Author Topic: Three roads across north Florida on the southern tier.  (Read 1212 times)

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Offline Westinghouse

Three roads across north Florida on the southern tier.
« on: March 11, 2020, 08:04:38 pm »
There are three roads crossing north Florida going east to west. Which one is best for you to bike depends on the kind of touring you do. The most popular route is highway 90. It runs from Jacksonville, FL to Van Horn, TX.  If you need designated camp grounds, motels, and you want to visit sites of cultural and historic interest, 90 is your road. One thing about 90 is it can get very hilly. Some hills are quite long and might present a difficult to insurmountable challenge to inexperienced cyclists starting out from Jacksonville. You could also encounter heavy traffic.

Farther south is highway 20. This road is clean. It has side lanes. It is rolling, but it does not have the long steep hills found on 90. It is an easier ride, faster and safer. On my three crossings using 20, I do not remember seeing a camp ground or any sign of one. There is a motel here and there. If you stealth camp, and are looking just to cross the state, 20 is the way to go.

Farther south, following the contour of the shore line on the gulf of Mexico, is highway 98. I used it twice. It is nearly level with small rises here and there. It has many restaurants and motels. It is not a good place to live during a hurricane, but that is a different matter. Certainly there are places of interest. Be all that as it may, there are two reasons I know for avoiding this route. Both times I used it I fought a stiff side wind, south to north, coming in from the gulf. Because it follows the shore line, it adds 60 miles. For many that is a full day of cycling. Add side wind to 60 extra miles, and you question using this road for bicycling, unless you have to.  So, there you are.
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« Last Edit: March 11, 2020, 08:08:26 pm by Westinghouse »

Offline aggie

Re: Three roads across north Florida on the southern tier.
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2020, 12:36:16 pm »
I rode hwy 98 along the coast in October.  Other than the stretch between Ft. Walton and Sandestin (road under reconstruction and heavy traffic) I enjoyed the ride.  Once the construction is done it should be ok.  Looked like they are putting in either a bike path or a very wide sidewalk.  Didn't seem to notice the wind except for a cold north wind when I rode out of Apalachicola in the morning.  Even saw a pair of bald eagles on one of the many pine trees.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Three roads across north Florida on the southern tier.
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2020, 06:52:52 pm »
Wind and weather are variables, for sure. One person runs into strong side winds. Another has smooth sailing all the way. Things change and that means roads. When I first started bicycle touring, Hwy US 1 in south Florida was a good road to avoid. That was 1984. Nowadays it is good for cycling, except for some towns like Fort Pierce and Melbourne where there is no margin of safety, and sidewalks are old-town style . On one trip from southeast coastal Florida to San Diego, CA I got a total of 25 minutes of rain, and that  was in Slidell, Louisiana. On another trip along the same route, rain and wind forced me off the road several times. On another crossing there were many side winds and head winds, many out of the southeast as I traveled east to west. I laid over in Van Horn, TX, the town with $22.00 motels. The day I set out from Van Horn, a following wind blew up. I made it 126 miles into El Paso. 98 is good for cycling, but it adds miles, and that sea breeze can put a dent in your plans. The thing to do is do it, and see how it works out. I am planning a long trip in the US. I will keep a constant watch on weather reports and forecasts. I got caught out in seriously dangerous weather events that make me feel sure it is a miracle I am still alive. It's good they are adding on to Hwy 98. I would not use it, but if one wants to see the gulf coast, and all those groovy little towns along the way, it's the road to travel.