O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail

Scene from trailside: Fall afternoon sun warms the old Tanner barn

Veterans Day with veteran Feet First Members

Original, founding members Gary Kirkland, Jim Wilson, and Jim Ossa joined Rick Jacobsen, Thelma Richards and I for what we thought would be a quick outing to Chiefland on a nice cool morning. It was certainly cool enough but it quickly became nice enough that we lost control of our flight plan. On our way back from Chiefland, we stopped in to the barbeque place in Fanning Springs where all the veggies are fried and I enjoyed my very first fried dill pickle spears. To my surprise they were much more enjoyable than the rest of the vegetables!

Full and fearless we conceded we should at least visit Old Town so we could cross the bridge over the Suwannee River (pictured) and then we found ourselves unable to avoid the temptation to go on and include Cross City. Of course, this would inevitably involve stopping in at the Dairy Queen for additional "fuel" to help us survive our over extended trip.
A very lovely day and 36 miles morphed into 100 km end to end to end.

Wellborn Bimble

Joe joined me in Fort White this morning for a bimble (see urban dictionary) up to Wellborn, FL. There were lots of runners out braving the 50 degree weather in their shorts for a 5k sponsored run. We moved on west to met up with Thelma at the entrance to 3 Rivers Estates and then doubled back to head north on Junction Road where we expected to find Rick on his way to meet us. He was right on time so we made our introductions and continued north taking Ichetucknee Avenue up to CR 240. Standing down for a breather at 240 & 247, it was already time to shed our sleeves and warmers... This was shaping up to be an outstanding morning.

Just a few miles north and east, pushing against the wind that would be our dear friend when we began our return, we left the highway and fell back in time into the quiet, rural peace of an older reference. Now a dog might bark, even move toward the road, but quickly paused to ponder our passing. You could hear the birds sing once more and take the time to guess which one it might be, imagine yourself able to actually watch an old leaning barn slowly slide into the earth, admire classic specimen vehicles in various states of restoration, storage or disrepair and blissfully slip in and out of the morning shade while quietly gliding along a nearly abandoned corridor.

Hey! Wait just a minute... I've got to wake myself back up. We were nearly thirty miles out and had that and more to go. Well, anyway, it was a real nice change of pace. I managed to recover from my dream state as we arrived in Wellborn and took in the sites that showed me just how long it had been since I rode through. The Suwannee Swifty that had formerly been our ride destination had not only closed some time ago but had grass growing up though the asphalt parking lot so we made a quick tour and turned back toward the highway, the Dollar General, and the B&B, standing down at the latter. Taking on refreshments in the shade of the building, we were approached by several locals with an interest in learning more about recumbents and trikes. Of course, it is always fun to pass the whole thing off as a playful refusal to grow up. That philosophy seems to have a somewhat universal appeal.

Probably because none of us had particularly "trained" for this long a ride recently and because our previously mentioned dear friend (now a respectable tailwind) was helping us along, we slowly quieted down and began to focus on getting the trip behind us. Still a freshly painted purple Studebaker Hawk is difficult to ignore as was the only other cyclist we encountered and some of the fence work along CR 137 is tough to remain silent about, but most importantly we were all in good spirits and finally, it was NOT 90 degrees outside any more!

75 miles and smiles

Lulu Loop

Tropical storm Lee managed to pull enough bad weather together along the gulf coast to net Fort White a cool morning with a gentle easterly breeze. Thelma and Joe met me at the Train Depot on time at 7:30 and we started right in on our trip north and then east of Fort White. Light traffic on 47 was still heavier than we expected but as soon as we made our turn to the east above the Interstate, those woes were behind us. We covered some new ground this morning east of Tustenuggee Road as we worked our way over to Country Club Road and then on to Price Creek Road.

The sleepy town of Lulu remained undisturbed as we slipped in from the south and crossed Florida 100 to stand down for a few restful moments at The Lulu General Store. Heading back to the south, our light headwind became a more pronounced crosswind but seemed to occasionally get behind our efforts to at least want to turn westward and we rolled through beautiful rural vistas over hills and newly replaced bridges into an unusually quiet Providence. Lacking some of the bustling one would ordinarily find on a Saturday morning, Providence passed quickly as we now had a secure tailwind. The group indulged me as I detoured us slightly north once more to ease through the Feagle farms of southern Columbia County, then we returned to Tustenuggee Road to bring us back to the O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail into Fort White.

