Listen, I’ve cycled this long peninsula. The Forgotten Coast, Horse Country, Florida’s Eden, The Loop, Suncoast…you name it I’ve likely seen it while perched atop two wheels.
Which is why I keep telling people that you haven’t “done” Florida if you haven’t experienced it from the seat of a bicycle.
Lately I’ve been spending quite a bit of time along the banks of the Indian River, tending to my ailing mother. And in the process I’ve discovered yet another favorite Florida cycling experience.
Really, it’s just an out-and-back on U.S. A1A from Wabasso to Sebastian Inlet…and beyond as far as your serendipity cares to carry you. It’s the sort of ride that can take you 15, 20, 25 miles or more depending on your mood, whether the wind is at your back or how life is treating you at the moment.
I park at Wabasso Causeway Park just north of Vero Beach and ride over the bridge to Wabasso Beach…just to sort of get my bearings.
Heading north my ride takes me past Orchid, Windsor, Golden Sands and on to Ambersand with its dense forest of pilings and docks bleaching in the sun.
Where pelicans, having been saved from extinction a century earlier by Teddy Roosevelt’s declaration, patiently await the return of fishermen for their leavings.
And not just the pelicans.
And you have to remind yourself that, for all of its beauty and apparent fecundity, this lagoon is a distressed ecosystem. A place where, just beneath the glamor and glitz, sea grasses are vanishing and manatees starving.
Still, life finds a way.
And don’t mind the traffic. This stretch of A1A also features an off-road greenway and on-road bike lanes. And the road runs straight and true until, at last, you arrive at a distant bridge that soars high up over an otherwise flat terrain.
At a place where, to the west, a blue lagoon beckons.
And to the east, the ocean surges in unimpeded.
Where shallows glisten in the Sun.
Erupting in shades of emerald and opal and gold.
Where sun and shadow and lines and angles conspire to play deceptive games with your very sense of perspective.
And where the Old Man And The Sea still compete for advantage.
Where men were long ago lost to the cruel sea…only to give up their treasures decades, even centuries later.
Where ancient people once pulled ample sustenance out of the sea. Until men with guns, germs and steel arrived to change everything.
And where to this day the forces of preservation continue to fight a losing battle against the relentless march of “progress.”
Where, every day, the land seems to recede and surrender yet another piece of itself to the Atlantic.
Listen, pal, this is my Florida. And if you haven’t seen it, you really should.