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  1. #1
    spaghetti farmer fthrud's Avatar
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    Cross Florida routes?

    Anyone have experience with a good route from the Gulf (Sarasota) to the Atlantic and back? I've done a couple of overnighters, want to try a weeklong CC tour. It is an option to have my wife drop me off and pick me up at any designated start and finish points in-State. I'm aware of the ACA routes, and have ordered the Florida connector and Atlantic route maps. However, I'd prefer to do a there-and-back from my home in Sarasota.

    I can be VC and take the lane when appropriate, but I'm looking for lower stress, take my time, enjoy the ride, wide shoulders, bike lanes and back roads. 70 miles is my best day to date, so I'm hoping that 50-70 miles per day is realistic. I'm an early riser, like to hit the road at 5 or 6AM and be somewhere shady with a nice beverage by mid afternoon. Going to travel light - 3 shorts, 3 jerseys, tools, spares, clif bars, water, water and water. Cheap motels, fresh produce and one big meal a day.

    SR 64 has a good shoulder from Bradenton to Zolfo Springs, haven't gone beyond that yet. Would 64 to 66 to 98 to Florida ******* Trail to Ft. Pierce be feasible? I've driven SR70 many times, taking my bike there would be tantamount to a deathwish...damn shame, it's the closest thing to a straight line in the whole state.


    Cross posting to touring and SE regional. Thanks in advance for sharing your experience, particularly first hand knowledge of local roadways.

  2. #2
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    When I toured through Zolfo Springs a few years ago 66 east from Zolfo didn't have a shoulder.Actually,I was heading west on 66 towards Zolfo and when the shoulder ended about 2/3rds of the way from 27 to Zolfo I cut north on scenic low travelled backroads(actually turning out to be one of the highlights of the trip) connecting to 64 and then into Zolfo on a shoulder.

    So headed east from Zolfo I would suggest either taking 64 east to Avon Park then 17 connecting to Arbuckle Creek Rd to Lorida and 98.I rode on Arbuckle on a recently completed tour and it is very scenic and remote except there were a few managable trucks at the very western start.Or ,alternatively,starting out on 64 and taking scenic backroads aways out from Zolfo south to 66(perhaps connecting to Highland Hammock S.P.)then like you suggest connecting to 98 towards Okeechobee. They now have a shoulder on all of 98 through this section making it a nice remote route.

    It does look like backroads might cut from 98 over to 441 and then across to Fort Pierce (basically following the Florida ******* Trail routing) but I am not familiar with road conditions and don't even have a very detailed map in front of me to give road numbers.I have also heard bad things about 70 .One other routing from Okeechobee, that I have ridden, is 710(Beeline Hwy) to 706(Indiantown Rd) to Jupiter.710 is a high traffic major highway but does have a wide shoulder (except for about one mile from the Martin/ PB County line to 706).706 is a nice remote shouldered road through scenic wetlands just be careful approaching Jupiter where it crosses both the turnpike and I95 right at the same time and through Jupiter it gets a little more hectic but does have a shoulder clear to the beach and A1A.
    Last edited by RWTD; 05-05-07 at 01:42 AM.

  3. #3
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    In November, left Cape Coral and went to Okeechobee via rt 78 to 441 stayed at Holiday Inn......then went north on 441 to RT 68 then into FT Pierce....to avoid RT 70 from Okeechobee to FT Pierce, as we too had heard horror stories....

    In January had reason to drive from Okeechobee to FT Pierce, so took RT 70.....with exception of about ten very short, narrow bridges, did not think RT 70 would have been a problem if we had gone that way...

  4. #4
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    Have you considered a ride around Lake Okeechobee? Wife and I did a camping/ride around it a couple months ago and really enjoyed it. We carried tent, sleeping bags and etc on our hybrids. Since then we have bought street bikes and plan on doing it again in 2 days and just stay in a motel room this time.
    Its 120 miles, most of it is paved.. when it turned to gravel we hit the highway which had plenty of room to the right of the white line.

    http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/sfoo/rec/trails.htm

  5. #5
    spaghetti farmer fthrud's Avatar
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    The Arbuckle Creek route seems promising. I have business in Ft. Pierce a few times a year, I may drive that route to see how it looks.

