Fort White to Branford

The restoration of the little train station in Fort White appears to be coming right along. There are plans to have it finished as a trailhead for the O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail by sometime in June. A cool start this morning warmed right up by the time we arrived in Branford to rest on the banks of the swollen Suwannee River. Wysteria, plums, dogwood and phlox were all in agreement that spring is really here.
Today's ride was a lazy, easy paced stroll out the west end of the O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail over the Ichetucknee River, then along the Suwannee River Greenway at Branford into Branford itself. We enjoyed a snack at Ivey Memorial Park and pedaled back to Fort White in time for lunch. Both trails were found to be in fairly good condition.


Four Freedoms Trail

For a complete change of pace and pattern, I drove up to sleepy little Madison, FL Sunday morning to join Dennis, whom I had met at the Catrike Rally, in a visit to the recently opened Four Freedoms Trail. This trail runs north from Hanson, FL to the Withlacoochee River and Georgia border.

Except for a little exposure when passing through the veritable time warp of tiny Pinetta, FL, the trail is almost entirely canopied beneath the trees that lined the railroad line it replaced. From just above Pinetta to the river seemed to be a constant descent, though the return trip didn't really feel like a long climb. The grade must be rather subtle and the quiet beauty of the surroundings lure one's attention away from the details of propulsion. At the river's edge, the pavement ends just short of connecting to the remnants of the railroad bridge that once crossed the Withlacoochee and there is a newly constructed observation deck next to covered picnic tables. The walk down to the deck crosses the drive to a primitive boat launch.

Dennis and I spent most of the 11 miles chatting about other potential rides to be enjoyed in the area, including routes through Lee, Madison and around Cherry Lake. We also had the opportunity to meet up with another Madisonian, Steve Pike, out for a cruise on a Trek he had restored to service.

The view from the highway on the drive over was speckled with sightings of the white blossoms of dogwood and plum trees as they hinted Spring is just around the corner. With a steady breeze out of the north curling the Spanish moss, Sunday was one of those days that simply commands you open all windows and doors and let your house catch its breath. A day like this certainly calls for a return visit, soon.


4th Annual Catrike Rally

March began this year in Winter Garden with the prettiest day the Catrike Rally has seen since its inaugural in 2005 and what excitement! The event had grown from approximately 25 trikes then to nearly sixty this year. The Winter Garden Station trail head on Plant Street was full and overflowing by 8:30.

Just a couple blocks away, downtown was abuzz with trikes, riders, and onlookers. The scene was a festive madhouse of colors and configurations as folks milled about greeting each other, catching up, and inspecting the gear. T-shirts, maps, and plans for the day were handed out and a few details were announced concerning the long and the short ride options. Then, we began forming up and starting out.

Bob Emmerich shot some very nice video of our start and parts of the ride. The long ride went west to Lake Minneola in Clermont where we rested long and visited further before returning to Winter Garden. On the way back, we paused again at Kilarney Station for a the last break before lunch.

Catrike Rally 2008 - The Start from Bob Emmerich on Vimeo.

Catrike Rally 2008 - Part II from Bob Emmerich on Vimeo.

Catrike Rally Part III from Bob Emmerich on Vimeo.

A beautiful day with one very large array of smiles!