Who said Florida is boring?
It was a cloudy and grey morning threatening rain... and I couldn't wait to get on the road.
Since moving to Pensacola I have been to the beach almost every single day, but have yet to really find anything shall we say 'motivating' in terms of areas to ride. I have heard about Blackwater River State Park quite a bit, however, so I thought I'd give it a shot and head out there on the last day of my two-week vacation from work.
Rain started falling on the uneventful ride there. I decided to push on and hope for the best.
The famed Blackwater River State Park. The park itself charges $4 for entrance, but my trusty map showed plenty of nice windy roads all throughout the area, so I decided to wander around a bit and look for some 'adventure.'
It didn't take long before I was winding my way through beautiful forest-covered roads and enjoying the scenery. And it wasn't long after that that I decided to venture off the beaten trail a bit further.
Most of the trails were decent hard pack dirt. The rain had already stopped (thankfully) so I was left to navigate my way through this beautiful area one trail at a time.
Some of the roads were absolutely beautiful red. For a while I pretended I was in Africa...
A few miles later the road started to get a little looser on the edges. I'm not particularly fond of walking through loose sand, let alone riding a 550lb bike through it. Pretty soon I found myself looking for alternative routes and wondering if I stopped would I be able to turn around...
And then this happened.
The road just sort of collapsed underneath me and I sank into foot-deep sand.
It was so thick I simply stepped off the bike and it stood up without any assistance.
I tried pushing it forward and backward; I tried rocking it; I tried walking it under power... nothing. I knew that if I bothered trying to give it any more gas the back tire would just bury itself deeper, so after a few minutes of brainstorming I figured the only thing I could do was to push the bike onto its side and drag the rear end around 180 until the bike was pointing back in the direction I had come.
I have the SW-MOTECH rack, which has nice handles which made it a bit easier... but only a bit.
The hardest part was getting the bike out of this two-foot hole it had created. I would plant my feet, grip the bike tightly, pull, slip on my butt, stand back up, and repeat.
But with some diligence and sweat I managed to get her turned around.
There was a sort of ditch along this side of the road that had channeled water, so I took a gamble and navigated toward it. I figured I already knew what the middle of the road was made of, and I really didn't want to wrestle this beast through half a mile of soft sand. I started off by walking it using clutch control in second gear. That was just enough to give me traction but not too much to start throwing sand and burying the rear end again.
After a few tense moments I was in the ditch and moving along nicely. I climbed back on the bike and crossed my fingers that I'd be able to make it back to where the trail descended into this soupy mess.
As I moseyed on down a few more trails, pretending like the last 40 minutes had been just a bad dream, I reflected on the irony that just this morning I had complained about the gas mileage I get with these Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires. I can only imagine what the trails would have been like with touring tires...
I wandered around for about an hour more, stopping now and then to make sure that everything was still on my bike where I had left it this morning, nothing was leaking, etc.
And to snap a few more sexy pictures of my bike, of course. :D
I eventually found my way out of this beautiful forest and back onto the tarmac as I headed for home. My lust for adventure had been sufficiently satisfied, and I got a decent workout as an added bonus!
The weather never cleared, and the ride home looked much like it had on the way in, but for my first trip through this region, I had a blast.
The end. :1drink
Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the pics as I await the lighting of my pellet stove on this 20 degree evening, which follows a morning of snow. That was a great idea to swing the bike around and head back. I'll keep that one in mind for the future!
Thanks for the insight!!
I've heard about the Park but never thought to explore it; I've been meaning to venture thru Eglin reservation itself but heard about those deep-sand trails... on my GSA with road slicks at the moment, will wait for my set of knobblies before heading in there. :wink:
Nice thread, and no complaints about the weather here in FL either http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j1...l/bigthumb.gif
:norton Those cylinders are really nice to spin the bike around on. :evil Trust me.
Good story, nice big pics.
Thanks for sharing.
Looks good Eric. I'm glad to see that you are doing some 'adventuring'. I told you she falls real nicely. Jimmy Lewis might be able to handle that big pig in the sand, but I'll be damned if I'd ever try. Good on you!
I think I'll be satisfied to leave it at that. I was pretty sore the next day. :)
The only thing you did wrong was going alone. It gives you more confidence when you have somebody to help get your bike unstuck. I know you already know there is a large group of riders where you live. Go with friends next time. Hit me up, I'll go with you.
nice report, glad you found some adventure down there! Just kinda wondering where you called home before moving to the panhandle? Only reason I ask is that we may be moving from KY to central Florida some time this next year and I'm already a little worried that the lack of hills and turns may drive me more crazy than I already am...
Should say that I don't find anything wrong with Florida by the way...whole lot better fishing there and this time of year I would much rather be down there!
@Rob, you can count on it! I'll PM you shortly.
@Woodly, we lived on a farm in SE Wisconsin. Within 20 minutes were fantastic "Rustic Roads", and lots of beautiful scenery. Plus I was a lot closer to the mountains in the west than I am now. It is a day of driving in either direction to get what I consider legitimate elevation.
But, I agree. Florida is pretty great overall. Kids and wife love the weather (all were in T-shirts and shorts yesterday), I can ride year round no problems, ample watersports activities to get into, and we absolutely love the pace of life down here. It is a welcome change from Chicago...
Good luck with your move, and if you wind up in the panhandle, look out for the deep sand. :rofl
The problem with exploring Florida
Now you know why Florida is so difficult on secondary roads. I lived in that part of the World for 10 years, Eglin/Fort Walton Area, and also Panama City (for the past year PC) Bought a KLR650, put 8000 miles on it last year. The sand is killer bad, and if you get off the main roads on the Eglin Reservation, like the power lines for instance, you will be sorry. In October rode out there with a buddy from Pensacola, and if it were not for having an aggressive rear tire, I would have gone nowhere fast. Miss riding year round, hey I wrecked the KLR the other day due to ice:rofl You can ride year round here in CO) if the roads are dry. I have ridden every month of the year here in the past. The same day we did Eglin, we also went up to Blackwater, that was a lot less nasty sand traps, but still too many for my taste. The only solution is to get a really light motorcycle that you can throw around with hardly any effort. Have fun down there!
Although I like Colorado more than Florida for riding, I would take the Panhandle over Chicago any day!
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