Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The GhOstHunTinG GeoCaChiNg BikEPackInG TouR

Sorry for the lack of post lately. AS always, I been SUPER busy, but I also wanted to let the fund raising post sit up there for awhile, still taking donations by the way and trying to come up with more ways to raise much needed tour divide funds.

The Last time the Dragons and I rode the ST Francis to Paisley wagon trail pain cave connector, EdWARd suggested that we do a bikepacking trip to the Ghost town of St Francis.

I thought it was a great idea and the original plan had been to leave Friday night and do a little 2.5 day trip.

Well, lord knows that I am an PROFESSIONAL ENDURANCE cable guy and I got stuck at work till Mid night that night and It just didn't pan out to go leave after the hellacious day I had.

So the plan evolved and we rolled out from my house midday on the morning of the impending SUPERMOON!

I had been scouting a new and even dirtier connector over to the Enterprise Railroad bed that makes up part of the Naked Indian Route. The plan was to take the Naked Indian Route over to Lake Beresford, hop off and then get over to De land and St. Francis. On the way we could stop and swim.

Simple enough.

BUT, I didn't really think this was a trip that warranted a two rope so I left it at home. Not really expecting to need it or use it. As we did a little fence hopping and got onto the old rail bed, not even 4 miles into the ride, LIL'r NI was already tired.

Ya, I admit, I lamented how long of a day this was going to be. No tow rope meant plenty of waiting and prodding and break taking, but we kept going.

Along the NK route we went and before we knew it, we were making our way along some big climbs in the back woods of Debary, when I spot a Yard Sale sign and tell the dragons to wait at the top of this hill while I ride to it and see if I can buy a rope. I had to do something, I mean we have all day, but we don't have all day... LOL

I come back to find LIL'r NI sitting in the shade, resting and scold him for taking his helmet off so often. I was a little embarrassed with myself how emotional I had been. The past few weeks had been hard at work, and frustrating off the bike. The day I rode 90 miles doing Journalism coverage for the Huracan I somehow aggravated an ingrown hair in my nether regions that turned into a cyst requiring a week of antibiotics and not needed vacation off the bike. All the self imposed and work related stress had worn through my normally patient demeanor and like I said, I was a little embarrassed at how emotional I was being.

BUT, I told the boys, I had no luck in finding said Yard sale and not to worry, The Lord will provide, lets keep moving.

EdWARd had recently dropped 20 or so pounds and has been riding his properly working Green Beast regularly and thus it showed on the ride as he was keeping up with my patient dragon training pace.

But LIL'r NI was way back there, and as we got close to leaving that gravel road backwoods section I spotted an Old Fallen Telephone drop cable and measured out a piece and cut it with my knife and now, 18 miles into the ride, HE was saved from having to work alone any further and could simply enjoy my pedal power.

BUT, the climbs, the heat and the messy mess of soft dirt of Dutchman Bends road make quick work of WAR as he dropped back further than he had dropped back any other time that day. It was funny as we made our way along that road to see a sign that said, "get out or get shooted".
Am I supposed to take such a poorly grammatical warning for serious? I didn't and we made our way to the secret back door to Blue springs. At this point we had 4 miles or less of sandy mess to pedal and once again, It was a elastic band effect as the Dragons and I rolled out together, but the WAR fell back.

Before Long, we were parking the bikes and boys changed into their swim trunks to go for a swim. They swam for about an hour as I people watched and listened to the sounds of everything that was going on around me.

They came back and I googled mapped a restaurant on route 8 miles away.

The miles clicked by fast and I kept War close and before long, we were doing a sweet downhill into Beresford with only a few more miles to go before reaching JC's Lobster pit.

We sat and ate and although the service was slow and the portions disproportionate, we strapped on our lights and headed out to ST Francis. As we made our way along the twisty skinny trail, we kept having to stop cause LIL'r NI was having stomach Cramps. Awesome.

As we got closer to St Francis we spotted a truck on a fire road. Uh OH.

When We reached St. Francis there was two trucks hanging out, and as I politely said Hi, we kept going hiking away from there Country Music, till I could barely hear it and the spirits guided me to a good camping spot.

I grabbed some giant wide ended palm frawns and asked the boys to do the same and we cleared out the leaves and dug a hole.

