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Old 03-13-2011, 01:37 PM   #1
fastcat14 OP
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: St Pete, Florida, USA
Oddometer: 48
Aviation themed exploring on an Xl600R

This is my first ride report. It was a good day and I took some photos for once, so why not? Clear sunny skies and 70+ degrees. Me and my friend who rides a Kawi 250 headed up from St Pete (Florida) to a place called Rancho. It is in the Zephyrhills / Dade City area, which is probably familiar to people who ride around these parts, since there are some good roads out that way, and flocks of harleys and sportbikes can be seen frequently, enjoying the few "hills" and "twisties" florida has to offer.

We loaded up the Mazda and hit the road on Saturday morning.....

Our destination for the day was a place north-east of Tampa called Rancho. It is probably 5000+ acres of no-rules, run-what-you-brought terrain. It has TONS of sand, trees, trails, whoops, swamp, and mud. Maybe I'm alone, but I LIKE playing in the sugar sand. It rained hard on Thursday, so conditions were perfect. The place can get a bit crazy. You name it - pickups, jeeps, dune buggys, 4-wheelers, racing quads, dirtbikes, swamp trucks....everyone was out having fun. There are some fun bike/quad only runs through the sand, and lots of trails to explore. A nice way to start out the day.....

We raced around for a while, then met up with some guys who brought in a couple of quads. My friend and them went off to play in the sand and mud, and I put on my (one legally required) mirror on my bike to go do some exploring.

I like airplanes, and I am a student pilot, so I made some aviation related stops, all with in a short 50 mile ride. First stop was some kind of sky-diving mecca in Zephyrhills. I only got a photo of one guy, and of course right after I left 12-14 of them jumped at once. That was cool.

Nearby was a glider club so I stopped in to check that out.

Next stop, an ultra-light club near a place called Blackwater Creek........

In between, lots of nice dirt and gravel roads to explore. Nice condition, some fun high speed cruising.

After grabbing a bite to eat, I headed back to Rancho to play in the sand again. I found some fun trails that were not whooped out.

At Rancho, half the fun is watching what people bring out to play with. The dune buggy, with those cruiser tires, did not do so well. The big swamp buggy almost got stuck a couple times, but they made it through. They ended up having a kid walk in front of it, sometimes in up to waist-deep water and mud, to make sure there werent any hidden sink holes in there!

The XL600 is a great bike for this kind of day and handles the sand and dirt well. Its light at around 300lbs, and yes I did have to pick it up a couple of times, once after going over the bars pretty good. In the sand 300lbs can feel HEAVY. At the same time, it can cruise easily at 70mph and had plenty more to go above that if needed.

Well, I hope you enjoyed a little snapshot of day of riding in Southwest Florida.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:32 PM   #2
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Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Murfreesboro, TN
Oddometer: 561
Sugar Sand Everywhere

I grew up in the North Central Florida area and there's no shortage of sand. I've flow into the Zypherhills airport a number of times when I was doing some consulting work in Dade City. You always have to look for skydivers.

Thanks for the post.
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Old 03-19-2011, 04:37 AM   #3
Made in Scotland
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: East Lothian, Scotland
Oddometer: 338
Nice pics. We rarely see proper off road vehicles over here in Scotland. A couple of my mates have XLs and love them.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:37 AM   #4
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: 79.6 miles south of Suches
Oddometer: 114
I really enjoyed that fastcat14, especially the photos of the sandy roads through the palms and Palmettos. Also, being a skydiver, I've got probably 50 or 60 jumps at Z'hills in my logbook. Another good one is on the other side of the state at DeLand, but I've always found the folks at Zepherhills a little more laid back. It really depends on who is running the drop zone at the time and who is jumping. I've also flown my friend's Piper Arrow in there, but at night when the DZ was shut down. You probably have heard, but a few nuts have done BASE jumps off of the the Zepherhills water tower, which if memory serves, is not much more than a couple hundred feet high. Like the saying goes, "You don't have to be particularly bright, just lucky."

But nothing like blasting along sandy roads through the Palmetto and Cypress trees, as they have in South Carolina, or Palmetto bushes, as in FL, on a big thumper. Just watch out for deer {:8-0
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