Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ride Report: 12 To Havana

12. minutes? No, it was definitely longer than that. Years? Not quite, but 12 years old is a prime biking age. Miles per hour? If husband had it his way, but I tried to keep it faster.

I'm talking about biking Highway 12 (Florida State Road 12). What is the preferred term when you're talking about riding a bicycle anyway? Biking, riding, or cycling? I'm new to this but I know it's preferable to refer to the people who do it as cyclists as opposed to bikers. Husband calls them bikers all the time, causing me to think he's talking about some guy in leather with an awesome beard on a Harley.

Anyway, I've been going on long bicycle rides—and dragging husband along—on Saturdays for the past few weeks. We've done rides around Panama City (where my parents live), the Chaires/Capitola area, and of course the St. Marks Trail. While riding St. Marks is easy and there's always someone doing it, I get bored with it, so I don't choose it very often.

Last week I got the idea to ride to Havana, FL down Hwy 12. Havana is a cute little Stars Hollow-esque town about 16 miles from Tallahassee, and that stretch of 12 is quiet and tree-lined, so I thought it would be a pleasant ride. We could stop for brunch or just a break, then head back home.

Being that I'm fairly new to biking, I wanted to make sure that this was a safe route before we decided to do it. I looked for some routes online that used the section of Hwy 12 between Thomasville Road (319) and Havana, but couldn't find any. I decided to post on a couple of local Facebook groups and see what more experienced cyclists had to say about it. The responses were not usual, I guess. The ladies said they wouldn't do it, and the men said it was great. Ha! One of the ladies did later message me to say that she asked some cycling friends who said it would be a great ride. I probably would not have done this ride by myself but since husband was going I felt better about it.

Eventually, I'd like to be able to make the ride from home, which would add on another 13 miles or so each way, but I'm not quite up for a 60 mile ride just yet. So we loaded the bikes on the rack (well, husband did) and drove up Thomasville Road to Hwy 12. Just over 2 crepe myrtle lined miles down 12, you see a sign for a boat ramp pointing down Iamonia Landing Road. We turned here and took the road almost to the end and turned left into a public park/playground where we left the car. (There are restrooms there if you are in need, but we didn't use them so I can't report on the condition.)

Iamonia Landing Road is fairly flat and makes for a good, peaceful warm up, but is very different from the ride to come. We weren't on 12 for long before we started to encounter some serious hills. Now husband will give you all kinds of excuses about why he couldn't keep up with me and some of them are justified. He was on a mountain bike, which probably weighs a good 20lbs more than my road bike and just doesn't have gears to match mine for climbing, but he's also just plain slower than me because I bike more than him. I didn't want to drop him completely so after a big climb I would look for a side road to pull off on and wait for him. The only challenge to this was making sure the road I chose would give me a clear view around turns and over hills to get back out on the road; it wasn't bad.

We had started out at around 8:30 am, so the traffic was mild. There is only one intersection where you have to stop before getting into Havana. This intersection is where 12 crosses Meridian, you actually have to take a right turn here, go up Meridian for a minute, then turn left to continue onto 12. Also worth noting, there is a fork in the road where 12B takes a right off of 12, you want to continue on 12 as it curves to the left. You don't have to stop here, but you should be cautious of cars coming and going from 12B.

I was hoping to make it to Havana in an hour but I was being a bit too optimistic with that estimate and we made it in an hour and a half. I probably would have made it closer to the hour estimate without husband, but I wasn't expecting the ride to be so hilly either. The only other time we had rode this far was the St. Marks Trail, which is flat flat flat. Husband was beat when we got to Havana. I was doing fine, just hungry.

We got a sandwich downtown from The Shoppes at Havana Trading Co. I wish I would have taken some photos on our break here. We sat at a cute little outside table for two and shared a chicken salad sandwich, one of those fancy ones with grapes in it. I don't know if it was just because I was famished, but it was excellent.

The trip back was pretty much the same, except, well, backwards. Husband was basically done and gave me the car keys at the Meridian intersection where I had waited for him for a while because he had to walk up some hills. I didn't worry about dropping him the rest of the return trip, loaded my bike on the rack by myself for the first time every, and drove to pick him up.

All-in-all, it was an enjoyable ride, for me at least. It's definitely not for the inexperienced, but even husband said he wasn't really sore the following day. While you do pass some run-down country homes along the way, for the most part it's beautiful country landscape, trees, and farmhouses.
Traffic was a little heavier on the ride back since it was later in the day, but not bad at all. I only had two cars that I felt got too close to me and they were both from Georgia (go figure). Do they not have the 3 feet law in Georgia?

Verdict: I would totally do it again.


  1. There are times I feel that my wonderful wife wants to murder me through exercise. This is a joke of coarse.
    The ride to Havana was great getting there, but coming back was a whole different experience. I will say that if you are doing a ride for any distance longer that 10 miles, don't do it on a mountain bike. Yes, my wife is in much better shape than me, but there is a HUGE difference in a road bike vs a mountain bike. Here is one quote I found.

    "Road bikes are leagues and leagues quicker than mountain bikes. It's not even a comparison. I struggle to average 13-14mph on a mountain bike on road for more than 2-3 hours, but on a road bike i could average 16-17mph for about 4-5 hours. The difference is massive." -Ross

    One thing we did test is my max speed on the mountain bike. It was about 18mph. This is the speed my wife wants to her normal pace to be at!


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