Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Riding the New Smyrna Beach - Flagler Beach 115k

In late February, my wife Pat and I visited Florida. One thing we were aiming for were natural areas such as the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore (and no, we missed seeing a rocket launch, but we did see small alligators, sanderlings, and roseate spoonbills).

I also got in some biking, including Dave Thompson's lovely New Smyrna Beach to Flagler Beach 115km Permanent Populaire. This route takes in the Intracoastal Waterway, Atlantic beaches, and a nice forest.

This map, courtesy of Google and RWGPS, belies a route that's more interesting than it might look.

It's a nice, sunny start around 70º near the Intracoastal Waterway.

After a brief stint on US-1, we're on roads bordering the waterway.

Beach St. is a quiet road bordered by modest homes on one side and shoreside parks on the other.

Next up we veer into more remote-looking environs: Bulow Creek State Park. Light, polite traffic, and a smattering of cyclists.

The overarching trees provide welcome shade. There are signs here and there posting minimum height clearance (like underpasses have). Dave says the canopy has been thinned out some by successive hurricanes. So it must have been a shade paradise before and may become so again!

After climbing over the Intracoastal Waterway on one of those high arcing bridges, and zooming into Flagler Beach, I stop at the 7-Eleven (after bypassing the much more interesting looking "6-11" store, and an inviting barbecue place on the corner). 

At the 7-Eleven, I've caught up with three riders - each sporting tri-looking bikes with deep-dish, low spoke count wheels - who had waved earlier as they passed me on Beach Street. As I munch pizza, one of them asks if I'm on a randonnée. Turns out he'd ridden some brevets, including one of Paul Rozelle's 300k's, which as he recounted involved sudden downpours of chilling rain, and street flooding. He expressed interest in getting back into our sport. All of the three riders were fit and extremely good natured, and really brightened my ride.

Flagler Beach (named at least indirectly for the creator of the Florida East Coast Railway, which until the 1935 "Labor Day" hurricane extended through the Florida Keys)

And it's on to another quiet, wooded lane (John Anderson Drive).

The Atlantic coast segment is a succession of modest, well-kept, 1960's and 1970's neighborhoods,  punctuated by high-rise condos and resort lodgings.

Back over the Intracoastal Waterway, on either the highest or the second highest point in the route, depending on which bridge is higher. It's a nice vista.

And a final stretch back on Halifax ...

... before a pleasant finish on Highway 1.

A big thanks to Dave Thompson for the route, his tips, and the loan of his backup bike.

I really had a nice time on this intro to Florida randonneuring, and am encouraged to do more!


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