Withlacoochee Invasion II

Once again, for the second time this year, recumbents from all over descended upon Inverness and filled up the parking lot at the Central Motel. Better weather was simply not to be found and bright colors where everywhere as folks assembled for group photos before the mass start.



There was a particularly unusual, nearly magical feeling to behold when a certain specially equipped, tandem recumbent passed us and lit off a bubble machine, scattering hundreds of bubbles along and filling the trail. What a Hoot!

Withlacoochee Rally 11-14-09 from Bob Emmerich on Vimeo.



Must have been the combination of great weather and great friends that spurred us on to ride all the way to the southern trailhead. After a brief rest, we turned into the wind and sailed back up to Inverness.

Photos are in the Gallery.

65 miles and smiles
O\vo~

350 PPM - It's Your Planet!

Let's do what we can to honor the International Day of Climate Action by meeting up at the Nature Coast State Trail, Trenton Trailhead on October 24th at 9:00 AM.

We'll ride 350 deci-miles (35 miles) and call attention to the significance of the number as a goal for everyone, everywhere.

Hope to see you there!

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As it happened, ride time in Trenton this morning found Mark and I staring out into the rain from the old railroad platform. Sandra called to say she was on her way, but I advised her to turn back... Penny had SMS'd she wasn't up to it... just wasn't a good morning to launch.

After we called it "a wash", I sneaked in a nap and then pedaled my 350 deci-miles this afternoon over to Branford and back. Not exactly what I had planned, but a bad day riding trumps a good day at work every time. I had really hoped to make a little more of a statement or contribute a little more to the cause of Climate Action. Alas! At least my television was off the whole time I was riding.

O\vo~

Withlacoochee State Trail

Even though rain was virtually assured, our group rode grinning into a very light breeze, just enough to make it comfortable and watched almost cloudless skies switch our focus. We became more concerned about exposure and heat than any possibility of rain, but it was easy to press on having been advised there was iced watermelon waiting for us.

Sheila, Larry, Myhra, Rick, Sandra, Phil and I started south just about on schedule after making a few hardware adjustments. Larry took over my trike and Rick and Myhra have new Trice Ts. Mark joined us about four miles into the ride and then we began the deviation. Guided more or less by whim, there were three side steps made where we examined or used facilities and just looked about.



We managed to get by the grazing gopher tortoise and the law enforcement vehicles and enjoyed a fairly quick ride down to Inverness where I heard shouts from the shade that sound like, "Where WHERE you?!" To my surprise Mei, Don, Bobbie, and Ron had completed the same trip, looking for us all the while, and must have passed while we were "off trail"! They had gotten off to a little later start and just missed us.

With the entire group together now, Don and Mei tell us about the watermelon they have brought. That generated its own mental tailwind and we sailed back to the north end. Discussing lunch, Mark says there is a Coach's Pub in Dunnellon, so that was settled and the entire group retired to the pub for a real nice lunch.

Photos are in the Gallery.

34 miles and smiles
O\vo~

Hawthorne Trail

Today's ride was organized by David Von Stein of Middleburg and was attended by folks from the Central and North Florida Recumbent Riders groups, Mark and friends from Catrike, as well as Feet First. Mike, from Atlantic Beach, got us all off to a healthy start by laying out some beautiful, ice cold, fresh fruit in the shade which hit the spot on a very warm morning.

All our gadgets had assured us a 70% chance of rain, so we were somewhat surprised by the weather staying clear for the entire ride.



There were a few mechanical problems, including flats, flips, and bound binders, but the group pulled together to overcome and made it back to Dianne's Old Time Barbeque in Hawthorne for feasting on air conditioning and barbeque.

Thanks, David, for putting this together!

Photos are in the Gallery. Special thanks to Mary Hayhurst for the additonal photos.

31 miles and smiles (and almost as many riders!)
O\vo~

Nature Coast Trail

Getting real close to being too hot to ride, we complained, as we tried to decide just how far to ride this morning. We met up in Trenton and mustered our intentions just enough to get rolling and feel the cool breeze of evaporation settle over us. Later it seemed that we might have actually been pedaling into a slight headwind, as it assisted us on our return trip.

We rode out across the Suwannee River before meeting other riders going the opposite direction. The surprising thing was that the majority of them were also recumbent riders.



