Urals make great touring rigs as long as you aren't in a hurry. With that thought in mind, and no place I had to be at any given time, I started out Saturday January 16th on a four day ride that would take me from Huntsville, Alabama down into Central Florida and back. I had been aching to get out and do a long ride but had not had the time....and this past weekend everything fell together. My destination deciding factor factor was the weather, especially after finding out that my baby sister in Ohio was expecting Sunday morning temperatures of 0 degrees.
This was not my first long trip on a Ural and I packed light - not planning any offroad adventures. I grew up in Florida yet had managed to not see a lot of the panhandle other than Destin and Panama City. I knew I would find lodging if I needed it, restaurants, and gasoline along the way so there was no need to pack for an extended trip. I loaded my 2014 Ural Patrol with a sleeping bag and small cooking stove, and figured if I got tired somewhere, I'd always be able to find a place to sleep. My biggest packing concern was warm clothes in order to be prepared for the approaching cold front on the return trip. 4
My plan was simply to ride backroads to Florida and then ride as close as I could to the Gulf of Mexico as I skirted around the Florida Panhandle until I reached my parent's home in Central Florida. The Ural did great chugging up and down the hills of Alabama and I could not have asked for nicer riding weather....well okay...maybe 10 degrees warmer to start with. Each day I was met with lots of sunshine, even if the days were short, and little to no traffic to speak of until I reached Perry Florida on the second day. I like to ride till it's time for bed, and taking things slowly in the Ural, combined with a later start than I wanted meant I reached Panama City late and the state park campground had already closed. So I opted for a hotel for the night east of Panama City, and woke to a loud thunderstorm Saturday night. I was glad I wasn't camping in the open (no tent). The sun was out the next morning and I was on the road by 8 a.m. and rode Highway 98 east to Port Saint Joe before getting onto County Road 30A to ride around the tip of land just west of the small town of Apalachicola. Much of the riding was very close to the Gulf and it was beautiful. I never cease to be amazed at how people build up homes on stilts to weather the hurricanes etc and there were a lot of really nice homes there. I rode through the towns of Apalachicola, Eastpoint, and over to St. George's Island. It was my first time to St. Georges and it's quite a beautiful place. Definitely old Florida and well worth a visit. I rode down to the St. Park on the island and to the end of the park road where it was blocked by a gate. A sign on the gate says to contact the Rangers for a key as they allow fisherman to drive the last 5 miles down a jeep trail in order to reach fishing spots along the island.
Back on the mainland, I continued on Hwy 98 which became the the Big Bend Scenic Highway. Much of the road was next to the shore and when it wasn't along the shoreline it went through pine forests. The Big Bend Scenic Highway continued east to Perry, Florida where it ends. From then on I took Hwy 98 south to Lakeland and on to my parents. On the return trip I backtracked on 98 to Perry and then backroads to Columbus Georgia but the highlight of the trip for me, other than seeing family, was riding along the shores of the panhandle.
Posted 8/15/2016 11:55 PM (#90343 - in reply to #87635) Subject: RE: Southern Ride over MLK Weekend
Posts: 206 Location: Richton, MS
Thanks for posting. Looks like you had a great time. I have seen a few of the places you covered, but not on a motorcycle. I've got to try to get back over there. Any chance you might make it down to south MS for Cruiisn' The Coast? Would like to finally meet you and compare notes..