Saturday, April 29, 2017

Apalachicola Again, With 7BSC.

The spring 2017, 7 Bridges Scooter Club ride, is a two night affair this year.  Yesterday we rode over, 250 miles west from Jacksonville.  There were 11 riders.  Five more were to meet us from the west, three from Pensacola, one from Dothan, Alabama and one a short ride from Panama City.

The Gibson, with a gathering on the porch

Our ride originated at Famous Amos Restaurant on Normandy Boulevard, a fine meet up place as it offers breakfast and is close to the open roads we prefer.

We got off fine, hitting traffic lights either red or green long enough to not split us up.

After another fine BLT at Pouncy's, we continued towards Apalachicola.

9 of us stopped in Eastpoint at Lynn's Quality Oysters, then we rode over the bridge to the Gibson in Apalachicola.

The Gibson in a historic old Victorian hotel in the middle of town.  It has a wonderful bar and wrap around porch that suits us well.

We had dinner at Boss Oyster, then a chat on the porch before I turned in at around 10:00.

Rocket and friends at the start

My favorite local road north of Lake Butler

At the first stop in Fort White

Waiting for the group who missed the light in Perry

In the bar in the GIibson

This is how fresh the oysters are at Lynn's

At Boss Oyster Restaurant

Apalachicola had a party going on

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

That First Ride

Recently, someone posted in Modern Vespa that she had purchased a Vespa GT, then crashed on her first ride.  I wrote a comment that included, "that first ride is the most dangerous"

I know of three incidents of first time riders wrecking during that ride.

One was close to me when I put a first timer on Vanessa, before I owned her, and poor Vanessa got ridden out of the driveway into a parked Land Rover.  I ended up paying over $800. to repair the Land Rover, then bought Vanessa (a purchase that has proved to be a good one).

My friend Ken told me of a time he let someone ride one of his scooters.  They left the driveway, rode straight across the street and crashed into a pile of leaves.

The another, my friend Rob, let another friend ride his GTS.  The scooter lurched when he improperly applied the throttle.  He panicked, jumped off and they both watched the scooter crash to the ground.

All three bad decisions by the owners of the scooters as well as the riders.

That first time is sometimes simply too much for a new rider.

I was reminded of that last week when I let a friend ride Rocket to lunch.  He had been wanting to buy Vanessa when she was around.  I said no but he still wanted to ride one.

We headed down Herschel Street to eat a mile away.  He made it fine.  On the way back I kept thinking that I have ridden down that road at least a thousand times.  I am aware of the potential danger from cars crossing.  I kept thinking, wouldn't it be a shame if someone didn't stop and rode into Rocket and Carlos.  As I was contemplating the possibilities, a car didn't notice Carlos and crossed very closely in front of him.  Closer than one has been to me in all of those rides.  But it missed him and we made it back to the office.  He could ride well but didn't have the experience to be watching for the possible dangers involved in riding.

Vanessa's damage

No fender

Monday, March 27, 2017

7 Bridges Ride, Sunday

After the fine day Saturday, I was concerned that Sunday might not be as good.  And the weather report was giving signs of possible bad weather.  Man, was I and the weather forecasters wrong.  Sunday was a great day for the club and riders.

I left home early, watching the sun come up on a top speed run down from the span of the Buckman Bridge.  Razzo hit 79 on the GPS, a little slower than I was hoping for, but I was not in a draft on that calm morning.  The river was like glass.

We all gathered at the Hardees on State Road 13.  There were at least 45 scooters and bikes.  It was the best turnout ever, probably due to holding it in balmy March instead of cold, rainy January.

Russ gathered all for instructions and thoughts.  He took the vintage group out early for a head start.  We gave them ten minutes...well...maybe eight and the remainder of us, in four groups, headed after them.

The return over the Buckman Bridge started the adventure.  I led out group at around 70 mph, and made it to the west bank of the river safely.

US 17 isn't so nice, so my route had us getting off on Ortega Boulevard, past the multi million dollar riverfront houses where many of Jacksonville's leaders call home.  Many have been projects of mine over the years.

We crossed the Grand Avenue draw bridge over the Cedar River, then into Avondale for the curves and a visit through the historic neighborhoods.  I was pleased that many of the riders commented that they enjoyed seeing this part of the city.

We went through Five Points, then over the Fuller Warren Bridge (I-95 where it crosses the river).  I stopped us at Friendship Fountain two bridges early and found the vintage crowd still there.  Everyone else came shortly after that, so we hung out for a few minutes, some visiting the fountain and others just gathering.

