Sorry for not posting about my trip right away, but getting back home from a good road trip is sort of like jumping on to a running treadmill.
I left town Sunday morning to start the 11ish hour drive down to Santos.
It could be a little shorter if I were in super kickass get-someplace mode, but, I figured if I were going to be getting to the campground after dark, I might as well take an afternoon driving break in Tallahassee to visit the Whole Foods salad bar (road trip staple).
The drive left me with lots of time to think about all the shit I’d left at home… like a pad to sleep on and a hydration pack. I ended up going to the Ocala Walmart on my way through town and picking up an air mattress. I didn’t get a pump because I had a floor pump. In case anyone is ever wondering, a floor pump isn’t really made for inflating an air mattress.
Once I was settled (also, in case you were ever wondering, an 8-person dome tent is marvelous if you’re car-camping/living in it for a few days), I had a snack and went to sleep.
The first night, I also realized I’d forgotten earplugs. The Santos campground is very nice with the exception of the nearby highway and train noise. I’d picked what was probably the best site, though. I’m not giving away the number, because it’s the one I’ll reserve any time I go back.
In the morning, I searched the internet for breakfast and found a place called First Watch. It appears to be a regional chain, but it was exactly the sort of food I wanted to fuel a day of riding- hearty eggs & whatnot without being greasy at all. I ended up eating there every morning…
After breakfast, I needed to find a hydration pack. I went to a local shop and picked up a Camelbak Lobo that could eventually replace the clapped out Hydrapack that Ryan used. I’d done plenty of internet research ahead of time and decided that my ride plan was to try and get to the Gulf of Mexico via trails and road.
The route shown in the map above is the IMBA-designated “Epic.” A large portion of it is marked with green OMBA stickers to help you find the way out and back. Like this:
They aren’t on the entire trail, though, so there were a few stops along the way to figure out where to go and to take some photos of the gorgeous, moss-covered live oak trees, as well as the “landbridge” over Interstate 75.
The map above doesn’t show it, but once you get to the Ross Prairie Trailhead/Hwy 200, there is a trail that continues on to the Pruitt Trailhead. I totally lucked out in finding it, though. I saw on the map that the Limerock road kept going west from 200, so I rode north up the shoulder of hwy200 looking for it. I missed it, but happened to catch a glimpse of some orange flagging and followed that into the woods to find singletrack that was marked with more orange flags. It was a little slow-going because it was a lot newer and less groomed than the trail I’d been riding. In some spots, if it weren’t for the orange flags, I probably would have lost it into the woods.
At the end of that trail, I realized that I was out of time to continue heading west. I wanted to find the limerock road I’d been looking for earlier, but ended up on a different road further south. It still took me back east, but I ended up in some pretty sandy spots, and I had to duck some barbed wire to get back across Hwy 200 and back into the mapped trail system. Yay, Adventure!
The fun thing about the Epic ride is that on the way back, the trails seem all downhill (a relative term, because there aren’t very many hills there). The ride back is about half an hour faster than the ride out. Lucky for me, too, because I was cutting it close on daylight.
Six hours from when I started, I pulled back into camp with just enough light to see my post-ride snack… a kinda gross-looking, but super tasty mix of rice/blueberry/chocolate/egg bar, some peanut butter, and a little granola
Later, I went to town to my permanent dinner spot for the week and tapped out before finishing a massive burrito…