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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ginger Beard, Oct 7, 2019.
It's my preferred method as well.
I jumped out of bed early enough to say goodbye to Jed and Snake then hit the office for breakfast and coffee. Heading back to my room , I loaded up the WR250r and gave myself a loose plan for the day. I was hoping to be well into Florida by tonight and I was determined to camp. I'm just about tired of hotels.
I couldn't wait to get on the bike today and was twisting the throttle by 7 a.m. A short stint on the highway just to get out of town then it was back roads cruising. I was in a mellow mood and just wanted to take in this beautiful day. My pace reflected that mindset.
I rode south towards the FL border doing my best to avoid any road that I have ridden before. Just north of the border on a lightly trafficked byway I saw a small brick chimney with a historic marker. I almost didn't stop but I'm very glad I did.
Now I am by no means a sports fan and in fact I really can't stand team sports but I do enjoy history. Baseball in particular bores me to tears but it's cultural significance isn't lost on me, especially those moments that have a direct impact up society as a whole. The placard tells the tale of this seemingly insignificant ruin but what it doesn't convey is just how important the tearing down of these color barriers was to our nation. The world was getting ready to change in a huge way and those changes were going to happen regardless of the shitty opposition of small minded people. I honestly felt honored to have the stand upon this soil and I'm grateful to warriors like Mr Robinson even if I think that the sport he played has the same appeal as sitting in a dentist waiting room for a root canal. Don't tell @rev.co
This home had a small pole barn, several livestock pens , a small barn and a workshop scattered around the property. Dig the double stack of chimneys.
Guess what state I've crossed into?!
But I was still close enough to Georgia to get in one last ride on this perfectly loamy substrate. You really can't ask for Georgia clay to be in better condition. Both sides of this road are part of a huge plantation with signs marking it private. It went on for several miles. I'm unsure what they produce but I saw many workers aboard farming equipment and in trucks so it must still be actively worked and apparently pretty darn lucrative.
I stopped for a short break and could see on my topo map that there were some trails through the forest so off I went. What I hadn't anticipated was finding such a wild landscape with roads that would virtually disappear at one point due to lack of use . I'll call this a win!!
They became progressively overgrown as I headed southwest.
I'm a very content man in these surroundings.
I tooke off my gear and just sat down amidst this old growth oak hammock for no other reason than to take a few calming breaths and to soak in the landscape.
I spent some time riding through this wonderful patch of Earth, stopping frequently to look around.
Just past this section I came across a fire break. If you look closely you can see light scorching on some of the trees in the distance. It seems that the local forestry department fought hard to save this woodland. The fire break was long and cut deeply into the ground. I worked my way around it as I neared the end of the ride-able portion of these woods. While searching for an exit I found a road that became an access double track for a small patch of farm and then just a field with a storage building. It was strange, no fences, no signs , not really anything that marked a transition from public lands to a private farmland. The farmers working on equipment were as surprised as I was to see someone riding through the field. Rather than be a complete dirtbike asshat, I rode over to them and spoke to them for a minute. They were a little apprehensive for a moment (I could tell they were a bit annoyed that I was passing through) then we had a good laugh about me getting stuck in the fire break ditch and I showed them on my gps where I'd been. They really dug it when I told them about my trip. I apologized for crossing through the farm and they told me not to worry about it, giving me directions to navigate the rest of the farm back to a main road.
A short while later and I was passing through the town of Monticello FL on my way south east.
The dirt roads through this region are fast and smooth with quite a bit of history hidden along the route. The Stroud Cemetery is one such gem. It's a settlers cemetery with only a few graves, most of which are children. A disheartening sign of the times that these people endured but a beautiful reminder of just how good we have it in the modern world.
It's a little worse for wear but seems to be well maintained now.
Cool and sunny.
I stopped for lunch at Burger King and used their wifi to let my girl know where I was and that all was well, then pushed south.
The bridge over Suawannee River.
Apparently this is THE spot for stickers. Who am i to go against the grain? I added my own sticker to the steel homage to moto infamy.
All the best, hope all goes as planned. Never forget to update after the trip, it is great doing what you like.
Many picturesque farms east of the Suwannee River.
And some fantastic dirt tracks to keep you entertained.
This little guy was a reluctant star and was in no mood for my "help". since he was grazing along the roadside and pretty far out of harms way, I let him be. Florida gopher tortoises hold a special place in my heart even if they are grumpy sorts.
