I ought to warn you: This Florida motorbike trip doesn’t embrace difficult hairpin curves or drastic modifications in elevation. The Sunshine State has a well-earned status for flat, straight roads, however there are little nuggets right here and there that supply driving leisure of a unique type.
Jacksonville is the second largest metropolis by space within the contiguous U.S., so it’s unfold out in clusters of inhabitants density. To get away from the hustle and bustle, I headed to an area favourite for motorcyclists, State Street 13, which runs for almost 50 miles alongside the east financial institution of the north-flowing St. Johns River from Jacksonville south to Spuds, a rural neighborhood that grows precisely what its title would recommend.
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On the day of my trip, I hit the lottery by way of visitors. I had the time without work for Presidents’ Day. Colleges have been out, much less lucky souls have been working, and my household was visiting the zoo, so I had a cool, sunny day all to myself.
After filling my physique’s tank with high-octane espresso, I fired up my air-cooled Ducati Scrambler 1100, and its Italian rumble introduced a smile to my face. I began off midmorning in no explicit rush, having fun with the Duc’s torquey Twin whereas my fellow vacationers sat locked of their metal cages.
Associated: Ducati Scrambler 1100 First Journey Assessment
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As I approached Greenbriar Street, my ideas went to the historical past of this unremarkable stretch. Artist Amy Stump, who’s a local to the realm, as soon as instructed me concerning the highway’s historical past and its nickname, Ghost Mild Street, which was summed up in Invoice Delaney’s Jaxlore column in The Jaxson:
“[T]he ghost is a younger motorcyclist from the realm whose father had warned him about rushing on the filth highway. One fateful day, the younger man’s brother strung a rope throughout Greenbriar. This prank merely would have unseated the cocky rider had he heeded his father’s admonition, however, sadly, he gunned the engine and misplaced his head. Thereafter, his ghost shined his headlamp down Greenbriar in a nightly vigil, both trying to find his misplaced head or warning others in opposition to being so reckless.”
Like The Legend of Sleepy Hole, the story is apocryphal, however why let the reality get in the best way of a great story?
Greenbriar Street ends at SR 13 close to Switzerland (which is nothing just like the nation), and I headed south towards the city of Orangedale, passing underneath a big cover of oak bushes casting shadows over the highway. The 17-mile stretch of SR 13 between Julington Creek and Wades Creek is designated because the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Freeway, named after the naturalist and botanist who documented crops, animals, and native peoples within the space in the course of the late 1700s.
As I rolled alongside the well-kept two-lane highway, I caught peeks of the St. Johns River by the bushes, and some curves and roundabouts offered a chance to lean the Ducati over. There are small parks aplenty for scenic stops, many with benches to absorb the river views and get a style of “Previous Florida.”
As I approached Orangedale, I used to be enveloped by the smokey odor wafting from Woodpeckers Yard BBQ, an area favourite. Amy Stump’s mural of angel wings encircling regional landmarks greeted me as I positioned an order for brisket and datil corn. Fortunately, I acquired there earlier than the brisket offered out, a gutting expertise for many who arrive late within the day. I took my platter throughout the road to the Shands Pier and ate whereas watching boats gliding on the glint of the St. Johns.
Persevering with south on SR 13, I took a short detour on State Street 16 and crossed the Shands Bridge, passing fishermen, meals vehicles, and farm distributors. After driving by boatyards stuffed with masts jutting into the sky, I finished at The Army Museum of North Florida, situated on the former website of Naval Air Station Lee Area. With its bunker-like fundamental constructing, heavy equipment, and even a few navy bikes from previous theaters of struggle, it serves as a vivid reminder of the realm’s deep navy historical past.
Again on SR 13, I finished at Trout Creek Memorial Park and Marina, highlights of which embrace the Main Gen. William W. Loring Monument and swamp-boat leases for sightseeing or fishing. Whereas having fun with an inspiring view of the creek, I imagined William Bartram recording observations and gathering samples in the identical location lots of of years in the past.
Simply down the highway, I finished at Buddy Boy’s Nation Retailer, one of the best fuel station on this path to replenish or benefit from the camaraderie of fellow riders. With its Adirondack chairs, normal retailer provisions, and attractive nation barbecue, it’s a must-stop when you’re within the space.
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On the highway once more, the fantastic thing about my trip actually unfolded with curvy roads winding by tree canopies with peekaboo views of the river, piers, boat docks, and parks. Between the well-to-do city of Picolata (as soon as the house of a Spanish fort) and Tocoi, SR 13 opened up, giving the Ducati an opportunity to stretch its legs.
As soon as previous Tocoi, I like to recommend stopping at Riverdale Park. With picnic tables, benches, and a well-kept public restroom, it’s a pleasant place to loosen up and replicate. Because the glassy calm waters of the St. Johns lapped gently in opposition to the shore, I closed my eyes and soaked within the atmosphere.
SR 13 ends on the junction with State Street 207 close to Spuds. I had a call to make: head east towards the coast to cities like St. Augustine, Palm Coast, and Daytona Seashore, or cross the river and trip up the west financial institution of the St. Johns. Desperate to get residence in time to take pleasure in dinner with my household and hearken to the adventures my 6-year-old and his mates had on the zoo, I returned residence the best way I got here, having fun with the open highway and the surroundings in the wrong way. The fantastic thing about this route is that it’s pleasant by itself, or it may be mixed with different scenic roads close by. One factor’s for positive: It was the change of tempo I used to be searching for.