I climbed the US 441 bridge on Lake O's eastern side that spans the St. Lucie Canal and stopped to admire the western horizon at Port Mayaca and the Big Lake that stretched to no end. The 120 miles were nearly in the books at this point -- a simple ride down the other side of the bridge, then a turn into the Port Mayaca parking lot was all that was left to today's bicycle ride time machine into oldtime Florida.
I was struck by the increased number of dilapidated buildings in Moore Haven and Pahokee and the giant checkerboard black soil squares that lined the roads I took -- US 98, US 27, State Road 715 and US 441.
The nine-mile stretch of US 441 from Canal Point to the Martin County was paved and had a nice bike lane -- a big improvement from the choppy pavement and limited space on the side. Not only can you bike two long stretches of paved trail atop the dike that surrounds the Big O, now almost all the roads that go around the Big Lake have shoulder space on the side.
Every year I'm astounded at finishing the ride. There's always a sense of accomplishment when I pull up to my car, knowing that about 10 hours earlier with the sun on the opposite horizon I had begun this bike trip.
It's an annual rite that I enjoy renewing. I invite you to explore Florida's other shoreline.