8 days along the FLAT or "Taking our stuff sightseeing"

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ginger Beard, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    If you are looking for the kind of ride report that's complete with international boarder crossings, camping in remote places and pictures of white capped mountains with stunning vistas that stare off into eternity , well....You may want to search elsewhere. If you are into retrospective winter riding tales where riders brave temps way down into the low 40's ,pass through damp swamps and dusty scrubs all in the same day, see abandoned homesteads along with conquering nosebleed inducing elevation with summits as high as 317 feet while staying in cheap hotels then have I got a treat for you!! :ricky

    A quick intro about my buddy and I for those of you that haven't read my earlier ride reports. I've been riding off-road since I was a 9 year old kid growing up in the country and have been doing so off and on since that time. I started riding plated bikes in my mid 20's but didn't do my first multi day trip (other than trialering to various OHV parks) until 2006 and my first "camp off the bike" trip until 2011. Since then I can't seem to get enough of multi day and multi week rides, preferably of the dualsport nature.

    My buddy Andy @FLARider1 started riding in 2010 and has done multiple trips to Alaska and Canada as well as a ton of lower 48 riding. He loves those high mileage days and though he's a relative newcomer to off-road and dualsport moto riding, he loves adventure and a challenge. Speaking of that, we alomst lost him a couple of years back due to a crash that nearly had him freeing the ghost as it were.For him, a big part of this trip is about getting back some of the confidence and skill set that an experience like that will inevitably strip away.

    Now, a bit about the ride itself. Like I said, I dig the off-road/ADV/Dualsport stuff and I truly love the state of Florida (aka:Flatistan). My family has seen 7 generations in South Florida (see a bit of history here ) and with my daughter having recently added my new granddaughter Iris to the family , it doesn't look like we will be leaving any time soon. That being said, for the last 6 years I have been putting together a route that goes from southern Florida to the border of GA and back which is about 85% dirt. I have 2 versions ; one is for big bikes like the GSA/Tenere/Etc and the other for smaller bikes like the DR650 and WR250r. Both routes are roughly 1,600 miles as a full loop and take you through some of Florida's WMAs, national forests and some cool little towns dotted across this great state I proudly call home. Welcome to the Florida Adventure Trail (The FLAT)

    Now that the looooong winded intro is out of the way, come take a ride through the Florida I love and most don't take the time to visit or even know exists.

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    I'll be aboard my 2018 WR250r and Andy is riding a well sorted 2001 DR650... Forgive my weak ass wheelie! :lol3

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    * I truly hate to do this but I need to make it clear that after much deliberation and consideration, I will not be sharing the FLAT routes. My original intent with designing this ADV route, all 6 years of work that it took to put together, was to make a mostly dirt route that would allow others to see the Florida that I fell in love with. The unfortunate reality is that this region of the USA is so population dense that any shared public routes stand the very real risk of being exploited, overused and abused (one only need look at the Blue Ridge Trail thread to see these consequences in full effect). With our state legislature currently attempting to pave Florida right down the middle with the revived desire to extend the Suncoast Parkway, the need to preserve these rural areas is even more pressing. Please know that it kills me a little not to be able to share this route with the amazing ADV community but I simply can not do so in good conscience. I sincerely hope you can all understand and respect this decision.

    Thank you,

    David



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    #1
  2. Jsherman

    Jsherman Adventurer

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    Florida Resident from Brooksville... in.
    #2
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  3. Motormom

    Motormom Been here awhile

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    I'm in too!
    I could go for this.
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  4. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    Thanks you two! I'll do my best to keep updates frequent! :beer
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  5. sanjoh

    sanjoh Purveyor of Light Super Supporter

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    What no mountains?
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  6. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    Day 1 began before the sunrise. I had packed up the night before with a plan to meet up at Andy's house at sunrise in order to beat the Miami rush hour.

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    I was on my bike with the crow of the first rooster and off to Andy's place.I apologize for the blur but the humidity was in full effect!

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    A short while later and I was ringing Andy's doorbell, both anxious to hit the road. Loaded and ready to roll!!

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    Andy and I had decided to skip the 38 miles portion of the route that leads through Homestead FL and takes you up towards the Broward/Dade co line as we have ridden it quite a few times. Here are a couple of pics from that portion of the route.

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    #6
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  7. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    I'd be remiss to leave out Sugarloaf! :D
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  8. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    The sun making it's first appearance as we beat a hasty retreat towards the first patch of dirt on this trip.
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    A quick 30 mile blast down the highway and we'd be in the northern portion of the Everglades and cruising the canal levee system north.

