Ever since my Fargo days cycling in the upper midwest (North and South Dakota, Minnesota) I came to enjoy long tailwind rides. I did several 400+ km rides up there in two summers:

  • Fargo – Winnipeg (400km) , N
  • Fargo – Minneapolis (440km) , SE
  • Fargo – Sioux City (536km) , S
  • Iowa – Canada (701km) , N
  • Most of these rides were North-South, all of them on regular highways parallel to an Interstate Highway, most of them using a Greyhound bus for the upwind (return) trip.

    Back in South Florida I did a few significant tailwind rides:

  • Orlando – Palm Beach Gardens (325km) , SE
  • Palm Beach Gardens – Melbourne (200km) , N
  • Wellington – Fort Myers Beach (240km) , W
  • The first one involved an overnight Greyhound bus ride plus cab ride, the second one a private vehicle, the third one I cycled back (using my recumbent).

    For somewhat shorter distances around Palm Beach I have scouted a few routes which can be done using public transportation.

    North or South along A1A, 70mi

    A1A between Palm Beach and Miami Beach, up to 70 mi

    This route is good for winds from N or S. I usually drive from my home in Palm Beach Gardens to Palm Beach (~20km) and park along the Intracoastal in the vicinity of the Palm Beach TriRail station. The route follows A1A and has little traffic down to Deerfield Beach. From there to Fort Lauderdale traffic is a bit heavier. Further South one has to ride around the port in Fort Lauderdale to connect with Dania Beach. As one gets closer to Miami Beach there are more traffic lights and it is generally less pleasant.

    One advantage of this route is that there are many options to cut it short by using any of the TriRail stops along the way. South of Fort Lauderdale one has to ride quite a bit West to get to the TriRail, some 10-20 km with often heavy traffic. Good spots to connect are in Boca Raton (Spanish River / Yamato Rd), Deerfield Beach (Hillsboro Blvd) and Fort Lauderdale (Broward Blvd). In Miami Beach one can ride to downtown Miami and then take the SkyRail to connect with the TriRail.

    I have done shorter variations of this ride perhaps a dozen times. Due to the scenic ride along the Ocean, the lack of traffic and the convenience of multiple TriRail returns it is my favorite tailwind ride in South Florida.

    Belle Glade to Miami, 70 mi

    Belle Glade to Miami via Hwy 27, 70 mi

    This route is an option for NW or SE winds. It combines two public transportation segments, the TriRail and the Palm Beach bus system. For NW winds, I drive to the Wellington Green mall at 441 / Forest Hill Blvd. From here I take the bus No. 40 out to Belle Glade. The bike can be put on a rack mounted on the front of the bus. The bus takes about 45 min to drive out there, and the one-way ticket costs all of $1.50
    From Belle Glade it is a relatively short 5km distance West to South Bay. From here State Road 27 leads diagonally down through the Everglades Conservation area towards Weston and Miami. It is a great stretch of long straight road through the middle of nowhere. Be prepared to see nothing much but sugarcane fields and swamp land.

    After about 65km SR 27 intersects with I75. From here one can ride straight East towards Fort Lauderdale, either to cut short or if the wind is more westerly (WNW instead of NNW). There is a SR80 parallel to I75 but it still is a bit intimidating to ride on these big highways, for example to get across the huge intersection with the Sawgrass Expressway.

    The alternative is to continue down South on SR 27 on the Western edge of Weston and then diagonally SE towards the Miami airport. (I haven’t done this section yet, so I don’t know the traffic and shoulder conditions here.) Here one finds the southern TriRail terminal at Hialeah Market. Keep in mind that on weekends the TriRail only runs every 2 hours, so planning ahead and timing is important to avoid a lengthy wait.

    One takes the TriRail North to Lake Worth road. Here one can either get on the bus N0. 62 or just cycle the 12 mi back to the mall. While there is a shoulder, Lake Worth road is quite busy and won’t win a beauty contest. I used to ride it a lot when living in Wellington, but one can certainly opt for the bus again.

    This route combines bus (East-West), cycling (NW-SE) and TriRail (South-North) to a triangle course which will allow a tailwind ride across 70 mi of mostly farm and swamp land without much return hassle. Check these photos of this ride on Jan-30, 2013!

    Sebring to Palm Beach Gardens, 100mi

    Sebring to Okeechobee to Palm Beach Gardens, 100mi

    This option offers a roughly 100mi long and almost continuously straight route either NW or SE. I rode this once on the long ride from Orlando to Palm Beach Gardens. It would have been the ideal route for the days after hurricane Sandy had passed us and brought 25mph WNW winds. Around Okeechobee one can use variations to ride along the levee on Lake Okeechobee, which is certainly more scenic and a welcome change. Either connect back to SR 710 (Beeline Highway) after just 8 mi (using C15B, SW 126th Blvd) or after about 20 mi (via Kanner Hwy SR 76) which would add about 10 mi.

    A Google Map search revealed that Amtrak is running a train called Silver Star along this route, covering the distance between West Palm Beach and Sebring in 1 h 50 min. I don’t know whether bicycle transport is supported on this particular train – boxing up the bike is always a big hassle. Furthermore, the train only runs once or twice a day, which may not be compatible with same-day return cycling.