Unfortunately this entire region is heavily influenced by logging and much of the land is leased to hunters. That isn't a crack on hunters or hunting, it's just incredibly frustrating to ride 10 miles into a forest only to come to a locked lease gate when you can clearly see that the road goes through. I completely understand why they do it as poaching and illegal dumping are huge problems but I wish they could do it in a manner that still allowed people to pass through on the roads. I arrived at one such lease gate that was proudly flying an American flag right over a massive gate adorned in razor wire that had a sign bearing the words "No Trespassing, Violators will be Prosecuted!!" in ominous red letters. I had to just laugh at the contrast between what that flag should represent and the implications of the sign underneath it.
In my frustration I actually came upon some open roads through a WMA that must never see any significant use which was perfect. It also made all of those gates seem even more silly considering that over the last 1.5 hours I had only seen one vehicle and it was a FWC officer's truck.
i really enjoy this type of riding though it is a bit slow going. I can't count the number of times I've picked up the pace through areas like this after getting comfortable only to nail a huge Jeep hole , rock or fell tree hidden in the tall grass. Not today hidden traps, you aren't tricking this booby...Again!!
So fun to me. I stopped , shut down the bike and took off my helmet. Nothing but the music of wind and birds.
All to myself.
I had a short stint of 2 lane highway to join the two sections of forest that had been separated by fences. You'll often see roadkill on these back roads. In Florida that means you'll more than likely stumble across a dead pig or three.
I stopped when I passed this one not because seeing a dead boar is unusual but the scene was a little odd as the pig had some trash accumulated around it making it look like it was dumped there. Sure enough the Bud Lite cans and McDonald's wrappers weren't the only man made object keeping the pig company. Just behind it's left shoulder was a single gunshot wound. I get that these animals can be a pest and that they're invasive but it seems like such a waste of meat. You don't want it? Fine but gut it , clean it and give it to someone that needs it. You don't just shoot things and leave it to rot.
I actually returned from this trip at the end of October. You'll be happy to know that i did indeed make it back in one piece as did the bike. Thank you for the well wishes!.
shortly after that last pic I headed into the last big section of forest for the day and was super excited to ride through this expansive tract of land. though it was getting late in the day I wasn't too worried. The bike was running great and I've ridden this area before. There's almost now traffic through here and what traffic there is tends to be hunters. It was about 12 miles into this forest that I came across my first gate. "Well that's new" I thought to myself but it had been about 6 years since I'd passed through the area. No worries, there are about 20 different roads that go through here so I'll just take one of those. I road north a bit to another main grade and found another gate. Then south a couple of miles to another main grade and another gate. I did this 5 or six time to different eastbound roads and found a gate at every single one. I was quickly running out of fuel and daylight.
While checking my GPS for any alternate route that didn't necessitate backtracking 15 miles , I saw a little orange flash in my periphery. He look, my low fuel light came on!! Without knowing for sure which road may get me east or south or if they would get me through at all , I decided to backtrack the 15 miles to the paved county road and then slab it the additional 20 miles into town. At least if I run out of fuel I'll be pushing the bike on pavement.
Making it back to the blacktop, I tucked down against my tank with only one hand on the bars and my legs tight against the sides of the bike while keeping the bike under 50mph. I really wasn't feeling like walking! I rode 20 miles like that but I made it to a gas station where I put 2.81 gallons into a 3.1 gallon tank. Hah, I could have gone another 20 miles!!
All the time I'd spent searching for an escape and then backtracking completely squashed my plans of making it to the state park but as luck would have it , it did force me to pass right by an old biker buddy's place where he lives full time at an RV park.
I pulled in at just after dark and was greeted by a big smile and warm hug. It's good to see friends...
A funny thing happened when I got to the campground. I went into the office to pay for the evening and the gentleman running the counter had no idea what to charge me. Apparently it had been a very long time since they'd had a tenter stay here. He made a phone call to the owner to get a rate. At first they charged me $15.00 which is completely reasonable for Florida. I thanked him, paid and hit the camp store for a cheap meal that I could heat on my little stove. That's when the man comes around the corner with $15 in his hand and says "The owner called back and said to let you stay for free". Apparently my buddy is in pretty good standing with the campground owners and the host and as such , my money was no good there. Scored a can of Spaghetti O's to boot!!
