Sometimes it works out that the best is saved for last.
Wednesday 12/28/2011 – We rode the southern part of the Withalacoochee Rail Trail. Started in Ridge Manor, which, in itself is an ideal location. The trail head is one mile from I 75 and only six miles north of the southern end of the trail. This means you could ride 39 miles to the northern end and back for a 78 mile ride. There are also many roads that parallel and cross the trail, which would allow you to extend or alter your ride to suit. A nice picnic area and restrooms are next to the parking lot. The best thing we found was, that riding north from here was about the best scenery/riding distance combination of the trip. The photos, at the end of the post, do not give the trail justice. Susan and I rode to Floral City, which has rest rooms, a gazebo, a quick mart type food store and a bike shop. Great place for a snack and turnaround for 35 miles. Or proceed to Inverness and return for 45-50 miles. A great ride.
Thursday 12/29/2011 – We went touring this morning and did not get back to our hotel until mid afternoon. Although I had mapped out a road route to Jay B. Starkey park, it was too late in the day to be sure to get back before sundown. So, we got in the car and drove to the park (SEE PART 1). Got in a short 20 mile round trip through the park and part of the Sun Coast Trail, returning just before sunset.
SUMMARY We rode five out of six days. By keeping the rides in the 30+/- range (except today) we were able to thoroughly enjoy each ride without wearing ourselves out. All the rides were worthwhile, as well as the drives to the starts.
Jay B Starkey and Sun Coast is what I would call…pretty warm up and cool down (in the park), with the exercise part on the Sun Coast Trail. It is by no means not pretty or interesting, just less so than the other rides. A six man pace line actually passed us today.
Pinellas Trail is varied, interesting and slow, with at least three nice turn outs to water views and a causeway/beach, all within 30 miles. Start in Tarpon Springs and ride to Clearwater…where you need to turn left onto the side walk or street to pick up the remainder of the trail.
Withalacoochee Trail is the one for scenery and distance. It is also the one for combining rail trail with road riding.