I made it about ½ way across the main peninsula of Florida and relished absolutely perfect weather today.
I rode from Perry, FL to Gainesville, FL today. A ride of 92 miles and just 400 ft of elevation gain throughout the ride, most of which was just west of Gainesville where there are a few small (micro?) hills. I actually looked at the elevation gain at 34 miles into the ride and it was 7 ft, basically within the accuracy of the GPS system – that defines flat land!
The route: I started out on US Hwy 98, which I’ve now been riding on for quite a few days in FL, and then rode FL Hwy 26 into Gainesville. Both of those highways are awesome cycling highways with very smooth pavement and a riding lane for nearly the entire trip – fantastic on the joints and quite easy to gain some very nice speeds while at the same time having the ability to enjoy the landscape throughout the entire ride.
The weather: Beautiful. Totally sunny, again – I’ll say it again, I must be the luckiest cyclist on the face of the planet right now – fantastic weather. Temps started out in the 40s in the morning but quickly warmed up and most of the afternoon was in the 70s. For the first time I can recall in the whole trip I had basically no wind for many hours in the morning and then just a light wind of about 5 mph or so in the afternoon.
The ride started out as it ended yesterday – tons of pine forests for about 40 miles this morning with a few more homes along the way. A bit redundant with all of the pine forests I’ve seen over the past 1.5 weeks, but then as I started to ride more easterly the landscape opened up a bit more with a few farms, cattle grazing, more small towns to ride through and a lot more hardwood trees than I’ve seen in, it seems like, weeks. I’ve never been to Gainesville (I hear they have a big basketball game tonight – U of Florida vs FGCU) and so riding into the city of about 125k people was quite pleasant – small rolling hills, lot’s of hardwood trees lining the streets and what looks like a nice college town atmosphere.
On to the pictures!! Today was “next to last” on the trip – big day tomorrow!
Similar to what I saw two days ago on Day 35, Perry FL was a big staging and training area for the US Army prior to WW II. A touching quote at the end of what's on the sign.
Just south of Perry, FL - something different than pine trees! In this case I was as surprised to see these guys as they were to see me!!
Open field with a small pond/swamp and trees (big one on the left) with spanish moss. Again, something different than pines...
Not a lot of highways in this part of FL that run north/south - US 98 as I am calling it is actually 3 highways that all neck together onto this road for 40-50 miles. At least it was a well paved set of 3 highways in 1!
Typical landscape along US Hwy 98 on the ride today.
And some riding video in the same stretch of Hwy 98. Amongst other things you can see 1 of a few dozen logging trucks I was today (most going north with trees).
The one major river I crossed over today, just West of a town called Fanning Springs.
The one big turn for the ride today, that also marked my exit from Hwy 98 (I had been on for many days since entering FL earlier in the week).
A few horses (I've not seen many in FL) and I believe the first donkey I've seen in FL. Nice - neither of which are pine trees...
Courthouse in a small town called Trenton, FL.
Nice building wall mural in Trenton, FL.
Video of the ride along Hwy 26. Lots of colorful wild flowers along this highway (the reason I was pointing the camera down so often).
Colorful field with some spring colors and more wild flowers.
Most interesting sign of the day!
Huge trees with spanish moss.
US Hwy 41 runs from Northern WI (where I grew up) in Green Bay WI (where my wife is from) down south through Punta Gorda (my sister in law owns a condo there) - so kind of cool for me to pass over this major US Hwy - I needed to keep going East.
Quaint suburb west of Gainesville.
Passing under another major Interstate - I-75. Also, just getting into some "fun" Gainesville traffic at rush hour - I always need to shift a few mental gears when this happens after hours of riding in the countryside - all of a sudden you have 100's of people driving past you trying to get home and they often times are not looking for cyclists as they're turning - time to be careful and observant as a bicyclist!
Updated map! So close - 1 more day!!!