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Road riding in Destin

Old 03-30-16, 05:47 PM
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Road riding in Destin

Hey all:

I'm going to be vacationing in Destin, FL next week and I want to bring my road bike along for some riding. I'm not familiar with the area and am looking for suggestions. We are staying on the beach in the Sandestin area. I would like to put in 25 to 30 miles each day.

From google maps it looks like 98 has spotty bike lane coverage heading east until you get to the Grayton Beach area, then good bike lanes to the bridge. It doesn't look like loads of fun but it's probably something I can put up with to get the miles in. I know about the trail along 30A, but from what I've read and what I can see the path isn't very ideal as it has lots of driveways, crossings and foot traffic. It also looks like there aren't very many other alternate routes in the area.

What if I headed west? It would mean battling through Destin itself, but then I could cross over to Okaloosa Island and head on to Santa Rosa Blvd. From what I can see it looks like a pleasant ride along Santa Rosa (with low traffic) all the way to the end of the road. Is that a reasonable route? The downside is having to take 98 through Miramar Beach and Destin: how miserable would that be?

I'm also willing to put the bike on the car and drive to start somewhere else nearby if it means better riding overall.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 03-30-16, 09:50 PM
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We generally ride the road on 30A and do a loop with 98 and that works pretty well. Although these days from the traffic is often heavy and slow on 30A east of Seaside. It's not dangerous as much as it's just slow. I don't know of anywhere to the east of Destin that you could drive to for really good riding. There are a couple of nice country roads north of the bay off 331, but 331 is a mess of construction now.
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Old 04-04-16, 07:27 AM
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Look up the Emerald Coast Cycling Club. They have a lot of rides off the beaten path, but you'll probably have to drive to get to the start. I've enjoyed riding with those guys.

I generally ride between Panama City (Thomas's doughnuts) and Henderson Beach in Destin. Most of it on the road, but I will do the 30A path when it's away from all the driveways. 98 really isn't too bad between 30A and Sandestin, even in the sections without a designated bike lane. The section of 98 from Inlet beach across the bridge into PC is OK, too. I ride Front Beach into PC.

I do often take the sidewalk through one section of Miramar, however. Traffic is often heavy, and no shoulder or bike lane thru a brief section.

Last time I was down there, we did some riding through the residential sections of Destin. Kept running into the same cop. I guess he had reports of bikers in the area.
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Old 04-08-16, 08:46 PM
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I hated driving 98. I did it from Destin towards the East, but I only did it once. I usually wake up at around 4:45 a.m. one morning and drive the entire length of 30A until it the traffic starts up. I do this as it allows me to ride in the road instead of the bike path. There are some parts of the bike path that are fine, but it isn't great in the more populated areas. Also, I can't tell you how many jerks I have dealt yelling to get on the bike path. They think that since there is a path that we aren't allowed on the road. Again, this is why I wake up early, so I can have road to myself for and hour or two. Also, the sunrises just west of Watercolor over the wetlands area are amazing. Years ago I rode out west of Destin on 98, and it was a great ride but I suspect the traffic has gotten worse unless you go way out. Have fun in Destin. We can't wait to get down there a handful of times this year.
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Old 04-10-16, 07:46 PM
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Thanks to all for the advice.

Turns out I only got on the road one of the 3 days. Wednesday was too windy and Thursday was too busy since we were also packing to leave. On Tuesday I got 25 miles in. I was aiming for 30 but turned around earlier than I intended. I rode east on 98 to 283, then down to 30A and back to 98.

I didn't really like riding on 98. Although there was adequate bike lane and shoulder, I felt pretty exposed to all the traffic. 98 is a very busy road, and the speed limit is 45 to 55, so there was lots of high speed traffic traveling very close to me. Also, parts of the bike lane and shoulder had debris or gravel, so I had to steer clear and occasionally move out in to the regular lane.

I turned south on 283 and then realized there was no shoulder. But after a short while I spotted the path to the east of the road and hopped on to it. On 30A I started on the path, but quickly discovered that it does have its share of slower cyclists, children, joggers, dog walkers, etc. At first I was just going to put up with it. But when I came across a backhoe that had been parked on the path (due to work on a nearby bridge) I decided to move back to the road.

Apparently riding on 30A comes down to "pick your poison": take the path with lots of slower users (including walkers and joggers that spread out across the entire width of the path) or take the road with no shoulder. Every serious rider I saw was on the road. So that's where I ended up. Drivers were very courteous and I had no complaints. I did hop back on the path briefly when a pickup stayed behind me refusing to pass even when there was plenty of room. I daresay the drivers were more courteous than the trio of riders I saw who blew right through the stop sign at Old Blue Mountain Road without even slowing down. No wonder drivers hate us.

It was not the best Florida riding I've done, but it was still a good ride.
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