Author Topic: Orlando FL to Houston TX  (Read 5128 times)

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Offline geegee

Orlando FL to Houston TX
« on: December 13, 2008, 12:34:18 am »
I'm supposed to attend a family gathering in Houston in mid-March and
I'm thinking of getting there the long way by flying to Orlando at the end
of February then riding west. I've never to this part of the US. How is it for
riding, and at this time of the year? Any advice and suggestions
appreciated.


Offline Westinghouse

Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2008, 07:49:02 am »
Stay off highways 27/19/98, unless you can get to 19 from Perry to Tallahassee without using 27/98. Get on hwy. 90 as soon as you can. There is a nice bike path running north and south from at or near Wakulla Station on 19 that will take you to 90 in Tallahassee. 90 is good for cycling all the way across northern FL, but it begins to take on a more deteriorated aspect near the border with Alabama. However, it is useful most of the way to your destination. After 90 in FL you might want to check out ACA's mapped out route for the southern tier. Highway maps are good for 90 depending on what kind of cycling you will be doing. Traffic around Orlando can be thick, fast, and furious in Feb. It was the fastest growing city in the USA for a long time. It grew from orange groves and cow town to thriving metropolis in a short span of years.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 12-18-08 @ 2:32 AM

Offline litespeed

Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2008, 03:41:11 pm »
My bicycle touring always starts with my heading N or NE from my home here in Holiday, about 35 miles north of St. Pete on the west coast of Florida.

Highway 50 through Orlando is no place for a bicycle but if you can get to Winter Garden you can head west on 50 to the Withlacoocheee Trail about 6 miles short of Brooksville. This takes you north to Citrus Park , just south of Dunnellon. From Dunnellon head north on rural 336 and 337 to Bronson on 27. DON'T go north on 41.

27 has plenty of shoulder. Go to Chiefland or Trenton where you can get on the Nature Coast Trail to Cross City. 19 north to Perry or Tallahassee is boring as hell but has shoulder. I have cycled it numerous times.

If you head north and west out of Orlando avoid 441, particularly between Mt. Dora and Fruitland Park - not too bad after that. This area is tough cycling without local knowledge but there are plenty of cyclists and bike shops. Stick to back roads and take sidewalks/bike paths when you can.

US90 through the Florida panhandle is a good bicycling road but 98 along the coast is much more pleasant and scenic albeit a hassle through some of the towns.

US90 along the Mississippi (Biloxi) coast is unbearable. Go inland or follow the ACA route. In Louisiana avoid 190 across the state at all costs. Go north or take the ACA route although it meanders something awful.


Offline geegee

Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2008, 11:20:10 pm »
Thanks for the great advice, I really appreciate it.

A question about cycling in the towns -- are cyclists in the south
harassed to use the sidewalks when there are no bike lanes? I rode in
Alaska last summer and I was surprised when I got to Anchorage after
the freedom of the highways, that cyclists there mostly used the
sidewalks (a motorist actually yelled at me to get off the road at one
point).

I'll try to stick to ACA routes west of Mississippi but I'll be tempted to
find shortcuts here and there. I will only have 2 and 1/2 weeks to do
this. Is tenting a bit chilly in early March?


Offline litespeed

Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2008, 11:52:36 pm »
I have often used sidewalks if I could when the road was heavily trafficked, shoulderless and curbed. I've never had a problem although it is slow and sometimes a bit tense. Just get out of the way of pedestrians (Rarely a problem. Americans rarely walk anywhere) and be careful of blind driveways.

In some of the Florida panhandle towns like Destin or Panama City, believe me, you will be getting on the sidewalk unless you get off 98.

Tenting shouldn't be a problem in early March unless you get an unusual cold snap.

This message was edited by litespeed on 12-16-08 @ 8:58 PM

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2009, 08:49:40 am »
About litespeed's comment to avoid highway 190 crossing Louisiana, I wholeheartedly agree. I took 190, and that is why I said to follow ACA's mapped route after 90 in Florida. 190 might be ok at times, but the last time I used it in 2007 on my way from Florida to El Paso, it was none too good, and there was definitely some monkey business going on with the motorists. It also gets like a rollercoaster on towards San Antonio. I got off it, onto 46 going around SA, and got onto I-10 when I could. 190's surface also got quite rough, joggling the bike, body, and hands continuously. Some extents of 190 might be ok at times, but it is a road to be avoided in general.

Offline geegee

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2009, 11:31:55 pm »
Thanks again for the extra tips. My travel arrangements are made and I'm all set for the end of February. I'm so excited that I've started to pack my panniers even though it's more than a month away.

