Dunnellon Bike Riding

An extension of the Withlocoochee State Trail has come to Dunnellon. The trailhead, located on Citrus County Road 39 which is off US 41, is just south of Dunnellon. The extension closes one of the gaps in what’s known at “The Heart of Central Florida” bike loop, a nearly 1000 mile long trail.

A stop on the newly opened bridge provides an excellent view of the river.

The trail runs along the Withlacoochee River for much of the four mile section ending near the Rainbow River Club. Trail users enjoy a shaded path through cypress lowlands with frequent views of the Withlacoochee and Rainbow Rivers.

The city of Dunnellon hopes to have a paved extension from its current end to the bridge on County Road 484 providing a safe bike route into downtown Dunnellon.

Wildflowers border much of this flat trail which is perfect for walkers as well as bicyclists of all ages.

IMG_4318

Additional work is underway to connect the Dunnellon Extension to the current trail to the south and will eventually allow bicyclists to ride to Citrus Springs, Inverness, Floral City, Nobleton, ending east of I-75 at the Owensboro Junction Trailhead on Highway 301. Quite a ride!

A Bistro in Inverness

IMG_1803Inverness and the term bistro aren’t compatible in my mind, but according to TheFreeDictionary.com, a bistro is simply a small, informal restaurant serving wine, so the McLeod House Bistro in Inverness fits the bill.

After a two month bicycling hiatus due to the wedding, lots of rain, and a trip to New York, we rode another portion of the Withlacoochee Trail to start off our two week Christmas vacation. And, I must admit, the location of the McLeod House Bistro influenced our decision as to where we would ride.

On our first ride on the Withlacoochee Trail in June, we found the McLeod House Bistro closed for the summer and promised we’d make a return trip when the restaurant reopened in the fall. Fall turned to winter, but we kept our promise.

A ten mile bike ride followed by lunch sitting on the porch enjoying a perfect Florida winter day at the McLeod House Bistro…a worthwhile wait.IMG_1801

We won’t wait six months for the our next visit. There’s a dessert menu we need to try!

Don’t make a mistake and drive to Inverness on a Sunday or Monday and miss an opportunity to eat at a first class restaurant in Citrus County. The McLeod House Bistro is only open Tuesday-Saturday 11:00-9:00.

River Ratz

IMG_0459

The best thing about cycling: lunch! We’ve starting exploring bike trails around the state this summer. It’s great to get outside between rain storms and get a little exercise. It’s also a terrific way to see different, out-of-the-way parts of the state; but what I’ve enjoyed most is finding local restaurants where we can cool off and eat lunch.

The last two weeks we’ve ridden portions of the Withlacoochee Trail. Our first ride ended at the trail head in Inverness so we tried the Deco Cafe on the courthouse square. Soups, salads, and sandwiches are found on the menu as well as a selection of beer and wine. We ordered a turkey wrap and a roast beef panini but passed on alcohol; however, we did splurge on a slice of orange cake.

Definitely worth a return trip!

On our second ride from Nobleton to Floral City, eating lunch at River Ratz made the eighteen mile ride worth while. Located on the river at the Nobleton Outpost, River Ratz Cafe serves shrimp, wings, burgers, and a variety of sandwiches. I enjoyed every bite of my hamburger and John found a Philly cheese steak sandwich he’ll come back for again.

River Ratz Cafe’s hours vary and  they’re closed on Monday and Tuesday so it may be a good idea to call ahead if eating there is your sole reason for a trip to Nobleton. It won’t take much to convince me to ride the Withlacoochee Trail so long as lunch is part of any future trip!

Tour de Withlacoochee

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. IMG_0457

No high tech machines costing thousands of dollars, just a $20 garage sale cruiser.

IMG_0431

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.

Withlacoochee Trail: Part 1

IMG_0346I initiated my new bike on a ride at the Withlacoochee Trail State Park riding the six mile stretch from Inverness to Floral City. John surprised me with a new bike since I’m so slow on my beloved Hollywood. Without the advantage of gears, pedaling even the slightest incline slows my progress. I guess John tired of waiting for me to catch up or perhaps thought he may lose his bicycling partner if I pooped out on one of our rides.

In any case, I can say the bicycling on a modern bike with a lighter frame and seven gears did make the trip much easier as we rode the twelve mile round trip from Inverness.

After checking out the art gallery and an “antique” shop in Floral City, we were back on our bikes for the return trip to Inverness.

Time out waiting for rain to stop!
Time out waiting for rain to stop!

Like many of our adventures this summer, we encountered rain. Fortunately it didn’t hit until we were within sight of the parking lot. Nevertheless, we managed to get completely soaked even as we waited for the rain to subside before loading the bikes.

The shaded, mostly flat path proved to be a perfect first trip for my Jamis Boss and we’ll head back to ride other sections of the trail.deebike