Riding the St Marks trail one of the July nights, you had a good chance to encounter a lonely cyclist putting in many miles on his tricycle. Dick likes a challenge. Strongly motivated by the National Bike Challenge, he aimed to finish on top in July. And he did. Riding on average close to 100 miles a day, he collected more points than anybody else in Florida, and finished July in third position nationally. An amazing feat. In the first three months of the challenge he put in more than 5000 miles, riding every single day. The only one coming close is … Trish Rogers, with about 2500 miles so far. She finished the month in fifth position among Florida women. Kudos to Dick and Trish!
There are two months left in the National Bike Challenge, and it is not too late to join the fun. You’ll make a chance of winning monthly prizes for August and September, as well as the grand prizes at the end of the challenge. Just go to http://nationalbikechallenge.org and sign up !
A Red Big trail workday is planned for this Saturday 2/2/2013 meeting at around 8:30am adjacent to the baseball fields at the trail head. Look for Ed with Trail Dynamics when you get there.
What’s happening to the Redbug Trail?
By: Chuck Goodheart
Photo Credit: John Kalin (aka Trail Gnome)
The Redbug Trail rehabilitation and enhancement project is set to begin this January. It is clear that many riders wish to increase the mileage and maintain much of the existing character of Redbug, it is the focus of this project to make the trail more sustainable yet challenging.
The goals are to increase the distance to at least 5 miles and retain the challenging character of the trail as Tallahassee’s established technical trail. The intention is to add technical difficulty by constructing advanced trail features using natural materials and design where possible. The signature “fall-line” and rooty sections will be preserved when possible by sustainable practices along with intermediate ride-a-round options where advanced level sections are added.
The rehabilitation and expansion project is set to begin during the week of January 14th. Once an exact time is scheduled it will be advertised. The project will take place over a two week period. The Trail Dynamics crew will manage the work on the Redbug. Some of the additional 2 miles of trail will be bench cut into sloped areas and some flat sections will be “rake and ride”. The bench cut will be constructed primarily by the TD team and volunteers. Flat sections will not be undertaken by the TD crew and will be the responsibility of city staff and volunteers to complete.
Many of the signature challenging features on Redbug will remain in place. Almost all of these sections have become much wider over time as a result of riders cutting corners to avoid technical lines, this in combination with environmental factors has caused significant erosion. These sections are scheduled for some treatment to add sustainability but retain or increase the challenge. The TD team has just finished some very technical trail construction in Harrisonburg, VA and the Rocky Knob Trail, in Boone NC, techniques used on these trails will be employed to maintain difficulty and character.
Now it is up to the local community to help by attending workdays and contributing time and labor. This trail belongs to the community and with everyone’s help the Redbug will remain the go to trail for challenging singletrack far into the future.
A report of the 2012 March 3rd Lake Seminole ride curtesy of the Tours Des Vagabonds
By Jim Higdon
Vagabonds Riders on the Ride (alpha order)
Pre Trip Friday March 2nd
Jim Mann took the lead Friday night and we decided to go for it. We had been planning for a long time, and the weather was forecast to be good after a rain front moved through on Saturday.
Day One Saturday March 3rd @ 9:00 a.m.
Vagabond riders met in Havana at Tom Strazulla’s House Saturday morning.
At 9:05 after a group photo, we rolled out – our noses into the wind with some humid and breezy conditions. That morning, riding was great and we were all able to share banter about cycling gear, local sites and previous trips of various members. Riding west near Quincy, we hit some rain. We made a short scheduled stop in Quincy at the Piggly Wiggly for a breakfast top off, and to buy lunch items. We also fixed a minor mechanical on one bike. At this point Phil Ligget would say “the rain is really starting to fall and the boys are donning their capes”
Around 10:30 the rain went from steady to heavy and near Gretna we were treated to an impressive “light show.” Lightning began to strike on both sides of the highway and an executive decision was made in order to save life and limb. We shoved our bikes along a fence row, and despite a very real concern about trespassing and “rural justice” we virtually hurdled the fence and made a run for a large pole barn/tractor shed. This was our shelter for the next 30 minutes. As we waited out the weather – I pulled up radar on my phone and verified the heavy red and yellow thunderstorm cell which was directly over us. It also showed that the worst of the weather would soon pass. During that time we decided that if the wind took out the barn we would seek shelter under one of the massive John Deere tractors.