Soon enough we had a pretty fire going and we set up camp, and hung out, and snacked and talked and listened.

War was tired from riding all day, and he went to sleep and soon enough we all went to bed. I laid there awake for a long while watching Ride the Divide on my phone day dreaming about my impending adventure across the United States.

Eventually I drifted to sleep only to wake up to what I thought was someone walking towards camp. The sound was distinct and for a second I was sure one of the drunken party goers had decided they wanted to harass us, but after sprinting to my feet and shining my light around there was nothing to see.

The night was restless for all, foot steps everywhere, animals and owls singing symphonies that can only be heard when you venture deep into the forest. Although I had no proof, I am sure there are supernatural beings lurking on the old town site of St Francis.

The night was cold and I shivered most of the night, got up fast to build a fire to warm us all up.

After a breakfast of gummies and chocolate we set off to shred some new singletrack that I had not had the chance of riding before. The boys were both moving slow, as they are not used to riding and stopping and riding and stopping.

I was having a blast, enjoying riding something new, taking pictures and videos and once to make it to Deleon to spend time with Edith and Shelby and spend a lazy Sunday resting.

The wind was FIERCE when we hit the road. And I commanded Kailan to pedal as it was pure full body effort on my part to battle the wind and tow 100 plus pounds at the same time.

I chopped the day up into three goals.

Goal one, finish the St Francis singletrack.
Goal Two, reach the final resupply and grab some cold drinks.
Goal Three, reach the Deleon hang out.

Goal one was easy, and fun.

Goal two was fast, but hard.

Goal Three, just as fast, and just as hard as the road to Deleon is riddled with rolling terrain, up and down, up and down. All the while keeping a stray eye to my rear to make sure that Edward was somewhere back there.

Eventually, we locked into a sprint to the finish and Edward used his knowledge of his neighbor hood to beat us to the house. Good job my friend!

It was a great little trip. AND although we did hear lots of things, we didn't get any proof. AND although we wanted to Geocache, once the boys saw that we would have to pedal off route to find them, they were not as interested. Seems like the Geocaches in the Ocala National forest are designed for individuals with jeeps to trudge deep into sandy terrain, not kids or hikers on bikes or by foot.

The bike gave me a cyst, but after this ride, all traces of this cyst had gone.

thank you, I am way behind in my Tour Divide prep and have to CRAM to feel ready for this enormous challenge.

Take Care,


The NaKeD InDiaN

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

LiVe To RiDe, LoVe To RidE

Not Long ago I heard about John Stamstad conquering the Divide in a self supported fashion during an 18 day Ordeal.

My Friend Aaron told me about it, and I was fascinated, enamoured.

That was about 10 years ago when I first started riding Mountain Bikes.

And For the past three years I have been preparing to do the very same thing. Maybe not as fast, but gonna go just a little bit farther then John did years ago.

What alot of you may or may not know is that I am a single dad with custody of my kids. Yes thats right, these beautiful sons of mine which I call LIL NI and LIL'r NI live with me and they have lived with me for the past 11 years.

I am part of the few and the proud but growing clans of single fathers.

And this Father here has a dream. To ride his bike from Banff Canada to Antelope Wells New mexico along the Great Divide Moutain Bike route.

There is no charity. Just a selfish desire to live out a dream.

Over the years I have grown, and blogged about my adventures. Shared about my heart ache and hardships, my successes and my failures.

I have poured out my heart and sould on this blog right here.

With assistance from Rob Roberts I put together The Cross Florida Individual Time trial, Pioneered a coast to coast off road route and this past weekend successfully put on the hardest mountain bike race in the state of Florida. A self supported Mountain Bike Epic called the Huracan 300.

And for all these events, I never asked for a single entry fee. I just asked for the people who were willing to step up and ride, step up and adventure. I put these routes together, with the sole purpose of bringing the sport of bikepacking to the state. Giving our community right here the ability to go bikepacking without having to travel. Giving us the ability to go ride 100 off road miles without having to drive 500 miles. Even got Trackleaders involved and had a podcast created. All this done, with 0 budget and with 0 dollars from participants.


Cause I wanted to give to the sport that I love so much. I wanted to give something to the community that would last way beyond my years, I wanted to pioneer the development of a sport that was growing across the united states and bring it to my home turf. And like they say, if you want something done, you got to do it yourself.

