There is nothing like coming out of the winter season, taking time off from a busy work schedule and doing a bike tour, especially one in Florida. On March 14th I took a week vacation and headed south to meet a couple of friends and ride bikes for a few days. Having heard great things about previous “Bike Florida” tours and having the chance to introduce Richard (from Georgia) and Jenny (from Florida) to the fun of a weeklong tour, I was excited about the trip. With the wind blowing and the temperature in the 50’s it was a little cooler than I was expecting during the first 3 days. But by Tuesday the sun was shining bright and it had warmed to the mid 70’s and we were having a great time. There is no doubt this ride has become one of the more popular, quickly reaching its 1,000 rider limit and putting another 600 on a waiting list. And why not? It’s the first tour of the year, has nice weather, great scenery, short daily distances (about 50 miles), no hills and great food, especially from the folks at Dixie Grill. And the people in charge of the ride have a genuine desire to make it the best they can.
Our week started with two nights at Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island and ended at New Smyrna Beach. Overnight stops were Jacksonville Beach, two nights at St. Augustine and two nights at Flagler Beach. The layover day in St. Augustine was especially nice and provided us with different options. Some chose to do loop rides of 50 to 100 miles while others of us chose to spend the day sight seeing in the “Nations Oldest City”. We biked and walked through the “Historic Spanish Quarter”, climbed the 219 steps to the top of the St. Augustine lighthouse, visited “Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth” and enjoyed a leisurely lunch from the outdoor balcony of a local eatery overlooking the town square and water front. It was especially nice to have a local girl like Jenny, who knew her way around town, along on a day like that. And as to whether drinking from the “Fountain of Youth” will help or not, only time will tell. Some of the other highlights of the week were a jazz ensemble at out initial rider’s meeting, a beach bonfire and marshmallow roast, a concert in the park, a slideshow and complimentary Miller Lite. And to help remind us where we were we saw an alligator swimming in a creek.
After riding a few miles in a downpour on our last day the week ended with a nice lunch provided by Brian’s Bar-B-Que and the usual farewells to friends, both old and new. Saying good-bye to friends is always the sad part.
I guess it seems strange to some that one can enjoy a week of riding a bike all day, sleeping in a tent every night, standing in line to take a shower and then again to eat. But for some of us, we just can’t wait for the next one!