Just over 57 miles of smiling at some mighty peaceful scenery.

Withlacoochee Bay Trail

Since it was too hot to ride a long trail, we picked a short one and rode it twice. This coastal location gave us a tailwind on both inbound segments and a few clouds kept us from actually overheating. Jerry Smith had just acquired a new Greenspeed trike and wanted to put it through the paces. It seemed to perform nicely and definitely corners like nobody's business. Mark and Phil joined in as we found our way to the Gulf on a beautiful morning!

Quite a few different birds were on hand this morning; even a Roseate Spoonbill was observed flying across our path. We rested at the Gulf trailhead and snacked on Jerry's boiled peanuts while a seasoned, local rider told us a story about some folks pointing to that marker way out in the channel and asking what that sign said. The story had it that the response was simply, "...Boiled Peanuts." That drew an enthusiastic roar of laughter from us snackers. This very fit visitor told us he cycled every other day and swam the next.

On the ride back in we stopped in to all the little overlooks and such, just to check out the lay of the park and visit with folks setting up for a day of fishing. Then our second pass was more concentrated on finishing before melting down, so it went quite a bit quicker. Phil and I had to stop as an unusual creature crossed our path and cried out as a must do photo op. Being the ride captain for the Crusty Retired All Bent Society (CRABS), it simply wouldn't do for us not to capture a photograph of Phil with the "team mascot" when it naturally presented itself.

After the ride, Mark and Phil and I headed south to Crystal River to lunch at Crackers on Kings Bay which had a quite tasty swordfish sandwich on special. Having to pass the park on my return path to the house I couldn't resist the trail and stopped in for a third sprint on my Sprint.

Photos for mobile devices

Madison County Four Freedoms Trail

Deanne and I drove up to Madison this morning to find a pair of foxes playing near the railroad on the way into town. Right on schedule, Thelma arrived with her new ICE Trike on board and after unfolding it, we set tires to pavement.

Deanne and I were both taken by what a difference the 26 inch rear wheel makes in the appearance of the trike.

Our focus quickly shifted to the obvious topic on this beautiful trail... how did they make it so that you feel like you are going downhill all the way? Just a delightful spin through the shade, dropping back in time to a very peaceful period, when everything moved slower. This is easily the most comfortable twelve and a half miles you are likely to pedal on a hot day. There are also several options for lunch when you return to Madison.

As we've said before, we will be returning to this trail again, soon.

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Flagler Beach to Marineland Trail

This one follows A1A north starting out on the sidewalk and becoming a little more enhanced as it goes along. Mark surprised me by stopping in at the park just to see us off. A clear morning with a light breeze working itself up to set flags, kites and hats into motion was ours as we started out in search of the first patch of shade.

Shelton scouted ahead while Carol and I eased along comfortably in the back, drinking in the day. Just after finding shade, we decided to take the Palm Coast diversion on the way up, so hung a right at the overpass and made our way over the Intercoastal Waterway into Palm Coast to playfully explore the Palm Coast Linear Park and its several optional off shoots. There is a quite lovely trail segment running right alongside the waterway with a beautiful new trailhead facility at the southern end.

Back out on the A1A part of the trail, we headed toward Marineland and were soon reminded by signage that the Washington Oaks State Park would be readily accessible to us. Everyone agreed and that became our new destination. As you can see, there is plenty of shade to be enjoyed in that park and it is quite a beautiful place. When we left the park, there was already an undercurrent of excitement building. Carol & Shelton had both recently experienced Flagler Fish Company's offerings and there was not a prayer I'd be able to steer our group further north to Marineland once we began imagining the culinary options.

What can I say? We turned right!

Do Not ...miss any chance to eat at this surprising venue! You could easily prosper with nothing but their "side orders" section. The perfect polish for a ride day!

Chiefland Watermelon Festival

We took to the Nature Coast State Trail in Trenton at a sharp 7:00 AM to beat the heat and were pleasantly surprised to find the watermelon already being served by the time we arrived in Chiefland. The prediction of a hint of rain was just enough to provide partial cloudiness which kept the sun at bay until we were well on our way back.

There was also just enough of a breeze to keep the temperature down to a respectable mid-summer level. We met some friends on the trail who are local residents and new recumbent trike owners and threatened to join us on future rides. All this made for a very nice Saturday morning ride which included sightings of at least twelve rabbits (yes, we counted 'em), a snake, and many birds.