Storming down the Florida coast to Vero Beach

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 31, 2014

After rain all around yesterday, I got up to the weather lady in Jacksonville, Fla., telling me that today would be different. There was almost no chance of rain and the humidity would be much lower. There is more than one reason that I was glad for the forecast, but back to that later.
I jumped out into the construction on U.S. 1 in Cocoa this morning and headed south. After just a couple of miles, I was on the most recently finished paving and riding smoothly. The new road is about twice as wide as the old one, with a big bike lane.
The next town was Rockledge, bigger than Cocoa, but it was impossible to tell where one stopped and the other started. Melbourne, a city of close to 80,000, followed but here was where I left U.S. 1 and crossed over the Indian River and headed toward A1A.
My first beach town on A1A was Indialantic, with Melbourne Beach next. I was amazed that much of the prime beach front real estate is set aside for parks and beach access. Even though this is summer and the lower tourist season for the area, lots of people were on the beaches. The waves were very calm because the prevailing breeze has been blowing from the west during the recent hot weather. The temperature was climbing quickly this morning, and there were a few clouds around on this supposed “almost no chance of rain” day.
Lots of cyclists were out today, but one woman blew by me and then stopped when she picked up a large fishing lure in the road, one that usually has hooks in it. This one did not, but it started a very interesting conversation with Sherry Starr from Palm Bay, Fla. Sherry is also a part-time runner, kayaker and fisherman. She showed me pictures of some of the fish that she has caught recently. Sherry was intent on completing a 40-mile ride today. She showed me a place to stop for water and a restroom, and off she went again.
My favorite site of the day was the Sebastian Inlet State Park. After climbing a bridge, I was treated to the sight of the Atlantic Ocean on the left of A1A and the Indian River on the right side. There was a protected inlet for swimming and water play. Lots of beautiful homes were along the river and the ocean as I approached Wabasso Beach. Just about that time, rain started to fall.
The thing that wasn’t supposed to happen was now falling heavily. I had lost my raincoat, one of the lightweight kind, off the back of my bike about a week ago. I remember tying it on the back because rain looked imminent, but it was too hot to put it on just yet. I never saw it again, and it has rained four of the last five days while I was riding.
Tonight the storms are around everywhere, and more are expected tonight and tomorrow. what happened to the forecast? After being too close to several lightning strikes, I am safe and sound in Vero Beach in a fantastic Howard Johnson’s. I stopped at another place, woke the guy up who was watching the place. He didn’t want to show me the room and he “don’t have none of that Wifi.” The price for this room was great and Publix was just down the street.
I finished up again on U.S. 1 today, but will head back over to A1A first thing in the morning for some more beach riding. My goal is Jupiter tomorrow and hopefully Fort Lauderdale on Friday. Then Miami and the stretch run down the Keys. About 320 miles remaining.
Total mileage was 64 today. Keep an eye on the tropics, the locals are watching if a storm might be developing.
Rowan County resident David Freeze is cycling from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Key West, Fla. Contact him at