Florida Vacation (long ride report)...
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  1. #1
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    Post Florida Vacation (ride report) Part One...

    Some of you may remember me asking about riding options in West Palm Beach, Florida a few weeks ago. Well, I was there last week with my family and I brought my bike. We were staying with my wife's Grandparents. They spend the New England winters in Florida each year and encourage visitors.

    I've traveled with bikes before so this wasn't a big deal. The curbside check-in guy was nice enough to ignore the size of the case when I arrived at the airport. I was spared the $50 freight charge.

    We arrived in West Palm late Saturday evening. Thankfully, the bike arrived with the other luggage and even fit in Grammy's trunk.
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    Day One:

    On Easter Sunday morning, Grammy spoiled the kids and I headed to the garage. I had my own present to open. I spread myself out next to Grampy’s Bentley. Yeah, they planned well for retirement! Everything seemed to be in order. Notice all the extra stuff that went in the box: tools, floor pump, spare supplies and other essentials. The garage became my remote bike shop. 30 minutes later, I was ready to ride.
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  3. #3
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    We were busy doing Easter stuff most of the day. I wanted to do a quick ride just to be sure the bike was ready to go. I didn't bother to bring the camera and I brought along extra tools instead. I got a little carried away and ended up doing 30 miles.
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  4. #4
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    Day Two:

    On Monday, I went for my first real ride. I didn’t know much about the area. I bought a map at a gas station on Sunday. I knew that Route A1a went up and down the coast so I wanted to experiment elsewhere first. For whatever reason, I felt like heading west. Lake Okeechobee (the big lake in the middle of Florida) was due west but I had no idea how far away. I figured what the heck let’s see how far it is.

    The forecast called for a chance of rain and high winds out of the West. I thought an early start to the west was a good idea. Try to beat the strongest winds of the day and then return with a tailwind. The roads looked good on the map!?! It didn’t take long before realizing that this would be an interesting ride. I got on Okeechobee Road and went west. Okeechobee Road is a highway with endless strip malls and side streets. I was fortunate to be going opposite the morning rush hour traffic. I had only a minimal shoulder. Occasionally there was a bike lane but only to navigate through new intersections. It quickly disappeared on the other side.
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    Once I got away from the coast things did quiet down. Unfortunately the road got narrower and the speed limit went up. When Okeechobee Rd. ended I turned south and I seriously questioned how much further I would continue. The road was tight and busy with truck traffic. Thankfully, drivers were considerate, waiting behind me while I struggle into a monstrous wind, until it was safe to go around me.
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    Last edited by biknben; 04-08-2005 at 06:06 PM.
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  6. #6
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    That road eventually ended at Route 80/441. I made the turn to continue west and stopped dead in my tracks. This would be my turning point. I jokingly thought about pulling a Dave Stohler (Breaking Away reference) but thought better of it. I wonder how fast I could have gone behind some of those trucks? I took these pics facing west. The intersection was just behind. I turned around and headed for home.
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  7. #7
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    At least I no longer had a headwind. Actually, I could have coasted home. The wind was brutal. I did my best to maintain a sense of humor about the situation, taking pictures over my shoulder of big trucks approaching from behind. I retraced my route simply because there was no where else to go. I was now in the farmlands. All side streets were unpaved.
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  8. #8
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    When I got back to civilization, I was again on the highway. Now traffic was heavier and the threat of rain was lurking. I stopped to refuel. They don't sell booze in convenience stores in Jersey. I don't think I've even seen a 24oz CAN of beer before. I could have used one of those. I was able to fight the urge.

    Back on the road, I took advantage of the wind and really started to motor. Being able to maintain 30+ mph on flat ground, while taking pictures, was a new experience.
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  9. #9

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    Flordia riding scares me.

    Not much of a shoulder there.
    Old people.
    Sand.
    Wind.
    Heat!!!!!

    I have ridden on A1A in the morning, ok at best.
    Watch out for the hockey puck reflectors on teeth rattling roads.

    There is a cool river off that lake where you can canoe down and look at alligators.
    Run on the beach? Ok!
    Swim in warm ocean, cool!

    Same as the beach here in NC.
    Crowded and not that fun (for me).

  10. #10
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    In true Florida fashion...