But folks this is who I am. A generous being who believes in giving. Once when I was on the Swamp Forum, I saw a bike that a poster was riding and with the help of Marcel we coordinated the first ever Frankenbike build. I gave him a frame and the community put in the parts. It was truly a beautiful gesture.

AND now, I have a dream. A dream that I have been wanting to manifest for years. A dream to ride in the hardest longest mountain bike race in the world. And for the past three years I have done nothing but study the sport and prepare.

I have manged to get some money together to go. But you got to figure, I have to cover the expenses of the preparation, the expenses of traveling as well as cover the loss of income while I am gone. All the while training and preparing. Its quite a bit.

BUT in the end, something that I didn't calculate in my complex budget has befallen me.

My bike that I planned to ride in the divide, is in a state that it could not safely complete the route, it is essentially broken. The warranty will not cover it, and I totally respect that, I think wholeheartedly that I got my moneys worth out of this bike. AND it still works, I just don't know if its the smartest thing in the world to be bombing a mountain on the bike in the state its in.

Do you read my blog?
Have you followed it for years?
Have you ever been inspired by it?
Have you lost weight following my nutritional advice?
Have you learned something from my mistake or my successes?
Well If you have then I ask you to return the positive vibes I have sent your way.

For about the price of a cup of coffee a day, I could have a cup of coffee a day or better yet, replace the bike that I didn't anticipate not having for my trip. No donation is too big, nor too small. So far just through a facebook status update, and through the kindness of individuals I have raised 530$. I get choked up and my eyes well up with tears when I think about how generous people have been.

DO I have a fundraising goal? Truly, enough to replace my bike would be all I need. The bikeshop I have rode for years can help me get a super sweet deal that would put me on a new and capable ride and give me extra parts that can be used on the Divide. But all you donate can help me survive during the ride and help me and my sons survive when I return, before my 3 week delay checks start rolling in.( no vacation pay in my line of work)

In fact, all this time, I didn't really know if people payed attention to my online ramblings. For the one's who have already donated I am thankful, touched and will never forget. For the one's who can and will donate I am thankful as well. And for those that can only donate positive vibes and well wishes, heck I will gladly take those too, it all helps in the end.

Lynne Daniels said it would be a truly inspirational thing for me to ride a bike From Canada to Mexico, sponsored by friends, Fans and the Mountain Bike community. I cant say that I don't agree and see the beauty of such a venture.

The donate button is on the side bar.

Thanks ahead of time,

Take Care,


The NaKeD InDiaN

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The GoNzO TrANs FLoRiDa

Living out your dreams, to me thats what its all about.

One day, Long ago, Rob Roberts put an idea in my head of a wheel dip to wheel dip coast to coast dirty ride.

And I looked.

AND he looked.

And as it stands there are probably several ways to get across the state, but being impatient as I am, I mapped something out.

SO sometime Last year, Rob and I took off from my house and we did a version of the route.

This particular version included the St. Francis to Paisley wagon trail. I like it, but Rob HATED it. Hate is not a strong word for it either. For a brief description of what its like, for those who have ever ridden Billie bay wilderness fire road, picture 11 miles of that with more hills.

Anyhow, I reworked the route. Finalized an east coast to Deltona connection and used a portion of the Huracan to get to the ONF without using the St Francis to paisley wagon trail.

Months and months went by, and I decided I wanted to go and do the route, this time go coast to coast all the way and finish. I invited a select few.

Rob was out of town on Business, the others either said NO or didn't respond and Jeff Tomassetti said he would go.

After working and re working the departure plan, we finally figured out the logistics and got dropped off a bit late on the coast of New Smyrna Beach. It didn't matter really to me, we dipped our wheels made a video as proof and rolled out.

Pavement soon gave way to back roads.
Back roads soon gave way to parking lots.
Parking Lots soon gave way to double track.
Double track gave way to super buff skinny trail.
So buff that you couldn't see around corners and it was all a surprise.
The big surprise was how nice it was. I had only mapped this using the satellite maps and had yet to ride it, but it was NICE!