Because we missed two bridges, we left early to cross those, the Acosta and Main Street Bridge (official name, Alsop Bridge) before the hairiest part of the trip, crossing three lanes of a busy I-95 in a quarter mile to get to Atlantic Boulevard..  The road work will be completed by this time next year, but if it isn't, we are going street roads through north San Marco instead.

The next stop was at a gas station before crossing the Hart Bridge. Maybe too many stops for me, but it does encourage getting to know each other.

The Hart Bridge crossing was quickly followed by the Mathews bridge, then a long expressway run to the Dames Point Bridge (officially Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge) where one car tried to take out two riders.  Luckily good riding prevailed and all arrived safely.

We pulled into the Gate station for the next rest (it had been almost 20 miles since the last one)  There we waited for two who had stayed behind to help another rider who had a minor incident leaving Hardees.  Once they arrived, we rode down Heckscher Drive to the Mayport Ferry, where we were hoping that they could accommodate all of us.

It was a fine gathering on the ferry.  The car drivers all got a kick out of seeing so many of us.

The return to 7 Bridges Restaurant for lunch went well and we dined on fine food, presented Russ with a gift certificate, took a group photo and headed home.

It is a fine event.  Should one only want to ride the bridges, simply show up, join in and ride.  It takes no commitment other than a few hours.  There is no fee, no tee shirt and no pressure.  Simply fun.  That makes it special to all.

Early morning solo crossing of the Buckman Bridge

Scooters gathered at Hardees

The Buckman again as the first bridge of the ride.

Ortega Boulevard

Grand Avenue near the draw bridge

A stop at Friendship Fountain

Downtown from the Acosta Bridge

Heading onto the Main Street Bridge

The Main Street, um,  John T. Alsop, Jr, Bridge

Hart Bridge

Mathews Bridge

Climbing the Dames Point Bridge

Coming down from the span

Nice to bring kids along

Heckscher Drive

In a side car waiting for the ferry

Scooters at the Ferry

Loading the Ferry

45 scooters on the Ferry

Mayport Road following a Ural with sidecar.

Tom giving Russ his gift card in appreciation for all he does for us.

The Riders

7 Bridges Ride, Saturday ride to Fernandina Beach

The 7 Bridges Scooter Club has one big event every year.  It is the Bridges Ride where we ride over the 7 Bridges that cross the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.  Those are the Buckman, Fuller Warren, Acosta, Main Street, Hart, Mathews and Dames Point bridges.We alternate one more crossing each year between the Mayport Ferry and the Shands Bridge in Green Cove Springs.  This year it was the Ferry.

The run has always been in January, but bad weather the last three years forced us to move it to March.  Weather reports were showing possible bad weather for the weekend but it turned out to be perfect for the rides.

Our fearless leader, Russ Dixon, organizes everything and added rides to Fernandina Beach (a historic town on Amelia Island north of Jacksonville) and St. Augustine (the oldest continuously occupied town in America, south of town).

I led the Fernandina Beach ride, as I like the route, running along the north bank of the St. Johns River on Hecksher Drive, then A1A through the Talbot Islands to Amelia Island.

At the request of one of the riders, we lengthened the route a little by skipping the Dames Point Bridge, going nearer town, over the Hart Bridge to Main Street, then to Hecksher to Amelia.

It was around fifteen riders going north.

We were to eat at Sandy Bottoms, an oceanfront restaurant on the north end of Amelia Island, but they were closed for renovations, so we went to Sliders and all had nice lunches.  Two riders went for a walk on the beach, coming back to let me know that a tortoise was making its way to the beach, slowly, so I went out to take some photos.

After that we rode into the historic town, riding down Centre Street to park near the river so the remaining riders could shop and see the town.

One rider, Dennis, came from St. Louis, just for the ride.  He and I wandered around, ending up at the Palace Saloon.

The ride back to Jacksonville found us in a warm sunny afternoon, making for a nearly perfect ride for the eight remaining scooters heading home.

There was a pre-Bridges Ride dinner at Bono's BBQ restaurant, attended by 39 riders.

After that several of us headed to the Cancer Survivor's Park downtown.   It is a park of the Jacksonville bridges in miniature for people to enjoy.

I had a very nice time meeting new riders and seeing the sights.

Kevin on Rocket in Five Points.

Russ giving instructions to the riders.

The Fernandina riders going over the Hart Bridge.

Riding along Amelia Island Parkway, one of my favorite roads in the area.

Ella and her tortoise.

Centre Street, Fernandina Beach

The ride home.

One big table for dinner.

Gathering after dinner for the ride to the park.

The little bridges at Cancer Survivor's Park

The Dames Point Bridge at the park.