Weekend Riding in Tampa: Waffles in Safety Harbor + Fog in San Antonio

Tomorrow is the weekend and I still haven’t finished up this post about my fun rides last weekend because my days are mornings are spent running or riding, my days are filled with work and meetings, and every evening I cook dinner for my family. As my mom would say, “You’re busier than a one-armed paper hanger.” I’ve never asked where that phrase came from, but I like when she uses it.

Right now, it’s 5:22 a.m. and I’m going to finish this thing.

Last week on Friday afternoon I drove to Tampa for a weekend of riding and eating and drinking wine with good friends. It was a great couple days with minimal sleep, lots of laughs, and tons of miles, which is everything I was hoping for.

But whenever I’m in town, I always feel…uneasy. Tampa is one of my favorite cities, but I have so many painful memories from the eight years I lived by the Bay. Even visiting certain coffee shops or neighborhoods digs up different trauma and shame that I’ve spent the better part of the last three years healing, burying, forgetting. Those years left a sour taste in my mouth and it feels like there are clouds hanging over my head when I visit, no matter how bright and sunny the days feel. I think that’s what will prevent me from moving back, though I always seem to take that idea more seriously during particularly cold Colorado winter days (and went so far as to contact realtors, if we’re being fully transparent here). Maybe it’s not never, but it’s not right now.

Anyway, bright and early on Saturday morning I met up with my friends—the ones who visited me in Colorado this summer (part one and part two)—for a ride to Safety Harbor and back. I’d ridden to Safety Harbor tons of times while living in Tampa because it’s an easy cruise over the Courtney Campbell Causeway pedestrian bridge, which is separated and out of the way of traffic.

The second we hopped on the bridge, the salty, fishy air blew sideways against my face. I missed that feeling. I missed that smell. I didn’t miss the crosswinds which pushed us back and forth. But I couldn’t tell if that longing was a real and true desire to make Tampa home again or simply the nostalgia of it all. The sun popped in and out of the clouds, and walkers, runners, cyclists, inline skaters, and fisherman were all out roaming different sections of the bridge. A few miles later we hung a right onto Bayshore Blvd. and took that right into downtown Safety Harbor where we stopped at Café Vino Tinto for waffles! I was definitely in need of coffee and some fuel, so we ordered some mixed berry and chocolate chip mint waffles for the table and sat outside enjoying the cooler air before heading back. They were delicious, and now I’m going to have to talk to some of my favorite cafes in Colorado about making to-go waffles like this!

While we sat and digested for a bit, I asked my friend how the ride back was going to feel with a belly full of waffles, whipped cream and coffee.

“Yeah…not great,” she snorted back.

And she was right.

On Sunday, we were up early again for another ride, but this time we drove out of bustling, noisy Tampa Bay and up to San Antonio, a little town about 40 minutes north of the city. We’re going to ride some hills, they said. To which I nearly laughed in their faces because…hills in Florida?

Surely, they were joking, I thought.

They weren’t and I was so happy to be proven wrong. San Antonio is nothing if not rolling hills, lush farmland filled with grazing animals, mossy trees hanging over the roads, and old time-y gas stations dotted here and there. I wish I had known about San Antonio because it felt like an escape from the very claustrophobic and often dangerous roads in Tampa.

And there were honest-to-goodness hills. Rolling hills! The whole way! Not the lung-burning mountains of Colorado-style hills, but the kind that send you screaming down at 35 miles per hour then right back up again like a rollercoaster.

I don’t think I touched my brakes all day. But I think the best part of it was the fog. A thick blanket of it rolled in overnight and just hung around at eye-level all day long, soaking our jerseys and socks. We had planned on doing about 50 miles, but we cut it short after everyone was sort of over the ride a couple hours in. Fine by me!

We finished with 45 miles and had climbed over 2,000 feet, which is much more than I’d done in the last several weeks. My legs were screaming.

And that’s that.

6:07 a.m.

Tell me what you crave after a long run or ride. Maybe that will inspire me to make something fun this weekend. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and weekend!

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