A fence hop here, a canal crossing there and before I knew it we were on more dirt roads leading to more fences. But it seemed that each fence just stopped cars from passing thru cause on either side there were roads that dead ended at that point.

We finally reached what appeared to be the ultimate dead end that blocked what looked like an overgrown doubletrack road. Dogs were barking in the distance, howling, carrying on. I admit a little panic set in, but we hopped the fence quick and I encouraged Jeff to go, go, go.

AND he did, but grass got caught all up in my cassette and I was skipping my way all the while to the paved road.

We finally made it to Old Maytown road marking the Longest stretch of pavement for the night.

This turned into my first experience with the Tomassetti Train.

I learned that JEFF is no JOKE. HE can hammer. The road was his home and It took all I had to stay in his draft. When he cleared way to let me pull, all I could do was a little baby pull, and then I would let him back at it. BUT, I hung in there, and all the work payed off and we made it to Osteen real quick, where I needed food and a stretch.

Now we were in familar terrain, I no longer needed to look at a GPS for the next 20 miles.
Pedaline we were, fast and quick along the route. We hit dirt again only to discover the prediction of them building a bike path had come true and the usual old rail bed we ride was a sandy tractor ravaged mess. Sad, but this is something I knew was coming for about 5 years.

Before long we were on Old titusville road, then along the morality trail, and then I look back and No Jeff. I figure he must have had something tangled in his cassette, cause Jeff is an animal.

AND sure enough that's what happened.

I give Jeff this, HE talks and keeps things interesting. BUT I am learning that I have lost my ability to be a good communicator. Shortly after the 7 eleven restock, I thought I communicated that we were going straight on 46. But Jeff took off on the old route. So after several minutes I noticed the mix up, I had to chase him down on International and pedal my butt off, when I was already dead tired, UGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhh...

What did this all equate too...

Bonus miles. But, it also made the ride in a way safer and more dirtier as we took the bike path out to get closer to our planned camp for the night, the Seminole Forest Hiking Shelter.

We made it. I had got a bunch of food and cargo netted it to my aero bars, it was so HOBO, but it didn't matter as I didn't plan to leave any further than camp with my meal. Knowing the Shelter was there, made it so I didn't have to set up my bivy. It made it so that I could get right to work.

My clothes were soaked after riding the Tomassetti Train for 63 miles. So I first laid down my old emergency blanket. Then I laid down my clothes. Covered them with news paper I had poached from the store, then Laid my sleeping bag to use my body heat to dry all my gear. I sat there happily and chatted as I ate an enormous meal of calories and left my drinks out in the grass to chill naturally overnight. AND it wasn't freezing that night, but it was very chilly out.

I slept as well as you could. I admit,I like sleeping in my hammock, but I am all about trying new things.

The next morning all my calories were liquid.

We decided we would roll through the singletrack and then take the green line as soon as we came across it. I took liberties that morning to show off to Tomassetti my secret Naked Indian Powers. I heard voices in the distant and was able to predict what the men looked like perfectly, I astounded myself even.

Jeff really enjoyed the trail and the sights and the beauty of the seminole forest and we constantly chatted all the way to Paisley which seemed to come very fast. At the store we stocked up for the impeding forest crossing. It wasn't till long after that I realized that I didn't eat the Ice cream I bought and I left it in the fridge.

Along the Paisley MTB trail we went, then Into Billie Bay finding the Oddest thing I have ever come across in the forest a 20 Jeep rally. I never expected it.

As we kept going, they stopped and we apparently got too close as we got sprayed with wet dirt. Disgusting. It was everywhere. I learned in the military long ago to HTFU and instead of trying to clean my filthy self I told Jeff that we could clean up at Buck Lake.

We made our way to Buck lake and the oddest thing happened.

I have come to buck lake many times. It is a beautiful place, remote and secluded. NOT TODAY, there were at least 50 college kids. Girls and guys everywhere.

Immediately upon Arrival a guy and a girl approach. They tell us that they have reserved the site, blah, blah, blah. I tell them that we are here to clean up and get water.

Their response...."I guess that's Ok"...

In my head I thought, "you Guess?, You Guess? M-------ah there is no potable water for 20 miles..." LMAO...

Anyhow, the guy, who's name was Mario or something just as cheesy, was a douche, SO, I decided to turn on the Naked Indian Charm and start chatting with his girl.

