Trip Report: 2014 Bicycle Tour
Burton, TX to Key West, FL along the Adventure Cycling Association Southern Tier Route.
This page is a report of my solo bicycle tour in 2014. I followed the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) Southern Tier Route from Burton, TX to St. Augustine, FL. Then I took the ACA Florida Connector Route from St. Augustine, near Orlando, then Ft. Meyers, and then Ft. Lauderdale. Then I followed the ACA Atlantic Coast Route from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West, FL.
See the sidebar for information about the Adventure Cycling Association, the route, and my bike and gear. I camped and stayed in motels depending on the location, weather, etc.
Click any of these links to see:
- Photos from the trip.
- Photos of roadkill along the way that was requested by my friend, Anette.
- Written list of the roadkill (PDF file)
- List of the birds that I saw on the trip (PDF file)
|Day 46, Thursday, March 13, 2014.|
|St. Augustine, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 1.7/1,438.1, 0:19/6:08:03.
Today was a planned rest and sightseeing day.
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. There are a lot of historic things to see here. I first went to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Construction started on this fort in 1672. It was completed in 1695.
I walked through the historic old district that was crowded with tourists like me. I've found that getting around St. Augustine on a bike is faster and easier than with a car. There is a lot of very slow traffic that I rode right by and there are few places to park a car.
On the suggestion of a local resident that I met last night, I went to the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. From the outside appearance, I thought this place would be an uninteresting tourist trap. Because of the recommendation, I went in anyway. It housed a large collection of artifacts and excellent interpretive information related to pirates. There were maps, ships logs, weapons, navigational instruments, gold, and other treasure dating back to the 17th century.
I went to the Hotel Ponce de León . It was built from 1865-1867 by Henry Flagler. He was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil. It is an amazing architectural work that now houses Flagler College.
|Day 47, Friday, March 14, 2014.|
|St. Augustine, FL to Korona, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 44.5/1,482.6, 4:09/6:12:12.
Today, I rode along the A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway. It was quite scenic. I had oysters on the half shell in a tiki bar overlooking the ocean at lunch.
At the end of day today I turned west and will head southwest toward Orlando and eventually to Ft. Meyers on the West Coast of South Florida. I said goodbye to the Atlantic Ocean, but I'll be seeing it again in about 10 days.
This week the region is filled with motorcyclists and their bikes attending Daytona Beach Bike Week. An estimated 500,000 people are attending. There are signs everywhere proclaiming, "Welcome Bikers", but I don't think they're directed toward me. I am twenty miles from Daytona Beach and the roads are filled with motorcycles. I've never seen and HEARD so many motorcycles. I don't think they saw the sign about riding quietly.
Today, I added one creature, an unidentified lizard, possibly a Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis), to my roadkill photos. To see the complete collection of my roadkill pictures click here.
|Day 48, Saturday, March 15, 2014.|
|Korona, FL to DeLand, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 54.3/1,536.9, 5:26/6:17:18.
Today I saw more cows than motorcycles, but I still saw a lot of motorcycles. The cows seem to watch me when I ride by. They must not be accustomed to seeing bicycles. It's amusing to watch a herd of 30 cows all stare and slowly turn their heads to follow me as I ride by.
I am staying at Highland Park Fish Camp. It's more of a fishing place than an RV park. I think this may be a world class largemouth bass fishing place. They have 7 full time guides. When I arrived, there was a lot of fish cleaning going on.
Today, I added one creature, an unidentified bird, likely a raptor, perhaps a Cooper's Hawk, to my roadkill photos. The head and tail were missing making identification difficult. To see it, click here. To see the complete collection of my roadkill photos click here.
|Day 49, Sunday, March 16, 2014.|
|DeLand, FL to Winter Garden, FL.|
DeLand, FL to Winter Garden, FL. Miles, Time (day/trip): 69.2/1,605.9, 7:49/7:01:27.
It was a very long, slow, difficult day today. I had planned a long distance today, but the wind made it much harder. These flags show the problem, sustained 15 to 25 mph headwind with higher gusts all day long. In addition, the last 1/3 of the route was very hilly. High temperature was 88°F.
