The story of a hot and humid bicycle journey to “The Fest” in Gainesville, Florida.
Sexy Crimes- aka Joel and Cassidy in St. Augustine…Have a time.
Halloween weekend for the past 8 years in Gainesville, has been a crazy Rock and Roll Weekend known simply as “The Fest” , the history of the mayhem is reported on their site, heres an excerpt- THE FEST is a culmination of bands and friends from all over. converging for a few days of pure insanity all over the fine city of Gainesville, FL. The first one took place May 24th and 25th of 2002 and was thought to have gone down in history as the drunkest and rowdiest time ever to be had in Gainesville”
For my friends And I,Â this year meant driving down the coast, obviously stopping at South of The Border for no reason, and making a Bee line for St. Augustine, for a pre Fest show, and some hang out ime with Jacob, and the guys from Environmental Youth Crunch, Tubers, Vicious Fishes, etc….
After a Bar room show, featuring Sexy Crimes, some cheap beers and a good vegetarian menu, we crashed for the night, with the plan being to wake up early and ride the 70-80 miles through part of Florida, on our bicycles, and spend the next 4 days in Gainesville, watching some of our favorite bands….
Early A.M. arrived way earlier than I had hoped, due to a variety of sleep interruptions, including car doors slamming, drunk arguments, vomiting, and a hard wood floor to name a few, but spirits were still good, so we got ready, left out the dirt road/driveway just moments from where Ponce De Leon thought he discovered the fountain of youth.
The ride out of St. Augustine was mellow, albeit I was really tired, not really feeling up for the task, nor in peak physical condition. The 4 of us taking the bike trip headed west on route 206, a flat, semi boring logging truck route, that seemed to either be plastered in debris falling off ofÂ a recently logged forest, or just a mess in general.
I wasn’t sure if it was humid and warm as the day started, or if I was sweating out the beer I had indulged in the night before, But it was a sweaty ride none the less, and it seemed like each mile was earned, even though there weren’t really any hills.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty miles or so into the trip, we all stopped at a gas station, for drinks, restrooms, and a unanimous decision that it was REALLY hot and super humid. Rinsing off in the bathroom, in rural Florida, i soon realized the definition of “farty water” as i smelled and tasted the sulphur.
We were soon on route 207 west heading towards Palatka, almost a half way point. Admitting that it was hot did nothing to help my less than eager condition, but counting dead frogs on the highway did amuse me some
Palatka sits on the banks of the St, Johns river, and the bridge to get across it was the biggest hill we rode, the west side of that river was Angel’s Diner, Florida’s oldest Diner,Â described as a genuine unrepentant hash house, serving cheap eats round the clock…
Lunch included Bottomless Iced Tea, Fried Pickles, string beans and onion rings, and we also enjoyed burgers, crabcakes, huge side salads and more….
Palatka also had one of those Digital bank signs with the time and temperature, it was somewhere around noon, 90 degrees, and threatening rain.
The ride out of that tiny Florida town, put us on route 100, another logging road, but with more trucks, more debris, and an even shittier riding surface, on a shoulder with seemingly unlimited rumble strips to wake up drunk floridian motorists, and sketch out squirrely cyclists.
At some point, I swore I saw a roadkill version of Â a baby Alligator, but I didn’t stop to investigate, I later asked if it was possible, and was assured it likely was. I have never seen a real life Alligator, but that night I ate one in Gainesville after arriving late afternoon, showering at our friend Keith’s house heading over to Boca Fiesta, where he was working that night…
Before dinner, we booked a room in the center of town at the Hotel- Everybody, and walked the stammering 2 blocks to a killer Mexi-American dinner bar, owned in part by Warren, who used to play drums in Againts Me.Â
Beers were cheap, the food was good, Hi fives and laugh’s were Shared, and it seemed the Fest had officially Started….
The First Show was Some Metal….
Magrudergrind- Common Ground, First night of the Fest…
To Be continued….