I met Butch about 9 years ago while on another moto road trip. Butch is a cool cat and though we rarely talk, I consider him a real friend. He's a deep thinker that looks at the world from multiple views without judgement and he's honest and true to himself as a result. His world view leans toward anarchist and I can get down with that. Now when I say anarchist I don't mean a nihilistic whackjob that wants a violent free-for-all, I mean a person that views the world through the notion that people can self govern with more thought,compassion and grace than any form of structured governance could ever achieve. He lives that lifestyle in that he has chosen to forgo a mortgage, credit, debt and a lavish lifestyle in exchange for remaining untethered from society at large while spending much of his time philosophizing,mentoring and helping others. I'm not sure I'd ever have the fortitude to pull that trigger but I admire him for it. We spent the evening discussing the state of the world's politics, the USA's global role and what our role is as individuals within that construct. We also talked about business and choosing paths that don't drain us of who we are and who we are meant to become. I truly value his friendship and I'm glad that fate chose this as my stopping point for the night.
I turned in pretty early which meant I woke up equally early. Peering out of my tent with the sunrise , I was greeted with a cool morning and clear sky. Even the moon was smiling.
Those old oaks...
I sat down and enjoyed a cup of coffee with Butch then he kept me company while I packed up.
I'm proud to call this man a friend.
I packed up and hit the road after a long hug. Neither one of us is getting younger and joyful memories like these have to be made , especially since we rarely see one another. These moments are how we keep on living through others. Until next time bud!
In short order I was back in the dirt and man what a cool scene!
Another old homestead being reclaimed by the Earth as it's swallowed up by the cattle farm that it now resides within.
I had made my mind up that come hell or high water I would be south of the Ocala National Forest by nightfall and I wasn't going to skip a thing in the process!!
I loved the Jackie Robinson reference. It would be nice to see the local Chamber of Commerce or county do some landscaping and maybe put in some picnic tables and park benches. Maybe add some flower beds. A place for travellers to stop, ponder and take a break. He knocked down barriers.
He made his "big league" debut with the Montreal Royals - the Brooklyn Dodgers top farm club. In less than a year he was playing in Brooklyn and changed all the rules. I recall lingering at his display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. A legend.
When Mariano Rivera retired from the Yankees in 2013 he marked the final remaining #42 in MLB. Jackie's number 42 is retired league-wide but a small handful were allowed to wear it under the grandfather clause until retirement. No one will wear #42 ever again.
I was starting to get hungry so I stopped in the town of Bronson for lunch. This is a small town but it has several restaurants, fuel and stores. I decided to grab a bite at Julie's Diner and I'm glad I did. They have a great staff and the food was damn good. Their lunch special of homemade chicken and dumpling soup with fried okra sounded like it would hit the spot. I didn't argue when the waitress told me that it's made from scratch and really good. She was 100% right!! I scarfed down the welcomed homemade meal and got back on the road but not before a couple of cups O' Joe.
There are plenty of dirt roads that see little use in central FL. Today they had just enough moisture in the sand to provide good traction.
Hey, I'm a Smith!!
As you push south towards Ocala you eneter horse breeding country. High end breeding farms and lease stables litter the region. They're beautifully maintained and the single lane blacktop that passes through them tends to be devoid of other vehicles.
*shivers* So glad I'm on a bike that begs me not to ride the mega roads.
I got to the town of Micanopy around 2 p.m. This is the busiest I've ever seen the "downtown" area. I love passing thorough here and make it a point to hit the Old Florida Cafe any time I do.
And the reason that I'm willing to brave my way through the crowds? Well, pie and cafe con leche of course !
I spent quite a bit of time here just sipping my coffee, enjoying my pie and relaxing under the beautiful oak canopy. Micanopy is a time portal of a town where everything just seems to slow down.
The temps had climbed into the hot range by the time I left Micanopy but being the lizard that I am has it's advantages. The heat and humidity doesn't really bother me. Besides, the forest east of Micanopy is a great ride. I've been through it probably 20 times and I have yet to see another vehicle there.
The scenery? It ain't bad either and the shade provided by the canopy was welcome.
I am completely in my element amongst these old trees.
There are quite a few Jeep trails in and around this forest. At some point I'm going to have to spend a few days exploring the place.
Single lane bridge over a small river.
Remember that I had said it was hot out? I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get wet. Well I got my wish!! That little river is a bit deeper than it looks and when I hit it at speed, I created a giant arch of water that went up ,over and down on my bike and I. I got completely soaked and was laughing my ass off inside my helmet as I carried on my way.
