Road Biking Florida  by Rick Sapp

Road Biking Florida Guide Book

by Rick Sapp (Falcon Guides)
Road Biking Florida  by Rick Sapp
Road Biking™ Florida features forty-two carefully designed rides throughout the state, from Navarre Beach, Okefenokee, and Atlantic Beach in the north to Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, and the Keys in the south, and Tampa Bay and the Cape Canaveral seashore in between. Highlighting not only the unique features of the road but also the people, the ecology, and the history of the areas covered, local cyclist Rick Sapp provides a sampling of Florida’s diverse offerings. Enjoy halcyon rides under hammocks of oak draped with Spanish moss as well as edgy rides so uptown that your eyes may blur at the endless series of stops and turns. Look inside to find: • Detailed maps and directions • Rides for every fitness level and ability, from easy 25-mile rambles to more challenging 100-mile classics • In-depth information about each ride, including length, terrain, traffic conditions, and road hazards • Vivid descriptions of points of interest • Options to create longer or shorter rid

© 2008 Rick Sapp/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Road Biking Florida" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 42.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 42.

This magnificent cruise on historic Amelia Island, the “Isle of Eight Flags,” gives you miles of beachfront riding alternating with miles of intensely shaded and winding roads. There are shrimp boats in the harbor and a Civil War fort, too. What’s not to like! Traffic and hazards: You will encounter occasional paved shoulders but few bike lanes. There are traffic issues on this picturesque island’s roads except on those narrow shaded lanes in Fort Clinch State Park.
Fernandina Beach, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 36.5
This is a busy ride, twisting up-and downhill and winding among a half-dozen sparkling lakes. It is central Florida at its best, with one of everything—cattle and horse and goat ranches, trailer parks, exclusive gated communities, industrial parks, quaint downtowns—and plenty of orange groves. Be careful about the traffic and enjoy the views, and the hills! Traffic and hazards: Almost the entire ride is on two-lane roads with no bike lanes. Depending on the day, traffic can be hectic. An antiques festival in Mt. Dora will generate more cars than bees in a hive.
Mount Dora, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 29
This is a wonderfully scenic ride on Highway A1A along the Atlantic coast of north Florida, beginning in Flagler Beach and riding north to Crescent Beach (and perhaps to St. Augustine Beach if you wish to keep pedaling). Traffic and hazards: Highway A1A is a twolane highway and can be crowded, but recent improvements have resurfaced the road and increased the width of the shoulders. The hazard on this ride may be keeping your eyes on the road rather than on formations of pelicans cruising overhead and yachts sailing the Intracoastal Waterway.
Flagler Beach, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 44
A fine ride south from Flagler Beach to Ormond Beach, a suburb of Daytona. The views of the ocean are bright and fresh, and one gets a sense of old beach property . . . and the future as well. Traffic and hazards: This beachfront ride on beautiful Highway A1A is a little more crowded with traffic than the Flagler ride north.
Flagler Beach, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 29
Just when you thought a challenge ride in Florida simply meant long—and hot— and sunscreen, along come hills, serious hills! If you like to push yourself, this ride has it all: scenery, length, heat . . . and super hills. Typical of Florida rides, there is some traffic and few of the roads along the route have paved shoulders. There is a magnificent multi-use trail for part of the ride, however.
Killarney, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 58.1
A mix of old and new, traffic and country, bike lanes and construction zones, there may be more digging, paving, and building along this ride than in the entire states of Alabama or Kansas or Ohio! Traffic and hazards: Traffic on some of these roads is heavy and on others it is very light. The place is undergoing a construction boom. So ride this route early in the morning or with a group. This is a marvelous area of Florida: hot, humid, and flat. New residents have trickled into the region south of Tampa for 150 years, and during the last quarter century, that trickle has become a tidal surge. Consequently, taking this ride is some- thing like opening a time capsule. There is a little slice of life from all of the eras of Florida’s history, and a touch of its prehistory as well.
