wanting some quiet time which was bliss. Thankfully tonight there was no drama with the rest of the camp, all was silent apart from the crickets and the leaves in the wind.

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