Riding is nice and forested today. The hills provide a welcome change, even though my hill-climbin’ muscles are a bit shocked. In Inverness I eat breakfast at a funny little place. The waitress has super brown, corroded teeth and a much thicker southern accent than I’ve been hearing. I talk to everyone in the place a little, clinching the fact that I’ve crossed into a different cultural area of Florida.
As I head back for the road, I see a bike go by on a trail. There’s a map posted – this paved bike path will take me 20 miles up 41! I enjoy the carefree riding. A couple of times I see abandoned-looking weed-strewn networks of streets through the trees. The trail ends in such a place. I pick a street that goes toward 41. All the streets are signed and named, but there are no houses! An abandoned development project perhaps. Then it just ends. I have to pick my way to 41 on a sandy trail.
The return of small towns is also nice. I ride through Citrus Springs, Danellon, Romeo, Morristown, Hernando, and Archer, where I rejoin my original planned bike route. The north wind has been present much of the day, making me work for my miles. I’m getting tired.
My maps take me to a smaller road. Way up ahead I see some black specks slowly crossing the road. I think of a funeral procession. That’s what it is – when I pull up the hearse is just crossing the road. The people are all black, and their stares make me unsure of myself. I nod politely, unable to speak.
When I cross I-75 before Alachua, I’m beat. There’s a tree farm ahead. I pull into it, eat, and set up the tent. I can hear people nearby, but I don’t think they’ll see me. A black couple walks by, arguing loudly. Then it gets quiet and I fall fast asleep.