Wednesday January 18, 2017, 58 miles (93 km) – Total so far: 864 miles (1,390 km)
Fernadina Beach to Neptune Beach, Florida
I was looking forward to riding down A1A or side roads off of it, through beautiful neighborhoods of beach cottages and streets canopied with live oaks and the occasional view of the ocean. What I got was four laned roads lined with the usual stores and restaurants and heavy traffic. Oh, and I got to ride through downtown Jacksonville on Main Street.
You see, I have this problem with ferry boat crossings. For some reason when I get to them, they’re not running. At least I knew about it this time and tried to figure a detour so that I could continue down the coast to St. Augustine. There just weren’t many roads to choose from so back A1A to Yulee where all the road work was going on the day before, then a left down 17 to Jacksonville. At least there wasn’t a college football championship game going on.
At one point, while I was taking a break, a man took pity on me. Of course, Clara was the icebreaker. “Nice bike. Where you going?” This was very fortunate in that I was going the wrong way. I was actually detouring myself towards the ferry! When I got there, I would have been 20 miles away from anything and would have had to backtrack. The man, I wish I had gotten his name, set me straight though and told me my route led through the Main Street in town. He clapped me on the back and said, “Be careful out there. You know, Jacksonville is the seventh worse place in the US to ride a bicycle”? Well, I do love a challenge.
It actually turned out well as most of the roads had bike lanes. Not the bridge though and the road off of it spit me out onto a series of on ramps for a major four lane road. Interstate 95 I think. Not the usual merge into traffic from the right mind you but from the left. Help! Fortunately, there was an off ramp right there. I just had to cross traffic going 65 mph to get there. On person yelled, “You know that’s illegal”?
Well, it worked out and I was rewarded with a strong tailwind all the way down Hwy 90 to Jacksonville Beach. My, does that fairing act as a sail. When I got there, I was again rewarded with beech access to the Atlantic Ocean. I had been debating doing the traditional rear wheel dipping ceremony but when I saw that, the debate was over. Pushing a fully loaded Clara over the soft sand was hard but the result was worth it. I talked a fellow named John into taking the picture and tradition was served. I decided to stay just north, up the road at Neptune Beach and turn the first corner of my trip tomorrow. Soon, I’m heading west.