Miles: 73.1 Today / 614.53 Total
Elevation Gain: 558 ft. Today / 5031 ft. Total
As you know, today was the first day of riding with the Bike the US for MS Team, and it did not disappoint. After a comfee night in a Hilton Hotel room, we were all rested and ready to go, this morning. We met in the parking lot, and right off, a gal whose 29 year old sister has MS stopped to see if she could get a photo with us. BAM!
So we headed out to a nearby dock to get a group photo, and the whole “Stray Cat” theme seemed to be emerging, for those of you who rode the Southern Tier with me. Don’t get me wrong. Having a variety of personalities does make things more fun, but some things can take a lot longer, when you do.
After the obligatory group photo, we rode out together, and were quickly staggered out, based on how fast we moved. I might have been in the middle of the pack.
My first stop was Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the US—built by the Spanish in 1695 to guard the north entrance to the Matanzas River.
Shortly thereafter, we crossed the Bridge of Lions over the Matanzas River aka the Intercoastal Waterway to a long sliver of land like those I’ve been riding on for days.
The roads and scenery on that narrow split were lovely. Not so many mansions—mostly homes owned by middle and upper middle class people.
So we were cruising along nicely, with just a gentle cross wind, when we hit a dreaded “Road Closed” sign. All the cars were turning around, but we are on bikes, and this was our route to take us 72 miles today, so going back and figuring out another route was kind of out of the question at this point.
One of the leaders of the MS org had already worked out a couple of alternatives. The first was to jump in the van and ride around to the other side, which would require 2 trips to shuttle us all and take over an hour per trip. The second, and the one we all chose, was to carry our bikes up a couple of flights of stairs to the beach access of a kind lady named Peggy, who lived in the house right there at the closure and coincidentally used to ride MS 150 rides.
We were slogging up those stairs within a couple of minutes, then pushing our bikes—mine being almost 30 lbs, but others around 16-20 lbs—down the beach for about 1/2 mile. It was high tide, so for the most part, we had to go through the deep dry sand, and let me just say that this was quite an unexpected full body workout for all of us, but we did it.
When we got to the next beach access—our exit—we were just past multiple police vehicles and a 3 car crash that was just a jumble of car parts. It was a 2 fatality collision, where 2 of the 3 drivers walked away, which is miraculous, considering the condition of the vehicles.
After that, the rest of the day might have been a blur, but when we got to Mayport, the ferry that usually runs every 30 minutes to take you across the St. John River was closed—till May 2nd! What the heck! Luckily, we are traveling with a van that took 2 trips to shuttle us riders to the point where the ferry would have dropped us off—a mere 50 minute drive.
Fortunately, the rest of the day was uneventful. I learned the routine for the team ride, which is a rest stop with shade, chairs, cold water and our rest stop bins set up every 15-20 miles. Very nice! As we rode through Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Mayport, I checked with 5 bike shops for the Stans sealant I need to get my rear tire back to being tubeless. No joy.
Calling ahead, I did find a shop in Fernandina Beach with both Stans and a mechanic with the willingness to take the time to help me with my tire. I stopped at that shop, and a sweet, kind mechanic named Ron Armstrong spent about an hour getting glass out of my tire and working to seal up the hole so it would seal and hold air. He sent me out on a test drive, and sure enough, it is good to go. Thanks so much for all your help, Ron, and for the interesting conversation and letting me be your little helper.
We spent the night in the very large open worship hall of Journey Church. They run a big food bank operation, so we had access to a kitchen, which was very nice. We all just laid out our sleeping pads and sleeping bags and made a little nest next to our bikes. But sleeping was a different matter It took me a couple of hours to finally doze off. There are no heavy duty snorers in the group—just a couple of guys who snore in loud spurts, but that’s all it takes to keep me up.
2 thoughts on “4/20/23 – St. Augustine to Past Fernandina Beach, FL”
Well at lease none of these inconveniences affected your safety. Snoring keeps me awake also. Maybe you should invest in a set of ear plugs for sleeping? Stay safe! Mickey
No, but that crash sure made us be more aware of what’s going on around us. Very sad.