Monday, July 9, 2012

Daybreak in the Everglades

Tuesday was my usual early morning ride, although I opted for a route that I haven't used in a while. Instead of going up to Fort Myers again, I did a loop down towards Everglades City, then up towards Ave Maria before coming back west to home.

It was kind of weird going south on 41 with lights. Traffic was sparse, but moving fast -- particularly trucks pulling boats. The early fisherman catches the worm, then uses that to catch a fish.

As always, once you pass Marco Island there are even fewer cars. This is the edge of the Everglades, with little land and few amenities. There was still plenty of evidence of the passage of Tropical Storm Debby, with the marsh looking extra-marshy.

I think Debby also disturbed the habitats of a few rabbits ... or maybe it's just mating season. I saw dozens of them on my way down, constantly darting away from the edge of the road as I went by.

Ordinarily, I like to go down to Chokoloskee to make this an even 200 kilometers. It was still cool when I got to the intersection of Hwy 29 and US 41, but it wouldn't stay that way for long. I hit the store there to top off my bottles with ice and drink, and skipped the extra 10 miles south.

Whereas the shoulder of US 41 is full of bumps and things to dodge on a bicycle, Florida 29 is relatively clear. The shoulder is almost as wide, traffic is generally lighter, and you often have a tailwind.

Just north of Jerome there's also a great stand of cypress near the road -- wispy and evergreen, they could only be improved my moving them over to the east side of the road, where they would have given me more shade.

Some cyclists don't like this road because it has no amenities. You definitely wants at least two full bottles and a full belly before you leave Carnestown, because there really is no place to get more before Oil Well Road. If you've still got a full bottle when you cross Alligator Alley, you're probably okay.

You'll see a lot of signs for Florida panther crossings on this road.

Tuesday was the first time that I really saw one of the crossings, however.

Apparently, the panthers cross the drainage canal via this little bridge, and then go under Florida 29 via a tunnel.

The preserve is huge, by the way. There's even a nice little lake where there used to be a quarry.

Both of my bottles were nearly empty by the time I got to the gas station at the intersection of Florida 29 and Oil Well Road. I considered a stop up at Ave Maria, but was still trying to make it home by noon. I went on,  stopping for more ice and drink at the gas station on Imokalee Road. After cutting through Golden Gate, I only needed one more store stop before I got home.

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