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  1. #1
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    St. Augustine Beach: 78 Miles, Wind, Rain, and the Beach

    One of the perks of working at the place I do is that the owner offers a free weekend at his beach house in St. Augustine to all employees once a year. This year, the night back-of-house staff decided to go over this past weekend.

    Most of them left Saturday night after work, but I'd intended on riding the bike out there. With it being a home FL Gator game, I was unwilling to chance the occasional drunken idiot driving out to Putnam county to pick beer up after 2 AM (which is when they stop selling it in Alachua county on Saturday night/Sunday morning). So, I rose extra early on Sunday.

    At about six-thirty AM, I mounted up and rode out into the misty morning. It was still dark here, and there was a little fog from the dew point being so close to the air temperature. No wind, and an overnight low of about seventy degrees made for perfect riding weather.

    By the time I hit Melrose, at about eight-ish, I'd been riding into the rosy fingers of the rising dawn for about an hour. By that point, my face hurt from smiling so much. I stopped in at the quickie mart there for some water and a candy bar to keep the calories up.

    Refueled, I got back on the bike and headed east, into the brightening day. By the time I hit Palatka, at around ten-thirty, I'd worked up a good sweat and a better appetite. Some of those hills on the way out there are huge for Florida--almost respectable in their own right! I stopped in at the local McDonalds for a cheap second breakfast and a refill of the Camelback. I ran into a local who was interested in my riding and I gave him the lowdown on my set-up and distances, explaining that I didn't go very far, but that I was comfortable during my trips.

    By eleven-thirty I was back on the road. Unfortunately, the weather conspired against me by this point. By the time I turned onto State Road 207, the wind had shifted to the north-east and picked up to fifteen miles an hour with twenty mile an hour gusts. It took me almost an hour and an half to cover ten miles going into that wind. I've been worn out before, but never so sharply over such a short distance.

    Turning onto State Road 206, I gained my wind back by walking the bike for five minutes to give my knees a rest. Mounting back up, I continued on into what was turning into a fairly nasty storm. Fortunately, there was no lightning, but it sure was blowing hard. I enjoy riding in the rain, but I have to admit that I was worried for my safety: visibility was waaaaay down. Even with my lights on, I was concerned about drivers on the road.

    I didn't come to mischief, though. Pulling into the gas station by I-95, I grabbed an iced coffee and a protein bar to bring my energy levels back up. I rolled on, moving slowly to give my knees a little breathing room after my windy push up 207. A1A came up quickly, and I turned north once again.

    I pushed up A1A until I hit the turnoff for St. Augustine Beach. Pulling into the grocery store parking lot, my phone chirped at me to let me know I'd had a text message. Sure enough, it turned out that the guys from work were headed to the grocery store for munchies and beer. Well, that was why I was there, too!

    Browsing the beer isle (by the way, the Publix in St. Augustine Beach has the second-best beer selection I've seen in a grocery store), my friends came right on up and expressed surprise over my being there at the same time that they were. Serendipity, eh?

    After making my purchases, I loaded back up on the bike and continued on to the beach house. After parking the bike and throwing my stuff inside the entrance hall, I fairly danced the hundred and fifty feet over the dune passage and beach right down to the water. Jumping in was probably the best ending to a bike trip that I've ever had. In the middle of the pouring rain, no less!

    After a dunk in the wind-whipped whitecaps, I showered off and strung up the hammock on the upstairs deck. Leaning back with a cold one, I enjoyed the company of my friends (and their cooking!) for the rest of the evening.

    I tried to sleep in the Hennessy on the porch that night, but unfortunately, wind-blown rain chased me back inside around three AM. I'd not thought to bring the tarp, what with being under an awning and all...meh...

    Still, the hammock saw use as a lounger all weekend, and one of the guys I work with is now looking at them for his hiking use .

    I had thought that everyone was staying through until Tuesday morning, but unfortunately, they weren't. So, instead of biking back home tomorrow morning, I got a ride from one of my co-workers. I can do eighty miles in a single ride, but I'm not quite up to back-to-back distances like that just yet...

    Pictures attached below (left to right):

    1.) The view from the deck over the beach access walkway.

    2.) A photo of a rainbow that I snapped from the hammock.

    3.) & 4.) The Hennessy strung up on the deck.

    5.) A photo of the sunset today. I sure didn't want to leave.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Member DiezelDorf's Avatar
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    st hog is awesome huh? like the pictures and the write-up. It was really entertaining. What street were you on? that looks like you were north of the publix. You are right about the publix too! That place has so much alcohol its crazy. Wine selection is redic too

  3. #3
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiezelDorf View Post
    st hog is awesome huh? like the pictures and the write-up. It was really entertaining. What street were you on? that looks like you were north of the publix. You are right about the publix too! That place has so much alcohol its crazy. Wine selection is redic too
    Yeah, the city almost makes me want to move back to a beach town. The tourists would make me want to kill someone within a week and an half, though.

    My boss's place is north of the Publix. Good guess. And, yes, that Publix is fairly out there. Still, if you want to see a beer selection that'll make you flip your lid, come on down to Gainesville and check out Ward's grocery store. It's insane.

    'Twas a good weekend on the whole. I wish I could've stayed through to this morning, but y'know...

  4. #4
    Gumbo's Avatar
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    St. Augustine is such a neat town. I almost miss going there once a month for drill.

    Thanks for sharing the pics. Looks like you had a great view!

  5. #5
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumbo View Post
    St. Augustine is such a neat town. I almost miss going there once a month for drill.

    Thanks for sharing the pics. Looks like you had a great view!
    Yeah, I sure do enjoy that city. Both the historic district and the beach.

    The view from the beach house is amazing. There's nothing like the deep blue sea to make you understand just how small you are. I almost miss living in a beach town.

  6. #6
    richtorfla's Avatar
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    Awesome write-up. You make my knees hurt! This old man would have been winded after 5 miles. Cool your boss gives you the pleasure of crashing at his beach house once in a while. Nothing more soothing like hearing the waves crash on the beach.

  7. #7
    Member DiezelDorf's Avatar
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    Yep, I went to school in Gainesville and ive been to wards a good many times. Love all of the stuff there, but you are right their beer is the best. Beers ive never seen before until then. My family also lives in St augustine beach. We have a house on 7th street, which is a little south of the pier and north of publix, the sunshine shop, and fiesta falls (the putt-putt place). When i saw the title I had to see if anything was familar and it all was! I miss north fla

  8. #8
    Senior Member scooterdogma's Avatar
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    My sister used to live near St. Augustine, great place to ride a bike in the winter I've enjoyed your bike-packing stories, as we have just bought bikes to start camping in the woods. Keep'em coming.

  9. #9
    MAD777's Avatar
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    Great write-up! Bac when I was in college at UF we used to make that drive over to Crescent Beach, just south of St. Augustine, every weekend during summer. We would bring our scholl books and camp out on the beach. There was nothing there but a tiny outdoor resturant back in the early 70's. Good memories!
    Mike
    "Life is a Project!"

  10. #10
    Fronkey's Avatar
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    I lived in St. Auggy for a 1 1/2 years. It's such a great place, but you're right about the tourists being a little much. You can't beat that view you had from your hammock in the morning. Glad you had fun.

    Fronkey

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