November 7-15, 2023
Prepared by Chris Hayes, critiqued by 21 riders
First, a quick timeline of notable St. Augustine periods:
The First Spanish Period, 1565-1763
The British Period, 1763-1783
The Second Spanish Period, 1783-1821
The U.S. Territorial Period, 1821-1845
The CCCTS Period, November 7-15, 2023
Cast of characters: Linda, Tim, Chris H, Donna, Geoff, Peter, Marg, Carole, Bonnie, Robin, Dan, Bill, Caroline, Anne, Bruce, Gord, Mark, Erika, Fred, Chris C, Helene, Luc
Sunrise on the beach
Day 0 Arrivals and Pre-Rides
Over a couple of days, 22 cyclists arrived in St. Augustine, Florida in search of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. Who knew we had already found the secret to eternal youth … our bikes!
Our cyclists converged from Seattle, WA; Quadra Island, BC; Hampton, Virginia; and Ottawa (and environs), ON.
A number of riders arrived at our home base, the St. Augustine Ocean and Racquet Club on St. Augustine Beach the day before the event start date and were immediately on their bikes, riding to who knows where for who knows how long … but we all know why.
Day 0 and checkout ride wildlife sightings: an armadillo, a large tortoise and a shark.
Hazards to date: darting squirrels and sand at crossings.
Day 1 Where Are We?
Bonnie and Carole arrived in St. Augustine 30 minutes before our first ride. We aren’t sure if they ever did have time to fully unpack before it was the end of the agenda-rich trip and time to pack back up and go home.
Today’s ride was a 20 km familiarization ride which quickly turned into a full-blown tour of the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse complex. Who wouldn’t want to climb the 219-step spiral staircase in cycling cleats?!? Although only planned as a short, late afternoon orientation ride we managed to squeeze in a formal tour of the lighthouse complex and quick stops at the St. Augustine Amphitheater (The Amp), a secret turtle pond and an alligator farm.
And we still made it back in time to enjoy our first happy hour. Where Linda fessed up to her over-cautious nature, having gone shopping for groceries earlier and finding herself passing others in the grocery cart aisle and nearly calling out “passing on your left!”.
Wildlife sightings: A little blue heron, a Florida softshell turtle (joined us for happy hour), osprey, pelicans.
Today’s Fact: Spanish Moss is neither Spanish nor a moss! https://plants.usda.gov/DocumentLibrary/plantguide/pdf/cs_tius.pdf
Hazards to date: darting squirrels, sand at crossings, loose gravel parking lots, multiple intersections, and climbing metal stairs in cleats.
One of two secret turtle ponds
The famed St. Augustine Lighthouse
At the top of the Lighthouse
Our first happy hour and a Florida Softshell Turtle joining us for Happy Hour
Day 2 St. Augustine
Today started with an announcement from Tim, our self-appointed weather advisor, that Ottawa was in for an ice storm. This immediately set a positive vibe for the rest of the day. And, sad to say, a cheer from the crowd. Sorry Ottawa.
The goal for Day 2 was to tour downtown St. Augustine, getting a sense of the history and points of interest of this 458 year old “oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the continental United States”. By all accounts, it was a success … if you define success by wine, whiskey, lobster rolls, chocolate and ice cream/gelato! The day’s tour included riding from our home base on St. Augustine Beach (Anastasia Island) along the quiet waterside residential streets to the famous Bridge of Lions, guarded by replicas of the famed Medici Lions of Rome. Crossing the bridge over the Intracoastal waterway took us to the Castillo de San Marco, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. The masonry is known as coquina. Continuing on we stopped by Ripley’s museum where we toured a log home (a complete home inside a log!) as well as a full-sized replica of Michelangelo’s David, one of two in the world (saved us a trip to Italy). Onward we rode to Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth (across the street from the Fountain of Juice juice bar), then off to the Old Jail where we joined a chain gang and visited the gallows (where riders were warned of the punishment for not being cheerful), routed our way past a chocolate factory, a winery, a former cigar factory, took a free tour of a distillery, played music in the park, rode down Martin Luther King Avenue (where MLK once stayed over during the Civil Rights movement), had a quick tour of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon (now Flagler College), ate a Wicked Famous Fish Sandwich (or a lobster roll) at Lobstah on a Roll and visited what was once the largest indoor swimming pool in the world, which now has the Café Alcazar in the deep end! As we were cycling in 4 small groups each group managed to find their own special treat: gelato, coffee, chocolate or ice cream.