Once we ran out of the shade things really began to warm up and stopping did not seem to help much. Having other plans for later in the day, our group reached a split decision, Mark, Don, and Mei turned back and Sandra and I continued on to Cross City. We encoutered a couple on horseback coming into Cross City alongside the trail as we turned around and made for our rest stop at the Dairy Queen. The Brownie Batter Blizzard had to be consumed outside because the air conditioning in the DQ was simply too big a contrast to our exercise environment.

Photos are in the Gallery and the map of the ride is on the Trails Guide.

40 miles and smiles
O\vo~

Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail

Almost as much fun as riding a trail is sharing one with someone who's not yet seen it. Don and Mei joined us in Baldwin for their first trip on this particular trail and Deanne and I enjoyed showing them around. First, we took in the two miles to the west end and then turned about to head toward Jacksonville.

The first day in quite some time with a reduced chance of rain seemed to really bring folks out. There were riders of all types cruising along in both directions, about the busiest I remember ever seeing it. At one point Mei and I chased up to a pace line that had just passed us and hung on to the back for a mile or so, surprising the head first riders somewhat.



Apparently due to all the rain we have been having, there is some fairly serious erosion of the trail surface edges in a few places, but evidence suggests maintenance crews have the situation well under control. Otherwise the overall condition of the trail was excellent, as usual.

We took in a visit to the park about midway where the Harvey House and all the carefully planted oak trees are, including a roll along the boardwalk through the piney woods. This is all back behind the trailside restroom facilities. There was the hint of an isolated shower looming as we turned around at the Jacksonville trailhead and some sprinkles followed us downwind back to Baldwin.

No trip to Baldwin is complete without a stop at Everybody's Restaurant, so we stopped in to find it was "Chicken Day!" The special on Saturdays is their terrific fried chicken. And it "...is served with not one, not two, but three sides of your choosing for only $7.10!", we overheard the ever-engaging waitress announce to a neighboring table.

Photos are in the Gallery and the map of the ride is on the Trails Guide.

32 miles and smiles
O\vo~

Lake Beresford Park

While visiting our friends in New Smyrna Beach for Independence Day, they invited us to join them for a ride to Blue Spring State Park. That seemed like the perfect thing to do in the summer heat, take a dip in a cool spring. Tucked away, almost secretively, near Deland we went to Lake Beresford Park.



There is a 1.8 mile, paved trail encircling the park which connects via a tunnel under the railroad, to another paved trail leading down to Blue Spring, about 3.4 miles. So, granted this makes a short trail ride, but does it ever make up for that in beauty?! This is a fantastically natural trail, neat and clean, and well just plain pretty! With the lake nearby, there is no surprise in seeing and hearing many birds, but one of our riders actually got to see a piney woods rooter (young wild pig) rustling through the underbrush.

The trail offers lots of shade, curves, short climbs up and down easy hills, and great Florida wooded scenery with the optional swimming stop at the south end for a mid-ride cool off. Somewhat off the beaten path (always gets my vote), this little gem is worth the trouble to visit and is accompanied by copious free parking and perfectly maintained restroom facilities.

Photos are in the Gallery and the map of the ride is on the Trails Guide.

10 miles but many more smiles
O\vo~

The Legacy Trail

I don't know when I've said "Good Morning" more often! Even though there was actually a heat advisory in effect for the area, Deanne and I were amazed at the number of people we encountered on this relatively new recreational resource in Sarasota. The Legacy Trail has been in place just over a year now but it seemed lots of folks know about it. It can be a little tricky to find for the unfamiliar because you really can't see it from the parking at listed trail heads, which are local parks. The trail experience itself is enhanced by that fact though since you aren't riding past parking lots and other infrastructure, instead you are riding through rural Florida and part of it is Oscar Scherer State Park.

It was here that the Friends of The Legacy Trail had set up a tent with T shirts, brochures, ice cold water, snacks and a very friendly presence. We learned that the bridge reconstruction, converting the railroad bridge into a trail bridge, is scheduled to be completed by November of 2011. There are two spans to be converted crossing Shakett Creek and Curry Creek on into Venice.



Our route included about a mile and a half ride from Potter Park along Central Sarasota Parkway, then north on the trail to a cul de sac head-on with old the old rails. From here we rode south to our surprise oasis sponsored by the Friends of The Legacy Trail, then on to the south end, currently at Shakett Creek. There was signage and information available about a road-based detour that would take us to the parts of the trail south of the missing spans, but that additional effort didn't fit well with the record temperature on hand. We decided to save that for our next visit, when there might be a new bridge in place.