The tiny abandoned and overgrown Edgar Post Office.
Make no mistake that this is definitely the south!!
I made it to the Ocala National Forest and was greeted with a few sprinkles and a cloudy sky. For those that don't know, ONF is a huge forest smack dab in the middle of the state and it's a bit of an outdoors man's paradise. You can fish, ride OHV's, swim in crystal clear springs, hunt and eat at some really good restaurants without ever leaving the forest. At 673 square miles, you can ride it for days and not travel on the same trail twice.
I entered through the Rodman Dam rec area. That huge lake is man made.
I had some time to make up but I was unwilling to compromise my route. What does that mean? WFO for much of the rest of the ride...Seriously , this poor little bike! Luckily there was zero traffic, even the parking areas at Rodman were empty. Perfect for making time!
A quick blast down one of the forestry "roads" and I was at the trails. Why did I put roads in quotes? Look at these things!! They're like super highways made of dirt!
A large ground beetle that was in no mood to stay still for a closeup!
Alrighty then, now we're getting somewhere.
All by myself. What a great feeling!!
Stopping at a crossroads. The terrain changes from pine scrub to parries off and on throughout the forest.
And the trails finally tightened up. I was the first person through here in quite some time. How could I tell? Well, beyond the multitude of fell trees that didn't have tire marks on them, there was an inordinate amount of spider webs. Guess what live on spider webs?
Well in Florida that would be gigantic Banana Spiders. Ever see what a a huge spider looks like after it collides with a face shield at 50 mph? Freaked me right out when I hit it and the web yanked my head back a bit. What freaked me out even more was that after it exploded, it's flailing remains went into the collar of my jacket and I had to pull it out one handed while still at speed. Good times!!
You'll note that my entire helmet is wrapped in the spiders web.
With rain moving in I decided not to camp and headed towards Silver Springs at the south west end of the forest. I grabbed a decent little room at the funky sun Plaza Motel. The young proprietors of the place were curious what this smelly spider web covered lunatic was doing on a filthy dirtbike. I told them about my trip and gave them a couple of stickers. They were really friendly and accommodating, letting me put my bike in front of the room window. Sometimes things work out just as they should and this was one of those times. I don't mind spending money when I know it's going to nice people.
I unloaded and rode to dinner at a local pub then returned to my room and enjoyed the last bit of Jameson that I had been saving since camping with Rich. It was my last night of the trip and a nice glass of whiskey was in order.
I called my girl , watched a little TV and faded off to sleep. Tomorrow would be my last day on the road and would bring a decent amount of slab with it. The weather was also forecasting rain and I wanted to get an early start.
Awesome bit of history RedDog, thank you for posting that!!
It looked like the local Historical Society had tried to landscape a bit but there were some signs of vandalism. They had to build a fence around what's left of the house. It's definitely something worth preserving.
Dave...have you ever stopped at Pearl's BBQ when going through Micanopy. I know it's on the highway east of the town but it is a busy place with great food.Not quite the ambiance of the Cafe in Micanopy but the brisket sandwich and fries get me every time. I usually go east from there on the little roads down through Crosscreek and Anthony on my way back to Ocala. There is a pretty good craft brewery in Ocala called Infinite Ale Works, in the historic downtown section.
I've passed by it many times but have never stopped in. I like brisket and I like fries so I guess you've twisted my arm.
Is that brewery right off of 200 ?
The brewery is on S. Magnolia Ave. at the corner of 3rd St. It runs one way (south) off 40 four streets east of 301. Good selection of their own brews and usually several guest brews. I think 18 taps. Enjoy next time you are up that way. I usually stay at Lake Waldena Resort 8 miles east of the Silver Springs State Park on 40 in the Forest.
Sounds like I'll need to add it to my list of must visits here in FL. Thanks for the heads up!
I awoke well before sunrise and long before the continental breakfast at the hotel . I took a 2 block walk to the nearest gas station to grab some coffee and a snack. I wasn't the only person to be heading to the gas station before daybreak. The station was fairly busy including a crazy mocking bird that had decided a Toyota truck in parking lot was it's mortal enemy and as such, it must die!! He was repeatedly attacking the trucks windows and mirrors. They may be one of nature's great mimics but they are shyte at self cognizance. You need coffee more than I do little bird!
