Today is a big day for us. It's our last day in Orlando before we start our 2022 travel season! (I still have a few weeks of posts to catch up on, but this one had to be released early) Because of that, I mentioned the idea to the kids of trying to go for a record setting bike ride on our very last day here. They were all for it! And so, the night before, Theresa and I got everything prepped so that we could leave the house early the next morning.
Monday, April 11, 2022
Our newest biking record! A metric century - 100 kilometers! 62.2 miles!
The Van Fleet State Trail has been our go-to trail for getting in miles while we've been in Orlando. Despite being here for 5+ months, we still haven't ridden the entirety of it. There's a few miles at the very top that we haven't made it to yet. We're planning to change that today. I parked, like usual, at the Green Pond Trailhead (green dot on the map), unloaded the bikes, and we got ready to go.
By 10am we were moving north. We've got plenty of time today to get a bunch of miles in. There's so much that we enjoy about this Van Fleet Trail.
First is our friend Henry! The kids love visiting with him and his animals. They ask on every bike ride if we're going to be stopping to see Henry, and every time we do, Henry is open and welcoming to us. Since it's our last visit for a while, we made sure to bring the animals treats. The horses love carrots.
Good to see you Medusa!
The goats love attention, especially Boots.
She's always around, ready to be scratched.
And Sven and Kermit are getting used to us too. In the beginning they'd bark like crazy whenever we'd show up. Now they bark until they realize it's us, then they yip, and come to the gate to get petted. We brought them sausage sticks as a snack.
It been great to get to know you Henry! Thank you for everything! All your time showing us around your land, giving us chicken eggs (which we had for breakfast before hitting the trail today), and letting us pet and feed your animals. We look forward to seeing you again next year.
Just after leaving Henry's we all came to a sudden stop to while this snake made its way across the path. We've seen so many animals here at the Van Fleet Trail. A short time later, we passed a large alligator (8+ feet) sunning itself 4 feet from the trail. I didn't get a picture as we saw it last second and hustled away afterwards.
This bike ride is taking across three counties today! Earlier we crossed The Bridges which separates Polk County and Lake County. Now we have crossed the border for Lake County and Sumter County. We are covering some miles today!
And here it is! The very north end of the trail! The Mabel Trailhead! The portion we have never reached before!
Past the parking lot is the sign for this trailhead.
I love how every half mile, there's a marking on the ground, telling you how far you've gone. This is the biggest number we've seen. If you start at Polk City, you'll have gone 29.2 miles to reach Mabel.
Time to eat lunch! We need energy to continue this record ride. We have packed bread, peanut butter, and jelly. I made the kids some homemade Uncrustables sandwiches. They appreciated having the crusts cut off, saying that it was even better than the real thing.
If theirs are Uncrustables, then my sandwich must be an Extracrustable.
All their bread crusts went on mine, along with a little extra PB&J.
Yum! That's good for energy.
Theresa is doing her part too, by packing us a massive amount of fruit and veg.
She's filled two gallon bags with apples, oranges, carrots, grapes, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The kids grab handfuls and go to town on them.
How do you keep happy kids on a long bike ride? Make sure they have plenty of options when it comes to food, snacks, and other treats.
I don't know if it's possible to ride by a tortoise without calling out in a sing-song voice Torrr-toisssse.
Similarly whenever you see a squirrel you must quickly say Squirrel! like Dug from the Disney movie Up!
There's been some high windstorms here the last few days, which is one of the reasons we saved this ride until our last day. Earlier this morning the trail was littered with debris: pinecones, branches, etc. Theresa said it was a bit like an obstacle course trying to get through some sections without having your tires run over something. Normally it's so clear.
We usually see the Park Rangers driving up and down the trail in their truck, but today they had a new addition. Being towed behind the truck was a blower, with a nozzle that could pivot back and forth. When the ranger drove by us, she aimed the nozzle away from us, but as soon as she passed, she aimed it back at the trail. It was powerful enough to clear off all the debris and give us a clean trail to ride on.
Half the time, Theresa and I rode together up front, while the kids chit-chatted away in the back. They can talk Minecraft for hours.
One last stop at the Bridges to see all the different alligators and turtles. It's been fun to always see them here on our rides.
After the bridges, it's a short ride back to the truck. We stopped there for a few minutes, but the kids said they still had plenty of miles left in their legs. Well then, let's keep going south!
And go south we did! All the way to the end! It's the Polk City Trailhead!
The kids still had plenty of energy to spend 30 minutes running around the playground.
Our legs are still feeling good too. Enough to play on the teeter-totter with the kids.
I mean, if you're going to ride the entire Van Fleet State Trail you have to get a picture with the large sign at the beginning.
Here's we go! Mile 0.0. Now we've just got to get back to the truck!
It's amazing all the different animals we've seen, and I'm further amazed that we're still seeing new ones! Here's a wild turkey! Also new to us today were a bunny, a raccoon, an armadillo (seriously! who knew?), and the biggest squirrel we've ever seen. I thought it was an otter before it jumped and I saw its bushy tail. Looking online later, I believe it was a Sherman's Fox Squirrel which can grow up to 28" long and weigh 3 times as much as a gray squirrel which are about 20" long.
There it is! We're back at the truck! But... really, can we stop at 58.4 miles? Don't we need a nice round number to finish on? The kids thought so, and I agree. We've got to keep this ride going.
And so we rode a little bit further down the trail then turned around.
Are these kids awesome or what? Sometimes I forget that Alli is only 6 years old, and Ian is 8. We spent the entire day riding without any complaining to "slow down" or "I'm tired". They powered through and accomplished incredible things.
29.2 miles for the entire trail? We did it all!
We took our previous record of 40.2 miles and CRUSHED it!
Who is strong? We are strong!
Including all of our lunch, snack, water, and playground stops, the entire ride took us a little over 8 hours.
On the way home, we celebrated by getting Magnum Ice Cream bars, because big milestones like this deserve to be celebrated.
I sent out a message to our entire family letting them know our big accomplishment today. The kids got plenty of accolades, but Uncle Patrick reminded us that if we rode just 2 more miles we could have a metric century. 100 kilometers on a bike in a single day. Thanks for letting us know how close we are Patrick!
So when we got home, instead of heading inside to relax, the bikes came out of the truck and we added another 2 miles to our total.
62.28 miles! 100.2 kilometers!
If you do a 60+ mile bike ride, I think you've earned yourself your favorite meal ever. Cheese Fondue, plus a bonus Little Caesars pizza just because.
And so, after all that, Happy National Cheese Fondue Day - April 11th! It's amazing how hard they worked for it, but I'm sure it tastes just that much better.