It was a beautiful day as is the norm around these parts of the glorious South. The sun had barely started to spread its warmth slowly on the streets of St. Augustine, my first destination in the Sunshine State. I spent the previous night at a small campground sleeping in my tent with no rain fly attached so that I could feel the first morning rays. The night was perfect for it too, warm and quiet, the air fresh, the stars bright. As soon as that blue horizon of the Atlantic appeared in the distance my heart became filled with joy, realizing that I have finally made it to the southern most State of phase one of The Pegasus Project. The contentment was hard to conceal. I ditched the helmet, for the Floridian law allows riders to do so, and I excitedly continued straight down along the coast - I simply could not resist the feeling of the warm ocean breeze in my hair - a true cliche, clearly, but one not to be missed nonetheless.
Riding along the Atlantic on a perfect Floridian morning was such a profound experience. Through the salty breeze I headed south toward the iconic Daytona Beach - Mecca and Medina for men like myself. My plan was to ride the stretch of beach where cars are permitted, and take a dip in the Atlantic for the first time since my last visit during spring break in 2006, where I caught a glimpse of Daytona Bike Week, an iconic event for motorcyclists of all types and one not to be missed!
I remember gawking at the incredible machines that littered the streets in hundreds of thousands, like an army of ants when their burrow is disturbed. It amazed me to see license plates from so far away and I remember clearly telling myself that one day I too will make the long trip down to Daytona on two wheels. That day has arrived and now I was about to enter the city when suddenly a thick fog covered everything in sight. It was still early in the morning and the warm days had just recently started to arrive regularly, so this fog was the result of those two factors which is apparently a new phenomenon even to the locals. I took advantage and had breakfast at the city park right before the entrance to the beach. I prepared oatmeal with powdered milk, a new practice I picked up from my CS host Chris from Atlanta that proves to be a great option for bikers living on the road.
As I was cleaning up the fog started to lift, as if it felt my eagerness to ride the sands and swim the waters of Daytona Beach. I deflated the tires a bit for better traction in the sand and packed the bike with everything except the jeans on me. Maneuvering on sand in such a top heavy machine is mostly luck with a little bit of skill and some muscle. The key to riding in deep sand is to lay the weight off of the front and when in doubt of one's ability to keep[ the bike upright, simply lean as far back as possible and gun it!
I managed to keep the bike up for 10 miles before fatigue and the hot sun made me realize it was time to take a dip. Nothing feels as good as the salty ocean on a hot summer day. Like a lunatic I dove into that water and jumped and kicked until my heart couldn’t beat any faster. The beach was mostly empty with very few older folks scattered, sunbathing, while some still smoked their morning cigarette and sipped their coffee having apparently gotten up early to witness the sun rise on their hotel room balconies. Needless to keep repeating it, a fully loaded bike like mine attracts attention. There was Doug, an "obvious" Harley guy who after seeing me struggle to find solid ground to park the bike on immediately left his new wife alone on the beach, climbed up to his condo and returned with a wide plastic piece that goes underneath my kickstand produced just for that reason. What a lovely way to be welcomed to the state, I though to my self.
Another fellow emptying his van with inflatables and other absolutely crucial beach gear couldn’t contain his excitement at the idea of touring in such a way, even sneaking a candid and now familiar “Man, I wish I could do the same” photo, careful that his severely pregnant wife doesn’t hear the snap of the shutter. We smiled in quiet covert understanding and I let him enjoy the moment, enjoy the adventures his mind was clearly producing at the sight of my handsome Pegasus. After all, that is what this whole endeavor was about - to provoke others to dream, to live, to ride!
And then I met Mike, another obvious Harley guy with a heavy mustache. After seeing his pink license plate frame for breast cancer awareness I approached and told Mike how I am in the process of talking with the American Cancer Society and organizing that our funds be directed towards their cancer research and how surely one day we will find a cure. ”It’s too late for me” he said fighting back the tears, “my girl is already gone; now I am just aother old drunk!”
"Fly on Pegasus", I thought to my self after the man's somber words; "fly on, for you have an important mission to accomplish".