Starkey to Clearwater

Day 7: Florida Coast-to-Coast bike tour

Start: JB Starkey backcountry site #2

Finish: Summerside Inn [1477 S Ft Harrison Avenue, Clearwater Beach FL 33756]

Strava track (backcountry site to campground): https://www.strava.com/activities/6825371639

Strava track (campground to Clearwater): https://www.strava.com/activities/6825372475

RideWithGPS route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/38699248

We woke up early but well rested in Starkey backcountry site #2. As we were almost out of water (one of the few negatives about primitive backcountry camping), we decided to cruise down to the Starkey campground and make our breakfast there. Peter navigated to a huge pavilion with several picnic tables, where we spread out tarps and clothes to dry. The bath house was next door, so we took turns using the facilities and cooked up some food for breakfast. We were in the campground awhile — I’d say well over an hour — and saw no one who appeared to work there. We noticed many empty sites as we walked through the loop. And after we’d done everything we wanted to do, we left.

Let me point out that we had 1. used backcountry site #2, 2. used the picnic pavilion, 3. used the bath house, 4. used electrical outlets, 5. refilled our containers with water, and overall thoroughly enjoyed our experience at JB Starkey. And we did it all for free. Not that we weren’t willing to pay, we absolutely were! I even had a person on the phone at one point, and was practically begging for them to offer me a site so I could give them my credit card number. But because they were so dismissive of same-day reservations or walk-ups, they lost out. We found what we needed and moved on, leaving no trace. My recommendation to C2C riders is, reserve in advance if that’s how you roll; otherwise, just show up and don’t sweat it. My advice to the managers of JB Starkey (Pasco County) is to think through your policies so they work better for everyone; you’re shooting yourselves in the foot.

We stopped at the Starkey Market for second breakfast including oranges, grapes, mangoes, muffins and coffee. Peter’s rear tire was developing a lump on the sidewall, so our priority was to get to Tarpon Springs where we’d find a bike shop. They didn’t have what he needed, so we gambled the deteriorating tire would last him til the end of the trip (it did). We strolled through the Sponge Docks during the hottest and most crowded time of day and, not wanting to fight for a table in the busy restaurants, rode another 10-ish miles into Dunedin for Mexican food at Casa Tina. Dunedin is quaint and worth a long pause to stroll the streets and look out at the water.

By this point we were both tired of being in the saddle and decided, now that we’d reached the Gulf coast, we’d like to linger awhile longer rather than push to St Petersburg. We had one buffer day in our schedule, so this was a doable option. The cheapest and most convenient lodging we could find was the Summerside Inn in Clearwater. Arriving at the roadside motel, it didn’t look like much, but the room itself was surprisingly spacious, clean, and well appointed. It even had a kitchenette with a sink, refrigerator, and microwave. The manager was gracious and curious about our trip. After we showered, we contacted our friend Rimas who spends a lot of his time at his mom’s place in Gulfport, and arranged a meetup with him the next day.

~ by GinaCico on March 20, 2022.

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