Brooksville to the Van Fleet Trail - Stranger in a Strange Land - CycleBlaze

February 1, 2023

Brooksville to the Van Fleet Trail

Day Three

It was about 8:45 when I rolled onto the Good Neighbor Trail. The mist had dissipated but it was still cool. The trail was a beauty, it followed a tranquil country road. It eventually ran into the Croom Trail which was just as nice.  I took the Croom south. Many hand cycles passed me northbound. My plan was to ride the ‘FL C2C - Green Swamp Route’ which I downloaded to Ride With GPS. I left the trail at Trilby and rode through town eventually hitting Goat Road into Richloam. I stopped at the Richloam Store and had a soda and a freeze-dried Skittle. Little did I know I was way off course.

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  Before I arrived at Trilby I dug into the RWGPS app trying to reverse the direction of the Green Swamp Route. I thought I was successful; squiggly lines look alike on a phone screen. When I attempted to reverse the start and finish of the original route RWGPS generated a new, different route. It was fine except for the last two miles, which led me through a flooded, hunting road. The mud is very slick and adhesive in Florida. Tire-sucking, swampy terrain is exhausting. Thigh-high, murky water is disconcerting.

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    Just when I thought I was done with the flooded road, it disappeared. I could see the Van Fleet trail on the phone. I was a couple of hundred feet away. I could make out a path that avoided the worst of the brush. It was dry. I started pedaling in the direction of the Van Fleet. A stick got caught in my chain and snapped my derailleur hanger. I untangled the chain, and holding up the rear wheel, worked my way to the space of the Van Fleet Trail.

  I sat on the ground and looked at my broken bike. I did have a chain breaker on a mini tool but I don’t know the process of breaking and reconnecting a chain. What’s worse than not having the tool?  Having a tool you don’t know how to use. (Later, I was told I would have needed another master link, also.) 

   Many folks stopped and asked if they could help. I learned that I was four miles from the nearest road crossing. Ironically, where the original, correct route would have deposited me, I later found out.

  I zip tied my broken derailleur to the chainstay and pushbiked my way toward the cross road. Then I called my wife and asked her to meet me there. As I was working away, a guy named Joe stopped and said he would tow me. He instructed me to grab the bag on his rear rack and he pedaled away, pulling me along. Joe is a real-life trail angel. We had a great conversation about our former careers and unionization. He dropped me at Bay Lake Road where my wife was waiting. We loaded the bike and drove to Clermont Bicycle to get Betsy repaired. I can’t thank Joe enough for his improvisational skill, strength and generosity. My wife Cathy has to be thanked for putting up with my nonsense.

   We grabbed a room at the Fairmont Inn behind the strip mall where the bike shop was. We had a pizza and salad in the pizza restaurant in the same strip mall. We caught a red sunset from the ridge where the hotel was, a present for walking between the restaurant and the hotel.

This is the correct route
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Do Not Follow This Route
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Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 134 miles (216 km)

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