After years of planning, the “Cross Florida MTB Challenge” finally happened. This first edition of the “Challenge” went off without a hitch: the weather was fantastic, the route was about 85% correct (which left plenty of room for route finding fun), and we didn’t get arrested for trespassing! The main goal of the “Challenge” is to cross Florida on as much dirt as possible. The route was selected so that travel could be on bike trails, horse trails, hiking trails, forest roads, the occasional bushwhack, and unfortunately some paved roads. I know that it is wrong to use single use horse and hiking trails for an offroad bike event but to prove or disprove the feasibility of this project, rules had to be broken. In fact, a large portion of the first day was spent trespassing on private land. This is nothing to be proud of and the risk of being ticketed or even arrested was very real. But crossing Florida on as much dirt as possible is a difficult task these days. Florida has experienced uncontrolled growth for thirty years and finding a non-paved section of public forest is always difficult. Taking a risk to fulfill a dream is what life is all about and since we traveled as quickly as possible, stayed on the maintained roads, and did not loiter, litter, or vandalize, I don’t think anyone minded us being there. Here are the links to the .gpx and .kml data files created during this event. atb_across_florida_2009.kml atb_across_florida_2009.gpx Here is the link to the MapMyRide website that has the .gpx drawn on a map. ATB_Across_Florida Below please find the play-by-play action report with a few photos for emphasis. October 18, 2009 Trip to the starting point. Sunday morning all participants met at the “River House” and loaded themselves and their gear into the caravan vehicle. Yes, only one vehicle was needed. Only two Wetsocks team members, Ken and Craig, where available to make the inaugural event. All the rest failed to show siting such poor excuses as, “I have a full time job,” “My hip needs to be replaced,” and “I’m not comfortable trespassing on a hunting lease during hunting season.” Lame!
The caravan rolled out and after stopping for a large meal of Sonny’s BBQ, arrived at the Ocean Crest Motel , our host hotel, in plenty of time to unpack our gear and take a walk on the gorgeous Atlantic beach. The Ocean Crest is a ’50s style motel in Ormond-by-the-Sea on a bit of lightly developed Atlantic Beach front north of Ormond Beach on A1A that reminded me of childhood vacations with the family. Our stay was brief but enjoyable and I would recommend the Ocean Crest for future events.
In the early evening the pre-race party was kicked off when team Wetsocks was picked up at their hotel for a trip to an Ormond Beach sports bar. Several pitchers of beer, piles of chicken wings and good company made for a great time. After being dropped back at our hotel we decided that the liquor store was only a couple miles away and that a bottle of wine would be nice as we sat on the porch and listened to the surf. Ken was getting romantic on this cool clear evening but I made sure he knew we could only ever be friends. The chianti finished and the sun set. We decided to call it a night.