Florida Bicycle Trip
A bicycle trip in Florida can be a wonderful experience. Blue skies, warm sun, clear roads and/or trails.
A Florida bicycle trip can also be a nightmare, if you don't know what to watch out and plan for.
Here are some tips for bicycling in Florida, as well as ideas for neat places to ride.
It's the Law!
Okay, if you are from outside Florida or you are a Florida resident who hasn't biked in, ahem, quite a few years, please view Florida's Bicycle laws. Yes, it's written in "leagalese", but you do need to know the laws in order to ride safely and without getting a ticket (yep, I have heard of tickets being issued). So take a look at the Florida laws and then come right back.
Now that you're back, let's take a look at the weather.
A Florida Bicycling Trip and the Weather - Comfy or Miserable
Florida can have the most gorgeous weather you can imagine. If can also make your bicycle trip miserable if you haven't planned ahead.
First of all, summers in Florida are hot and humid - rain and thunderstorms are the norm rather than the exception. I am not saying this to you to discourage you from visiting in the summer. Just the opposite -- I want you to know what to expect, so you can judge for yourself if bicycling in summer in Florida is right for you.
The biggest summer bummers are the heat and thundershowers. And if you are trail riding, count on biting insects (and you can never seem to out-cycle them).
Handle the heat by:
When I say cooler parts of the day, that is kind of relative. Daytime temperatures range from the uppper 80's to upper 90's with high (above 80%) humidity. The cooler parts of the day, morning and evening, tend to be in the low 80's to mid 70's.
Early mornings tend to be the best weather, being the coolest and least likely time for thunderstorms.
Speaking on those thunder boomers, please, please, please don't start a ride when the clouds are menacing and the forecast calls for storms. That may seem obvious to you, but you would be utterly surprised at the number of people who ignore our stormy weather. Granted, riding in a rain shower may not be a big deal, but a lightning strike will really ruin your bicycle trip, perhaps permanently.
And the Best Time of Year For Cycling Is....
Now you know about our summers -- what about the rest of the year?
My vote for the best time of the year for a bicycle trip would be October through early November. The humidity has started down the scale, the rainy season is coming to an end, and the heat takes a vacation itself. While you generally won't see a changing of the leaves, there will still be the occasional tree that decides to brightly blaze.
Next best time for a Florida bicycle trip? March and April. There is a reason that Florida means "feast of flowers", and spring is it. The rains generally don't start up until May, the skies are blue and it's not too hot yet.
If you happen to be in South Florida or the Florida Keys, a bicycle trip in the winter is a glorious thing. Low humidity, bright blue skies, and generally mild weather. Sometimes a chilly spell (for us anyway) comes through with days not making it out of the 50's, but that can still be gorgeous if you are riding in the sunshine.
Don't Be a Statistic
Please don't be a traffic statistic! Riding on the roads in the more populated areas of Florida can seem like you are taking your life in your hands. Unfortunately, the major metropolitan areas are swarming with cars, many of whom seem to think they own all parts of the road. Again, I am not trying to discourage you -- just want you know know the facts.
With that said, there are still many areas of Florida where traffic is light and the drivers more courteous. Florida's Nature Coast is a great place, as is the Florida Panhandle. North Florida can be terrific, if you stay away from the major cities.
Ride the Trails
Trail rides are the safest kind of bicycle trip in the highly populated areas. Parks provide a great place to ride with fewer worries. We have quite a few state and national parks to choose from here in Florida.
Check out bicycle riding in the Florida Keys -- it can be quite a pleasure!
There are also several bike trails in Florida. Trails.com has some terrific information on these bike trails - they have a free 2-week trial going on, so take advantage of this great resource.
Happy trails to you!
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