North Florida Tour - “Back to the Future” articles from Mary and John
John McDaniel: Many years ago I was coerced into driving to Live Oak, Florida, for the “Annual North Florida Tour”. I had no idea what to expect when I got to Live Oak. Little did I know that a wonderfully planned long weekend was about to happen. The SBL, more specifically Margaret (Joffre) Bokros, was up to her tricks of putting together a good time for all who attended.
The years passed and the attendance has begun to dwindle for this SBL Jewel of a cycling weekend. I keep hearing that this is the last year for the ride. Because of the lower attendance, the location had to be moved from Camp Weed in Live Oak, to Camp Cherry Lake, Madison, FL, in 2005, but the fun just continued to follow us to the next destination! If you have never done this ride, you have missed out on a great tradition! The roads, the cycling, sightseeing, and Madison, are all new, different, and quite nice.
The balloon ride, the personality comparison, the western night, the limbo, the square dancing and oh yeah Casino Night! These events, added to the Ned Mountain music and the shrimp cooked by Rick Cooley made for quite an enjoyable outing. Some folks you only saw at this event. These became your cycling buddies for one weekend a year, and you renewed your friendship the following November.
This event could meet its’ end soon if we don’t put this down as a “must do” for ’07 November… As a note, the SBL Board has voted to continue the ride another year to see if the numbers pick up. Margaret has scheduled the 2007 for November 2-4, 2007. She wanted to make sure that it was an alternate weekend missing the Claxton ride.
I look forward to attending this ride for years to come and also look forward to making new friends and riding buddies every year. Since the rumor that ’06 was not the last year, I can again add this to my calendar to take a short drive down to Cherry Lake in Madison, Florida.
Mary Bright, a “North Florida Tour sympathizer”, is one of our great friends from Tampa, and she has attended this event many times. She cordially has written a few words for us:
This past November was the SBL's North Florida Tour. The Tour takes place in Madison, Florida, at Camp Cherry Lake. The camp overlooks the beautiful Cherry Lake which has little or no commercial development. It is a wonderful place from which to view a stunning early morning sunrise or just to sit and relax after an awesome bike ride through pristine countryside. There is very little traffic; the cars that did pass us were very courteous and cautious. (FYI, the locals there hanker for us to wave at them as they pass.)
The terrain is rolling and the bike routes, on smoothly paved roads, take you past farmland and horse farms, forests, and through lovely, quaint small towns. On Sunday morning, our group was riding along a forest, and 3 deer (2 adults and a fawn) began running parallel to us. We were moving along about 20 miles per hour, but the deer were faster. As they dashed in front of us, they turned to cross the road into the woody area across the road! It was an awe-inspiring experience, but thank goodness, one didn’t run into one of us!
If the amazing cycling isn't enough, the Saturday night party with Rick's famous steamed shrimp, in addition to dinner and dancing to music by Ned Mountain, and lastly, the gorgeous beauty of Cherry Lake as the sun comes up across the early morning sky, all would certainly be on your top list for your selection to choose for ’07.
I was only able to go for 2 out of the 3 days of cycling, and yet, I returned home feeling like I'd had a week's vacation.
So, there folks, just a few morsels to wet your appetite! I just wanted to write something down to encourage more people to attend. Hopefully, the SBL will not cancel this ride in the coming years. The North Florida Tour is a real gem! Mary Bright, Tampa
Thanking John McDaniel and Mary Bright for the above articles, as well as Tom Morris and Mimi Shepherd, who wrote articles last month on the North Florida Tour. I could not have added anything more, nor any better! All of these four SBL members are all “unpaid”, but have provided to you and me a wonderful synopsis, “back to the future” impressions of these 25 years of the North Florida Tour!
I have been so fortunate to have been your director for 18 years. I would like to ask, “Please mark your calendar; take a day off from work; just be “footloose and fancy free”; & drive a little South to Madison, Florida, for this SBL Jewel Event, November 2-4, 2007. The application and rates will be available soon. Mileages range from short to long, and the 100 Mile Century will again be available on that Saturday. Madison has short routes in town for those that are not particularly “long mileage folks”, and cycling round Cherry Lake is quite a nice short trek.
For those of you that have never attended, kayaking and canoeing are options that you might not want to miss out on. Jim Hoey of Palmetto, Florida, is our boating coach. There are several rivers within a short distance that he can take a group out to canoe or kayak. Free canoes are available at Cherry Lake, or rentals at the local outposts.
Camp Cherry Lake has their new cabin open, so we will be able to sleep in the new space, and also the other cabins that are there. Tenting is a great option and less in price. There is ample room for motor homes.
For those of you who like a real motel, the Four Freedoms B&B should have their new spaces open by the fall. The address and phone number is 199 NE Range Avenue, Madison (10 miles from C.C.L.); 850-973-4343. FYI, just in case you need it, they also provide a wedding chapel in town! Their email address is email@example.com.
Madison is a big football town. Hopefully, our weekend will miss the roars of the crowds and the whizzing of the ole pig skin. My question is this: “Who do they favor; are they Seminoles are Gators?” If you find out, for sure, wear the proper colors, give the thumbs up” and wave!
Please make the North Florida Tour your “getaway” weekend for this November… Margaret Bokros