Suwannee River Greenway at Branford

Rachel joined me this morning in Fort White as we stole a morning's ride out from beneath an impending weather front. We used the western 5 miles of the O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail to get to the Ichetucknee River where we made use of the park's facilites before crossing the bridge on US 27 to get to the Suwannee County side where the Suwannee River Greenway at Branford terminates.

This trail has changed a lot since I last rode it in September. Maintenance is way up and debris is way down. It is like night and day comparing the two trails we used today! They have eradicated the major sand wash at one intersection that always saw me dismount, and replaced it with an asphalt ramp. Very nice! Nearly every intersection had, at the very least, fresh yellow paint on the barricade posts, many had new posts, too! It was readily apparent that the trail had recently been edged, mowed, and swept and was indeed a treat to ride from end to end and encounter so very little in the way of surface problems. I was also suprised to find the dive shop building completely gone that had stood atop the north boat ramp at Ivey Memorial Park.

The weather seemed to be holding so nicely that we went ahead west of the north end of the trail to Little River Springs where what seemed to be at least a gagglette of geese hustled away from my low slung craft. There was just enough of a coolness in the breeze to talk me out of my interest in jumping in the inviting spring.

On the way back, we went into the Ichetucknee River State Park and back out again just enough to push our velometers up to total 40 miles by the time we stopped back in Fort White. A good ride... now bring on the rain and the new year!

Photos are posted in the gallery. We're looking forward to riding much more next year.

Trail Condition: Vastly improved, facilities marginal (portable toilets at Little River Springs).

Jacksonville-Baldwin Rained Out

The threat of rain had been reduced to 10% for Saturday morning, according to some forecasters, so we rose early and made the drive, allowing some extra time for a breakfast stop at Everybody's Restaurant. Before we saw Raiford, the pavement began showing signs of recent rain and by the time we made it to Macclenny there was a consistent drizzle. We were encouraged by a lull in precipitation in downtown Baldwin and Rachael joined Deanne and I for breakfast, which made it seem even more likely things would work out.

Then we drove the few blocks north to the trailhead park and as soon as we parked, it began to sprinkle again, and a little heavier. So, we called it "rained out", parted company, and headed for home.

When Deanne and I got underway and realized the sky was constantly improving, it seemed only natural to simply relocate plans for which we were already armed. We drove to Fort White, parked at the Community Thrift Shop, unloaded the trikes, and pedaled away on the O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail. So we salvaged a rained out ride by enjoying a sunny little 26 mile jaunt through the debris and called it a day. Photos are posted in the gallery.

Trail Condition: Absolutely deplorable, completely blocked in three places, facilities non-existent, this trail is dangerously close to finishing an entire year since its dedication without maintenance.

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West Orange Trail

As a cold front stalled between us and the West Orange Trail, we were faced with an uncertain weather circumstance for today's ride. Sandra and I met at Gary's before daylight and then drove south through occasional light rain to find ourselves surprised by a rain-free Winter Garden celebrating the season with a parade through its downtown streets. We pedaled through the center, following the trail west, guided by survey tape and barricades as a few of the early birds began to set up their chairs. Upon our eastbound return, the procession had begun so we had to detour a couple blocks away to make a path around the crowds.

On the east side, it had already reached 80 degrees out and a light breeze with fairly solid cloud cover kept it nice and comfortable for riding. We had taken a side trip to the shores of Lake Apopka in Oakland, so it seemed natural to stop again at the lovely Chapin Station and walk through the garden there. A little further along, we found this guy running his brood in and out of this fence alongside the trail. Clarcona Horseman's Park is our usual turn-around point, but as we did that today, we decided to go ahead a ride the rest of the trail up to Apopka.

At what I had known as the end of the trail (2 blocks south of US 441), there were serious signs of construction leading us to look further. To our great delight, up on concrete stands awaiting future placement, we discovered the previously promised bridge that will span US 441 in Apopka and connect the part of the trail I already knew with another 3.1 miles of it heading north out of town! We couldn't help but begin to hope this might be completed by the time we visit the area for our Spring Trails Tour in March.

These and other thoughts almost kept us from noticing an increasing likelihood of our being caught in an afternoon shower. Before long, we noticed our pace had quickened as decidedly as the relative humidity. The barbeque was still good, though the restaurant at the Winter Garden Hotel had undergone a name change. It is now called "The Grove" which I thought was somewhat appropriate since there seem to be fewer and fewer of those around any more.

So, the front held its position just long enough for us to finish our ride and meal and the light and occasional rain again cooled our travel as we drove northward home. Sandra, Gary and I rode 38 miles. Photos are posted in the gallery. We're looking forward to the Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail next weekend.

Trail Condition: Simply Excellent, facilities exceptional.