Jacksonville to St Augustine

Day 1: Florida Coast-to-Coast Bike Tour

Start: Jacksonville Amtrak station [3570 Clifford Lane, Jacksonville FL 32209]

Finish: Agustin Inn [29 Cuna Street, St Augustine FL 32084]

Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/6794927622

RideWithGPS route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/38681157

In early March 2022, we rode 423+ miles in Florida, from the eastern Atlantic beaches to the Gulf coast on the western side of the state. We connected Adventure Cycling Association’s Atlantic Coast Route with the Florida Coast-to-Coast route. From the Washington DC area we took Amtrak’s Silver Star to Jacksonville, rode our bikes for the next 8 days, and got on Amtrak Silver Star again in Tampa to return home. Both legs of our train trip were overnighters, and we bought coach tickets (jumped on a two-for-one deal that made it really cheap). For this trip we took advantage of Amtrak’s bike service, which costs an extra $20 per bike, allowing us to check our bikes on the baggage car. We always feel accomplished when we can pull off a trip like this while leaving our cars at home parked in the driveway.

Our train arrived in JAX about two hours late. (Plus two days, given that a freight train derailment had mucked up the entire East corridor and forced us to reschedule. Also as we waited for our train, a truck got stuck in the underpass at the Amtrak station; we watched it happen. And don’t even ask about the loud and rude woman who made our overnight train trip pretty miserable! So many bad omens….) We didn’t have much time to waste to get out of Jacksonville and arrive at our destination before dark.

To navigate from the train station out to the beaches, there were few bike-friendly route options. We chose the one recommended by Adventure Cycling Association for JAX airport access, connecting to the regular Atlantic Coast route (Section 6). The ACA route took us north of the Saint Johns River and east through a semi-industrial area with light traffic, crossing the river again via the Mayport Ferry which runs every half hour and costs $2 for bicycles.

South of Mayport we made an impromptu stop at a little shop called Pie Heaven. As we enjoyed our slices, we had a lovely conversation with the women who own and run the place. They explained their mission to do good in the world by feeding people pie. Who can argue?!?

Passing through Ponta Vedra Beach, we stopped at a beach access where Juan Ponce de Leon purportedly first sighted the coastline of what is now Florida. It turned out to be the only time we walked on beach sand the entire trip.

Our tour along the Atlantic coast coincided with the annual Bike Week event. This fact was unbeknownst to us before overhearing a comment on the train, but became increasingly obvious as we saw more and more Harley Davidson motorcycles. All told, I’d rather share the road with these guys than cars and trucks. It’s not like they can sneak up on you, as loud as they are, and bikers tend to be very respectful of bicyclists. We pedaled by a few who’d stopped and I yelled “Hey, it’s Bike Week, right?!” which elicited laughs and cheers.

We arrived in St Augustine and navigated the last few miles to our B&B in the dark. The Agustin Inn was friendly, provided us a comfortable room, and gave us a great breakfast.

~ by GinaCico on March 20, 2022.

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