What a day!
This is the last full day of the 2018 edition of the East Coast Greenway’s annual Week-A-Year fundraising ride, and we spent much of it pedaling on quiet roads or trails— including 34 straight miles on the East Central Rail Trail, part of the Coast-to-Coast Connector that will stretch from Titusville on the Atlantic side of Florida to Tampa-St. Pete on the Gulf of Mexico side. (It’s 80% complete.)
It’s a lovely trail, with one section opened only a few months ago and just a little bit left to go until all 50+ miles are built. How nice to be able to ride side by side, chatting away without needing to look out for motorists. And if we needed anything, why, there was Vergie’s stand selling everything from snacks to bottles of Gatorade to spare inner tubes, all on the honor system.
We picked it up via an extension to the New Smyrna Beach campus of Daytona State College. It’s still missing some signage, though, including a key one at a T-intersection that would have told us to go left. (I heard at least one person in our group went right.) If you see any chalked mileage markers on the asphalt, thank a Titusville local who keeps running out of chalk…
All in all, Florida made quite a positive impression on many of us, even if the sun took its sweet time in coming out and warming us.
Some trail firsts for me:
– Divided lanes. These showed up at road crossings and made me think divided highway more than pedestrian refuge island. Is this what happens when a state DOT more used to designing roads than trails?
– Roundabouts. Yes, roundabouts. And there never was another trail meeting this one. So why a circle? We heard it was for runners… let them turn back more easily. Hmm. I prefer to think it was a bored engineer .. or an engineer who thought we’d need a few curves on miles of straight trail, just like curves get worked into highways to keep motorists alert. Or really likes the visuals on the Tour de France when the peloton hits a traffic circle. A more far-fetched idea: it’s an homage to the rocket launch pad across the bay. But the most sensible explanation we came up with may be for maintenance vehicles to turn around.
– Any idea what these signs are for? Again, no trails merging here. We thought it might be for ATVs to switch between asphalt trail and the hardscrabble, partly grassy surface to the side, but they aren’t supposed to be on the trail. The right answer is equestrians.
Another highlight was an alligator sighting. The group of five I was riding with saw it in the water with just its eyes and tip of its snout peeking out, thanks to a pair of eagle eyes, but a group passing by earlier had an easier time, as it was sunning itself with nothing to camouflage it.
And of course we once again descended en masse on another local business, this time Donna’s Canalside Creamery in the small downtown of New Smyrna Beach, two blocks off the trail. Business went from slow to one long line of customers. That’s the economic impact of cycle tourism! It was too cold for most of us to even consider ice cream, but at least I finally got a slice of pie.
Here’s another take on our day.