After the worst of the weather passed, we rolled towards Chattahoochee, and finally hunkered down for that sweet uphill grind into Chattahoochee. We “danced on the pedals” through what was now only just a blowing steady rain.
At the top of the hill, we saw our shelter for the night, opting to stay at the “Relax Motel” instead of camping.
We all agreed it would probably a miserable cold night in our tents. The next couple of hours were spent hanging our cycling gear to dry and grabbing a great lunch at Jerry’s Restaurant in town.
That evening we drew down on the “China King” restaurant, with lots of laughs especially reliving each of our own “Usain Bolt” moments running to the tractor barn in the storm. We then walked back to our motel full and happy.
Day Two March 4th at Chattahoochee Relax Motel
Sunday morning we were greeted by brisk but clear conditions and fueled up at Jerry’s again, with hearty breakfasts and great coffee all around. Leaving town and heading west we cashed in on the payoff for the uphill grind we had earlier, coming into Chattahoochee the day before, as we flew down over the bridge and into Sneads.
We made a leisurely stop in Sneads at the market for odds and ends and our last major opportunity to food shop before reaching Lake Seminole.
Riding north the temperatures came up as the day progressed, along with a fairly brisk wind.
Towards noon we had a nice lunch stop along the Chattahoochee River
Later nearing the Lake Seminole Park, we made a stop for drinks and potable water at a corner Market.
Arriving at the park for the first time, I should say, it is clean and modern. Pitching our tents at our sites and nice warm showers were followed by a nice supper and lots of laughs during supper at the diner. Leaving the diner after dark our rear blinky lights and headlights paid off. With temperatures dropping and a full day of loaded touring behind us we were tired, and all opted to pack it in to our respective tents.
Day Three March 5th – Breakfast – Leaving Lake Seminole Park and on back to Havana
That night, temperatures dropped into the 40s, so in the morning it was a quick scramble to dress and pack for the day. ahead. In ones and twos we headed on our bikes to breakfast. The diner puts out some great food accompanied by more laughs and good natured interaction with the local residents. We all packed away a substantial breakfast anticipating a full day of riding.
Outside of Bainbridge we encountered couple of significant climbs. I know now that my choice to switch to lower mountain gearing really paid off with a 40 lb. payload to drag up those inclines.
Around 12:15 we stopped just this side of Bainbridge for a nice relaxing lunch under and around the remnants of an old tractor shed. It was a great opportunity to rest and take in the perfect spring weather. Heading towards our goal in Havana we all had time to stroll along and continue conversations about the sites along the road and other bike trips.
Later, rolling onto Havana temperatures continued to climb into the warm-to-perfect zone. Just outside our goal we encountered a couple of significant climbs, and the low range touring ratios on our bikes paid off.
Arriving back at Tom Strazzulla’s house we unpacked our bikes and all agreed it was a great event. Looking back – the best part of this tour was the great scenery and camping. along with sharing ideas, getting to know the other members, as well as the more experienced riders sharing their knowledge of touring with the newer lesser experienced ones. I am really looking forward to the next trip!!!!
By Carl Vinson
In early November, the CCC Vagabond riding group took an overnight camping-touring trip to Torreya State Park (see Linda Tinsley’s article on our site.) Since I also enjoy solo touring, I opted to extend the trip by tacking on a six-night tour of my own. After returning from Torreya on Sunday November 6, I launched the following morning for a jaunt down to Cedar Key, a landmark I had somehow missed despite nearly 50 years in Tallahassee.
