Monday, June 30, 2014

Still There (Again)

I didn't do anything real exciting this weekend.  Luckily, I still have stories from The Sunshine State.

You know, another ride.

Loyce HarpePark in Lakeland, FL, where they get all wacky on Wednesdays.

Back when I first started mountain biking in Florida (I know, I know), everything we rode was near the water. After moving up here to NC I'd sorta forgotten how cool that can be.  Sure, we have mountains, rolling hills, beautiful views, etc., but being back in familiar terrain made things a lot more fun.

I mean, Florida trails have nice views too.

It's been a few years since we'd ridden there, but Lunchbox and I were happy to be back.  Although a lot of that particular trail goes through the swamp, one of the first sections went through a gopher tortoise habitat.  It was fun to hang out with the wildlife.

Speaking of swamps and critter habitats, we finally got to see the elusive wild T.V. in its natural environment. 

Like most of the good stuff in Florida, this is another place where the terrain is the result of phosphate mining.  That makes for an interesting ride through the swamp.

Lots of ups, downs, and riding high above the swamp is really fun.  However, riding in Florida always comes down to the critters.  On one section out in the open, I spotted what I thought at first was just a little lizard running down the trail.  After it ran off into the grass, I decided to stop and check it out.

That's no lizard...

Turns out that a baby alligator got lost and decided to run down the trail.  When Lunchbox rolled up on the scene, I told him what I'd found and warned him that momma gator is probably nearby.  He kept an eye out for her while I went in a little closer to help the little fella out.

He was tiny.  Like, fit in the palm of my hand tiny.  Too small to be out on his own, we got him headed towards the water and back to safety.  We did our good deed for the day and hit the trail again.

And then we found even more critters.

The armadillo.  There were tons of them too.  We hung out for a while but didn't stay too long.  There was more trail to ride.

The good stuff was still waiting for us still.  The most unique feature there is a section called “The Fingers.”  They are trails that jut out into the swamp with lots of elevation. 

Are they technical?  Yes.  Tight turns, short, punchy climbs, and of course, more critters.

And let's not forget Big Mamma's House:

The drop in was uh, steep.  Lunchbox was happy.

Just like everything else we rode out there, it was more up and down.

That place is pretty awesome.  It's still one of my favorite places to ride, even though it's about six hundred miles from here.  If you're ever in the area, I suggest you hit it up.  And after a day of riding with the critters, you can eat some too.

Save an alligator, eat an alligator.  It's how the world works I guess.

Tomorrow: more Florida

You betcha.


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