It was clear from this overview ride that it would be hard for riders to decide what activities to do on their upcoming rest day.
There was a short stop at the St. Augustine Distillery for a tour. A few jokes were made about how the tour wristbands would let police identify people leaving the distillery. Tim offered to cut bands off with his Leatherman tool so they wouldn’t irritate during the ride. Just after leaving and making their first turn the group encountered two police officers on bikes!
This was also the day Chris H sent out his first edition email of “Lies Chris Has Told Us … So Far” email, correcting his tour highlight “inaccuracies”.
Wildlife sightings: bottlenose dolphin, osprey, tortoise, peacock and a VERY … LARGE … ALLIGATOR.
Today’s Fact: coquina is a very good building material for a fort! https://www.nps.gov/casa/learn/historyculture/coquina-the-rock-that-saved-st-augustine.htm
Hazards to date: darting squirrels, sand at crossings, loose gravel parking lots, multiple intersections, climbing metal stairs in cleats, palm fronds in the bike lane, and overeating.
The group starting out on Day 1. And we all made it to Day 8!
Famous replica Medici Lions at Bridge of Lions
The “Log” Home
Magnolia Avenue, St. Augustine with Live Oaks and Spanish Moss
CCCTS joins the Chain Gang at the Old Jail
Looking for the Fountain of Youth. It must be around here somewhere?!?
Music in the Park
Linda measuring to see if a cask of whiskey will fit on her pannier rack.
St. Augustine Distillery. Free tours.
Lobstah on a Roll lunch stop
Former Hotel Ponce de Leon, now Flagler College
The VERY … BIG … ALLIGATOR!
Another Happy Hour
Day 3 North Florida Keys
An opportunity to head north and ride the self-described “North Florida Keys”! This is a series of islands (keys) that run northward, ending at the quaint town of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. After yesterday’s stop-and-go touristy ride it was nice to get in some consistent kms. Two leaders were smart enough to bypass the road under construction. Not so for Mr. Off road leader-who-shall-remain-nameless (see byline)! Note: If you are going to follow the guy on the gravel bike consider it your own fault!
Highlights today included historic American Beach, a meandering bike trail that wound through palm forests and past beach views, lunch at an oceanside restaurant and visiting Florida’s Oldest Bar, dating back to 1903. Oh … and did we mention seeing a nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine heading out to sea in the afternoon? And watching a Cape Canaveral SpaceX launch from our beach in the evening?!? The launch ran across the dark, clear sky from south to north right before our eyes, with an added bonus of seeing a returning first-stage booster rocket! However, we must say that both of these events were kind of trumped by the chocolate croissant and giant cookies we had at the OMNI Resort’s Marché Burette. There were a few moments of sagging spirits at the end of the ride when it was determined that there was a missing car key! After a few stomach churning moments the owner found the key on a nearby picnic table, where the key had been sitting untouched ALL DAY. A big sigh of relief and off we went for the drive back to home base.
Some of the “Long Riders”, or “Faerie Folk” (they took the ferry) had an interesting return. They took what appeared to be a segregated lane for cycling and pedestrians when crossing a bridge. Turns out it was more of an access for people fishing and so dead-ended halfway across the bridge! All the bikes had to be lifted over a 4 foot high concrete barrier to get back on the wide shoulder to continue the journey! And of course the group included one of the two electric bikes on the trip. We go for the full body work out on our rides!
Wildlife sighting: a cast of hermit crabs on the beach, a brace of rabbits, the usual contingent of diverse bird species.
