I am leaving to go on tour this Saturday, very exciting. This is not my first tour and I am strong rider. I will be travelling from Orlando FL to Gainesville FL solo and unsupported. Has anyone here made this ride? I am looking for recommendations on how to get through the Ocala National Forest and camp overnight as well. The route I have planned is about 135 miles, looking to tackle this in two days and spend one overnight in the forest. It seems that most of the campsites are along unimproved roads which Google Maps does not plot out so I feel like I'm flying a little blind here.
When I looked at the forest service website it says that there is disbursed camping allowed anywhere in the forest, but I would prefer to sleep near warm showers so I can clean up in the morning. The one thing I also noticed is that disbursed camping is not allowed during hunting season - but doesn't say when this is? I asked a friend who hunts and he says hunting will begin in November, but this isn't exactly the best source of information. Most likely I will call them tomorrow to ask about this restriction.
I guess my main concern is that the unimproved roads will beat me up and drastically reduce my daily mileage. Reports say some of these roads are heavily rutted... I will be using a Salsa Vaya with a Thudbuster LT and 700x40 Schwalbe Marathons. I can do 30-35 miles XC riding in a day or 85 miles on road per day comfortably, but I've never done true mixed terrain tour. Usually my 'offroad' stretches were brief gravel paths designated as bike trails. My schedule is somewhat flexible but I would prefer to knock this out in 2 days. My touring load will be relatively light, I am not a knick knack kinda guy and this is a short hop in the grand scheme of things. Any thoughts or recommendations?
If none of the ones with showers are on/close to your route, you might have to make a compromise. As for general *** season, when dispersed camping is generally not allowed, you can always call the U.S.F.S. to find out when that is.