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Not-quite-geezer RVer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody, a question from an out-of-state visitor for ya...

I'm planning to make a trip down to ride both Alafia and Boyette. My question is whether it is possible/practical to ride to Boyette from the state park campground at Alafia if we stay there?

From maps it looks like they're only 7 or 8 miles apart by pavement, and Google Earth shows what look like some dirt roads in between that might make for an even closer connection. I don't mind adding miles on the bike and I'd much prefer to pedal it rather than drive if possible, so I'm hoping some of you locals can shed some light on what it's really like to go between these two.

Should those highways be avoided due to heavy traffic, no shoulders, etc? Or are they more like quiet country roads and okay to ride? Also, if there is a "back way" across via dirt, any insights about that would be most helpful also.

Thanks!
 

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Training for vacation
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Back country roads and when i have been there i have not ever seen more than a dozen cars in transit between boyette and alafia. Be aware though that big trucks bust through there at high speed. If you are doing alafia and boyette in the same day the extra 8 miles will make for a loooong day. Alafia has an OK camp ground, maybe strech it out to 2 days and throw in a covert night ride? Oh yea $3 per car to get in to Alafia.

Would be nice to find a back way though...maybe someone will post with a secret sauce epic route that wrapps all them up.
 

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Shortcutting Hikabiker
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Its not that far but you prob will have to ride off pavement if you go that route. Lots of big phosphate trucks haul ass down that road and it isn't very wide.
 

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During the Fat tire festival in November(which I missed) riders rode a dirt road between the two areas. From what I understand it is as the crow fly's and supposed to only be 2 or 3 miles. I think there is a gun range along on in this road so it's a once a year thing. Check out swampclub.org and post asking this question, that is the Tampa area club and I am sure some one can give you more exact details.
 

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Cannondale Snob
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The SWAMP gets special permission from the Sheriffs Department to cross their land that one day each year. It's off-limits the rest of the year.

I'd recomend just driving you car there and back. It doesn't seem like all that long, but once you get lost in Boyette you're going to wish your car was there when you finally find your way out.
 

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Not-quite-geezer RVer
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the info, folks. Unfortunately it sounds like the dirt backroad is not a viable option, and the highway sounds doable but not nice. Ideally I was hoping let the girlfriend take the car into town and leave me out there to cover both places in one day, but we'll figure something out.

BTW, I'll probably be heading down there to ride either this Friday or next Monday, so if you spot a guy on a folding bike on either of those days, it's probably me (99.9%). So say "hi" and point me back toward the trailhead please if I look too lost, thank you... :D
 

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FoldsInHalf said:
Thanks for the info, folks. Unfortunately it sounds like the dirt backroad is not a viable option, and the highway sounds doable but not nice. Ideally I was hoping let the girlfriend take the car into town and leave me out there to cover both places in one day, but we'll figure something out.

BTW, I'll probably be heading down there to ride either this Friday or next Monday, so if you spot a guy on a folding bike on either of those days, it's probably me (99.9%). So say "hi" and point me back toward the trailhead please if I look too lost, thank you... :D
you want to ride Alafia then to Boyette then ride Boyette on a folding bike? very ambitious my friend.
 

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Not-quite-geezer RVer
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
deathb4dnf said:
you want to ride Alafia then to Boyette then ride Boyette on a folding bike? very ambitious my friend.
Well, when you put it that way... :eek:

Actually, I've been fortunate enough to ride about a dozen of the IMBA Epics and lots of other good stuff across the country now on my little clown bike and have grown to really love it. The bike's relatively well-equipped for offroad (as these things go) and quite a hoot to ride. Takes a little getting used to, but it gets the job done--just a little slower on techy stuff (heh). So to anybody out there bored with your rigid fixed singlespeed 29er? Try a folding 20er. It's the next big craze, I tell ya. ;)

But hey, while I've got you locals' ear (so to speak)... What do y'all reckon an Alafia/Boyette combo would add up to, hitting most of the novice/intermediate trails and most of the hard stuff, but skipping the double blacks?

I've been in Ocala working for about a month and have done several variations of the Santos OMBA "epic" route. My longest day here was 53 miles which went down pleasantly enough. Of course after spending the fall riding Pisgah/Dupont, anything flat-ish just seems to roll by like butter. No news to anyone, really, but Florida is a pretty sweet place to spend the winter, I tell ya.

Anyway, I'm guessing that Alafia/Boyette is relatively similar terrainwise to Santos/Vortex/Nayl's/etc and would add up to 40-50 miles, and therefore make for a long but manageable all-day ride? Comments or suggested routes welcomed!
 

