Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail

Just to check on the progress of repairs, I drove over to Keystone Heights to the Twin Lakes Sports Complex trailhead yesterday. Riding west from that point I was assured of a familiar experience and without surprise I was back in 9 miles. Then I headed east to have a look at what had been done. 

There were still "Road Closed" signs on the trail at each end of a section from just east of Putnam Hall to Grandin but they appear to be related to one outstanding task. On one side of the slope away from the trail surface there is a runoff path dug out and awaiting the installation of large, coarse gravel sitting in a pile nearby. The trail itself is clear and rideable through this section. 

The delight for me was finding the major reconstruction of a couple hundred yards of the surface just east of Florahome completed. That was something I had expected to take much longer. 

The trail surface smoothly transitions between existing and repaired and is now a full 19 miles from end to end (SE 57th Street to Roberts Lane). Already one of the more scenic trails in our area, I am still anxious to see the completion of the segment between Keystone Heights and Lake Butler which should be even more rural. 

Suwannee River Greenway at Branford

As reptilian encounters go, this one is certainly one of the easiest during which to remain calm. The rivers are up so high in our area that the incidence of crossing paths with temporarily displaced wildlife is rather elevated. 

Everyone has to be somewhere... outside is good. 

Keep it movin'!

Madison County Four Freedoms Trail

Absolutely one of the most beautiful trails in Florida is the Madison County Four Freedoms Trail. This morning I was coaxed out of Madison toward Pinetta by a gentle breeze from the south. This made even the few climbs seem to be downhill all the way to the Withlacoochee River. 

Shortly after the trail crosses County Road 145, the beautiful scenery that had become the norm is replaced by several near magical tunnels of shade that seem to spin you even further into the past. 

The next thing you know you have arrived in Pinetta. The trail allows for a wandering passage through town before ducking back into the shade for a brief climb and another crossover to the other side of the road. Then begins the descent to the river which is very gradual, about 100' in 2 miles. 

So, you take a good look at Georgia and head back to Madison. But, rest assured, you'll still be reaching for the camera the whole way.

I think this was my first Sunday visit, because this was the first time I discovered O'Neal's Country Buffet who isn't open for lunch on Saturdays. Wow! This is a must do finish for the trail ride. Great food!

Wilson Springs

We got off to a late start but the breeze was still on hand to ensure comfort. Riding west on the O'Leno to Ichetucknee Trail the surface was nicely maintained once we were outside the neglected city limits of Fort White.
Sliding in and out of shade along the way, we noticed the wildflowers preparing to change from April to May as phlox give way to brown eyed susans. At the trail's west end we entered 3 Rivers Estates and rode south to the quiet little community of Wilson Springs for a look at the Santa Fe River. Then, on our way back to the trail, we were treated to the sight of an Indigo Bunting who was kind enough to sit still long enough for Deanne and I both to see him.
Even though the return trip was upwind, the shade was still ample and hurry was not part of the game plan. A very pleasant outing indeed.

General James A Van Fleet State Trail

I met up, once again, with the infamous Central Florida CRABS in Mabel this morning for a most pleasant sortie into the Green Swamp. A gentle, southerly breeze and lots of shade made the cool of the morning last longer than expected. And yet, the ground must have been warmed up good because we saw as many as two dozen gopher tortoises, a black snake, and a rat snake along the way. In addition to observing a half dozen wood storks, this turkey crossed our path early into the beautiful ride.

West Orange & South Lake Trails

My best Wednesday in months clicked by in the form of 47 leisurely miles pedaling from Winter Garden out to Clermont and back to Clarcona. Started off the morning noticing a basking serpent (possibly an eastern indigo), saw a most unusual model of a pirate ship (the owner actually put it in Lake Mineola), then a very large raccoon crossed my path around the noon hour. This trail is very well maintained, traffic was much lighter than the weekends, and there was a significant breeze out of the east, making the entire ride quite comfortable.

Indian River Drive

Enjoyed a lovely ride with the CRABS in Cocoa this morning. We followed up with lunch at Ryan's Village Pizza & Pub. Here's a link to Bob's video:

First day

Retired at last. Out on my first day's ride.

Joining the CRABS on the Withlacoochee State Trail tomorrow morning to ride north.
Check the Ride Schedule link ->

Cross Seminole Trail

Phil, Glenn, and Gordon joined Larry, Sheila, Rick, Myhra and me for my first visit to Black Hammock Trailhead near Oviedo, FL. We pedaled along a beautiful trail into a stiffening headwind over to Lake Mary. A real treat for me was crossing several amazing bridges, the likes of which are not often seen in the more rural areas I am used to riding. Hikers, joggers, skaters, families, and dogs blended respectfully with cyclists on this nicely maintained corridor as it provided a very natural experience traversing suburban development. The return trip was quicker than expected as the wind had grown even stronger.

After the ride, the group reconvened at the Townhouse Restaurant in downtown Oviedo for some excellent refueling. Another perfect ride stolen from the advancing jaws of winter in Central Florida.

Rollin' on the River

Just enjoying a simple ride on dirt down to the Santa Fe River. It is very peaceful here at Rum Island. The way winter ought to be.

Happy New Year!