Today’s Fact: Sound travels roughly one kilometer every 3 seconds. So when we saw the SpaceX rocket take off, we heard the sonic boom about 7.5 minutes later! You can re-watch the launch here:
Hazards to date: darting squirrels, sand at crossings, loose gravel parking lots, multiple intersections, climbing metal stairs in cleats, palm fronds in the bike lane, overeating, recycle bins in the bike lane, road construction where none was expected, large tortoise on the sidewalk.
Overlooking Driftwood Beach
A cast of crabs
A cast of beach bums
A “quick” snack at OMNI Resort
American Beach. One of the many “roadside hazards” we had to watch out for.
Peter Pointing at Peters Point
Peter and Tim joining rap star David Levy Yulee for a rest. Worth a watch: https://youtu.be/QYL1aBJjmMs?feature=shared
Lunch at the Sandbar restaurant on the ocean. Hard to see in the picture but there is a nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine headed out to sea from Georgia in the background!
Nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine leaving Georgia
Florida’s Oldest Bar
The Pink and Purple Ladies on their Lavender Purple bench
The Mayport-Fort George Ferry “Long Riders” aka the “Faerie Folk”
A typical pelican sighting
Remote Start for the “short riders”
Day 4 Palm Coast
Our objective: ride south! Like we weren’t already far enough south. We decided to ride between the ocean and the intracoastal waterway from our home base to the Palm Coast area. One destination for the trip was the European Village, a “one-stop-destination for dining, shopping, and entertainment”. A little taste of Europe in Florida. When the shops are open, that is!
Part of the day included crossing over the Matanzas Inlet near Marineland. Matanzas. What a nice Spanish word. It shows up everywhere down here! Matanzas Avenue, Matanzas River, Fort Matanzas, Matanzas High School, Matanzas Beach. Let’s look that up and see what it means … oh … it’s the plural of the Spanish word Matanza, which means slaughter, or massacre. The Massacre at Matanzas Inlet was the mass killing of French Huguenots by Spanish Royal Army troops near the Matanzas Inlet in 1565, under orders from King Philip II to Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the adelantado of Spanish Florida (La Florida). Okay … let’s ride on then …
We stopped at The Baliker Gallery, a small Palm Coast art gallery with very limited opening hours on a day when it is not normally open. Peeking through the artistic driftwood gates at a few outdoor sculptures was the best we hoped to do. A special treat for one of the “pelotons” was to arrive at the gallery and, to our delight, Paul Baliker, the owner and sculptor, was at his gate and invited us in for a private viewing of his work, both outside and indoors. As it turns out Paul was in a bit of a hurry to leave as he was “going fishing” in the Bahamas for 6 months! And here he was letting us wander around his studio at our leisure while his ride waited to whisk him away and his partner waited to kiss him goodbye! For a peek at the artwork, visit the website: https://www.paulbaliker.com/ (How much, you ask? If you have to ask …)
Living and learning: the route-developer-who-shall-remain-nameless (refer to the byline) learned that:
- You should always check to see what time things open before committing to a morning coffee stop,
- You should not assume that just because Google says there is a Starbucks nearby doesn’t mean it isn’t under construction and closed when you get there, and
- Don’t promise morning coffee if you can’t deliver. Surly isn’t just the name of a bike brand : ) (Just kidding, the coffee drinkers were very patient during our café hunt).
After a desperate search for an open coffee shop our group found a special spot, “La Créperie Kafé”, a small, tucked away restaurant at the end of a strip mall that exuded European charm with nice outdoor seating. Started by a couple from France (Montpellier) 20 years ago their daughter is the cashier, their grand-daughter is one of the waitresses, and their great-grand-daughter is the “hostess” (see the picture). It was a pleasure to have a short conversation “en français”.
One of our pelotons came across a large tortoise crossing the road. Why was the tortoise crossing the road, you ask? If you have to ask …
Erika found a new hazard for us to watch out for … when riding across bridges in Florida, try not to get reeled in when one of the folks fishing from the bridge pulls back to make a cast! A helmet would not keep a rider from getting fish-hooked! Should riders be carrying needle nose pliers for fish hook removal as part of their kit?
We made a brief stop to view the Children’s Memorial Garden for families to honour the memory of their lost children. Such an idyllic location for this peaceful sanctuary along the intracoastal waterway.