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Not-quite-geezer RVer
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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Follow up report

Well, I figured I'd report back on my little adventure yesterday...

I ended up making a day trip down from Ocala rather than trying to camp. The Alafia state park campground is booked virtually solid this time of year even during the week, and since we only had two more days in FL before having to head up to GA it didn't make much sense to drive the RV down anyway. Debbie came along and enjoyed a pleasant day hanging out in the parks while I spent the whole day riding.

Ended up with 38.15 miles total, pedaling for 5:19:27 hours for a moving average of 7.2 mph. I skipped some of the "stat-padding" green trails I'd figured on riding and instead hit almost all the advanced terrain because it turned out to be almost all buff enough to ride on my folder and was just a lot of fun. Despite the relatively modest mileage and kinda weird car-shuttle in the middle, this day had the most "epic" feel of all my rides in Florida. There was a little bit of everything between these two parks--weird swampy scenery, a little wildlife, and a sneaky amount of accumulated climbing up and down all the little gullies.


Morning: Balm Boyette Nature Preserve
22.64 miles, 2:58:59 hours moving, 7.6 mph

Route: SST > Doubletrack > Loch Ness > Upper Loch Ness > Randy's Trail > Spider Berm > Doubletrack > Pandemonium (center) > South Abyss > North Abyss > South Abyss (half) > Pandemonium (lower) > Sidewinder > SWAMP thing > Woods Trail > Misc "new trails" > East Meadow > Spur > Mt. Boyette > connector trail > North Abyss (backwards) > Golf Cart > Gator Pit > Randy's Trail > Baby Nessie > Inner Loch Ness > Palmetto > Southwest > connector trail > Northwest > Palmetto > Doubletrack > SST


Decided to start out here so if I did manage to get lost I'd have a better chance of finding my way out by dark. ;) Turned out to not be any problem. The signs were actually quite good with only a couple of intersections that required some sleuthing. I had a copy of the latest county map, which, I discovered, has all the very newest trails on it, even some that are not actually ready to ride yet. I'd read somewhere about some new trails that needed "riding in". Well I did my part on those, but kept following the streamers in the trees a little too far and eventually did some hike-a-bike before finally reconnecting with civilization on East Meadow. Gonna be nice when finished, for sure. A few pics:

The SST trail was a welcome surprise at the start and showed off the Florida scenery nicely:


The two Abysses and Pandemonium were the highlights of Boyette, for sure. I weenied out on a couple of the steepest drops and didn't make it up some of the steep climb-outs, but managed to ride out most of them and generally had a ball on the big whoops. I really like the "one way" concept for these kind of trails, although I did manage to get going the wrong way on North Abyss somehow after coming down from the mighty Mt. Boyette (sorry). Maybe put another sign on the list for us gringos, heh.


Afternoon: Alafia River State Park
15.51 miles, 2:20:30 hours moving, 6.6 mph

Route: North Creek > River Loop (NE leg) > Unnamed Black Loop (2x) > Rock Garden > Sand Pine > Rabbit Ears > Rollercoaster > Moonscape > Multiuse > Gatorback > Bridges (w/side loop) > North Creek > Multiuse > Bridges


The highway between the two parks was indeed narrow and teeming with big trucks. I am glad to have decided to not try and ride this, although we did see one guy on a road/touring type bike slogging along the narrow shoulder while we drove across. While that proved it would be possible in a pinch, it looked really unpleasant and downright dangerous. I felt safer on the double-blacks than I would have on this highway:


Alafia was impressively swampy looking. Dramatically different vibe than Boyette and very interesting visually. I rode North Creek twice hoping to see a gator but no luck. Nuclear green swamp scum on the water though:


I managed to get a bad leg cramp about halfway across the wildly misnamed "Rock Garden" trail and had to take it easy for a while after that. Damn you Florida heat and humidity! (this is February???) I vote that this trail be renamed "Mud Bog":


The signature feature of Alafia would have to be the swoopiness. A lot of sweet, narrow bench-cut and ridgeline trail that I kept thinking would make surprisingly good Colorado or even Pisgah practice trail, some of the rootier sections anyway.


I was apparently lucky to be one of the first to ride the just-rebuilt Gatorback. A big thanks to all of you locals who got this done. While I understand it used to be more of a super-killer of a trail, it's still a pretty damn challenging ride and I'm sure y'all will enjoy having it open again. The big drop into the big berm was excellent. Probably will be too rutted for my 20s in a few months but I did enjoy it yesterday! The dirt on the climbs were still soft so I pushed up most to avoid digging a rut, but I can see those will be a real challenge when packed. There were even a couple of honest-to-goodness tight, climbing switchbacks that had me recalling those on Kitzuma. Again, nice work folks!