Photos are in the Gallery and the map of the ride is on the Trails Guide.

21 miles and smiles
O\vo~

Nature Coast Trail - National Trails Day/Watermelon Festival

This was our lucky day! Even though the forecast called for a rain chance of 80% and it had sprinkled on the windshield as we arrived in Trenton, it never did actually break out and rain on us. In fact it even stayed comfortably cool throughout the ride.

The Office of Greenways and Trails had their celebration setup on the platform at the Trenton Trail Head with their welcome giveaways of cold drinks, fruit, snacks, pamphlets, bags, water bottles, and even helmets. This outstanding crew had, as usual, already made sure the trail was in perfect condition.



Dennis & Joanie made the trip down from Madison, Mac & Win came up from the Tampa area, Mark was on hand from Citrus Springs, Bill & Amber represented Archer, and joined up with us locals, Don & Mei, David, Deanne and me to make a dozen for the Feet First ride. We were followed by a group from the Yellow Bellied Sliders Bicycle Society from High Springs.

An easy paced, pleasant cruise west to Fanning Springs, where we visited the Fort Fanning Park provided our first stop. Then we decided that the weather radar was shining on us and that we had a chance to make it to Chiefland for their Watermelon Festival without running into rain.

The little town was brimming with visitors and watermelon. An antique steam engine was exploding in quite a loud display as we arrived. While we enjoying the watermelon, we looked on as children were having camel rides in the square. Walking by vendors booths there were many inquiries as to "how do you ride those things?" and lots of strange looks. Meanwhile, an auctioneer barked off a sale over the loudspeaker. This crowd seemed to be even larger than last year's (no weather problems here!)

Not surprisingly, the return trip seemed just a little longer than anticipation had rendered the first half, but with just a few sprinkles to report, we really lucked out on stealing this one from the rain. What had looked like it would be a cancellation turned into a very nice time. Why, we even had a flat tire which was overcome by a quick tube replacement, a few shared stories, and a nice break.

Photos are in the Gallery.

37 miles and (probably more) smiles
O\vo~

Secret Spaces and Historic Places

This month's ride with the Yellow Belly Sliders High Springs Bicycle Society was built around visiting various points of interest around High Springs. Tom Hewlett, Senior Slider, explained the route and handed out maps with great detail. Then we split up into two groups, the "Sonics" and the "Toodlers."

While the Toodlers were being transported to a pair of points of interest, the Sonics pedaled hard to meet up at the same time. Our first stop was a carefully planned, very special visit to Crockett Springs (now privately owned) which was one of the first white settlements in this area. We were escorted and informed as we toured this historic site, actually named for Davey Crockett who rested here.



As the Toodlers were whisked away again, the Sonics settled back in to the traveling at hand as we made our way passed another early settlement known as Traxler and moved on to our planned visit at Larry Behnke's place near the phosphate mine. The way his property has been cultivated leaves you with a feeling of having visited a magical place. It is very peaceful and scenic and I am sure the best way to convince an overheated cyclist of the magic would be to offer them a swim in the Floridan Aquifer. Well, he did, so we did and it WAS perfect.

Keeping true to all the facets of magic, there was the obligatory discussion of the creature sighting that had become somewhat of a legend at Larry's since it was unable to be fully explained by the divers involved. As two of our group were enjoying their dip and Larry was relating the story, I couldn't help but notice a curious disturbance of the surface. Hmmmm...

A few short miles had us back in High Springs, again being carefully guided by well placed YBS routing signs, but there was more to come. We were sent along the old railroad road to the remains of the original "Round House" and then on out the banks of the Santa Fe River to see just how many yellow bellied sliders we could count.

A looming thunderstorm approaching from the south chased us back into town to load up and retire to the Hewlett's abode for refreshments, prizes, pizza and general revelry.

I've put my photos up in the Gallery. Please enjoy.

23 miles & smiles
O\vo~

Withlacoochee State Trail - Day 3

Again, we began milling about the parking lot at the Central Motel this morning for those that wanted one more ride before beginning long drives back home. The group began fragmenting as some riders went on ahead while others finished breakfast.
Then we were off for various points north.

Another completely perfect day was ours, just cool enough to be refreshing, with a light breeze. Photos are up in the gallery.



Everyone adjusted their ride distance and time according to their own travel plans and we said our good byes along the way. Tough to see all this fun come to an end, but we have to begin making plans for the next one. Thanks again, Phil, Bob, and José, for a very memorable weekend!