Following a lunch stop at the nearby park pavilion, we headed out for the final outward bound leg to the LeHigh Trail, about 13 kms of abandoned railroad corridor. Fortunately, the armadillo that was spotted along the trail when the pre-ride checkout was done a week earlier was still bug hunting along the trailside, although there was some suspicion that the leader, to make up for the earlier coffee fiasco, may have been carrying the armadillo along in his pannier and tossed it onto the trailside for an impromptu wildlife viewing. Returning on the LeHigh trail the trip leader got stung in the belly by something! He is now using that as an excuse to his wife about why his belly looks swollen. Oh … and Bonnie got a bee in her bonnet!
Our next wildlife encounter was a large snake on the pathway. Fortunately we were pre-warned by a friendly cyclist going in the opposite direction.
Then it was a quick ride back to our respective starting points.
Wildlife sighting: Armadillo, large snake, big turtle (tortoise?), and a big heron that soared past Linda’s head during our happy hour
Today’s Fact: Come on in, the water’s fine: Armoured armadillos are good swimmers when they need to be. They can hold their breath for up to six minutes and are really skilled at walking underwater to cross streams.
Hazards to date: darting squirrels, sand at crossings, loose gravel parking lots, multiple intersections, climbing metal stairs in cleats, palm fronds in the bike lane, overeating, recycle bins in the bike lane, road construction where none was expected, large tortoise on the sidewalk, cut down tree parts and clippings fully obstructing the bike lane, being impaled by fish hooks, stung in the belly by who-knows-what, bee-in-your-bonnet, snakes on the trail, surly coffee drinkers (still kidding about the surly part) and dehydrating in the hot tubs (each condo has a central courtyard with hot tub).
Snake on a
LeHigh Rail Trail
Baliker Gallery. Wow. Just … Wow!
The ever-elusive Bubble Tea
La Créperie Kafé
The hostess at La Créperie Kafé
Lunch on the Matanzas River
Intracoastal boat traffic
Our armadillo sighting!
Day 5 Rest Day
Jokingly referred to in the CCCTS community as the “Rest Day” aka the “Day Off”
A few things our members did to rest …
- A 9 AM 12 km ride to the St. Augustine Amphitheater Farmers Market. Live entertainment was on at the amphitheaters “The Front Porch”, as well as a very serious pie baking competition. The local musicians, the Free Rangers, were joined by CCCTS member Bill on the drums. The musicians took a break for our travelling CCCTS magician, Luc, to perform a 10 minute magic show out of his pannier. The lead musician returned to tell the crowd “We’ve had an interesting day today! A pie baking contest and auction, a magic act from Canada, a farmers market and music!” (the winning pie, key lime, was auctioned off for US$125!)
- A 16 km “ride on the beach”. 16 kms of hard packed beach sand riding just to get an ice cream! Several CCCTS members have now been indoctrinated into the “beach riders fraternity”, where your GPS app will show you were riding below sea level in the ocean!
- A brewery trip for those who like to “hops” to it.
- A wine tour, a chocolate tour, a city tour, a seafood feast, Aussie pies … yada yada yada …
It’s a small world: At the Front Porch show a local gentleman, John, found out we were from Canada and told us he loves Canada and has gone muskie fishing near “a place called Ottawa” every year for the past 20 years. Turns out John Anderson, the outfitter he uses in Rockland is the same one CCCTS rider Bonnie’s grandson just went with! So our new friend took a picture of Bonnie and himself together and immediately texted it to Mr. Anderson!
Today’s Fact: CCCTS riders DO. NOT. REST. EVER. PERIOD.
Wildlife Sightings: horse prints in the sand on the beach, an in-the-wild sighting of several CCCTS riders at a local watering hole, a pod (or pouch, scoop, squadron) of pelicans.
