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Do not tresspass! and other cycling adventures…

March 19, 2011

I rented a beach bike on Menendez Avenida. It’s the avenue that’s right in front of the Fort that has been defending the city of St-Augustine for centuries. The Fort is officially a Castle: it’s the Castillo the San Marcos. It was originally built by people who liked to give Spanish names to buildings but weren’t very good at keeping them apparently.

The rental place has all sorts of fancy scooters and three wheel cars that remind me of the fat people transporters that we see in some American Wal-Marts. Coincidently, my bike was one of the beach bike that we can purchase for 60$ at Wal-Mart.

St-Augustine was just too pretty for me. I needed to see the surrounding area and visit a large outdoors supply store rumoured to be on the corner of route 16 and highway 95, some 5 miles from downtown. Every local talks about the ghettos and the poverty around the town but I had not seen anything that could compare to let’s say Newburg New York. Interestingly, the black ghetto was the scene of Martin Luther King’s first march. This show you just how effective that turned out to be.

I rode my bike on Menendez until I reached route 16. The stores got a little crappier but then anything would be in comparison to the stores of historical downtown St-Augustine. Route 16 turned out to be a road with fewer businesses and eventually the sidewalks disappeared.

The first houses I saw on the sides of route 16 which may as well have been named highway 16 given that the speed limit was raised to 50 miles per hour and there were no sidewalks or anything, were not Castillos. The houses themselves reminded me of rundown trailers with poor roofing. I was in Jerry Springer territory for sure. The yards made me wonder if these people were somehow involved in the scrap metal recycling business but then I saw that some of the scattered garbage resembled patio furniture. That row of houses had such a bad vibe that I did not want to gaze too long as I passed the broken chairs, eviscerated lawn mowers and other nondescript machinery. Perhaps it was the rusted fences, the chains and the numerous “do not trespass” signs that were installed everywhere. The language used to tell people to stay away let me conclude that trespassers were likely to get shot.

As I prayed that the yard dogs had already been juiced on the highway and pedalled faster and faster to get away from the houses, it occurred to me that these people were insane. Why would they not want us to trespass? What could anyone do to these houses or yards that would not be an improvement? Perhaps they worried that people would get hurt on some rusting junk and get tetanus?

I finally got to the mall area of highway 95. All the common chain businesses were there. I looked like anywhere America. I found my outdoors store. It was more like a warehouse than a store. The products were very similar to what I saw at the Bass Pro Shop in Fort Lauderdale. The clothing was just as crappy. I did not find the merino wool shirts I was looking for but they had the neoprene gloves and special repellent for the no see ums.

The store was five miles from downtown and as soon as l left the parking lot the left pedal fell to the ground. I somehow screwed the pedal back on on the bike with my fingers but it would come off every few minutes. I came back like a wounded animal. I found a garage not too far down the road that had the tool required to reset the pedal. Graciously, the people at the rental place did not charge me for the day’s rental.

  1. Max Doner permalink

    So when you leave your stuff to take the bike ride, who do you leave it with, or where do you leave it, so it does not get stolen?

    • I usually have to stay close to my stuff. That’s easy when you are staying on an island the size of a water closet. This time I decided to remain in St-Augustin for a little while, a week if I can, so I put my gear at someone’s house. I am now in a hostel downtown St-Augustine enjoying the historic city. I’ll write quite a bit about it.

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