Bradenton, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 63.4
This is a splendid ride—one of the finest in Florida—and it is mostly over water on bridges with high center spans to accommodate sailboats with high masts. Below, in Apalachicola Bay, notice the oystermen wielding long, heavy tongs scraping the bay bottom for oysters. The old town of Apalachicola is picturesque and the beaches on St. George Island are exactly what you imagine for an exquisite Florida vacation. Traffic and hazards: This is all two-lane riding. The Bryant Grady Patton Bridge over Apalachicola Bay/St. George Sound has wide turnoff/emergency lanes on both sides; the emergency lanes on the older John Gorrie Memorial Bridge are narrower. In either case, these emergency lanes tend to be littered and this warrants cautious riding.
Eastpoint, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 22.4
This ride through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore on the north end of Merritt Island will put you in harmony with the wind and water, with a natural condition of life that still exists in Florida. You will see alligators, snakes of various varieties, osprey, gulls, feral hogs, rabbits, and if you are very lucky, a bobcat. It is a marvelous ride and you can picnic and splash in the waves, as well. Traffic and hazards: Except for the brief time it takes to get out of the public park in Titusville and across the causeway to Merritt Island, traffic should not be a problem. Unless, however, you choose to ride on a holiday when traffic on the beach road on the national seashore is busy.
Titusville, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 34.7
Along the majority of this wonderful ride through the country, there is very little traffic. The delightful fishing village of Cedar Key sits smack-dab in the middle of Florida’s “Nature Coast.” It leads by the ruins of Native American villages and oldstyle trailer parks on the Suwannee, through farm and ranch country, low flatwoods, and pine plantations, and across long island causeways. Traffic and hazards: The only competition on the road will be in the village of Cedar Key itself and along State Road 24. Heat and thirst could be an unprepared rider’s biggest problem outside town as this is wide-open country with only one country store (the intersection of County Roads 347 and 345) along the remainder of the route.
Cedar Key, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 52
What a delightful ride through the countryside east of Tallahassee. Gently rolling, even hilly in a few places; shady and cool as well. There is not much traffic on these two-lane roads, and at popular ride times—early on weekend mornings—you ought to see plenty of cyclists. Traffic and hazards: These are two-lane country roads with no shoulders or bike lanes. While traffic is light, there are numerous intersections with dirt roads and occasional stray dogs.
Capitola, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 38.1
This is, without a doubt, the finest ride in Florida! It ought to be 100 miles long. Congratulations to the activists, environmentalists, and political leaders who made this wonderful park happen. Ride on! Traffic and hazards: Between the parking area and either end of Mullet Key, traffic will be light and bikers will be plentiful—except on national holidays when traffic will be heavy. There is also a multiuse path bordering the ride on Mullet Key. Traffic becomes more intense on Cabbage and Pine Keys on the northernmost leg (between Fort DeSoto Park and the U-turn at County Road 682), where the road is bordered with condominiums and large homes.
Tierra Verde, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 23.1
Commencing with a marvelous stretch of rail-to-trail network, this ride loops through rural North Florida and south Georgia, crossing state lines—technically in the middle of the St. Mary’s River—twice. Expect long stretches of lonely road bordered by endless rows of planted pines. Test yourself on this ride now, because this is as close to a big city as you can get while still being in the country for a hundred miles. Traffic and hazards: Most of this ride takes place on two-lane roads with no paved shoulder. A few short stretches on U.S. four-lane divided highways can be hectic, but on these expect a little extra room with narrow paved shoulders beyond the white line.
Callahan, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 103.1
This wonderful and awfully flat ride affords marvelous miles of wheeling through several distinct Floridas in what is colloquially known as the “flatwoods.” Beginning in one of the most beautiful state parks in Florida’s Panhandle, the route comprises a figure eight through sandy countryside to the Gulf of Mexico and back. On the way, expect wonderful views of bays and inlets. Traffic and hazards: Traffic is light to moderate on most of the state and county roads and in the towns and hamlets through which you will pedal. On holidays and during the summer, traffic can be quite heavy on U.S. Highway 98, which parallels the coast.
Crawfordville, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 73.9
Florida Keys Over-the-Ocean Classic This is Florida’s Royal Ride, with ocean and lagoon views so spectacular that words are simply insufficient to describe them. The ride, though limited to a single highway, has flexible beginning and ending points. There are jillions of places to stay, to eat and drink, picnic and party. Traffic and hazards: Choose your time carefully as traffic on U.S. Highway 1 can be heavy and the road is very open for vehicles to pull on and off at almost any moment. In addition, many drivers will be sightseeing as they plod along the highway in bumper-to-bumper traffic, so enjoy, but exercise caution.
