Discovering the paved trail
Today we welcome back guest blogger Patrick “Paddy” McCallister, a lifestyle cyclist living in Volusia County. He’s a member of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee at the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization, which covers Flagler and Volusia counties.
I’m a roadie through and through, but I’m getting a taste for Florida’s growing network of traffic-secluded, paved trails, too.
I love getting out for centuries. I love going 50 or more miles on a weekend day — with or without others — just to put Xs on maps and write down speed stats. I love seeing if I can go 25 miles a little faster than I did yesterday. That’s the life of a roadie.
For a few years I’ve done commuting rides for work and shopping on a couple hybrids and a trike. I enjoy the energy independence of bicycle commuting. I love the sense that I’m getting exercise in my routine, rather than having routine limit getting exercise.
In recent months I’ve taken up off-road trail riding on a mountain bike — mostly around my Lake Helen home, such as Volusia’s Longleaf Pine Preserve and Colby-Alderman Park. I love feeling the ground under my wheels rattling me.
I had no idea there was a whole cycling world awaiting me.
My girlfriend, Deborah, is a bit of a cycling neophyte. We decided to check out Volusia’s Spring to Spring Trail between DeLand and Orange City after a couple talked it up to us at Blue Spring State Park. It’s amazing. We rode the completely traffic-secluded, paved trail segment at a gentle pace talking.
We had so much fun, Deborah and I went next to Lake Monroe Park, which has a traffic-secluded trail that connects to the southernmost Spring to Spring segment in DeBary. That segment heads to and connects with the East Central Florida Rail Trail. It was our first taste of a trail segment that’s not completely, but is mostly, traffic secluded. Deborah and I opted to dismount the bikes and walk around Gemini Springs Park, then ride back to Lake Monroe.
Later I went for a solo ride on the northern end of the Spring to Spring Trail from DeLand to De Leon Springs. Again, that portion of the trail is not completely traffic secluded, and is broken up. Still, the trail gives much traffic seclusion and wonderful scenery — mostly folks out cycling, walking or running. I kept a gentle pace. The paved trails beckon one to just enjoy the ride.
Deborah and I headed to the beachside on a recent Sunday morning to ride the Pat Northey Holly Hill Greenway Trail, part of the East Coast Greenway Trail. Again, this trail is not completely traffic secluded, but does keep a rider clear of all but some cross traffic. We rode along talking and watching the Halifax River shimmer under the morning sun.
Getting onto the trails is a different cycling experience. While I love the quad burn of road riding, the bang of off road, and the independence of commuting, I now know I also enjoy the carefree ease of a paved trail totally or mostly separated from traffic.
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