26 miles, parting hugs and smiles
O\vo~

Withlacoochee State Trail - Day 2

So, it seems that quite a few folks weren't able to get away in time to make Friday's ride but they certainly turned out in force for this morning's mass start. Just take a gander at the photos in the gallery. Why, I met a gentleman (well, that'd be Dudley) who drove all the way from Hattiesburg, MS to join us this weekend!

Shortly after our mass start, we had a brief stop to make repairs to a velometer for Cynthia and Steve. Then we were off for all points south.



Folks fell into natural paces and groups that worked together and switched them all round just as quickly, so there were lots of opportunities to ride with different people and plenty to talk about. As I heard it put late in the day, "...but you get a bunch of recumbent riders or trike riders together and, well, ...there's just not a pickle in the bunch!"


'Coochee Invasion April '09 - It's America from Bob Emmerich on Vimeo.

I wound up stopping for lunch at the Ridge Manor trail head where many others thought to do the same and enjoyed a strong, cool breeze under the pavilion. There was a nice, peaceful relaxation to the break we shared there. Oh, and restroom facilities were on hand.

Then we formed up and began heading back toward Inverness. I found myself involved with a few riders interested in trying the "pace line" activity or, in our case, it was a little more like flying in formation at an altitude of maybe 4 or 5 inches! I started out leading the pack and each one tucked in behind, but slightly offset to the outside by about half a trike width and following quite close.

As entertaining as it was to pull this assembly along, the real surprise was turning the lead position over to another and falling in line to realize the unbelievable benefit of drafting. Yeah, yeah, I know this really does go against the philosophy of recumbent riding (i.e., what's the rush), but I must admit... it was kinda big fun! We cruised along at 15-19 mph for 5 or 6 miles before returning to our senses. (Thanks Phil, Sue, George and Mark)

I managed to sneak a tiny nap in before pedaling south to Floral City to attend the happy hour that Regis and Cindy put on for us at Hampton's Edge Bicycles where, it seemed, the entire crew chose to reassemble and visit once more. There were snacks, beverages, and door prizes and several members of the community came out to "investigate" the nature of this here, so-called "Assault on the Withlacoochee."

Since we had reservations, set up for us by our ride organizers, at Coach's Pub in Inverness, it was time to cycle a few more miles yet, so I left Hampton's Edge bound for downtown and met up with the group on site. There was an outdoor concert of sorts also going on right at the court house. So, we had the feeling that the whole town was partying in honor of our group's presence!

Day two, ... W O W ! !

64 miles, lots and lots of new friends and, multiple smiles ...stay tuned... there's one more day!
O\vo~

Withlacoochee State Trail - Day 1

The popularly billed "Assault on the Withlacoochee" gets underway in just a couple of hours, but I got an early start and have some photos up, already in the gallery. That was just a quick 20 miles to work off breakfast. More later, but now it's lunch time...



After lunch, I eased up the trail to the Central Motel and found many more riders AND familiar faces than I had expected. We rode north and seemed to gather even more riders as we went along. I very nice breeze keep us cool all day and seemed to help on the return ride back into Inverness. The group reassembled poolside for some snacks and socializing where I met more new friends.

The restaurant put on a buffet for us (I think I heard the count was well over 60) and this included a performing visit by none other than Elvis! After this, some of us felt the need to ride even more, so we took another brief jaunt southward until it was dark enough to chase deer across the trail on our way back to the motel.

That wraps up day one for me.

65 miles and tons o' smiles ...stay tuned for tomorrow's report
O\vo~

Suwannee River Floodplain at Branford

This morning there was a chance of rain, so I rode into the weather toward Branford to have a look at the rising water. The levels were a complete surprise to me since they have not yet crested but are nonetheless higher than I've ever seen. Ivey Memorial Park in Branford is underwater!

There was very little traffic on the trail today, just the tiniest spritz of rain in Branford and a welcome tailwind to coax me back to the freshly swept O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail.

I've put my photos up in the Gallery. Please enjoy.

29 miles
O\vo~

Hawthorne Trail

Deanne, Mark and I enjoyed a very leisurely ride out to Hawthorne and back on the Hawthorne Trail. Unlike my usual "training" dashes where I just ride out and back, we took in the side trails and paid more attention to the experience. It was a perfectly chilled morning that warmed up just right to keep us comfortable the whole way.

