What a great day! I had the pleasure of riding with a newfound friend from Bike Forums on a ride I’d never done before. Brian (Jaxgtr on Bike Forums) picked me up promptly at 8:00 AM and we took the 20 minute drive to the trailhead.

Jacksonville-Baldwin TrailThe Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail is an old converted railway line that runs from Jacksonville to Baldwin, FL. The Jacksonville trailhead (Imeson Road Trailhead) is only five miles from downtown. The path itself has been paved with asphalt and is approximately 12 feet wide which gives plenty of room to ride side-by-side or in groups. About 95% of the trail is covered by a canopy of trees which has you riding in the shade for most of the trip. For the most part the trail is flat but there are a couple of areas that are slightly uphill and will get the heart rate up if you push it. Along the route there are benches and pull-offs if you need to take a break or just want to sit and enjoy nature. There are bathrooms located about 5 miles from the Jacksonville trail head and some port-a-potties at the Baldwin trail head. A couple of miles before the Baldwin trail head there’s an old converted train station that looked like it had a water fountain. You’d would probably be smart to bring two water bottles like we did. The round-trip distance is right at 29 miles.

When Brian and I arrived at the Jacksonville trail head the parking area was already quite full. There were a few folks milling about the parking area but it looked like most were out on the trail. We geared up and headed on our way. The ride along the trail was very, very nice. We saw other cyclists (male and female), roller bladers, walkers, runners, tandems, recumbents, singles, pairs, and groups. You name it, we saw it. Including the local turkey that seemed to be guarding the trail in one section. Most everybody was very nice and were quick to say good morning or to give a heads up when passing. Brian was nice enough to ride along at my pace which was nice. His base fitness is better than mine so I needed to take it a little slower. We averaged about 13 mph out to Baldwin and around 14-15 mph on the way back. We had a couple of brief periods where we were going along a little faster than that. I was just glad to ride the full 29 miles. This is by far the longest ride I’ve done in over 15 years. The last time I rode this far was back when I was training for a fund-raising ride from Connecticut to Ohio to raise money for the Children’s Hospital in Akron, OH. Akron was the sponsor city for my second submarine-USS SEAWOLF (SSN 21). That would put it in the 1994 time-frame. Wow that was a long time ago!

Like I said earlier, this was a very, very good ride. Many thanks to Brian for inviting me and dragging me out there to experience it.

Here are the numbers for today’s ride: 29.67 miles, 2:12:21, 19.7 mph max, and 13.4 mph average.