Hazards to date: darting squirrels, sand at crossings, loose gravel parking lots, multiple intersections, climbing metal stairs in cleats, palm fronds in the bike lane, overeating, recycle bins in the bike lane, road construction where none was expected, large tortoise on the sidewalk, cut down tree parts and clippings fully obstructing the bike lane, being impaled by fish hooks, stung in the belly by who-knows-what, bee-in-your-bonnet, snakes on the trail, surly coffee drinkers (still kidding about the surly part), dehydrating in the hot tubs, buying too much at the Farmers Market, buying too much at the chocolate factory, drinking too much at the winery, drinking too much at the whiskey tour, eating too much ice cream, and soft sand traps on the 15 km beach ride.
Island Ice Cream, Crescent Beach
Beach ride 7 km each way
Our Beach Walkers
Bonnie and “John”, a local. They use the same fish charter operator in Rockland, ON.
Bill jammin’ with the Free Rangers at The Front Porch, St. Augustine Amphitheater
The Duke of Magic performing out of his pannier at The Front Porch, St. Augustine Amphitheater
The winning US$125 key lime pie
Pirates and ladies at The Amp
Pie baking contest in support of fighting senior hunger
The pie auctioneer with his crocheted pie hat
The Free Rangers at The Front Porch, St. Augustine Amphitheater
CCCTS representing in the front row at The Front Porch, St. Augustine Amphitheater
Pies weren’t enough. A chocolate factory tour was in order.
Day 6 The Palatka Trail
More riding, less talking! The only major POI along the route was the Bulls-Hit Ranch. No bulls-hit, that is what it’s called. It is also the home of the former Old Florida Antiques Museum and a collection of rusting farm implements and tractors. Acres of potato fields. Lunch at Corky Bells on a part of the St. John’s River known as “The Devil’s Elbow” where everyone had too much to eat. The long ride goal of 100 kms was reached again today. And an odd, off-cycle incident: one of our riders had their cycle jacket “de-laminate” while driving their rental car and it left a sticky residue on the rental car seat. Fortunately, Magic Eraser stood up to its name and saved the day, and saved having to pay the rental company what would likely have been a big cleaning bill.
At happy hour on this evening a presentation was made to Linda. This tribute could apply to many of our CCCTS volunteer trip leaders, but Linda in particular. Here is what was said:
“I saw a startling thing yesterday (Saturday) at The Front Porch. Linda was sitting down and doing almost nothing for 15-20 minutes or more. That is amazing. I almost called the paramedics.
Although our travelling magician Luc and our bongo drummer Bill helped with the day’s entertainment, I was surprised that Linda didn’t get up and demonstrate her not-so-hidden talent … juggling. She is an accomplished juggler and is honing her talent all the time.
For example, before coming on this trip she and Tim were on a cycle trip, while she was concurrently managing last minute logistics for this trip, managing the logistics for her Dolomite ski trip, wrapping up the logistics for previous trips and helping other folks with their trip planning. Her juggling skill is so amazing most people don’t even see how much or what she is juggling. It’s invisible. And when she removes one ball, another one is always there ready to take its place.
But the most important ball that is in the air, one that I don’t want to juggle but that Linda has with her often, is responsibility. She takes on the responsibility for many trips and many riders (and skiers), time after time.
While juggling all of these concurrent events, she is putting on a side show juggling the pieces of her current trip. She is looking at the weather and wind forecast, rearranging the order of the routes, keeping our pelotons properly balanced, keeping the group activity planning under control, etc, etc. Although she keeps commending Marg and myself for helping with the planning, or thanking Tim or Peter for stepping up when needed, the trip would be a complete bust if you didn’t have someone like Linda keeping the rides in a smart order. The routes can be as ideal as one might want but if they aren’t in the proper order it ruins the experience. Both her long and short term planning skills shine through. She knows which balls are about to fall and which ones are hovering in the air, awaiting their turn. Which balls will be going against the wind and which ones shouldn’t get wet in the rain.
I could go on and on … as you all know … but I don’t have to convince you of any of this, I just wanted to take a moment to recognize Linda’s hard work while we are all together. Donna and I stopped at Buc-cees, the Disney Land of gas stations, and asked Buc-cee beaver himself what we could do for Linda. And so, it gives me great pleasure to present Linda with this Buc-cee’s Busy Beaver Award. But before I do, I will say this one last thing. If Linda tries to thank anyone else while accepting this award, we will have none of that. This is a moment when I would like you, Linda, to just graciously accept our heartfelt thanks.”
