27 Nov Thanksgiving Bike Tour along the Florida Greenway
Sometimes the best plans just don’t work out.
We had this Thanksgiving bike tour planned for a month now. The plan was to cycle for four days. We were going to make a loop around Central Florida that included the Ocala National Forest, involves a short ferry ride, and cycle along the Cross Florida Greenway before heading home.
Unfortunately, we had trouble with one of our tires and had to find an extra one. Once on the road, Ron’s front brakes started to make crazy noises. Apparently, they finally needed to be replaced, which turned out to become an opportunity to make another “how-to-video”.
However, this “short-cut” took us over 3 hours! Mainly, because it involved pushing our loaded bikes for more than 6 miles through thick sugar-sand. Talk about a full-body-work out!
Once we finally make it to the other side of the Citrus Wildlife Management Area, it is already late in the afternoon and there is no way to make it all the way up into the Ocala area by night fall.
Although, we really had our hearts set on making this big loop through Ocala, we are not sure if it is feasible at this time. For one it is already getting late. And two, since it has not been raining in over a month now, the trail conditions and roads in the Ocala National Forest are more than likely not going to be any better than what we just encountered at the Citrus Area. That’s what we get for living in a sandbox called Florida!
Luckily, we are pretty flexible.
Change of Plans
Once back on the main roads, we quickly decide to change our plans. After a short discussion, we call Ft. Cooper State Park, to see if any of their primitive camping sites are still available. Luckily there is still one spot open.
We make it there just just before dark to cook our Thanksgiving-one-burner-meal: stuffing, green beans, and chicken. We also have the pleasure to spend a wonderful evening by the fire with our camp neighbors Bob and June. Bob is an avid outdoorsman, loves to cycle and wants to give cycle touring a go. He has lots of questions about our gear and our experiences. So of course, we have a lot of stories to tell and hopefully, we were able to answer many of his questions before it is time to crawl into our sleeping bags for the night.
After enjoying our coffee and cookies in the morning, we go and discover more of the Ft. Cooper park, before cycling north on Withlacoochee State Trail. Once we hit the end of the trail, we find our way through Dunnellon to our next destination.
Enjoying the Cross Florida Greenway
Once we make it through the small town of Dunnellon, we cycle along SR 484 for a few miles before heading off road again at the Pruitt trail-head. There are several paths leading through the Marjory Carr Cross Florida Greenway. Some are specific for bicycles others for horses, also the Florida-Trail hiking trail leads through this small piece of paradise. The trails are somewhat sandy, but for the most part we are riding along firm limestone paths.
Eventually, we make it to our second camp. It is a primitive site in the woods. There is a well pitcher pump, a shelter and beautiful scenery all around us.
We spend ample time exploring the area and soaking in the views before it’s time to head home again some time the next day.