'10 C'Dale Tandem RT2. '07 Trek Tandem T2000, '10 Epic Marathon MTB, '12 Rocky Mountain Element 950 MTB, '95 C'dale R900, "04 Giant DS 2 '07 Kona Jake the Snake, '95 Nishiki Backroads
Tandem riding-North/Central Florida
We have an opportunity to spend February in Northern and Central Florida to ride our tandem and enjoy the warmer weather.
We found two weekend events we’ll do for certain (Great Valentine Cent in Sanford, Feb 7th and the Suwannee Sweetheart Weekend in White Springs, Feb 13-15). But we need help in finding tandem friendly mid week ride suggestions of 30 to 70 miles for filling in the middle portions of our weeks.
Ideal choices for us are rail trails (paved or hard-pack) or quiet/safer rural roads with minimal traffic. We would like to stay out of the population centers of retirees and heavy car volume unless it is a separate bike trail of 30 + miles or so.
Rides within 100 miles +/- of Tampa, Ocala, and Orlando are of most interest. We have seen some rail/trail options but would appreciate views of tandem riders.
Would also like to spend more time riding the northern portion of the state after doing the White Springs event either east in the general Jacksonville area or west towards Tallahassee, but just haven’t found anything of note yet in either area… so we really need help with these two.
Co-Motion tandem, Serotta, and Specialized mt. bike
We just returned from riding in Florida and there are good trails to ride in northern Florida. In Tallahassee we rode the Tallahassee - St. Marks Trail. In north central Florida we rode from Trenton to Cross City on the Nature Coast Trail. It crossed the Suwannee River and their is food in Cross City. There is also a leg south to Chiefland but we did not ride it.
Further south at Inverness we rode the Withlacoochee Trail. On previous trips we have ridden all of the Withlacoochee, there seems to be more people riding on the north end. Our favorite was the Sun Coast Trail. It parallels the Sun Coast Pkwy. and has some hills and curves. The traffic is not loud enough to be distracting, at least not on the north end. We have also ridden the Vanfleet Trail from Mabel (no services) to Polk City (food and services.) It is 30 miles one way and no place to stop for food or water.
Don't ride off of the paved areas or even roll your bike through the grass as small thorns can puncture a tire. We enjoyed the riding in north central Florida and have considered another trip to escape a few days of our cold Indiana winter. Enjoy your trip and the riding.
There's a rails trails on the West side of town. Nothing special scenery wise, but it's nicely wooded, and gets limited use.
The best riding, imho, is along the coast. From Jacksonville Beach south, there's bike lane all the way to St Augustine, and is very nice ride.
North from Jacksonville Beach, you can take the Ferry at Mayport and ride along the coast to Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach. With a little bit of manuevering that whole ride can be done via Bike lane, roads with wide shoulders that are pretty bike friendly, and residential streets.
Man those Rail/Trails are FLAT!!! The Withlacoochee is 46 miles long and not too bad, the Van Fleet is 29 miles (with only one bend for the whole length) and the combined Lake Minneola/West Orange trail is 22 miles but a bit more urban than the other 2 I've listed.
We've been riding in Central Florida for the last 5 winters and just bought a house in Clermont. We find the road riding in Lake County to be fine so I wouldn't suggest only riding on Rail/Trails. The Florida Freewheelers have a lot of nice route slips available on-line for the Central Florida area which will give you a nice range of rides. There are actually hills available in Central Florida but nothing that a California team couldn't handle.
This is posted on a weekly e-mail I receive about rides of all sorts in Central FL. Most are weekend rides but this one has some midweek;
"The Villages: the group leaves from the parking lot opposite Panera's on Main Street in The Villages (Lady Lake, Florida) during the summer at 7.30 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and joins with a few riders at the Santiago recreational center for an 8:00 a.m. departure time. There is also a ride on Sundays leaving Panera's at 8.30 a.m. Starting December 1, all rides (except Sunday's) leave at 8:30 a.m. (Santiago at 9:00 a.m.) -- the Sunday ride leaves at 9:30 a.m. All rides finish at Panera's for coffee. The typical distance is about 40 miles at an average pace of 18 mph."
The Villages is not far from the FL Turnpike/I-75 intersection between Orlando & Ocala.