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Rotary Club’s 6th Annual Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail Bike Ride Set for March 28

Sunset on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

One of my favorite riding places in South Florida is the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, better known as the LOST.

If you haven’t done it because you didn’t want to be out there alone, with no bathrooms and no refreshments, March 28 would be a great time to get your initiation.  The local Rotary Club is sponsoring its 6th Annual Bike Ride that Saturday.

The ride starts and ends at the Scott Driver Boat Ramp on Highway 78, west of Okeechobee and on east side of the Kissimmee River. They are featuring 12, 20, 40 and 54 mile round trip courses. 54 miles will take you from the north end of the lake down to Port Mayaca and back. Since there is only one trail, it’s impossible to get lost on the LOST.

There is nothing magic about those distances, either. Just ride until you are half as tired as you want to be at the end, then turn around.

Be VERY aware of wind direction when you’re calculating that. You’re perched about 30 feet above the surrounding terrain with nothing to block the wind. That’s good if you have a tailwind. That’s really bad if you have a headwind, particularly on the way back.

Here’s the registration form

Registration form for 6th Annual LOST ride

Starts and ends at Scott Driver Boat Ramp

Scott Driver Boat Ramp on Highway 78

2005 LOST RideThere’s an interesting mix of riders

You’ll rub elbows with serious road riders with expensive bikes and locals on beaters who are puffing cigarettes as they cruise along. I’ve seen kids who couldn’t have been more than seven years old lead their parents on the way out and were in better shape than their parents on their way back.

The LOST was Mary’s first ride

Mary Garita and Adele Gastle LOST 2004Mary Garita, a coworker for more than 20 years, showed up for the ride, not knowing what to expect.

She liked it well enough that we became regular riding partners. For awhile, we were riding the LOST a couple of times a month including an unsupported century on the south end of the LOST in November of 2006.

A month later, she crashed on the LOST, fractured her skull in five places and hasn’t been able to work or bike since. There’s a reason for that helmet requirement for that ride. Trust me.

The local support folks are great

2005-lost-rest-stopThe local folks who man (person) the rest stops are friendly and interested in learning about cycling. I’ll never forget the first year when we were explaining why all that funny clothing makes riding more comfortable. When I explained that the jersey is made of material that wicks the sweat away to keep you cooler and that the tail is cut long to hide biker butt, he noticed the rear pockets and exclaimed, “That’d be great for fishing.”

I wish I had been carrying a spare jersey with me; I’d have given it to him.

What to take with you on the LOST

It’s a supported ride, but it’s always better to be prepared, I learned in Boy Scouts. Here’s what I carry, supported of not:

  • Suncreen. There is NO shade up on the dike.
  • Spare tube and a way to inflate it.
  • Plenty of water; there are no facilities to buy any on the dike (although it will be provided at the rest areas)
  • A cell phone, just in case.
  • Emergency contact information (remember Mary?)
  • Mosquito repellent. Not necessary in the daytime, but bugs are brutal for about 45 minutes right at dusk.
  • A bandanna to cover my mouth and nose when riding at dusk (bugs are protein, but not my chosen type. Note to self: remove before walking into convenience store)
  • A camera; not absolutely necessary, but I guarantee that you’ll spot something along the trail you wish you could document.
Gator in Lake Okeechobee

Gator in Lake Okeechobee

6 comments to Rotary Club’s 6th Annual Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail Bike Ride Set for March 28

  • Is there a story to go with the gator photo?

  • kls

    Funny you should ask. Take a look at

    http://ken.steinhoff.net/stay_back_from_gators/index.html

    That’s Bro Mark, down from the land of the cold to celebrate my 60th birthday two years ago.

    He was resting against a guard rail on the LOST with the insert from his Arkel Seat Bag on the ground in front of his foot making it look like it was attached to the end of his leg.

    A little (poorly-done) Photoshop and we have a life lesson in not mucking with gators.

    You are in the gator’s world when you are on the LOST. I’ve never seen one on the top of the dike, but I’ve seen as many as 25 BIG ones in one place before.

    http://www.palmbeachbiketours.com/2008/06/24/gator-rips-arm-off-18-year-old/

  • Jan

    This is one of my favorite rides, too, if only to get people out to see Lake O. It’s so grating that people live no more than 50 miles away yet have never seen it.

    I’m going to be demo’ing at the Metropolitan Food Show coming to the Fairgrounds, otherwise, I’d provide a sag spot and cook omelets , or provide some tasty cupcakes for the early riders again at the Port Mayaca lock.
    http://www.JanNorris.com

  • Jan

    Oh, and by the way:
    You can pack all that jazz that Steinhoff recommends — don’t worry so much about water because they never run out of it — or, you could just follow him. It’s like riding with a rolling drug/grocery/bike store.

    It worked for me for four years of rides…I only supplied him with some neoproxin, once on a ride, and I think a banana, and a little fresh trail mix, too, once. He has everything you need and pounds — literally — of what you don’t. A savior on wheels.

    Just one thing: If offered, politely decline his “aged” peanut butter crackers – though they’re bloody old enough to be free of salmonella…

  • SLM

    Ah, the “chomped off foot” photo, that was a good day on the levee. While I really don’t like flat rides, that was a very pretty ride and the path was well maintained too. I would be accused of working for the Chamber of Commerce if I didn’t mention the wind though. I’ll take riding up hills any day over riding into the wind, so I dip my bike helmet to you flat landers and your ability to suck it up and turn right around back INTO the wind. At least when climbing a hill I have no one to blame except for myself…

  • walleye

    That looks amazing I am in Colorado where we have not had a dry day in weeks. I would love to be somewhere warm like that and enjoy the great outdoors and a nice ride!