Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail

Deanne, Gary and I made up the entire group today. Winter seemed to have "left the building" for this ride, leaving behind what was very nearly a perfect Spring day! A nice cool start with a light SE breeze that matured into a helpful little tail wind on the return trip.
Nearly as present as the small birds darting from side to side, were the number of recumbents sighted. A good sized group, we think from the central Florida area, included some out of state visitors on tandem recumbents, who brightened the scene with their colors. Photos are posted in the gallery.

While Gary had to rush on back, Deanne and I stopped in at Sonny's in Hawthorne for refueling and rest. They had replaced the tired, old, picnic table style furniture with new traditional tables and chairs which gave the dining room a much more spacious feel and, no doubt, enhanced the serving experience.

There were quite a few folks out on the trail, cyclists, rollerbladers, walkers, even employees offering information and taking care of maintenance tasks as well. Also, our late start amplified the number of oncoming cyclists we encountered, a couple of which turned out to be other Feet First members riding on their own schedule.

Looking forward to the Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail for next Saturday. Yall Come!

Trail Condition: Very good
Facilities: Environmentally friendly

Nature Coast Trail

Saturday morning in north central Florida was full of surprises starting with a record-breaking low temperature that approached the teens. Gary and I agreed when we met up at the Trenton trailhead that our sanity was in question, but we had planned to be there and it was a beautiful day, so we visited the Foodway for some breakfast and allowed the morning to warm up slightly, since it was still in the thirties.

It was now ride time, though there were no other attendees. At least sunscreen was easily conserved today as precious little remained exposed after suiting up. The forecast of a high in the mid 60s encouraged us to proceed and it was just above 40 as we started out. None of this discouraged the bird population, especially robins, they were everywhere and quite busy it seemed.

As we were about to cross the Suwannee River, a walker and his leashed dog were coming the other way and the dog was carrying a large, slingshot shaped piece of wood in his mouth. As a friendly greeting I smiled and asked, "You got him collecting firewood for you?"

The walker, without hesitation, simply replied, "He whittles!" and kept on walking.

The river was quiet and smooth, as free of traffic as the trail had been, but on the other side there was a veritable parade of motorcycles descending into Old Town where we, too, stopped for a break.

Starting at the Old Town trailhead, we saw two other riders braving the morning. Instead of continuing on to Cross City, we decided to double back and turn south to Fanning Springs to visit the wayside park at the river there and were surprised to find a new park. Fort Fanning Historical Park is on the north side of US 19 right at the river's edge and, we were later told, will be the home of a reconstructed Fort Fanning. It has nice, brick-lined sidewalks with landscaping and benches and a lovely view of the river.
We followed the sidewalk back to the east and discovered a hidden corridor beneath huge old oaks that goes all the way back to the rail trail where there are future plans to add a restroom facility. Photos are posted in the gallery.

On the way back to Trenton, we did encounter a couple more riders and finally saw the temperature above 60. An additional surprise was finding a freshly smashed glass bottle on the asphalt, but Gary's trusty pan and brush made short work of the unusual blemish.

Looking forward to the Hawthorne Trail for next Saturday. Yall Come!

Trail Condition: Excellent
Facilities: Excellent

O'Leno to Ichetucknee

It had been nearly a month since I last rode, so I thought I had best get out there and make the best of the break in the weather. The most energy efficient ride for me is the quick 4 mile drive up to Fort White, so that was my decision. I headed west out to the Ichetucknee River and then back to town before pedaling toward O'Leno State Park.

About half way to O'Leno, I met an oncoming cyclist, whom I had seen before. I waved and spoke to the gentleman only slightly younger than myself and continued on my way, dodging the debris of the still unmaintained trail. A crew had, at least, removed the large trees that were across the trail the last time I rode it, but it continues to be free of any sweeping or edging activity.

At the entrance to O'Leno, I turned about and began the trip back to Fort White. It is a little hilly on that end of the trail and as I came over what feels like the highest point, there in front of the the old Tanner place, I was surprised to see this scene.

I couldn't quite figure what on Earth could have happened here, where there are no intersections and such. Moving on down the slope, it soon became clear that the incident involved a cyclist. It was the fellow I had greeted before! On his return trip, he had apparently blacked out and taken a tumble. A deputy told me that a motorist had called in his misfortune and as we talked the paramedics arrived and began questioning the cyclist about his condition.

The paramedics, guided by the patient's response and evidence of a solid blow to the forehead, began making arrangements to airlift him to Gainesville. There appeared to be no equipment failure as I looked over his bicycle; tires were inflated, nothing looked damaged or out of place. The deputy loaded it up from transporting to the station in Fort White and the ambulance pulled away.

On my way back to my car, I began to hear the sounds of a helicopter approaching in the distance. Nice to know folks can get the help they need out here in the hinterland, but this neighbor I had seen before, surely had enjoyed better days.

Trail Condition: Navigable, yet not maintained
Facilities: Not provided
Emergency Services Response: Excellent