I did not expect to see this road sign in Florida. It looks like a grizzly bear to me. Wikipedia says there are about 3000 black bears in Florida. I added a photo of Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) to my roadkill photo collection. To see it, click here . To see the complete collection of my roadkill photos, click here.
|Day 50, Monday, March 17, 2014.|
|Winter Garden, FL to Haines City, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 47.3/1,653.2, 5:23/7:06:49.
I clawed my way south into headwinds again all day. Most of the route was very urban as I skirted south of Orlando, FL near Walt Disney World. The weather forecast predicted rain, at times heavy, starting at 7:00 AM. Fortunately, the rain started much later than predicted. It only rained on me the last 15 minutes of the ride. It's raining hard right now but should stop by in the morning. It's a good night to be in a motel rather than a tent.
|Day 51, Tuesday, March 18, 2014.|
|Haines City, FL to Lake Wales, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 29.7/1,682.9, 3:03/7:09:52.
I did an easier, recovery day today. Good weather and favorable winds. There are millions of orange trees in this part of Florida.
I stopped and spent several hours at Bok Tower and Gardens in Lake Wales, FL. The site was created by Edward W. Bok, a very successful publisher, editor, and Pulitzer Prize winning author. The botanical gardens and bird sanctuary are considered one of the greatest works of famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. I also toured the adjacent Pinewood Estate , built in the early 1930s for Charles Austin Buck, a Bethlehem Steel vice president.
The azaleas were in full bloom.
|Day 52, Wednesday, March 19, 2014.|
|Lake Wales, FL to Wauchula, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 41.0/1,723.9, 3:47/7:13:39.
It was a magnificent day of bicycle touring here in central Florida. It was a sunny day that started out slightly cool at 50°F and then rapidly warmed to the low-70's. I rode through thousands and thousands of acres of orange groves. The orange trees were all blooming and the scent of orange blossoms filled the air. There were great roads with almost no traffic and minimal wind.
First thing this morning, I saw several dozen Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks on a small lake right by where I stayed last night. Since I started my tour in Texas, I've seen hundreds and hundreds of Martin houses but no Martins. Today I saw 3 Purple Martins in the air, a clear indication spring is here. I saw lots of Ospreys and a half dozen of their giant nests atop tall utility poles. There were nesting pairs on several of them. I saw a Swallow-tailed Kite. I don't think I've ever seen this species before.
There are wildflowers blooming everywhere.
I liked this person's 3-tiered mailbox with levels for bills, junk, and regular mail.
I saw giant fields of ripe strawberries with hundreds of workers picking them by hand. Near the end of the ride, I bought some fresh local strawberries from a truck on the side of the road.
|Day 53, Thursday, March 20, 2014.|
|Wauchula, FL to Punta Gorda, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 57.1/1,781.0, 5:05/7:18:44.
I feel surprisingly good after a somewhat long ride. I've again reached the Gulf of Mexico. It's another beautiful spring day here on the West Coast of central Florida.
I am getting weird tan lines from my cycling clothes.
I added two creatures, Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) and Wild Boar (Sus scrofia) to my roadkill photo collection. To see the hawk click here. To see the hog click here. To see the complete collection of my roadkill photos click here.
|Day 54, Friday, March 21, 2014.|
|Punta Gorda, FL to Ft. Meyers, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 33.4/1,814.4, 3:24/7:22:08.
I had an urban route today on 4, 6 and even 8 lane highways and thoroughfares with heavy traffic.
I toured the Thomas Edison and adjacent Henry Ford estates as I was coming into Ft. Meyers. I learned some stuff about both. I'd like to read a biography about Thomas Edison.
|Day 55, Saturday, March 22, 2014.|
|Ft Meyers, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 12.5/1,826.9, 1:18/7:23:26.
I had a rest day today in Ft. Meyers. I visited Six Mile Cypress Slough (pronounced "slew"). I liked this big alligator bike rack in the parking lot. I did some birding on my own and then took a guided nature tour with a plant expert.