I've decided to stick close to the Gulf coast and head into New Orleans because I've always wanted to see this part of the States. Here's my route, I'd like to know your opinions:
From Orlando, I've mapped out a route though mostly rural roads north past Gainesville (High Springs). From there it's US 27 to Perry (looks like good shoulders), then US 98 to Pensacola. I'll follow the ACA route south of Mobile bay via Dauphin island then US 90 into New Orleans (seems like it's the only way in). I really don't mind riding in considerable traffic though Biloxi if there are adequate shoulders. From New Orleans I'm planning on taking a combination of US 90 and LA 182 and connect with the ACA route at Opelousas.

I've got a bit of a tight schedule since I have a set event to attend in Houston. The nice thing about this route is that I'll be close to Amtrak service just in case I fall behind in my itinerary and if I need to make up one or two days riding at the end. I'll be completely out of shape at the start -- I've been trying to get as much winter riding where I am, but even with studded tires, the extreme bitter cold lately (-30˚C/-20˚F!!) and frequent snowstorms have limited my outdoor activities.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2009, 12:48:05 pm »
That seems like a good way to go. I have also followed the gulf road if that is 98. It is flat about everywhere with the gulf waters often immediately to your left going west. It does rise here and there, and of course when you cross bridges. 90 through Mississippi can be a bit highly trafficked. If it gets too hectic, you should be able to find a concrete sidewalk on the gulf side to use intermittently. Sidewalks across the street from the gulf side were very old, broken, occluded, and generally in disrepair and moved about by the roots of old trees. I remember having to cross from one side to the other more than twenty times in one area because the road was too busy and narrow to cycle, and cyclable surfaces on either side of 90 began and ended intermittently. Traffic slacks off just about everywhere on Sundays. Much of what I write here about Miss. may have changed after hurricane Katrina. Lately they were paving in new roads. Your chosen route ought to be all right. There may be others with much more experience cycling all these different routes who can give you better advice than I can.

The gulf route has nice scenery. There is plenty of fresh air. There are beaches. There are quite a few places for free camping. I got lost twice trying to regain 90 west out of Pensacola. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed to be somwhat confusing getting through the city and staying on 90. 90 into New Orleans is a good ride. There is a ferry near Franklin Street that will take you across the Mississippi River. 90 can take you through real Cajun bayou country. It is all flat in that area. Expect to see narrow roads bounded by canals. New Orleans in below sea level in areas. That region has a major project controlling water. The mouth of the Mississippi keeps wanting to move, and they need to keep it where it is. The region is a flood plain.
They want to build a sea wall around Houma.

Offline geegee

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2009, 07:17:15 pm »
Just got back from my ride, had a great time, mostly good weather.

For anyone interested in this route, I've mapped out the data from my GPS:
http://www.bikemap.net/route/137115


Offline Westinghouse

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2009, 08:08:26 am »
Just got back from my ride, had a great time, mostly good weather.

For anyone interested in this route, I've mapped out the data from my GPS:
http://www.bikemap.net/route/137115


That's just way too cool for words. I checked the map and the pointers. I know exactly where you went, and I have gone the same route by bicycle myself.

How did you sleep? Motels, stealth, pay camp, friends, a combination of all of the above? What about shelter? Tent, tarp, bivy sack. How long did it take. I am guessing 15 days to 20, but probably less than twenty. Any problems along the way?

Offline geegee

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2009, 09:28:44 am »
Good guess, it took me 16 days. Mostly favourable winds, a glancing SE breeze off the sea, and a couple of days of bracing NNW winds with 30 mph gusts in the middle of the FL panhandle. A mix of accommodations half of it camping, a couple of WS hosts, some motels as cheap as $29, and one hotel splurge in New Orleans because I wanted to be close to the Saturday night action. I took a light tent with me, a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2.

All the new bridges along the coast are excellent. It was a bit disappointing to see US 90 through Biloxi newly rebuilt without any bike lanes or a decent beachside pathway/promenade. With very minimal investment in cycling infrastructure to iron out a few rough spots (missing shoulders, alternate bike paths), this route has the makings of a great tour that offers a fantastic variety of scenery and culture.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2009, 09:33:46 am by geeg »

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2009, 01:47:52 pm »
So with all their new roads they still will not build a cycling lane.  It's too bad. I guess they have other things to worry about. Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing cyclists in those areas.  I have cycled through there twice, maybe three times. I camped out near Tillman's Corner one night. I always went straight through New Orleans, except for one night when we were invited to stay at a residence. Did you have any problems at all going through Louisiana? I did have every time I went through that state by bicycle.

Offline geegee

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2009, 01:07:52 am »
I had no problems at all. People-wise, everyone I came across was nice to me (except for a couple of yahoos screaming out of car windows, but those jerks exist elsewhere). I was given free food three times, and offered a ride when I was cycling in the rain (I declined). Bike-wise the only snag I had was a flat tire on the last afternoon of my tour.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Orlando FL to Houston TX
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2009, 06:15:14 am »
Great ride. Great ride. Kudos.