Key West, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 105
From Branford, Florida’s self-proclaimed cave-diving capital on the fabled Suwannee River, through “Hatch Bend” farm-and-ranch country in Lafayette County, you will enjoy this rural slice of life. Hatch Bend is named for the Hatch family, a prolific country family from the days when Florida was governed by the rural north rather than the urban south. Traffic and hazards: Whether you are on county, state, or federal highways, every inch of this ride is two-lane without shoulders. Along US 27, traffic can be fast, but this stretch is short. Otherwise, traffic is light. Watch for trucks carrying crates of chickens!
Branford, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 27.9
Ride this mild loop on a summer eve and you will agree there’s no sweeter countryroad ride in America. To make this pedal more inviting, you can picnic or just sit and enjoy the view of fields and cattle and woods from the highest point in the state— 345 feet above sea level—and then continue into Florala, which has to be one of the friendliest small towns in the region. Traffic and hazards: Traffic is moderate to light, but the road is all two-lane and without a shoulder. Plus, it is hilly, so a pickup coming over a hill at high speed could crowd you. Be visible, and hang to the right.
Florala, AL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 11.4
For cyclists who are accustomed to endurance sprints and marathons, this will be a beginner ride. Relax! Have fun. Take it easy, ride it in both directions, and enjoy spinning around Lake Henderson. Traffic and hazards: You will notice traffic on County Road 470 around the lake (a little more than half the ride), but only because the road is narrow. I actually recommend that you take the sidewalk (horrors!) around part of Lake Henderson: from the point that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue intersects U.S. Highway 41 and you turn left, until you turn left again paralleling County Road 44 onto CR 470/ Gospel Island Road. For much of the distance, the sidewalk has a metal railing on both sides, so ride controlled. If you would prefer the pure road route, watching out for speeding vehicles in heavy traffic and never getting a glimpse of this beautiful lake, go ahead and get out on the street, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Inverness, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 9
This ride gives us a unique opportunity to ramble close to the grounds of America’s Spaceport, and if we are lucky and time our ride properly, we may even see a rocket launch. This ride is only an excuse to get you to the space center. Maybe see—or “experience” might be a better word—the launch of a spacecraft. My recommendation is to make the ride an excuse to see the space center. After all, some small part of the moon and Mars and the International Space Station belongs to you. Maybe it’s time to go find it. When you ride across the Indian River, stop and watch alligators cruising in the lagoon and shorebirds feeding through the shallows. Schools of minnows rustle through the water, perhaps chased by bigger minnows. Overhead, eagles and osprey scan the water for larger dining opportunities. Traffic and hazards: Columbia Boulevard is a busy four-lane divided highway during peak rush hours at the Cape or leading up to a rocket launch. The long causeway over the Indian River Lagoon may be thronged with sightseers. Caution is advised.
Titusville, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 15.6
Citrus once grew as far north as the Georgia border, but since the great freeze of 1898, earlier and earlier frosts—in an era of global warming!—have driven cold-sensitive oranges south. This ride takes you through the northern fringe of orange groves and along the shore of Lake Monroe in Sanford. There is something here for everyone. Traffic and hazards: Don’t look for bike lanes on this ride. Even paved shoulders are a luxury. During peak traffic hours, this ramble is not recommended; pedal during off-peak hours, however, and you will find vehicular traffic to be manageable.
Lake Mary, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 39.2
This is the longest ride in the book, more than 100 miles. If you take it between the middle of May and the middle of October, you will feel that it is the longest ride of your life; it is very flat, and will be hot and windy. I recommend that you alternate riding the roads with the trail on top of the dike around the lake. Each has strong points. This is indeed a challenging ride, so keep your eyes open and let it all hang out. Traffic and hazards: On the roads, the traffic will be light. Fast but light, with the occasional big truck. On the trail, there will be no traffic except for an occasional slow-moving maintenance vehicle. At the periodic nodes with boat ramps, facilities, and shelters, you must watch for traffic crossing the trail, but these points are easily identified in advance because the terrain is incredibly flat.
Clewiston, FL - Road Biking - Trail Length: 116.6