Friday was the last day of the last leg of the brothers cross-country ride. Because we only had a little under 50 miles to ride, we left at 8:30 instead do 8am, and the extra time in the morning was really nice. Big thunderstorms had rolled through overnight, but the roads were totally dry by morning and we headed out of Palatka and over the surprisingly wide St John River into East Palatka with just a headwind to worry about. We had a few miles of 4-lane road to contend with, but it wasn’t too bad and traffic was pretty light. We made a left turn in East Palatka and started following the ACA route but quickly hit a bike path heading in the generally right direction and followed that instead! I love the isolation a bike path can provide, and this one went for mile after mile right through woods, swamps and farmfields with hardly any roads or houses around. Just awesome, and we again could ride side-by-side and chat.
The bike path ended just off the ACA route which we quickly rejoined for the rest of the way into St. Augustine. The route took us alongside the river, which reminded me of the back way into Ocean City from Mays Landing with its nice river houses which all must have beautiful sunsets and private docks perfect for a cup of morning coffee or evening glass of wine. Due west of St. Augustine we made one final turn east for a straight 15mi run into the city through more potato and cabbage fields before hitting some logging areas and the outlying residential areas as we crossed I95 and the US1. Kind of funny to cross these roads so far from home!
The City of St. Augustine is unbelievable with its historic streets, buildings and squares, a 16th century fort built of coquilla (a cement-like rock consisting of tiny pieces of shells), and a beautiful waterfront marina with a sea wall promenade along the picturesque harbor that separates the dirt from the barrier Amelia Island. We crossed the Bridge of Lions over to Amelia Island so the brothers could dip their tires into the Atlantic, and they were able to do so on a picturesque white-sand beach in the state park. A very fitting end to an amazing accomplishment.
We rode back into St. Augustine where we packed up our bikes in the Hilton parking lot overlooking the marina while we waited for our rooms to be ready. My dad and I ran our bikes over to a FedEx drop off and then returned to get cleaned up and meet up with my father-in-law who happened to be in town. We did a bit of sightseeing, had a wonderful dinner in old town, and then retired to the hotel bar for way too many drinks and raucous conversation on a wide ranging set of topics prompted mainly by the election coverage on the tv in the background. A fun night, and a pretty late one with most heading to bed around 10pm.
I went for a fantastic run this morning around town, and am on the plane now heading home. I’ll be interested to see where they go next because there is a strong sentiment that this tradition has taken hold of the Sullivans and will continue!
Great post, Matt! Yes, I wonder what’s next?