It was the weekend of our annual 7 Bridges Ride, where we ride across the 7 bridges that cross the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida.
These bridges include three on Interstate Highways and four on major local roads, five very close to downtown.
The weekend begins with Saturday rides. I led the group to Fernandina Beach for the second year. Tom Rogerson led a larger group to Palatka, riding south along State Road 13, a fine riding road on the east side of the St. Johns River.
Our group had spectacular weather with a ride over the Dames Point Bridge to Heckscher Drive, then up A1A to the historic town of Fernandina Beach.
We dined at Brett's Waterway Cafe, a few explored the town while others helped one rider who's scooter battery failed. We jump started the scooter, but it quit again on the way home so we took it out of her scooter and I rode to O'Reilly's (It was St. Patrick's Day) for a new one. Purchased and installed it and the scooter was good again.
The evening was topped out with a group dinner at Bono's BBQ in Neptune Beach.
Sunday began early. I had to be at Hardees on Mayport Road, 20 miles from home, at 7:30.
When I arrived almost everyone was already there, including my brother David and Conchscooter, one of my favorite scooter bloggers with his Key West Diaries.
I will discuss him in another post, but to sum it up, I liked him. Very fine follow, that Conchscooter.
We left at 8:30 with a short jaunt to the Mayport Ferry, where we waited fifteen minutes for it to return. I led the boarding party and we all got on and traversed the St. Johns River easily.
Once on the other side, we headed west on Heckscher Drive to I-295, the Dames Point Bridge, a large cable-stayed bridge built in 1989. I had a friend who knew the contractor and was allowed to tour the bridge while it was under construction. Quite a sight, standing on the unfinished bridge back then.
Wind was brisk as we crossed the Intracoastal Waterway, so I turned left onto the ramp to the bridge with some trepidation, but it turned out to be just fine.
From there we too expressways to the Mathews Bridge, a red, steel truss bridge built in 1952.
We then rode past Everbank Field to the Hart Bridge, a green cantilever truss bridge built in 1967. I watched it being constructed from my neighborhood as a kid.
We stopped for a break at a gas station, then headed downtown to the Main Street Bridge, also somewhat known as the John T. Alsop, Jr. Bridge. It is a blue lift span truss bridge built in 1941.
We then rode through downtown to the Acosta Bridge, a new concrete bridge built in 1991 as a replacement for the oldest bridge crossing the river. The original bridge was a lift span steel bridge with a railroad bridge, that remains, alongside.
Next was the Fuller Warren Bridge, a multi-lane Interstate Highway bridge that replaced a drawbridge in 2002. As is the case in Jacksonville these days, it is currently under construction to add lanes and a pedestrian walkway.
It was time for another stop and we did this after riding down Riverside Avenue to Memorial Park. The centerpiece of the park is a large statue, Life, sculpted by Charles Adrian Pillars in 1924. I went to school with Mr. Pillars granddaughter, so there has always been a small connection for me.
We hustled out of there and rode through Riverside, Avondale and Ortega before getting on US-17 for the ride to I-295 again, this time to ride over the Buckman Bridge. This is the longest bridge at 3.2 miles, but quite nondescript. It was built in 1970 and had 2 more lanes added each way in 1997.
We finished the ride by heading through North Mandarin and Beauclerc, then Baymeadows Road to Southside Boulevard to the 7 Bridges Restaurant for lunch.
It was a great weekend with over 40 riders and nice weather.
The only down side was that our leader, Russ, had to do the tour in a car. He will be back in the saddle soon.
Scooters gathered for the Saturday ride.
Crossing the Intracoastal Waterway
Crossing onto Amelia Island
Big Talbot Island on A1A
Canopy road on Amelia Island, this one Amelia Island Parkway
We created our own parking area. No problem.
Awaiting a table on the porch at Brett's
Getting scooters arranged for a jump start for a bad battery.
Another canopy road on Amelia Island.
The marshes at Heckscher Drive.
Part of the dinner crowd at Bono's BBQ. They no longer have baby back ribs, replaced with fried catfish. We got a kick out of that. Who would want catfish when they wanted ribs?
At the start, scooters all arranged.
More marshes at Mayport Road, heading to the Mayport Ferry.
Scooters lined up to load onto the ferry.
I was first on.
We took up half the deck.
The Dames Point Bridge again
Everbank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, from the Hart Bridge ramp.
On the span of the Hart Bridge.
Conchscooter at the break.
The ramp heading to the Main Street Bridge with downtown Jacksonville beyond.
Grating on the lift span of the Main Street Bridge
The Acosta Bridge with Conchscooter following.
The sign said no parking on the tracks, so I parked between them. These are very active tracks.
All smiles waiting for the light to change so we could cross the Fuller Warren Bridge.
On the Fuller Warren Bridge with the Southbank of downtown Jacksonville in the background.
Life at Memorial Park.
Group Photo at the park. Most were looking at Russ.
St. Johns Avenue in Avondale, my neighborhood.
Approaching the drawbridge between Avondale and Ortega.
Coming off the drawbridge. This one crosses the Ortega River, also known as McGirts Creek and Cedar River.
Curves in Ortega
Back at the 7 Bridges Restaurant.
We dine outside.