The first day’s ride was 45 miles to Econfina River State Park from my home via the St. Marks trail and US 98. There is no camping at the small state park, but a private campground nearby offers cheap primitive tent sites as well as sites with electrical outlets. A 45-50 mile ride is my standard mileage target on tour. At a net speed of 10-12 miles an hour, this leaves time for lunch and sight-seeing. Laying out a tour involves finding desirable lodging or destinations within a day’s ride; sometimes a longer day in the saddle is needed to reach a target.
Lafayette Blue Springs running into Suwannee River
Day two took me to Lafayette Blue Springs State Park near Mayo, a ride of 48 miles. The amazing feature here is twin clear spring pools with a run that flows 30 yards into the Suwannee River over a little “waterfall” of limestone during low water. I was the only campground occupant besides the campground host couple. As the sun set, I enjoyed a quick pasta and envelope-chicken meal cooked on my small camp stove. Carbs like pasta and rice are staples for touring and make an easy one-pot meal. With the exertion you will need a much higher calorie intake, especially carbs.
The third day it was on to the quaint fishing village of Steinhatchee, an easy 40 miles down the road. Most of this leg was on back roads with reduced traffic. I always favor those when laying out my routes. Lucky for me, I had the keys to a friend’s river cottage. Many rentals are available and reasonably priced there. That night I enjoyed an excellent seafood meal at Roy’s. Of course Steinhatchee is a seafood lover’s paradise.
Chapel near Steinhatchee
Without having to pack up a tent, I set out early on the fourth day for a long ride into Cedar Key. This ride was a little over 80 miles, admittedly a little long for a day of loaded touring. This leg took me (via back roads and a bit of US 27) to Cross City for the start point of the Nature Coast Bike Trail. This is a really nice 32-mile rails-to-trails facility similar to St. Marks Trail. It makes a Suwannee River crossing on a scenic old railroad trestle near Fanning Springs, then forks to either Trenton or Chiefland. By the way, Fanning Springs has a state park so it would have made a good stopping point for camping if I had the time. At Chiefland, I headed south to Cedar Key on County Rd 345 and Florida 24, which was the longest stretch I had without bike lanes. Still, traffic was nearly non-existent on a fall weekday.
Cedar Key was a welcome sight after a day of mostly headwinds. There are two campgrounds and a few motels on the island. Again, cottage rentals are available but I did not price them. Arriving late, I had enough daylight to run downtown and see the quaint old-Florida houses and buildings. Cedar Key has a thriving clam aquaculture trade and is among the most picturesque Florida fishing villages. There is a thriving nightlife with bars and good seafood houses, but I was too tired to try these.
Pitching my one-man tent takes all of 5 minutes. This is one piece of gear most may not have unless they backpack. I got mine on EBay for $55, though fancier/pricier stuff is available. After a night in the tent and a low-cost “diner breakfast” at the Sunset Isle campground cafe I headed downtown to enjoy a morning in the art and gift shops. Cedar Key has long enjoyed a thriving artist community. Don’t miss the stained glass of the Methodist Church.
Campsite at Cedar Key
I headed for Branford to camp along the Santa Fe River, leaving Cedar Key a little later than planned for the 62 mile trek. Generally I am able to estimate travel times and stick to a schedule, but vacations should have some flexibility. I backtracked to Chiefland and Fanning Springs, then took the Trenton fork of the Nature Coast Trail. I enjoyed the cattle country vistas, but had to hustle along at 16 mph with darkness approaching. Diverting onto county back roads, I hit Ellie Ray’s Campground (a large Good Sam facility) late and pitched my tent with the help of my bike’s headlight. Supper in my tent was not real healthful – a bagel, Vienna sausage, cheese crackers and pop tarts. You don’t have to cook to stay well-fueled and an occasional “convenience store” meal won’t kill anyone. For good or for bad, convenience stores provide a reliable source of calories out in the boonies.
