Biking in the Everglades

Being down in Florida and looking at the available routes near Pompano Beach/Fort Lauderdale, I noticed that I was pretty close to the Everglades. I looked on the usual sites (mapmyride and bikely), but no one really had routes that went into the Everglades. Upon further investigation (looking at the satellite pictures), I saw that there were service roads that were somewhat close to the suburban area near Sara's parents' Florida apartment. The issue was that it was 13 miles to the Everglades from where we were staying by the ocean. I didn't want to bike 26 miles there and back in addition to doing the ride, so I was able to convince Sara's father to drive me out Atlantic Blvd. to take off 13 miles of pure road biking.

I started out from a church parking lot and worked my way along the toll/exit ramp to a dirt side road. I took that to a gate that said "no motorized vehicles" and assumed that I'd be able to ride there.  Once on the service road, I found nice gravel that paralleled the highway to my left, with a canal, service road and the Everglades to my right.  I road this south, then veered west, then turned north and crossed the highway to pick up the service road.  Then I crossed the highway again going east through the airboat recreation area to the service road that went back to the starting point. The next part of the ride was the most desolate, with the Everglades on each side. I was able to see many cranes, fish and buzzards as I road along.  It was an interesting feeling being out there, as I could see civilization in the distance but was fairly isolated. It reminded me of the feeling I had out West in the desert. The weather was pretty hot. It was 80 degrees, but around 90+ degrees with humidity (I was basically riding next to a swamp). I noticed that I was getting sunburned on my arms. 

 I got back to where I'd started and wanted to continue onward back to the shore/coastline while continuing to stay as off-road as possible.  I had seen during my satellite recon that there was a canal that had a path on it and some service roads.  Unfortunately, the end of that path was near the toll road entrance ramp, so I had to hop a fence to start the trail.  The trail was nice, but kind of more of a jogging/walking trail since it was cement instead of asphalt.  Eventually, it ended and turned into service roads once again.  I had an interesting encounter during which I almost hit a 4-ft iguana that then ran in front of me and jumped into the canal.  I also had a funny little dog jump a 4-foot fence to run after me, but it knew to stop at its house's property line.  Eventually, I ended up biking on grass on state lands near the canal near people's homes, and it was slow going.  At one point I ended up having to go back to Atlantic Blvd., which is a major road.  I went on the road, but it was pretty interesting since people were trying to enter and exit I-95 at some points. I was able to take more side streets after that and got back to the beach.  As I got closer to the beach (about 4 miles out) I began to feel the temperature drop, so I knew I was getting close. 
  • Florida, no matter how you cut it, is pretty flat biking.
  • In the future, if I could have a car, I'd prefer to park and ride just the Everglades for more mileage without riding on the roads.
  • From the research I had done, it sounds like there are some park trails that would be good for biking. With the non-technical nature of them, a cross bike with bigger tires should be fine.
  • Considering it was 80 degrees and 90% humidity, I can't even imagine riding in Florida during the summer. It would be very uncomfortable.

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