    On Memorial Day weekend I'm going to my brothers in Haines City - pretty much 64 East to 17 North, that's 108 miles each way. Hope to ride there Saturday, recover Sunday, ride home Monday. Recovery Sunday might include getting in my brothers truck and driving a scouting loop accoss 60 to Vero, up the coast and back on 192. Do other folks do this? I ride the tight roads when I must, but it's hard to smell the flowers and admire scenery when I'm choked from auto exhaust and constantly scanning with my third eye.

    The Lake Okeechobee circuit sounds interesting. Do you mean to drive to the lake, unload the bikes, ride 60, motel, then ride 60? Have you identified motels and somewhere to park the car? My wife is up to 30-35 miles on Saturday cruises, that might be a good first serious ride for her.

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    Arbuckle Creek is a real nice route though entirely two lane.The first part right off of 17 goes through orange groves and as I said I did notice some truck traffic(localized from a rock operation or something not thru traffic)but overall traffic was light enough and the trucks infrequent enough that they could easily take the other lane to pass. Then the route becomes very remote(and scenic imo) passing through extensive ranch lands where you will see little to no traffic at all.I really enjoyed riding this part.

    I had multiple people advice against 60 east from Lake Wales when I was considering it as a shortcut on a tour a few years ago.The feedback was it lost its shoulder shortly outside Lake Wales and became a narrow two lane road with heavy high speed traffic including a lot of thru truck traffic.But perhaps it is ridable now if they have ,by chance, resurfaced adding a shoulder so would be interested in hearing your feedback if you scout out this route.192 I have not tried for the same reason I have not tried 441 north from Okeechobee( ie it ends up in the Disney area an area I try to avoid at all costs).

    I am also familiar with Lake O having backpacked around the entire lake on the levees three times now and biked around on the roads and/or levees multiple times as well.From Sarasota for secure parking I would check with the Okee-tantie campground right on the route in Buckhead Ridge.Also South Bay campground has inexpensive secured parking available and is very hiker/cyclist friendly but is way on the opposite side from you.Many of the access points detailed in the above COE link have parking available though not necessarily secure.

    Motels are available in Okeechobee,Taylor Creek,Lakeport and Clewiston(the one motel in Moore Haven I have heard negative feedback on). Probably Belle Glade as well but I would term the area from South Bay up to Port Mayaca as a bad area that I would stick to the levee or main roads through and not linger around.Also note the levee is currently closed around Canal Point for levee reconstruction work so you will need to take the main roads for much of this area.From Port M. up to Taylor Creek there are a bunch of rv camp areas and perhaps a few places to get a room if in a pinch.
    Last edited by RWTD; 05-18-07 at 02:07 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RWTD
    Also note the levee is currently closed around Canal Point for levee reconstruction work so you will need to take the main roads for much of this area.From Port M. up to Taylor Creek there are a bunch of rv camp areas and perhaps a few places to get a room if in a pinch.

    One can call the Army Corp of Eng at Clewiston and inquire as to what what part of the levy is closed, but last March it was from Pahokee north to Port Mayca... so we rode the highway and I remember it being 13.5 miles.. It wasn't a bad ride, and that part of the levy isn't paved so I would have rode the Hwy anyway.
    At Port Mayca.. you then have a nice long part of the paved levy to enjoy.
    I would not trust leaving my car in Pahokee at all.. but we did.
    We talked to the senior fireman in charge at the Pahokee fire station, and day prior to ride I called and confirmed. Left car there 4 days and had no problems. Only other place I would park would have been at the Army Corp facility at Clewiston.
    We carried all food and camping gear, do didn't have to interact with the locals...

  8. #8
    spaghetti farmer fthrud's Avatar
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    I made the ride from Sarasota to Haines City last weekend. SR64 was great, good shoulder the whole way. I bypassed Zolfo Springs by taking West Main Street into Wauchula, no shoulder but good wide road without much traffic on the weekend. US17 North to Lake Alfred was mostly good. Between towns, no sweat, great shoulders. There were no shoulders or sidewalks in Bartow and parts of Winter Haven, otherwise the road was good or there was rideable sidewalk or accessable parrallel road. I'd do it again, just not it one day! Didn't get a chance to scout farther east, may just take my chances later this month.

    This was my first long ride, thought it was interesting enough to write it up. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/MemDay07

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