“Old Florida” home in Cedar Key
That night, Fall arrived and the temperature dipped to 31, but I stayed cozy. Allowing for warm camping gear does not have to overload a touring cyclist. Layering of clothing is the key. Again, camping gear doesn’t have to be expensive to be portable. The sleeping bag that works for me in most Florida weather is simply two $3 Wal-Mart fleece throws stitched together. For cold conditions, I have a small down quilt that packs to half the size of a loaf of bread. Just don’t forget a knit hat. After a huge mug of coffee offered by the campground host, I packed and headed toward Mayo on my way to Perry 55 miles away.
There I stayed in a motel, nixing a planned camping night in favor of a TV to watch the FSU-Miami football game. That way I also was able to hit my favorite greasy spoon, Pouncey’s, for some down-home cooking. On the final leg back, I opted to simply eat up the 60 miles to Tally via US 27. Though it’s a very familiar track to most of us, this road is much more scenic by bike than by car, so I saw it with new eyes. And the entire route has bike lanes.
So the total nine-day ramble for me, including the Torreya part, was 504 miles. This may sound like a lot but I am sure this is well within the reach of all regular cyclists. The gear doesn’t have to cost a fortune and just about any mountain bike or road bike can do. Making up a route is fun and whether you like camping or opt for motels and maybe a cottage rental or two. I highly recommend this Forgotten Coast jaunt. If this wrinkle of cycling sounds like fun to you, check out the Vagabonds riding group.
“No Tank” Trip to Torreya
A report of the 2012 Tour de Torreya curtesy of the Tours Des Vagabonds
Cover photo – Vagabonds enjoying a scenic stretch of Telogia Creek Road
By Linda & Carl Tinsley
The Vagabonds first trip was a one night self contained camping trip to Torreya State Park. There were seven riders, Jim Mann, Chris Lacher, Dennis Wirth, Jim Higdon, Carl Vinson and, Linda and Carl Tinsley. Four of the riders left from the Lake Shore Drive area arriving at the Oak Valley shopping center at Hwy 27 & Capital Cir. N.W. by the 9:00 a.m. start time in spite of Jim Mann’s close encounter of the “deer kind.” The Tinsley’s rode from their home near Oak Valley and Carl Vinson left his vehicle at the shopping center.
Chris Lacher, Jim Mann, Dennis Wirth, Carl Vinson, Linda Tinsley, Jim Hidgon (foreground) and Carl Tinsley (photog) psych them selves for the Tour De Torreya.
The weather was perfect, cool and sunny, they looked like an organized group of bike tourists apparently all the riders got the memo to wear high-vis yellow jackets. First stop was in Quincy where Jim and Carl Vinson visited a hardware store for some washers for Carl’s bike which was threatening “mechanical issues”. They they joined the rest of the group for an early Deli lunch and “pecan pick-up” at an open area near the Piggly Wiggly near Ben Bostic Road.
The “Tour of the Seven Dorfs” continued through the hamlet of Saw Dust winding its way through pastoral scenery via Providence and Telogia Creek Roads to Hwy 12 where a brief roadside stretch, rest and bathroom break included swapping tales with a pair of deer hunters. Luckily there was Jim’s earlier deer encounter to share.
A green sign indicating Chattahoochee, home of the Florida State Mental Hospital was close by was a comfort. As the colorful caravan continued on the last leg of the trip into the park the group was unanimously grateful for the perfect weather and favorable winds. Arrival in the park was highlighted by a visit to a stand of Torreya trees on the grounds of the Gregory house overlooking the Apalachicola River. The Paparazzi on hand was enlisted to photograph the group not only with his own camera but with that of each rider, stacking cameras like cord wood as the session progressed.
Set-up at the camp ground was much smoother than one might expect, reserving four sites left plenty of tent space to choose from. Jim had to be Jim Mann, he enthusiastically cooked for the newbies and came well prepared with an electric hot plate and a hair dryer to heat his gourmet corn bread. Both Carls and Linda dined together on beef stroganoff, a side of chili and high tech Salmon.