I saw big wild alligators and wild hogs. I saw a lot of different epiphytes like this Cardinal Airplant. The guide pointed out the amazing variety of ferns in the preserve including Saw Palmetto, Sabal Palm (the Florida state plant), Resurrection Fern, Coastal Leather Fern, Wild Boston Fern, Gold foot Fern, and Whisk Fern just to name a few of the ones I can remember.
|Day 56, Sunday, March 23, 2014.|
|Ft. Meyers, FL to LaBelle, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 40.7/1,867.6, 3:31/8:02:57.
This morning I finished reading Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. It is an outstanding book about perhaps one of the most interesting people that ever lived.
Today I left the urban congested highways and reentered the countryside. It feels like summer here, currently 88°F.
|Day 57, Monday, March 24, 2014.|
|LaBelle, FL to South Bay, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 72.7/1,940.3, 6:22/8:09:19.
I rode generally east today toward Ft. Lauderdale through the Okeechobee Slough. I saw this panther crossing sign, but I didn't see any panthers. The area had amazingly abundant bird life. I saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron and several Tricolored Herons for the first time on this trip.
The last 13.5 miles of today's route were along the top of a tall levee that runs along the South Shore of Lake Okeechobee. Unfortunately, the Corps of Engineers had it closed at several places necessitating some innovative route finding by me.
There was light rain off and on all day. As I arrived at the RV park where I am camping tonight, it has begun to rain fairly hard.
I haven't had the opportunity to watch much TV. Has there been much in the news on television about that missing airliner?
|Day 58, Tuesday, March 25, 2014.|
|South Bay, FL to Davie / Ft. Lauderdale, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 65.5/2,005.8, 6:17/8:15:36.
The day began with a long, 50 mile ride down US 27, the Claude Pepper Highway. This stretch of 4 lane divided highway was straight, flat, completely void of towns or services, and had heavy truck traffic. The terrain consisted almost entirely of sugar cane fields many of which smelled bad.
The last 16 miles were through the suburbs of Ft. Lauderdale starting with Weston, FL. This area was as pretty as any city I have seen. There were wide, open boulevards that were beautifully landscaped. The sides of the roads and medians had manicured St. Augustine turf. I picked up a strong tailwind at this point as well.
It was a banner day for roadkill observations. I saw members from 4 of the major food groups:
- Pig Frog (Ranio grylio). To see it, click here .
- Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major). To see it, click here.
- Florida Softshell Turtle (Apalone ferox). To see it, click here.
- Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivanus). To see it, click here.
- Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus). To see it, click here.
To see the complete collection of my roadkill photos click here.
|Day 59, Wednesday, March 26, 2014.|
|Davie, FL to Hollywood, FL (Ft. Lauderdale area).|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 15.1/2,020.9, 1:27/8:17:03.
I was an easy day today. I rode from the middle of the Ft. Lauderdale area to the beach in Hollywood, FL just south of Ft Lauderdale proper. This area has beautiful beaches. This afternoon I walked along the boardwalk.
|Day 60, Thursday, March 27, 2014.|
|Hollywood, FL to Cutler Bay, FL.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 37.2/2,058, 3:40/8:20:43.
I realized today that I rode the entire Adventure Cycling Association's Florida Connector Route (St. Augustine - Orlando - Ft. Meyers - Ft Lauderdale) without seeing another touring cyclist.
Today I rode down the Atlantic Coast through the very urban areas of Miami Beach and Miami. There was too much traffic to ride in the street and there were too many pedestrians to ride on the sidewalk. I spent 1/3 of the day waiting at traffic signals. The scenery consisted of high-rise buildings. It was like what I would imagine riding down the Las Vegas strip would be like.
The bike lane designs, and lack of bike lanes were nightmarish. The dumbest idea was posting "BICYCLES MAY USE FULL LANE" signs in areas with intense traffic in downtown Miami Beach. This approach was particularly onerous when combined with "NO BICYCLES ALLOWED ON SIDEWALK" signs. Fortunately, the traffic was slow moving, so it was less scary.
Tomorrow I'll be in the Florida Keys!