The Linda Busy as a Beaver Buc-ee’s Award
The Awards Committee consulting with Buc-ee himself about Linda’s award
Day 6.1 Golf
Today ended with the highly acclaimed “Peter Classic International Golf Tournament” at the prestigious, internationally renowned course “Fiesta Falls Miniature Golf”, an award winning landscaped course featuring 8 waterfalls, caves, a 65 ft. Spanish ship and a view of the ocean from the mountaintop gazebo. Geoff will likely be representing Canada at the miniature golf Olympics given his record 3 holes in one! It was a record evening for holes-in-one with a total of 14!
And another “missing key” incident! One of our golfers realized they had lost their room key, likely at the late evening golf match. It couldn’t be found that evening but the next day while searching the grounds for the key the intrepid golfer approached two gentlemen who had been leaf blowing the grounds and asked if they may have seen it. Yup. They fessed up to having tossed it in a garbage can. Although there is no Dumpster Diver award given out at the Peter Classic, let’s just finish with … “and the key is missing no longer”.
Today’s Fact: Nights of Lights has been listed among the top ten holiday light displays in the world by National Geographic. During this festival of lights, downtown St. Augustine glows with holiday magic – from the ground to the rooftops, featuring millions of tiny white lights that create a magical atmosphere in the Nation’s Oldest City, and it’s free of charge.
Wildlife Sightings: longhorn bulls, Red Shouldered Hawk
Hazards to date: darting squirrels, sand at crossings, loose gravel parking lots, multiple intersections, climbing metal stairs in cleats, palm fronds in the bike lane, overeating, recycle bins in the bike lane, road construction where none was expected, large tortoise on the sidewalk, cut down tree parts and clippings fully obstructing the bike lane, being impaled by fish hooks, stung in the belly by who-knows-what, bee-in-your-bonnet, snakes on the trail, surly coffee drinkers (still kidding about the surly part), dehydrating in the hot tubs, buying too much at the Farmers Market, buying too much at the chocolate factory, drinking too much at the winery, drinking too much at the whiskey tour, eating too much ice cream, soft sand traps on the 15 km beach ride, bulls-hit and sand and water traps (mini-putt).
AND long horn steer
It didn’t take long for the jackets to come off! It was a humid day.
Bull’s-Hit Longhorn Ranch and Farm
Bull’s-Hit Longhorn Ranch and Farm
Former Florida Antiques Museum
A Palatka Peloton
Florida’s Potato Capital
One of many rusting farm implements at the Bull’s-Hit Longhorn Ranch and Farm
Competitive foursome’s at the Fiesta Fall’s Peter Classic
Fiesta Fall’s Peter Classic
Carole, our winning lady showing the difficult shots she had to overcome in order to place so well
Fiesta Fall’s Peter Classic
Corky Bell’s group lunch, East Palatka
Day 7 The Shore Drive Ramble
Thanks to Linda’s excellent planning skills we hit all of the routes on just the right days to take advantage of the changing wind, the sunshine and the group’s preferences. Today was no exception. It was the windiest day and we were on a route that meandered along the beautiful Matanzas River and Moultrie Creek shoreline but avoided the worst of the wind on the return. One highlight of today’s tour was the Prince Road Container House. See “Today’s Fact” for the details. We were lucky and got to converse with a friend of the owner who gave us some details on this unique house since he was travelling in Barcelona.
Again, today’s route was mostly about riding (and wind) but interspersed with lovely scenery and a couple of boardwalk/park visits. We almost had to have a couple of the heavier lads hold down Marg and Carole while crossing the intracoastal bridge in the crosswind! Now we know why Chris H carries so much weight in his panniers!
If riders were paying attention they would have seen King Arthur Court.
We spoke to a young couple who had seen a couple of the somewhat elusive dolphins before we arrived. Alas, still no alligator sightings.