Since our last trip in to the town of Hawthorne, we were surprised to learn that the barbeque place which had been our "usual" dining stop is no longer a Sonny's Restaurant. It now bears the name Dianne's Old Time Barbeque and seems to have mostly the same fare, sans the salad bar. The service was quite friendly, as well as satisfactory.

I've put my photos up in the Gallery. Please enjoy.

33 miles & smiles
O\vo~

Old Bellamy Road

Breaking with my usual, rail trail-based behavior pattern, I decided to hook up with a new group forming called the Yellow Belly Sliders High Springs Bicycle Society and ride an old dirt road. Lys Burden put together a lovely looping route to the north of town that included special vistas along parts of the old Bellamy Road. Tom Hewlett signed us up as members, took our t-shirt orders, and handed out maps of the route. They took a head count, introduced us to our sag staff, and let us know what to expect on this severely beautiful day.

I don't think anyone was disappointed as it was just wonderful to be outdoors today. The group of a couple dozen or so, spread out along the way and each settled into their own comfortable pace to take in all the scenery.



There was very little traffic at all on these back roads and just the right mix of a good breeze, clear visibility, sun and shade. Many of the canopied sections of these roads were shadowed by ancient stands of live oak full of Spanish moss. We even rode past a place with camels standing next to cows.

The rest stops were armed with ice cold water, apples, and tangerines from the farmers market and there were two, nicely located stops along the 16 mile trip.

I had to miss what might have been the best part of the event, as I left many folks were gathering at the Great Outdoors Restaurant for review of the ride and dining. A nicer bunch would have been hard to find. Thank you all for a lovely day!

I've put my photos up in the Gallery. Please enjoy.

16 miles & smiles
O\vo~

Van Fleet State Trail

Since I couldn't make it to the Catrike Rally this weekend, I decided to join the Polk Spoke Folk for a pre-rally ride on Friday. Leaving pre-dawn put me in Mabel, FL just after 8 AM where I met Tom Fort and Richard Hart as the three of us agreed to take on the trail together.



We had a rather consistent breeze in our face the entire trip south which continued to promise welcome assistance for the return trip. A staggeringly pleasant morning was ours to enjoy outdoors, away from traffic. Birds, snakes, maple trees and gopher tortoises seemed to agree on the fact that Spring was just around the corner.

The Green Pond Road Trailhead parking lot was packed beyond capacity and, to my surprise, the Ranger informed Tom and I that we were trikes 48 and 49, leading me to assume there were well over 50 recumbents on the trail Friday! That's twice the turnout the actual Catrike Rally had on its first annual event, and this was only a "pre-rally" gathering!

After visiting briefly with a few folks there, we continued on to the Polk City Trailhead where the rest of the trikes had gathered. Here was one of those opportunities to admire all things trike, to see what others had chosen to add, modify, or create to enhance or adorn their vehicles.

Finally, the group mustered the energy to begin the trek back to the north, to the picnic site at Green Pond Road, departing in various sized, small groups and continuing conversations. One conversation piece stood on its own as a four-wheeled, recumbent "car" which clearly had the stability contest won, hands down.

After lunch, Tom and I finished the last 19 miles back to Mabel handily, sharing thoughts, and that wonderfully helpful tailwind.

I've put my photos up in the Gallery. Please enjoy.

58 miles & smiles
O\vo~

Keystone Heights to Gold Head Branch

Deanne and I took a drive over to Keystone Heights this morning to have a look at the "new spur" we had been hearing had just opened. It was said to connect Gold Head Branch State Park to the recently finished section of rail trail that runs through Keystone Heights along State Road 100.



We began our exploratory ride from the intersection of State Roads 21 and 100 and went west (well northwest) and found the trail's end at about one mile. About face and proceed east and the other end is about six miles away. On the way, we passed Twin Lakes Park where we found unlocked, well maintained restrooms just a few feet off the trail. The terrain was not completely flat, but the inclines were long, subtle grades that didn't detract from enjoying the rural scenery. There were lots of friendly folks out on this fine Sunday morning, some walking, several cycling, and even one other recumbent was sighted. When we returned to the intersection, we had racked up almost 12 miles.

Now, the spur didn't exactly stick out but we did manage to find it lurking just over the top of the second hill north of the traffic light. To get there, just follow the sidewalk on the east side of SR 21. As the trail proceeds north it is mostly straight and maintains a consistent distance (10-12') from the highway. All of the crossings were very nicely finished with warning cross pads and copious signage and you could still smell the asphalt curing on the spur and see where sod had been installed. Very smooth riding, indeed!