They quickly walked away after that. AND I cleaned up.

I have been to the Lake many times, but never have I ever gone in the water. The water was frigid, making me think this lake must be spring fed. Which is good.

Anyhow, I cleaned up, ate, got some water and we rolled out on more singletrack. Eventually we made it to Forest road where the Tomassetti train fired up again and I had no interest in jumping on, LMAO. I was pooped and my legs were cramping. I have just started training and my legs were very smoked, chasing Jeff was just not in the cards.

I could see him get smaller in the distance. I was hoping he was enjoying the rolling terrain, eventually we saw a small dot in the distance in the middle of the road. As we got closer I realized it was a man. Shirtless, in Sandals.. Walking in the middle of the ONF. WTF, is all I Thought. Even more surprising was that Jeff stopped to speak to him.

In my head I was thinking, NO JEFF, but, anyhow. When I finally got there I had to interrogate him.

What are you doing out here, no water, no supplies. He assured me he was some sort of kick ass wanderer by telling me about his last wandering session. "I went from blah blah blah to titusville and back, blah, blah, blah." ALL I could think was either he was insane OR he was a drug addict.

Jeff gave him water, which was nice an we tried to give him directions, but in retrospect I think I told him wrong.

O well.

Eventually we emerged from the forest, onto pavement, I was hurting pretty good, I cannot lie. We pressed on, I was tired, I wanted to rest, but forward and onward and cramps and all, we made it to Greenway, then onto the 12 hour where I found my team mates, and called it a day. Sure we could have pressed on, but I thought, this is a good place to stop, a good place to rest, a good place to recover. I spent the rest of the evening, drinking water and eating anything and everything.

It was awesome, finally catching up with my team mates, it had been so long since we had seen each other face to face. So we talked and laughed and had a great time. Eventually they packed and I cleared a spot on the ground and slept like a stone on the soft earth.

The next morning I had a handful of nuts and an apple.

I needed more than that to ride the entire epic plus beyond Haltapa. I didn't want to go to wal mart of course. I have grown stubborn in my bikepacking. Often I don't want to stop for water or food, not a good habit to have.

We were being good 'Leave no trace' campers and throwing away our garbage, when I saw Dave Hawkins and begged him for food. He obliged and we stocked up and rolled on.

The track rolled great, and before we knew it we were about to start the Hell track section. Now to Clarify, the Hell track is only about 1 mile and we call it that cause a mud and over growth form that makes grass and brush taller than you are on your bike. It also has mud that's impassable, whether dry or wet. BUT, one time in the past and including today, there was nothing hellish about it. It happens.

We stopped at subway and had breakfast. I knew we had 30 odd miles left, we notified our pick up and rolled on. Time for the Tomassetti Train. We worked, and at one point, the cramps came back and I had to roll my pace. WE went off road, marveled at the oddity of a western version of Deltona. Which is weird. Up and down we went. Into the soft sand, where Jeff got to witness my sick and well developed sand skills. I waited, and then once again, when I thought Jeff saw me, he didn't and he went off course, this time pretty far. I sat under a tree for a good while till he came along. I felt bad for assuming he had made visual contact with me when he indeed hadnt.

We eventually made it after too much pavement to the start of the final bike path section and Jeff spotted a possible way to get here in the future eliminating some of that road, I took mental Note and on we went to finish with another ceremonial and well deserved wheel dip. 213 miles, some 18 or some odd hours of ride time 44 hours of total time, making US the first official wheel dip to wheel dip off road Transflorida finishers.

A dream realized.

Eventually after waiting too long we got picked up and celebrated over drinks.

Jeff did a great write up, which I recommended he submit to a magazine. This is more of a journalistic write up, his was downright poetic. I enjoyed traveling with Jeff, but damn he is fast and it hurt to ride with him. Next time I take him on a trip it will be all singletrack that way I don't have to make him wait so long.

I also learned on this trip that I am a bottles guy, camelbak equals cramps, I forget to drink. Lesson learned. Also learned that I am hammock guy, bivy is not going to work for me. Not at all. The recuperative rest I get from hanging in a hammock is worth the weight penalty. What can I say, its probably genetic, the hammock thing.

Take care,


The NakeD InDiaN