Reader Ride: Florida Coast

Text: Rick L’Ecuyer • Photography: Rick L’Ecuyer

St. Augustine, FL, the nation's oldest city, is a twenty-minute ride south on the super-slab from Jacksonville, but where is the fun in that? Instead of the Interstate, I opt to take a more circuitous route. I leave Jacksonville on State Road 13, through Fruit Cove, towards the tiny town of Hastings, forty miles to the south.

SR 13 runs parallel with the St. John’s River, which flows slow and easy, north from headwaters in Indian River County, some 300 miles through Jacksonville to the ocean. The gentle sweepers along SR13 are pleasant, tree-lined, and nearly devoid of traffic. The view alternates between pine stands that allow the bright morning sun to wash the road in light and live oaks, bearded with Spanish moss, that create a tunnel-like ride through shaded hollows. The tarmac is smooth and nearly flawless.         

I pass the junction with SR 16 East which, if taken, would lead me to the World Golf Village, home of the Murray Bros. Caddy Shack restaurant. Each spring, the Riding Into History bike show rolls into the village bringing a collection of classic and modern motorcycles – a feast for lovers of all things two-wheeled.          

I continue south, past the village of Racy Point, where SR 13 curves away from the river into farmland. It’s wise to be on the lookout for farm equipment and trucks through this section, as they will catch you out on the curves if you’re not careful. A few short miles and I join the four lane CR 207 West. After a short jog, I turn onto CR 206 East, towards Crescent Beach. CR 206 is mostly a two-lane track through mixed forest and farmland. When I stop momentarily to get my bearings, a local cow stares me down -- apparently she doesn’t like the look of me on my Blackbird, so I take the hint and move on.         

Crossing the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, I am rewarded with a stunning view of the Matanzas River, crystal blue, shimmering in the afternoon sun. I reach the junction with Florida Highway A1A.         

The A1A runs the length of the east coast of Florida from Fernandina Beach in the north to the Florida Keys, some three hundred-plus miles to the south. It’s a relatively busy road on weekdays as it is the main thoroughfare for the beach communities that dot its length. Eschewing St. Augustine for the moment, I opt to make a small detour south to visit the Matanzas inlet.        

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2011 back issue.