I headed inside to grab a coffee and had a brief chat with the clerk. I made a joke about needing to replace my blood with a caffeine and the clerk said that he knows the feeling since he hadn't had a chance to make himself a cup yet. I offered to buy him a cup and make it for him since I know how hard it is to sneak in the time during a morning crunch. He declined and thanked me for the offer , returning the favor by giving me the coffee for free! Super cool of him! I paid for my snacks and headed back to my room to eat and load up.
I was in the southernmost portion of the ONF before the the sun had risen over the tree line. This would be one of the few dirt sections of of today's route.
I was hoping to make it to my truck by lunch time and it was smooth sailing as I made my way out of the forest.
Soon i was riding along the many rolling hills and twisting roads that make FL's highlands.
One such road borders a small swamp and it was along this road that one of my turtle rescues went a bit awry. I saw a small scrambling shelled friend doing it's best to cross the street so I slowed down in preparation of rendering some aid. Just as I put my feet down, a speeding dually came ripping around the curve, clipping the now airborne spinning turtle!! I thought "Awe damn!! Poor guy!!" and rushed over to see what was left of the little fellow. To my surprise the little mud turtle was still alive!! He had a scrape on his head , a cracked shell and was in shock but he was still kicking! You sir are the luckiest turtle that I've ever seen!!
I rinsed him off with clean water and sat on the side of the road with him until he decided to be mobile again. He tried to bite me a couple of times and I knew he was good to go. I sat him on bank and he hauled ass into the water. He's going to have a nasty scar and a hell of a story to tell his buds. He'll be a chick magnet for sure !!
The storms that were supposed to have started last night and pass through in the a.m. had stalled over the gulf and were now building in front of me. With the climbing heat and humidity I knew that getting rained on was in my future.
It may not look like much in the picture but this is the Highest point on the FL peninsula , Sugarloaf Mtn. It's a popular place for bicyclists , base jumpers and hang gliders. No jumpers or kite pilots today.
We don't have a ton of elevation in Florida but it's not completely flat.
With the rest of the state being height challenged, the view from this spot goes on for miles.
This is marked as a "Road" by the way.
It's a fun addition to my routes through this region of FL. Given the massive increase in land clearing and development locally, I'm going to enjoy it while I can. I've never seen another soul on it but it must see some use as someone took the time to booby trap the trail just on the other side of that rise ahead of me. It seems that someone doesn't like anyone using what they probably believe is "their" road and to make sure that message is clear, they decided to run a bundle of wood and barbed wire across the trail. Luckily I hit if light and with speed and sort of floated over it but really, wtf?! Total dick move for whoever thought this was a good idea. I have a feeling that it was done by the owner of the farm that borders the trail to the east. I spent a few minutes removing the pile , tossing it deep into the woods. Not ideal but better than leaving it there.
Hello clouds, I'll be riding with you soon!!
Looking back towards the entrance of the ridge road.
And a shot of where it crosses under the interstate through a tunnel. If knee deep sand ain't your thing then this isn't the route for you!
And the view from the top once you hop back on the tarmac.
About 10 minutes after that last shot I was riding in a downpour that I'd remain in for the next 1.5 hours. It didn't clear up until about 30 minutes from where my truck was parked.
Storm behind me, clear skies ahead!
I made it to my truck by 1 p.m. with Sharron there to greet me. Apparently birds hating on trucks is a thing and she told me about the bird that had taken umbrage to my old beater , covering it in a fine patina of droppings. Sharron took pity on the old girl and me, deciding to wash it off before I got there. I thanked her for doing me a solid and offered to buy her lunch at a local joint that sells burgers that are po'boy style! They also have bottomless sweet tea!!
All loaded up after exactly 2,499 miles!! I should have ridden around the block!
She hopped on her beautifully reconditioned DR350 and I followed her into downtown Frostproof for lunch. We talked about my trip and her life outside of the big city's stranglehold while enjoying some good grub and cold drinks and then it was time for me to hit the road. I still had a 4.5 hour drive home and was really looking forward to seeing my girl. We hugged and parted ways. Hopefully she takes me up on the offer to stay on my site at our winter dual sport rally.
It's good to have friends in the moto community.
A scant 4.5 hours later and I was home, greeted by a big smooch, a stiff drink and a home cooked meal. It had been an amazing ride but even so, I sure did miss my home.
Hey look, a promise of rides to come...
Thanks for taking us along, I certainly enjoyed the ride.