Day 1: Jacksonville, FL to Kingsland, GA - Atlantic Coast 2017 - CycleBlaze

April 16, 2017

Day 1: Jacksonville, FL to Kingsland, GA

Day 1 is really a 36 hour blur starting on April 15. My wife drove me to the Eugene airport with plenty of time to make the 7:20 PM flight from Eugene to Seattle. The flight had spectacular near-sunset views of all the snow-capped volcanoes between Eugene and Seattle.

Then a 3 hour layover before a red-eye flight to Dallas-Fort Worth. Before takeoff I watched a baggage handler throw my boxed bike from the luggage cart to the conveyor that goes to the baggage hold. A few minutes later was a spectacular night view of downtown Seattle after takeoff. The final flight was a 6 AM flight to Jacksonville.

I felt miserable by the time I arrived in Jacksonville at 10:30 AM on April 16. I never slept more than a few minutes. I was coughing abnormally since the day before yesterday, when packing the bike. I blamed it on lack of sleep and dust from cutting the cardboard. I tried to convince myself the all-over body ache was from spending the night sitting in chairs. But I had a terrible cough and my nose was starting to clog up.

I retrieved the bike at the baggage claim area. The box was amazingly mutilated. Numerous holes, but no damage and nothing missing. I should have taken a photo of the box.

I assembled the bike in the baggage claim area and pedaled out of the airport at 12:30 PM, feeling miserable. The temperature was 80F, bright sun, humid, breezy.

Jacksonville airport has no bike lanes but the entry road traffic is moderate. It wasn't dangerous to bike out of the airport. In fact the motorists were more courteous than I have ever seen. Cars stopped for me even when the cars had the right of way.

On the way out of the airport I went east farther than necessary just to get a picture of the airport sign.

The cycling began at the JAX baggage claim area.
Heart 0 Comment 0

If you have to pedal while sleepless and sick, Florida is the place to do it. The flat terrain allows me to pedal with a minimal exertion level.

I turned left onto Pecan Park road which makes a diagonal going northeast to connect to US 17. It's a lovely no-traffic rural road. The Jacksonville metro area has 1.5 million people but I had NO urban or suburban traffic. I was on rural roads as soon as I exited the airport. I pedaled through downtown Jacksonville in 1989 and don't need to do it again.

US 17 heading north to Yulee, Florida. Most of the route is lined with tall pines.
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US 17 has a usable paved shoulder and the traffic is moderate. Totally straight. Decent for cycling.

First bridge crossing. This one has a wide shoulder.
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It was a cloudless day. The sun was more intense than anything I've experienced this year. After only 10 miles I needed to take a long stop in the shade.

Traffic was heavier in the town of Yulee, but then it dropped off again after passing the A1A turnoff. US 17 north of A1A is a fairly popular bike touring route but I saw no other cyclists.

Private dock, view from the bridge.
Heart 0 Comment 0

The scenery was pleasant but not spectacular. Most of the time the highway has tall pines on both sides. Few panoramic long distance views. No ocean views. But also very little trash or abandoned junk. Surprisingly tidy, overall.

I passed many churches. Most were independent bible churches like this one.
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Abandoned souvenir shop near the Florida/Georgia state line.
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The terrain is very gently rolling. Elevation varies by as much as 20 feet but the grade is always less than 1%. Wind is more of a factor than the grade. Fortunately I have a brisk south tailwind.

Looking back when leaving Florida. I biked only 23 miles in Florida.
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The St. Mary's river is the border between Florida and Georgia. I wanted to take a picture from the bridge but heavy traffic and a super narrow bridge made that impossible. I did stop for self-portraits at the Welcome signs on both ends of the bridge.

The St. Marys river bridge is old and narrow. No chance to take photos from the bridge.
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I was born in Georgia but this is the first time I have biked there.

Looking ahead. Georgia is the 48th state I have visited during bike tours.
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A couple miles north of the state line I entered the town of Kingsland, Georgia. There I turned east onto Kings Avenue. All the motels are 2 miles east, clustered around an I-95 exit. I got a room at Super 8, $68.

The high temperature was 85F and the humidity was only 45% late in the afternoon. Lower humidity than expected. My energy level was very low, so I appreciated the 10 mph south wind.

I felt miserable. I definitely have a cold and it's still getting worse. Low energy, body aches, terrible cough, and growing sinus congestion. I went to bed at 5 PM. No dinner, no shower. I was desperate for sleep after the sleepless night in planes and airports.

Distance: 29.7 mi. (47.5 km)
Climbing: 227 ft. (69 m)
Average Speed: 10.3 mh (16.5 km/h)

Today's ride: 30 miles (48 km)
Total: 30 miles (48 km)

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