Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Revisiting The Big Lake as a November Cycling Rite Is Renewed

Wednesday morning I'll get up at 4 am, take a few gulps of water, throw on some shorts and a T-shirt and back out of my driveway around 4:15 am.

It's that time of year again.

Time to make my annual November pilgrimage to Lake Okeechobee, Florida's other coast as the tourism folks say in the heartland of Florida.

Once at Lake Okeechobee in the city of Okeechobee, I'll hop on my Trek 5200 road bike and take a counter-clockwise route around The Big Lake for a one-day, 120-mile journey that will end where it began. On the northern tip of The Big O.

I cleaned the free wheel and front rings tonight, pumped the tires to maximum PSI and gave the bike a quick spin up and down the street. The bike feels great and all systems go for a 7 AM blast-off from Okeechobee. Bananas, apples, granola bars and cheese crackers are packed.

Regular Bicycle Stories readers have followed this November rite for several years now and they know I'm not too far off when I refer to the mystical pilgrimage feel to the 120-mile bike ride. I don't take a bike ride. The bike ride takes me for the journey and I just pedal along, giving in to the day of open land and simple goals.

This is the side of Florida you don't see in the Disney/South Beach/Key West-ization on the tour brochures. Savannahs and seas of blowing grass amid fish camps, big sugar and cattle ranches.

I pass through five counties that border Lake Okeechobee -- Okeechobee, Glades, Hendry, Palm Beach, Martin. And the placenames sound like great datelines out of a novel -- Lakeport, Moore Haven, Cleistown, Pahokee, Belle Glade and Port Mayaca.

I'll try and make pitstops at libraries along the way to file reports from places like Moore Haven and Clewiston and Pahokee. I hope to complete the big circle -- or weird-shaped oval as the route might be -- around 6 PM.

And I'll share photos with you after I return to Tampa Wednesday night.


Jeff said...

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, Alan Snel returns to the Big O.

SWFBUD said...

It's a November tradition like no other -- except a Houck family Thanksgiving gathering :)