After letting the “big kids” play in the playground for a while to burn off some energy so they would sleep through the night we headed back to home base. On the way back there was a stop at The Kookaburra for some excellent coffees/hot chocolates and MAYBE a brownie or muffin or two. Then off to the hot tubs before our final dinner.
Day 7.1 The Group Dinner and Golf Tournament Awards
Dinner at Crabby’s Beachside. Great service, great food, great times.
The evening started with the namesake of The Peter Classic International Golf Tournament presenting awards. The Dream Big Highest Score Award went to Bonnie.
Next up was Geoff, recipient of the award for most number of holes-in-one … 3!!! Take that Arnold Palmer!
It took an entire other team (Dan, Robin, Bruce and Bill) to cumulatively match Geoff’s record with their 3 holes-in-one, with each team member getting a hole-in-one AT THE SAME HOLE!
Coming in with the second place finish for men and women’s titles were Linda and Bruce, respectively.
And in first place, women and men, were Carole and Bill, respectively. They were awarded The Mickey Mouse (men’s award) and The Minnie Mouse (women’s). It took only seconds for Carole to be seen negotiating with Bill for his Mickey stuffie.
Today’s Fact: You can build a house out of sea containers if yours gets wrecked in a storm. Want a unique Air BnB to stay in? “In 2017, Hurricane Irma rudely destroyed our home of 30 years so I built a house out of shipping containers that’s devoted to art. Come on in!” About US$495/night.
Wildlife Sightings: some interesting ducks, wild turkeys and a bale (or dole) of turtles, both the regular kind and several Florida softshell turtles.
Hazards to date: darting squirrels, sand at crossings, loose gravel parking lots, multiple intersections, climbing metal stairs in cleats, palm fronds in the bike lane, overeating, recycle bins in the bike lane, road construction where none was expected, large tortoise on the sidewalk, cut down tree parts and clippings fully obstructing the bike lane, being impaled by fish hooks, stung in the belly by who-knows-what, bee-in-your-bonnet, snakes on the trail, surly coffee drinkers (still kidding about the surly part), dehydrating in the hot tubs, buying too much at the Farmers Market, buying too much at the chocolate factory, drinking too much at the winery, drinking too much at the whiskey tour, eating too much ice cream, soft sand traps on the 15 km beach ride, bulls-hit, sand and water traps (mini-putt), being blown off the bridge, cycle lane debris, and butt stuck on a kids slide.
Moultrie Creek Peloton
Prince Road Container House being admired by the CCCTS
Our “big kids” getting tired out
King Arthur Court … hee hee
The Kookaburra double espresso. Nice presentation. Served with sparkling water to cleanse the pallet.
The Kookaburra Krowd
Free Rum Buckets with coupon at Crabby’s Beachside!
The Poop Deck at Crabby’s Beachside
Crabby’s Beachside Restaurant. The Last Supper.
The Peter Classic Dream Big Highest Score Award
The Peter Classic Mickey and Minnie Awards for Best Golfer, male and female
Day 8 The Final Push (or Pull, as we say in the cycling world)
Given the poor weather outlook the group decided to go hiking at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. This park has a botanical garden which is beautiful at any time of year but even more so in March when everything is at full bloom. Unfortunately, it has been reported that Anne and Donna did not fare too well without a peloton to follow or a mapped out route on RWGPS as they wandered aimlessly around the trails at the park, finally yet accidentally finding their way back to the parking lot.
After saying goodbye to Caroline, Bill and Mark many of our members headed to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park for the afternoon while others headed off for various activities such as a 16 km beach ride, a final look at downtown St. Augustine (and the winery and distillery of course), etc. Bruce decided that in spite of the impending rain he would do a ride north along the coast, getting a last ride in and keeping our cycling honour intact. After dropping off her usual ride to be boxed up for the trip home, Erika picked up an amazing Barbie Bike to get that full beach vibe going.
Our final happy hour was marked by accolades for two key groups.
Firstly, the volunteer leadership (and their spouses), who did a wonderful job of organizing the routes, just as importantly adapting the routes to the weather, wind and group preference, encouraging off-bike activities, organizing the happy hours and providing flexibility and options for all rides. After Carole described Marg’s personality, Marg was overheard to say: “I want to meet that person you just described!”
