Sunday, August 21, 2011

Baldwin, FL to Jacksonville Beach, FL - 82 miles

From top, left to right: Jacksonville Beach Pier, Casa Marina Hotel, Freebird Live, condos, statue in front of City Hall, Lynch's Irish Pub, Sea Walk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach City Hall

Today was the last day of the ride. The riders were anxious and sad all at the same time. It has been a long, hard ride, but you can see the pride of accomplishment on their faces.

The triumphant arrival at Jacksonville Beach was captured with cameras, loved ones and balloons. Then it was down to the ocean's edge for a celebratory glass of Moet and more pictures. Soon after all riders and guests assembled at Joe's Crab Shack for a final group dinner before final hugs and handshakes and all going their own way. Many had to pack their bicycles for shipping back home and others brought their trusty steads to a local bike shop to handle that chore. And then some just put their bike in the back of their car and headed home. It was a wonderful trip but now it is time to move on to bigger and better events.
Like most of northeast Florida, the Jacksonville Beach area was originally inhabited by the Timucua peoples. Though the Jacksonville Beaches region was one of the first parts of what is now the continential U.S. to see settlement during the period of European colonziation, the area of Jacksonville Beach itself was not settled until the 19th century.

In the late 19th century, developers began to see the potential in Duval County's oceanfront as a resort. In 1883 a group of investors formed the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad with the intention of developing a resort community that would be connected to Jacksonville by rail. In 1884 the first residents of what would become Jacksonville Beach moved in, and a railway station, post office, and small tent community was formed. The community was named Ruby, after the daughter of one of the first residents. The name was changed to Pablo Beach in 1886, and the first hotel was constructed. It was incorporated as a town in 1907. The name was changed to Jacksonville Beach in 1921, emphasizing the connection with Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Beach's Role in WWII
SS Gulfamerica Sinking

Backlit from lights from Jacksonville, a German U-boat [U-123] as part of Operation Drumbeat, was able to target and sink the SS Gulfamerica on April 10, 1942, early in WWII. It was several months before the federal government understood the necessity for blacking out coastal cities at night.

The Second Happy Time (codenamed Operation Paukenschlag or Operation Drumbeat), also known among German submarine commanders as the "American shooting season" was the informal name for a phase in the Second Battle of the Atlantic during which Axis submarines attacked merchant shipping along the east coast of North America. The first "Happy time" was in 1940/41.
It lasted from January 1942 to about August of that year. German submariners named it the happy time or the golden time as defense measures were weak and disorganized, and the U-boats were able to inflict massive damage with little risk. During the second happy time, Axis submarines sank 609 ships totaling 3.1 million tons for the loss of only 22 U-boats. This was roughly one quarter of all shipping sunk by U-boats during the entire Second World War.

We are staying at the Best Western Oceanfront.

Tomorrow most everyone heads home. Our ride adventure is done!

Bring on Route 66!

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