In July we rode two legs of the Withlacoochee Trail. We started the tour in Inverness and rode south to Floral City. On this leg of the trail we visited an art gallery, a railroad depot, and vowed to return to take a side trip to Fort Cooper since the weather forced us to hurry back to the trail head earlier than planned.
Then a week later we started in Nobleton and rode north to Floral City. On this leg we stopped at an old General Store and explored a county park where we took a walk down to the river. The tree lined shaded trail is one we plan to ride again.
Since we enjoyed our first two rides on the Withlacoochee Trail, we were anxious to ride the next section. On Saturday, we parked at the trail head near Nobleton and rode south a little more than eight miles to where I-75 crosses the trail. I’d have to describe the ride as disappointing. The trail cuts through the Withlacoochee forest yet lacked shade. With the exception of a couple of swampy areas that added interest to the ride, most of the trail passed through a portion of the forest that lacked much character.
A fawn, a couple of wild turkey, several gopher tortoises, and a thousand or so love bugs greeted us, and we located the Silver Lake Campground in the Withlacoochee Forest where we’ll camp on a future trip. It will be the perfect place to start the southern most portion of the trail, and we’ll use the boat ramp for a trip on the river as well.
I’ve spent many July mornings sitting in front of the television listening to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen describe the events of the day’s stage of the Tour de France. This July I’ve ridden my bike more than I’ve watched others ride so last Thursday when Christophe Riblon took stage 18 in an epic climb on Alpe d’Huez I was riding another leg of the Tour de Withlacoochee in Citrus and Hernando counties.
While there are similarities in the two rides…people riding bikes…there are also many differences.
Our ride did not include a rider in the maillot jaune (yellow jersey), but I wore a blue Chihuly shirt.
No high tech machines costing thousands of dollars, just a $20 garage sale cruiser.
We rode past a general store instead of castles, but like the Tour de France, we encountered beautiful surroundings and communities with names I was unable to pronounce.
There were no people lining the route cheering us on, but armadillos, turkeys, gopher tortoises, and a fawn quietly watched us ride.
No one handed us a bag to sling across our bodies to provide nourishment as we passed a feeding station, but we sat in an air conditioned restaurant overlooking the river and dined on hamburgers, Philly cheese steak, and fries.
I may have missed the live broadcast of stage 18, but no problem…I recorded it and watched Christophe Riblon climb on the podium on my schedule…after riding stage 2 from Nobleton to Floral City on the Tour de Withlacoochee.