Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Delectable Time in a Bike Rider's Paradise

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Delectable Time in a Bike Rider's Paradise

Article excerpt

"Look, a bald eagle," Jim Harper said.

"Paradise," Florida, 2:15 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. We were just

leaving after a delectable visit. The eagle, of course, soared

overhead. (They never simply fly.) It was headed to a lake in

Florida's grandest canyon. We were anointed in limestone mud and

covered with the glory of miles well ridden.

It was the first pilgrimage of 1997 and done in nearly perfect

biking weather. At 6:30 a.m., I sat down to bagels, yogurt and

hot tea after a nice swim.

"Maybe I should put the bike on the car first," I thought as I

eased into the chair. Too late, I was too comfortable.

Lightning exploded, then thunder, then rain. The bike later

cooperated by going onto the racks nicely despite the rain. My

rain gear works. Jim Harper, then Matt Soergel, were eagerly

waiting for my Sundance's arrival. After a 10-day rest, it too

was ready to go. We hoped to outrun the storm on our way to

paradise.

Matt bought a nice, nearly unused bike in November, and had

quickly grown to re-love trail riding. He had written probably

the first article for the Times-Union about Hanna Park biking

about six years ago and turned his attention to family, work,

surfing and soccer. This would be his first trip to the Canyon

D'Ocala.

Light rain followed us. Blue, sunny holes in the distant clouds

teased us. Since 1993, I have had only one muddy ride in Ocala.

High anxiety began to arise in me. When I introduce someone to

Ocala, I want perfect conditions. A muddy day in February 1994

was Roy Clarke's first trip. We had a good time, but he has yet

to return.

Jim Harper has had the extremes in his two trips, perfectly dry

and total mud. He is highly adaptable, easily finding the best

in any situation. Matt had the energy and spirit of an eager

child. I did not want that crushed.

This old quarry offers quality mountain bike riding with about

275 feet of elevation relief and miles of rock-based trails.

Terry and Dave Berger operate Hard Rock Park. Terry reported,

upon our arrival, that a quick, short storm had passed. …

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