And finally, I came across this all-too-literal representation of my pace coming off Moonscape at around the 35 mile mark:


So that was my day--it was a good one! Hope y'all found it somewhat interesting? :D

Next stop: the Conyers 1996 Olympic course outside Atlanta while I'm in town working for a week or few.
 

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Where is my mind?
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Maybe it's just me, but this post has to be one of the most fun to read in a while. Something about seeing that little bike in front of what looks to be Frank's loop and Gatorback that just puts a smile on my face. Oh, I loved the shot of the turtle (tortise?). Glad to hear that fixing up Gatorback was worth the effort. A few of us drove down 2+ hrs to help and didn't even get a chance to ride it (the weather can be cruel that way).

Also I second the motion to change Rock Garden to Mud Bog. I always wonder where "Rock Garden" came from!

FoldsInHalf said:
 

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that's sir, is down right bad-ass. If you make it up Conyers' granite side on that bike, you should quit your job, go pro, and come back for the 24 hr. race. :thumbsup:

The look on people's faces must be priceless.
 

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Junior Mint
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Cyclopod said:
Also I second the motion to change Rock Garden to Mud Bog. I always wonder where "Rock Garden" came from!
This wet season is a rough time for anybody who otherwise enjoys Rock Garden or River Loop, and it kinda continues all the way through the summer, from what I've seen the past few years. I think I'm one of the few people I know that actually loves to ride Rock Garden; good to hear it has other supporters, at least. Then again, I set a slower pace than just about anybody else on the trails, and those rooty sections on either side of the bog don't play out the same at my pace, I'm sure. (I'm one of the nuts out there on a unicycle, and I have a blast on that rooty technical style...among other stuff, o'course)

To me, that's the stretch of trail that defines old Rock Garden, although I do agree that maybe it should be changed to ROOT Garden :D

Definitely seconded on seeing a nice pictorial and write-up of the two parks. Nice work, FoldsInHalf.

Billnye
John M
 

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Feel Good About Hood
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Great writeup! You rode Kitsuma on that? NICE :thumbsup:
I checked out your website, looks like fun. I would be happy with 3 months and a tent out west.
 

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Training for vacation
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Glad to see that you got all the good trails. Cant believe that you did moonscape and gator back with a folding 20". woowweee!
 

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Thanks for posting that was fun to read! Alafia is my local trail and it's cool to see and hear it reviewd from someone elses eyes.
 

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Not-quite-geezer RVer
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hey, I'm glad y'all enjoyed the writeup--thanks for all the nice comments. I've been meaning to post about some of my more interesting rides around the country somewhere, but I just seem to never get around to it. Too much riding, not enough posting, I guess. ;) But in the meantime, here's just a few shots of the little bike in interesting settings:

By luck of geography, the bike's maiden voyage off pavement 3 years ago was a short test run on a frigid day in December on Slickrock in Moab. I guess if that wasn't some sort of omen, I don't know what would be. (gotta get back there):


High above the river on Mary's Loop, Fruita:


First ride last spring after a long snowy winter in Denver spent almost entirely off the bike, Bootleg Canyon outside Vegas:


Crested Butte from the Snodgrass trail, on my way up to 403 and down:


About to mix it up with the vanloads on Monarch Crest:


Christmas day ride in Pisgah, descending Laurel Mountain through the leaves:


Rather comical scene of the rack near Bridal Veil Falls at Dupont:


Plenty more where those came from--gotta get 'em all organized and share one day!

Oh, and by the way, I seem to have lied about my next ride being Conyers... By happy change of schedule, we needed to stop off last night short of ATL for a night because they weren't quite ready for us here. A quick bit of looking around the computer revealed we were parked about 5 miles away from Dauset, so I hit that this morning. Interesting place, kinda felt like a "lite" version of Dupont to me. A little moderate climbing felt good after almost two months in FL, wheee.

Hope to make it out to Conyers this weekend. Will report whether I do manage to make any of the granite climbs--dunno about going "pro", but maybe I'll at least qualify for some kind of "special" Olympics race out there. ;)
 

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I hate that name.
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So I finally got around to checking out your website, and I gotta say man, you are living the dream. Although I would have to bring a "real" bike...or a few actually.
 
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