We departed the hotel at 7:15am sharp, and rode a brisk 6 miles to the quaint historic town of St. Mary’s, Georgia. We saw more egrets, pelicans, places designated as bird sanctuaries and not one coffee shop open for business. Patience is a practice, and there is always Fernandina Beach.
40 cyclists then unclipped and boarded a ferry bound for Fernandina Beach, Florida. The 8 mile ferry ride lasted an hour, and we saw wild horses and dolphins. No, not together. Our Captain was not only a seasoned mariner but he also knew a thing or two about the rich history of Cumberland Island, the oysters, the tides, the battles in the 1800s, and who wants to get off a boat when history sounds so charming?
Our group assembled in the town of Fernandina, and we were joined by bicycling locals, top notch guides, and 30 knots of tailwind. There was time to be made and no time to stop for coffee, so off went our peloton, weaving in and out of route A1A, trails, Ocean Drive, highways, bridges and we watched the terrain change from massive oak trees to palms. We rode past gated communities with 15 mph speed limits while cruising along in the 20s, and the only times we actually slowed is when when the crosswinds nearly blew our bikes off the road.
Still no sign of a single coffee shop, we reached the St. John’s River at mile 40ish, and took the Ferry to the other side, where it was time to get off the saddle and have a seafood lunch. When we departed the restaurant, the winds had picked up and the skies darkened, and the weather mostly stayed that way for the rest of our ride.
We left the gated communities behind, and traveled through protected seashore, and thanks to those mighty winds, the miles flew by. We held tight to our handlebars, lest that crosswind gust take you by surprise. With wide shoulders, bicycle lanes and the occasional trail, northern Florida was most welcoming to cyclists…and thanks to the push from the winds, we arrived in St. Augustine before the coffee shops closed!
Be sure to read / follow fellow ECG cyclist and blogger, Sylvia.