Florida ride report (long)

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Carol Cohen

Recently I was able to combine business & pleasure by taking along my TourEasy and my husband's, in
my minivan (he flew down & met me). We got to meet some of you bent Floridians and ride a few
trails. Pictures are posted on <http://www.carolcohen.com/carolinfl/> Here's my ride report:

1.Brunswick, GA. Stayed at cheap motel in this coastal town and biked across to expensive Jekyll
Island. The major roads have wide rumble strips almost the width of the shoulders which gives a
cyclist little choice: ride in the car lane or confine your path to six inches of shoulder at the
white line. Jekyll Island is one of the "Golden Isles" of tourist GA -- $3 entrance fee (cars), no
trash anywhere, and about 20 miles of bike paths with wonderful views of bay, beach, woods and
historic houses. The present road from Brunswick includes a functioning drawbridge. Under
construction is a new very high causeway that won't have to open for ships, but will be good
uphill exercise on a bike and a thrilling downhill run. Part of this route is the official
(signed) Georgia-to-Florida bike route.
2. St. Augustine, FL. Susan who rides a Gold Rush, consented to be my tour guide; and took me on an
easy Four Bridges ride, a 17-mile loop of the city. Anyone who thinks of Florida as flat will be
disabused when she hits the first uphill causeway over the Inland Waterway. Maybe one should stop
at the official Fountain of Youth for a water bottle refill? This is a charming old city and was
easy to get around in, on a bike. Watch out for the tourist trolleys.
3.The Van Fleet Trail in Polk City was the site of a ride with Tom Blum, my mentor for my first
century ride a couple of years ago (thanks again, Tom!) Conversation was wide-ranging, fun and
almost non-stop. But it was cold and windy, the trail was cowflopped, the view was closed-in
(flooded cypress swamps), and I realized that those rail trails could be boring. Not the
company! Tom introduced Jerry and me to the retro restaurant at Fantasy of Flight, an airplane
museum nearby. Tom was riding his homebuilt TE clone, with ingenious personal solutions to
steering (flip-it instead of a TE type fixed handlebar) and seatback (he made it out of nylon
webbing himself). I think Tom could create, repair, write, teach, redesign or machine-shop
almost anything.
4.Still cold and windy for our rather tame 30-mi. ride in the bike lane on Longboat Key in Sarasota.
Bob Bass claimed to have a cold so couldn't meet us for a ride and now I'm wondering: could he be
merely virtual? Has anyone ever seen him? :) We found a local bike shop that carries EZ-1s and
EZ-sports, some for rent. Other people on bents & trikes too. Great fast return ride downwind due
to fairing as sail.
5.The bridge to Sanibel Island was going to close at midnight (repair) but Chere (pronounced
"Cherie") and her husband Don, on their Gold Rush and TourEasy, respectively, took us around the
island that afternoon. There are lots of groomed bike paths some of which go through the famous
Ding Darling bird sanctuary. People drive onto the island just to enjoy these paths, so they
weren't empty that Sunday. Lush and kempt subtropical foliage, hidden houses and lots and lots of
birds. This place is almost too beautiful! In fact everywhere in Florida we saw local trash birds
which were the same rarae aves that we in New England exclaim over when we see only one: herons,
cranes, egrets. Never before did I see so many gangly-legged snake-necked fliers flapping their
way across the manic roads. And pelicans look like cartoon birds. Didn't see a single alligator,
though. But everybody told us grisly alligator anecdotes with great pleasure. Remember, don't swim
in those pretty lakes.
6.Naples was seen with non-biking friends, but boy did I see lots of great clothing resale shops!
Expensive stores! Golf courses! People even older than me! It may not be such a good town for
biking, though. The further south we went, the crazier the drivers seemed. We were approaching the
latitudes of writers Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen, but on the Gulf coast.
7.The Withlacoochie. Ahhh. This legendary rail trail was the final biking experience of my FL trip,
and Rod Kuehl (pronounced "Keel") took the time to accompany me on his orange Wizard (I think it
was) to its northern end and back to the middle (we did only about 47 miles). The views did open
up here and there, and the weather was warmer than before. Few people were on the trail on this
midweek day, so we were able to ride side by side and genially converse. This is recumbent central
- I must have seen at least 20 or 30 bents on the trail, and this was midweek. In the Boston area
I might see 1 a week, usually the same grim commuter. The Floral City/Inverness area has some of
the best signs in Florida. Who, after all, wouldn't want to attend services at the First Baptist
Church of Wahoo? And one wants to buy dinner fixin's from the "Ducks and Oranges for Sale" farm,
Canard a l'orange in 1 stop, bring your own pot. And for the women who want to both look good and
feel good, (or just feel they look good...), schedule an appointment at the "Southern Comfort
Beauty Parlor". There were some nice rolling roads in the area, but there are no shoulders on the
roads - the grass goes right up to the lane edge - and large farm and ranch trucks tear along them
at top speed. Flat is OK for a while, but rolling and turning routes keep one's interest (and
heart rate) up. Next time I'd like to try some road routes. And some multi-day bike touring. But I
suspect that Nov.-Feb. will be my limits: not over 70 and no bugs. A frost was predicted so I
stocked up on oranges, grapefruits & strawberries to drive north with. A light snow flurry in GA
on the way home, and temps in the teens on my return to Boston, and the Toureasys are back indoors
til the ice & snow melt. I wish I could've done more biking on this trip; but I was there for
business. My thighs and calves are restless and crampy because they want to still be pedaling. It
was a good winter break in spite of the cold and I had plenty of local shrimp, mullet & grouper.
Gainesville looked good for rolling roads on my way through, but Gator Bob was unavailable and I
had to get home as soon as possible to thaw out the hot tub pipes, according to a phone call from
our daughter. Thanks again to all my ride guides - come to MA & Rhode Island and try our coastaL
rolling hills (and the same old herons & egrets but no pelicans). Fried clams. White chowder. And
absolutely none of those hard brown pingpong balls they call hushpuppies.
On Tue, 28 Jan 2003 13:01:12 -0500, Carol Cohen <[email protected]> wrote:

>Recently I was able to combine business & pleasure by taking along my TourEasy and my husband's, in
>my minivan (he flew down & met me). We got to meet some of you bent Floridians and ride a few
>trails. Pictures are posted on <http://www.carolcohen.com/carolinfl/> Here's my ride report:
Thanks,excellant report. It brought back great memories and convinced me to get off my butt and do
some of it again !
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