No, this is not a homeless camp
Everyone chipped in for firewood and swapped cycling tales, augmented by Dr. Jim Beam, around a cheerful fire. Those of us that had adequate sleeping bags were grateful for same due to the drop in temperature. The group was serenaded throughout the evening by some “younger folks” who thought they knew how to sing “Hey Jude”. The evening’s Beatles recital was (thankfully) terminated at 3:00 a.m. when an unknown voice was heard admonishing the troupe for lack of regard for other campers.
Morning brought a hot pot of coffee brewed on the camp stove by Carl T., a light breakfast and swift breaking of camp and reloading bikes. Another photo op at the campground overlook was orchestrated by a ten year old girl who knew exactly what she was doing. Team Tinsley, last to leave the campground, were approached by the adolescent photo journalist requesting another session. They were glad to oblige, this is what bicycle touring is all about. Her interrogatory skills were impressive especially the question; “Do you do this for a living”.
A brief photo op at the campground overlook before leaving the “Garden of Eden.” – PHOTO CREDIT – ~10 Year Old Photo Journalist
Brunch in Greensboro was earned by climbing some serious hills leaving the “Garden of Eden” including the noteworthy “Bonnie Hill” complete with two dogs waiting at the top to greet the riders. Lunch came soon after at Hardee’s in Quincy with burgers in demand. Lunch was subsequently canceled by pushing an unexpected head-wind for the rest of the ride.
The tourists said their goodbyes at the Oak Valley shopping center and returned to their respective points of origin, all agreeing that a splendid time was had by all and to do it again soon.
A report of the 2011 Tour de Springs curtesy of the Tours Des Vagabonds
By Chris Balding
Several members of the North Florida Bicycle Club (NFBC) participated in the 2011 Florida Springs Bicycle Tour (a.k.a. the Tour de Springs) which took place March 20th through March 26th. This years’ tour was organized by NFBC member Jerry Potts. New to the Tour de Springs for 2011 was the addition of a SAG (support and gear) vehicle, generously provided by NFBC member Paul Sheffey. Joining the NFBC members was Chris Balding, of Tallahassee, who became interested in making the trip after reading about previous years’ tours via the internet.
The Tour de Springs is a large loop ride which began and concluded at the Cecil Commerce Center. Each night was spent tent camping in a Florida state park where the participants enjoyed creature comforts such as restrooms with hot showers and campsites with electric outlets and drinking water. The parks also provide participants with natural amenities such as picturesque ravines, nature walks, historic artifacts, waterfront campsites and an occasional swim in one of north Florida’s many natural springs.
The route takes riders through areas lined with beautiful horse farms, rich agricultural lands and natural treasures such as the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers as well as the many public and privately-operated springs of north Florida.
Points of interest along the route included the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center, the Olustee Civil War battlefield and the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park. Campsites along the route included: Ocean Pond, Suwannee Valley Campground, O’Leno State Park, Manatee Springs State Park, Paynes Prairie State Preserve and Gold Head Branch State Park.
The weather for this year’s tour was ideal with temperatures ranging from the mid-fifties at night to the mid-to-upper-eighties during the day. Clear skies never threatened a drop of rain at any time.
Evening campsite conversations were lively as everyone compared notes and swapped stories of the day’s ride. Jerry Potts brought along his Dutch ovens and prepared dinner for the entire group on two occasions. Jerry’s menu included chicken breast with vegetables and Biker’s Chili with andouille sausage. Jerry even included desserts of cherry crisp and a pineapple upside-down cake; all cooked in his Dutch ovens. When Jerry wasn’t cooking, the group enjoyed some great Mexican food in Chiefland and some smoky BBQ from Keystone Heights. Other nights found the riders eating meals brought from home and prepared in camp. Great food and camaraderie in the evenings helped to soothe road-weary parts and rejuvenate the spirit for the next day’s adventure.
The Tour de Springs is about beautiful scenery, friendship and the creation of memories that will last a lifetime. Whether this is your first tour or one of many, the Tour de Springs offers an exciting way to see the natural beauty of north Florida.