The second, and most important group that was recognized, was the entire group. Thanked for being positive, contributing each in their own way to the event’s success, encouraging each other and, of course, cheerfully adapting to last minute changes to routes and the agenda, sometimes in the midst of the ride. A special mention was made of those CCCTS members who made the long trek from the West coast and added their unique perspectives to the event.
Our final happy hour came to an end and our remaining riders went their separate ways, some returning to get ski season and winter activities underway while others headed even further south. At least one couple decided to tough it out in St. Augustine for another couple of weeks.
The Perfect Attendance Award: no ride was missed due to illness or injury. With two exceptions, all rides were attended by all riders. In fact, a few riders went above and beyond. It was unusual to see Bruce, Gord, Fred, Erika and Chris C and a few others without a bike seat sticking out of their rear ends.
The Safety Award: kudos to the entire group. With the exception of one flat (which happened overnight in a condo unit, don’t ask us how!) we had no mechanical breakdowns. More importantly, in spite of riding back and forth through busy downtown St. Augustine and all up and down the coast and inland, we had no safety incidents. This is a tribute to the groups bike handling skills and awareness.
Today’s Fact: You can rent A House on A Street. One of the primary streets in St. Augustine Beach is A Street. Perpendicular to A Street is long, fairly direct Mickler Blvd that runs a good length parallel to the beach. If you are riding on Mickler you can see an A frame house right at the far end where it connects to A Street. So if you ever want to see A House on A Street, you know where to go!
A House on A Street, St. Augustine Beach
This wasn’t the bike Erika rode for MOST rides! We think we could hear her humming “I’m a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World” as she toodled down the beach.
A White Bird on A White Beach
The Rocks-Washington Oaks State Park
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. Selfie with a famous celebrity, the actual Tick Tock from the 2003 Peter Pan movie.
Lying in wait at St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park
Good thing the staff member is carrying a big stick. St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park
St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. Which end fits better?
A Roseate Spoonbill joined us for our last happy hour
Wildlife Sightings: we cheated but saw dozens and dozens of alligators, crocodiles, caimans, tropical birds, monkeys, toucans, snakes, etc, etc. AND a roseate spoonbill joined us for our final happy hour.
Hazards to date: (loosely sung to the tune of “Partridge in a Pear Tree”)
darting squirrels, sand at crossings, loose gravel parking lots, multiple intersections, climbing metal stairs in cleats, palm fronds in the bike lane, overeating, recycle bins in the bike lane, road construction where none was expected, large tortoise on the sidewalk, cut down tree parts and clippings fully obstructing the bike lane, being impaled by fish hooks, stung in the belly by who-knows-what, bee-in-your-bonnet, snakes on the trail, surly coffee drinkers (still kidding about the surly part), dehydrating in the hot tubs, buying too much at the Farmers Market, buying too much at the chocolate factory, drinking too much at the winery, drinking too much at the whiskey tour, eating too much ice cream, soft sand traps on the 15 km beach ride, bulls-hit, sand and water traps (mini-putt), being blown off the bridge, cycle lane debris, butt stuck on a kids slide, being eaten by a reticulated python, being bitten by large alligators and a coconut in a coconut palm tree .
Curated routes with cues are available in the CCCTS Collection titled “St. Augustine Area, Florida” (https://ridewithgps.com/collections/2227885)
Relive our rides!
Day 1 The Short Tour
Day 2 Tour of St. Augustine
Day 3 Amelia Island
Day 4 Palm Coast
Day 5 “Rest Day”
What happens in St. Augustine stays in St. Augustine. (But man, have I got some stories to tell!!!)
Day 6 Palatka Trail
Day 6.1 The Peter Classic International Golf Tournament
Day 7 Shore Drive
Day 8 Washington Oaks Gardens State Park Hike
If you have finished reading this trip report and still have coffee left in your cup, or need something to read with your next cup, just open up the Coffee News of Northeast Florida and learn some things you never knew! This neat little newsletter is published weekly and can be found in shops all over St. Augustine. It always has some interesting facts.