    In true Florida fashion, it rained for about 3 minutes and I got drenched before I could find cover. By the end of the ride I was laughing about how bad the ride had gone. To top it off, I had to cross four lanes of traffic to make a left turn to get off that damn road. I did manage to make it home unscathed.
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    Last edited by biknben; 04-08-2005 at 06:12 PM.
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by biknben
    Once I got away from the coast things did quiet down. Unfortunately, the road got narrower and the speed limit went up. When ffice:smarttags" />Okeechobee Rd. ended, I turned south and I seriously questioned how much further I would continue. The road was tight and busy with truck traffic. Thankfully, drivers were considerate, waiting behind me while I struggle into a monstrous wind, until it was safe to go around me.
    Happy to hear you made it out of Fla in one piece. Headlines 2-3 weeks ago in our SW Florida paper - "Within an Inch of Their Lives" Stats about how Florida has exceeded all states in bike-vehicle accidents and fatalities. Not too long ago one had fairly easy access to inland "country" roads with little traffic, but such is hard to find these days. Seems everyone is moving to Fla., and the ranches, groves and rural areas are steadily morphing into retirement communities and golf courses.

  12. #12
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    Northern Florida is much better than Southern Florida (when it comes to riding). I used to live in Ft Lauderdale, and there was no way I would ride anywhere in Palm/Broward/Dade Counties.

  13. #13
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    Herald Tribune?

    I read that article also in the Sarasota paper, and almost posted it here. Riding down here in the peak of tourist season is not giving you a true idea of what it's like here, but off season you still have to deal with a lot of "situations". I'm on the southwest coast which so far, has not gotten too out of hand in my area. BTW, I was wondering if there was a drip pan under the Bentley to protect that tile floor?

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the ride report and pictures.

    The real question is... did you take the bentley out for a spin?

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    North Florida

    Quote Originally Posted by Einstruzende
    Northern Florida is much better than Southern Florida (when it comes to riding). I used to live in Ft Lauderdale, and there was no way I would ride anywhere in Palm/Broward/Dade Counties.
    I first started riding in my college days in Tallahassee. Back then such a biker's paradise, with the hills north of town and the flats to the south. When I got the hankering to ride again (~30 years since), I had those notions and visions in mind of those tree lined country roads leading up into Georgia or even west of town. In SW Fla now, I kinda hoped to be able to get in some miles on the "other side" of I-75, but it ain't exactly what I'd hoped it would be out there. So, I've got an out the door ~neighborhood 9 mile loop or 16 mile loop if I cross a 6 lane road to a dead end and back, all fairly sedate traffic-wise, but you know, the loops get old.

  16. #16
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    Day three:

    On day three we hit the beach in the morning. Shortly after we arrived, they closed the water due to sharks in the area. That was a new experience. No big deal. We just frollicked around the water's edge anyway. Is it obvious I haven't seen much sun lately?
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  17. #17
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    You didn't think I'd skip a day of riding, did you? I got a late start and squeezed a ride in before dinner. This time I went East into Palm Beach and just tooled around for a while. On each ride I had a ten minute pleasant warm up before being forced onto busy roads. Then the fun began.
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  18. #18
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    Money talks. I found better pavement and occasional bike lanes as I got closer to the coast. Strangely, the bike lanes were only on roads that went north/south while the busier east/west roads offered nothing.
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  19. #19
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    I cruised north from West Palm along the ocean, looking at big houses and just chillin. I eventually ran out of road. I found an impressive MUT with great views of the intercoastal waterway (between the barrier island and the mainland). With a posted speed limit of 10 MPH, I decided to go back to the roads.
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  20. #20
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    From here, I turned west to go home. Things got interesting as it was now the height of the PM rush and I was traveling away from the coast with the traffic flow. Sun glare was an issue, I was tired from being in the sun all day, and the wind was now blowing in my face. Riding in Jersey, with agressive drivers, has made me pretty comfortable in traffic. This wasn't as bad as it looks. I took the lane whenever I wanted and traffic didn't seam to mind. Trying to navigate across a two-lane exit ramp to Interstate 95 still took some serious balls though.
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  21. #21
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    I did manage to make it home again. I enter the gated community and let out a big sigh.
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    Great Post

    Beautiful family btw. Your son looks alot like Dad.

    Your pics look like the ride from hell. Makes my winter of spinning not seem as bad as it was.

  23. #23
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    I get a kick out that garage floor. SPOTLESS ceramic tile on the garage floor?!

    My garage floor is bare concrete with stuff all over it, I think that garage floor is cleaner than my kitchen floor!!!!!!

  24. #24
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    Since the thread is getting a bit large, I figure it is a good ideas to break it up. Part two can be found here: http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=28489
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  25. #25
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    People who live in glass houses . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by biknben
    Is it obvious I haven't seen much sun lately?
    I liked your report (both parts). I was going to make a smart comment about your beach picture. But, then I looked in the mirror.

    The last time I went swimming (last summer), my teenage daughters asked me to put on a shirt because my biker/farmer tan was so embarassing to them. They have been making none-too-subtle hints that I should go to a spray tan salon before I appear at a pool or on the beach again.
    I try to be perfectly civil, until someone really pisses me off.

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