Day 1: 45 miles from Titusville to Melbourne

Today’s directions were to pretty much follow U.S. 1 aside from the beginning and the end. But it’s never that simple.

On the positive side, Florida does put bike lanes on U.S. 1. On the other hand, it is a U.S. highway, so traffic is going right by you at 55 mph or more and there’s nothing pretty to see. Mostly it’s pawn shops, bail bonds and the odd CBD store. As for pedestrians — you want a sidewalk? Sorry, none of that. Use the bike lane next to all that traffic (as we saw a couple do with a stroller) or walk in the grass. This is why need the East Coast Greenway — for people on foot as well as people on bikes.

Immediately there’s talk of what happens if we go a bit further east, onto Merritt Island. Think toward Kennedy Space Center. And after many miles on U.S. 1 with all 40 of us, a big chunk finally do, going over one steep causeway bridge and onto this narrow strip of land sandwiched between Indian River and Banana River, not as far east as Cocoa Beach.

We’re already well south of the space center (yesterday’s pre-ride tourism spot), and many of us quickly turned south, onto South Tropical Trail. Don’t get too excited; it’a a road, not a trail. There’s no bike lane or even a shoulder, but it’s just one lane of traffic in each direction, and motorists slow down for us. There are some really flashy homes, though not on the scale of the multi-multi-million-dollar mansions of Ponte Vedra Beach on last year’s ride, and some modest homes that seem much more manageable. Of course they all come with a private wooden dock for your boat.

And then there was the sign for pecans (new crop!) and avocados. How could we not stop? Even if it was just someone’s driveway?

The avocados come from an hour or so further south. Giant! I bought one, even though I have to wait a few more days for it to be ripe enough to eat. As you can see, it’s about as big as this water bottle.

And then he has a front yard full of mango trees! We’ve missed the season for ripe mangoes (that’s peak summer), but imagine getting 100 fruit off just one tree.

Then there was a papaya tree:

And a pecan tree (though the pecans he sells come from his piece of land in Georgia — diversification, he said).

And he pulled off a leaf from another pile he had and had us guess what it was. The smell was sweet, spicy … he told us think Thanksgiving pie.

Allspice!

These birds were in a yard just a bit further down. Can you identify them?

My little group had no mechanical problems. Unlike the guy who pulled out a 1-inch nail as he fixed a flat tire. Or the one whose inner tube was shredded by a (chicken?) bone in the bike lane/shoulder.

Here’s how a fellow rider-blogger experienced the day.

Finally, some riders have decorated their helmets. I’m envious. I need to get creative before Key West. But for now, I’ll just listen to the roar of the ocean from our hotel room.

About alliumstozinnias

A gardener (along with the Brit) who has discovered there is more than hybrid tomatoes. And a cyclist.
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