Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 35 (Wed, 27 Mar)

This was a superb day of riding along the Gulf Coast in an area of Florida that is relatively undeveloped – a fantastic ride!

I rode from Panama City, FL to Crawfordville, FL today.  A ride of 121 miles and a little over 600 ft of climbing – again, basically all of which was just on the arched bridges that I crossed throughout the day.  121 miles is my new personal 1-day ride length record – I’m pretty happy about achieving that!  Nearly all of the ride was along the Gulf Coast basically around the entire Southern edge of the Apalachicola National Forest, Dead Lakes State Park and Tate’s Hell State Forest.

The route: the entire ride was essentially on US Hwy 98 from Panama City to Crawfordville, with the exception that I took a slightly longer outer loop about midway through the ride by taking the Florida Hwy 30a loop along the very southern edge of this part of the Florida Panhandle.

For cyclists reading this that might do the US Southern Route in the future, I highly recommend this route.  US Hwy 98 in this section is a very good road, with about 3/4ths of it having a very good cycling lane, very little traffic and fantastic views of the Gulf in a very desolate part of Florida.  There were many small towns and homes/condos along the route, but no huge developments, no spring break parties ongoing and plenty of nature to enjoy!!!  I would also note that while I set this ride up to be long at 100+ miles, you can easily break it up into 2 pieces as there are a few hotels including a Best Western at about the halfway point of the ride I did today.  I think this is much, much better than the typical Southern Route that goes through the northern part of the FL panhandle in this section of FL.

The weather: Chilly again. Temps at 8a were in the mid 30s with a wind chill at about 30F.  The day was totally sunny and Temps throughout most of the day were in the 40s and 50s.  Winds were about 10 mph all day and generally either a tail wind or cross wind, with a head wind for the last 15 miles or so.

Finally, I didn’t get good video of this but as I was entering a town called Carrabelle I saw two F-22s come in low over the national forest, get to the town, bank hard away from the town and then they went vertical.  Basically, it looked like a mock bombing run.  Awesome.

Also, I've made it back to my "home time zone" by entering the Eastern Time Zone today.

Overall: a huge ride on a beautiful day in a really spectacular part of Florida.  As a cyclist, you cannot ask for anything more than what I enjoyed today.

On to the pictures!

Tyndall AFB, just south of Panama City, FL.  This is one of the primary bases for the USAF fighter jet training and operations in the Continental US.  I was hoping to see some F-22s flying around the base today.  I didn't, but...

... if you zoom in, you can see that I did find a few F-22s parked on the base.

Yikes!  I stayed on the road in this section near Tyndall AFB.

Lot's of gorgeous coastline - incredible ride today; huge scenery.

Nice to see palm trees finally (not just pine trees, which FL has a lot more of than I had previously thought).

Plenty of sandbars, particularly as I came closer to St Joseph, FL.

Entering a pretty part of the Florida coastline.  Lot's of nature left to it (not true in most parts of the Florida coastline given how popular that state is to live in).

The French trying to get in on the Spanish territory back in the 1700s!  In the end, as we know, they both lost out.

There must be quite a few black bear in the area.  That was surprising to me, but I didn't see any today.

Entering the small town of Port St Joe.

Coastline and small bridge in the distance near Port St Joe.

Looks like the Florida Constitution was signed in this town.

Unique wetlands along the Gulf Coast, south of Port St Joe.

At the very southern tip of the peninsula I rode out onto along Florida Hwy 30A, near the community of St Joseph.

Entering the small town of Apalachicola.

Pretty typical of the coastline I was able to ride along today.

Hmm, action shot.

 Bike needed a rest and a bit of shade...

The coastline between the St Joseph area and Carabelle had very little development and is absolutely spectacular to ride along!

Along the Gulf coast just south of Apalachicola, FL.

Nice 4-5 mile bridge across East Bay between Apalachicola and Eastpoint, FL.

Panorama along the bridge

And some video riding along the bridge at a good 17-18 mph clip.

Entering Eastpoint, FL

Good example of the coast between Eastpoint and Carrabelle, FL.  For a good 15-20 miles US 98 is right next to the Gulf of Mexico in this stretch - very cool ride.

Riding along the coast, literally, between Eastpoint and Carrabelle, FL.

Pretty interesting WW II history here, near Carrabelle, FL.

Turkey vultures circling over me near the end of the long ride - hmmmmm.....

Last view I'll have on this trip of the Gulf of Mexico - I have definitely enjoyed riding along it for the past many days!

Updated map!

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