(For the complete set of photos, head over to this Flickr album)
I was up to my thighs in inky black water. Surrounded by saw palmettos and cypress trees. Mosquitoes swarmed as invisible muck clutched at my feet and I pushed my bicycle another length through the Green Swamp. Nervously eyeing the low vegetation for alligator snouts, I had to admit that this wasn’t the smartest thing I’d ever done.
After traversing just 3 km in an hour we finally had to admit that recent rains had rendered Florida’s Green Swamp unrideable. We turned north to join the decidedly less flooded SR50. This was only day two. Over the course of the five day ride we would deal alternately with heavy rain, enough sandy two track to sap even the strongest quadriceps, electronics killing humidity, and bush whacking that literally drew blood.
Lest it all sound doom and gloom, central Florida is home to a surprising amount of natural beauty with many kilometers of undeveloped wilderness and a landscape that changes with astonishing rapidity. As with any bicycle tour, there are also the people. From the wonderful and genuine couple we met on the first night at Santos Campground, to the kind woman who fed us chili at an RV park, the basic goodness of people everywhere was evident once again.
Karlos over at Single Track Samurai Productions is responsible for putting together this the 2015 edition of the increasingly popular Huracan 300 race route. From advanced single track to rail trails, meandering two track, swamps and river crossings, this route showcases a little bit of everything that Florida has to offer. It traverses multiple state forests and nature preserves as well as the famous Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. The Ocala National Forest was a definite highlight and a great way to end the trip.
If you are in a position to ride this route, I would highly recommend contacting Karlos for the latest GPX track and PDF route guide in return for a modest donation ($30 suggested). If possible, ride this route with suspension. I did not do that this time around and, while I made it work, I was pretty beat up by the end of the tour.
- Jennifer Mollo and Marjory Pugh @ Santos Campground
- Clazina ‘Anna’ Walsh @ Stage Stop Campground
- Kristyn DiVerniero and Kim Farnam @ Ormond Beach