I've added this one to the Feet First Trails Guide and put the photos up in the Gallery. Please enjoy.

24 miles & smiles
O\vo~

Nature Coast Trail

After multiple hard freeze nights and days too cold for casual riding, today gave us a refreshing glimpse of Spring. The extremely low humidity sharpened the colors of everything and let the sun shine in and warm it all up very nicely. Gary Kirkland joined Deanne and I in Trenton and we began developing our plan to mail a letter at the Post Office. Asking for directions started us off toward Fanning Springs where more interviews confirmed that we'd need to alter course and make for Old Town before the noon hour was upon us. So we crossed the peaceful Suwannee River and were soon attempting to do the same to US 19. Success! And the Post Office was open. Mission accomplished.


None of us felt particularly compelled to run long so we started our return trek to Trenton. By then, we were beginning to meet other cyclists who had noticed that the weather was clearly on the mend. Quite a beautiful day, though I discovered later, it is already time to get back into the habit of deploying sunscreen.

We gave Laverne's Country Kitchen a try, you can smell and see it from the trailhead in Trenton. Mighty tender chicken and a special rub that goes on most everything except the tea. Laverne says they'll be open for breakfast on Saturday's by 7:00 am which promises to be a handy tidbit.

I've put the photos up in the Gallery. Please enjoy.

24 miles & smiles
O\vo~

The Villages IV - a.k.a. Phil's Mixer

Thanks for organizing the ride, Phil! Phil Mix managed to schedule the most delightful Spring day January has seen in quite some time. Over two dozen cyclists staged a recumbent parade through The Villages on this bright Saturday morning.



Here are some early still releases from our videographer, Bob Emmerich.

And here are some others from Mary Hayhurst.


Villages IV - 1/24/09 from Bob Emmerich on Vimeo.

Our lunch shot was deftly snapped by the ever capable Dogget of The LightHouse.

What a pleasure it was to ride with you all; Phil, Jim, Bob, Lew, Dan, Jerry, Mary, Mac, David, Terry, Linda, Mel, Paul, Dean, Richard, Lanny, Bonnie, Johanne, Frank, Denise, Joe, Paul, Mike, Al, and Paul.


O\vo~

Withlacoochee State Trail

One of the most beautiful days this year was ours to enjoy this morning, with severe clear skies and fresh, dry air that was a delight to breathe. The north end of the Withlacoochee State Trail is surrounded by a bird sanctuary and many of its inhabitants were busily flitting about as we unloaded our bikes.

I had somehow managed to forget just how peaceful this section of the trail can be. The trail and its facilities are so remarkably well maintained as to be a startling comparison to my usual routine.

A relatively small group of three of us met several cyclists and walkers enjoying the day as we rode down to Hernando and paused at the boat ramp before resuming our ride to the destination of a trail-side park in Inverness. Lunch was enjoyed with a steady easterly breeze off Lake Henderson as children played with Frisbees and each other.

Some of that breeze served as an assist to our return trek north, or we got stronger. I think it was the wind. Without being certain, I am fairly sure it was a completely cloudless outing; filled with smiles.

A larger version of the photos can be seen in the photo gallery.

O\vo~

West Orange Trail

Due to the forecast of a an east wind, we switched our starting point to the west end and met up at Killarney or the County Line Station. Carol, Shelton, Sheila, Larry, Deanne, Phil and I stood around trying to predict how best to dress for the upstream segment. The morning sun would warm us up for a minute, then a cloud would allow the wind to make its case. Finally, we just headed into it, and as is usually the case everything seemed to work out. As strong as it was at times, we could always look forward to its helpful hand on the return trip.


It was encouraging to see so many others out on the trail, getting some exercise, cycling, walking, skating, running, and even horseback riding.

We took in the rest stop afforded by Chapin Station briefly, both going and coming, and made the Apopka-Vineland Station serve as our turn-around point. Once we did turn around, we all suddenly became exceptional athletes!

Phil had ridden the same trail yesterday and suggested a restaurant that certainly turned out to be a winner. After filling up in Winter Garden, there were no hungry souls at the ride's end. A very pleasant way, indeed, to start off the new year.

A larger version of the photos can be seen in the photo gallery.

O\vo~