As we prepared for bed Friday night/Saturday morning we had to choose: ride sleep deprived and hot, or ride rested and hotter. We chose the latter. Sleeping in until nearly 8:00 a.m., then getting breakfast at Casa Coquina, we rolled out at 10:00. We put in six “bonus miles” just to get to the “official” start of the day’s ride at the base of the Max Brewer Bridge, and after some wandering around to find some little necessities, we finally left Titusville at 11:00.
Max Brewer Parkway takes you across the Indian River and immediately into the enormous Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. There are plans for sidepaths along Max Brewer and SR 402 to take cyclists to the Atlantic Ocean, but for now it’s still a very nice road ride. Even on a Saturday morning traffic was light and mellow. It only got lighter as we rode farther in the vast refuge, across the bridge over Haulover Canal where we’d kayaked the night before, and up towards the town of Oak Hill. Haulover Canal features an overlook that’s normally a good spot for seeing manatees, but this day they were elsewhere.
Ginny at Casa Coquina had recommended Goodrich’s for a seafood lunch in Oak Hill, and it did not disappoint, and the backroads that took us off US 1 to get there provided some great old, rural Florida scenery as well as some much appreciated shade. Leaving the air conditioning after a big lunch in the middle of the day was not something we really wanted to do, but if we wanted lodging for the evening, we figured we’d best get to New Smyrna Beach.
After another 20 miles in the heat and during our approach to New Smyrna, I made an erroneous assumption. Here’s the heat-addle-brained reasoning: see bridge over river heading to New Smyrna … must be the bridge to New Smyrna … cue sheet instructions say turn right onto bridge, but this road doesn’t do that … cue sheet must be wrong … leave the planned route to access the bridge. Bridge turns out to be quite high and rather steep (grunt, grunt). Hmmm, our destination is supposed to be on the other side at the bottom of the bridge, but there’s nothing but salt marsh. Ah, there’s another bridge over there on our left that appears to be heading into the center of town, and that bridge also appears to be much lower and less steep. I guess Ted, our cue sheet guide, was right. Aside from the tougher climb, it only added a couple extra blocks, and my fellow riders were too equally toasted to give me a hard time about it. We limped into the Hampton Inn in downtown New Smyrna Beach after 4:00 after a second hard day, managed to find some dinner, then crashed into our beds.
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