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    #8
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  9. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    Just a little credit where it's due; many of these photos are courtesy of @FLARider1 . I don't tend to take many pics and without his help, the visual representation within this thread would be cut in half. Thanks bud!!
    #9
  10. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    I was excited to be on the road and finally ride the entirety of this route. I'm picky about who I ride with on trips and typically ride alone but I've known Andy for nearly a decade. I was happy to have the company.

    We stopped for fuel and then it was off to following the levee up to Lake Okeechobee.

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    We had the Levees all to ourselves for over an hour. It's always a beautiful feeling to turn off your engine and hear nothing but the symphony being played by the natural world...A sensation that is ever fleeting as we give in to progress and the rampant encroachment of development .

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    #10
  11. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    It had rained the night before which made the levees fast rolling and dust free. Lots of birds out and about as well as few gators but not much other wildlife. The Everglades is like that with some days having so much biomass that you can't take a step without watching the placement of your boot and others nearly devoid of wildlife.

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    #11
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  12. Motormom

    Motormom Been here awhile

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    So you did this last Winter?
    FLAT, I love it
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  13. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    This past Feb. 2019
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  14. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    From the levees , we take farming roads and a few abandoned back roads until we reach the short stretch of highway that leads around Lake Okeechobee.

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    Before we set out on this trip, Andy and I talked about which route to take; do we do the small bike route or the big bike route? This section of today's ride would be the deciding factor, setting the pace for the rest of the trail.

    A quick packing adjustment after the first offroad section of the route.
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    For those of you unfamiliar with off-road riding in FL, we have a little thing called sugar sand and we have a LOT of it! If you are a weirdo like me then you love the stuff. For most riders it is extremely challenging and along the section between Lake O and Sebring , it's particularly deep. It's here that Andy had his first and only get off of the entire 8 day ride but it was a good one that resulted in me having a "Where's Andy?" moment then turning back only to find him with his bike pinning both of his legs. I got the bike off of him and he rode out the last 1/2 of the the dune but it was pretty clear that for someone trying to reacquaint with dirt, the hardcore route on a loaded bike might be a bad choice.

    We stopped for lunch in Lake Placid and talked about route options and made the decision to run the big bike loop. There's still plenty of sugar sand on the route just not miles of the whooped out, rutted , knee deep variety that we had just ridden through.

    Sweet tea , the nectar of the gods!
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    With our guts stuffed and the route change loaded, we pressed on to Sebring. It was 4 O'clock and we were both pretty gassed having slept like shit the night before and then dealing with high temps and humidity all day. We grabbed a room at a cheap hotel, unloaded the bikes and cracked open a couple cold ones. Our friend Sharon aka @FL Pepper happened to be in town so she came by for a visit aboard her BMW 650x Country. We ordered a pizza , drank some brews and fell asleep before 10 pm.

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    All in all a pretty good way to start a vacation. :D
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  15. GTMan

    GTMan Adventurer

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    Can you tell me where I can find a map of the trail you took from Miami to Lake O?

    Thanks. Nice RR:clap
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  16. bumpedmyhead

    bumpedmyhead Been here awhile

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    Lurking from Crystal River!
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  17. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    I've updated the first post in response to several route inquiries. If you'd like to get together for a ride some time, please don't hesitate to pm me!
    #17
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  18. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    After a great night's sleep , we awoke to dense fog.

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    We took our time packing up after going over the bikes and making a few minor adjustments. Once sorted, we pointed our rigs towards the nearest diner for some much needed coffee and grub. Andy thumbed the starter button and *click*click... Then nothing. Shit!! Dead battery! We tried to jump it to no avail so it was plan B, a morning jog while pushing Andy and his DR . I needed the cardio! :lol3 The bike fired to life after a couple of trips through the parking lot and we enjoyed a damp ride to breakfast.

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    #18
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  19. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    We scarfed down breakfast and hit the road. Today would be a fun mix of dirt roads through rolling hills interspersed with short hops down country 2 lane.

    I love these back roads through the citrus groves. No traffic and enjoyable views.

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    Andy was slowly getting his dirt legs back and handled one particularly long sandy rutted ridge run through the groves with no problem. It was great to see him regaining confidence and I was having a blast drift corners and taking in the sights.


    Stopping for a short break in the shade of the orange groves. it wasn't even 10 a.m. and temps had already hit the low 80's.

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    Feeling at home... Please ignore my "British Parliament" eyebrows.

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    Pictures of pictures...

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    #19
  20. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    As you can tell, the dirt has changed hue as we followed this portion of the route. Florida's topography changes quite a bit from region to region with a wide variety of substrates. The Florida highlands which follow a feature known as the Lake Wales Ridge, has a good amount of elevation change respective to the rest of the state. It's a beautiful part of Florida and provides great riding as you pick your way from town to town.

    We passed through the town of Frostproof and on to Lake Wales.

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    The bikes were running great even at this altitude!! :photog
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    #20