To Manatee Springs SP, FL

Submitted by Ben on Thu, 02/17/2005 - 18:48

I had a nice quiet ride down US-19 today, but when I got to Cross City and stopped in at the library, the librarian told me about a rail trail that parallels the highway all the way to Chiefland, which is roughly where I was headed.

Happily I was on that trail, far from traffic, when I got distracted by a tangle in my headphone cord and wiped out on the asphalt.  One of the few things I don't like about the BikeE is that its steering is unstable, particularly at the low speeds I travel.  The front wheel really would prefer to trail behind its headset like a caster wheel on a shopping cart, and given an opportunity, like a loose grasp on the handlebars, it may express this preference by whipping around and pitching the bike over sideways.

Had I not had so much practice getting my feet out of their pedal clips, I might have landed hard on my hip and elbow, as I've done a few times on Minneapolis ice and gravel.  As it was, I got my foot under me and was able to roll onto hands and knees like any good kid.  I bruised a hand and skinned a knee and had to realign the troublesome front wheel, but otherwise all was well.  It's hard to get discouraged on such a beautiful day!

I saw my first signs of Florida agriculture today... Until now it's been all forestry, hunting, fishing, and tourism.  No citrus orchards yet; just hay fields.  I pity any livestock set out to graze a field full of fire ants!

Outside Cheifland I turned back west to Manatee Springs State Park.  Manatees (or as an explorer in 1774 put it, "the monstrous amphabious maneta") living in the famous Suwanee River like to spend the winter in this spring-fed stream because it stays a constant 72 F year round.  It also makes for good viewing, because the water is clear, unlike many Florida bodies of water, which are stained black with tannin.  I didn't see any manatees, but the area around the spring was very pretty and interesting.