Good Morning Heart! Hello Legs – Bike Trails in Hillsborough County Florida
This is going to be so much fun. Thanks for joining me this morning. I know it’s a bit chilly and yep, I can see my breath too as the morning sun wiggles its way in through the palm and oak trees. Don’t you just love the prisms the golden glow makes coming through Spanish moss? So hop on your bike, we’re off for a morning ride. Riding through the campground this early in the morning feels a bit magical. Camper doors are slowly opening up. Someone unzips their tent fly and steps out with a big stretch and grin as they notice us pass by. The smell of coffee and bacon awaken my belly as the pavement ends and the beginning of our off road path comes into sight. Hold on, the next three miles are going to be through the woods and along the Alafia river . (link takes you to a song we wrote about a float down this serene water) .
The morning bird songs catch my attention first. Did you see that red-shouldered hawk lift off the ground in front of me with something squirming in his talons? I begin to feel my heart beat in my chest as the trail makes its first incline and we soar over the roots of the forest around us. The energy of morning. The flow of the river. The flight of the birds. The rotation of my legs pushing the peddles and the slight burn I’m beginning to feel makes me feel so alive and in the present.
A couple miles later we clear the woods and stop at the road as traffic passes and take a long tug from the water bottle. You look good. There is a little redness in your cheeks, your eyes are white and clear. No need to talk my friend. Just breath, let the heart settle a little. I’m going to slip in my earbuds and put in a collection of a few songs with a bit of a drive to them…. maybe a little Mumford and Sons, some U2. There’s the clearing in the line of cars and we dash through the river of automobiles and begin our next section of the morning trail.
These Hillsborough county bike paths have been part of my morning routine for the last few months here in Lithia Florida. I affectionately refer to it as my “gym”. Hillsborough county is filled with many great biking opportunities including the one we are on today going from Lithia Springs Park into Fish Hawk Preserve. One of my favorite mountain bike trail systems is right down the road at Alafia River State Park. I know what you are thinking, “Mountain Biking in Florida?…. you’ve got to be kidding”. Okay. There are no mountains, but these trails go through, down and over hillside ledges, high speed banked turns and offer over 17 miles of trails through an old phosphate mining site. Riders from all over come to this award winning park.
Here’s some more information on some of the other great places in Hillsborough county where your two wheels can roll, but in the mean time lets get back to our morning ride.
Tunes thumping – check. A little sweat felt on my nose – yep. The trail now becomes a combination of pavement and wooden boardwalks as we lean to the right away from the busy main road, around a few curves and into the rabbit hole. Curve left, straighten, lean right, and now back up. Keep your stride going and feel the rhythm of the path. Today I’m hitting it just right and in beat with “Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford and Sons. We pass the first of many ponds with white clouds reflecting in the blue water. As the woods fill in again and surround us with their embracing limbs, keep your eyes open. I have met a few kamikaze squirrels in this section that like to see how close they can get to our turning wheels.
How are you doing back there? We’ve got a bit of a hill coming up so take this downhill as fast as you feel comfortable. I crank up two more bike gears gaining speed and the wind brings droplets from the corner of my eyes. We bank to the left and hit the hill with gravity, muscle, mind and sheer will. At the top we’re rewarded with a view of a shimmering pond crowded with Roseate Spoonbills, Sandhill Cranes and Great Egrets. Soak this in. We’re getting close now to the end of our 10 mile adventure at the gym.
I drift in thought as we mingle in and out of neighborhoods and at moments miss the days of having a yard and a garden to tend to and then feel the wind on my face and feel the freedom that this RV lifestyle has given me. I look back and see you glancing around too. We peddle on as I lean into a few palm fronds soaked in morning dew. I reach out and let my hand run across the cool wet blades. I can see the point from where our ride began now. Good morning heart, beating strong in my chest. Hello wobbly legs, as I put my feet back on the earth. I turn as you come riding in. Now that is a smile to remember. Thanks for coming along my friend.
Lithia Springs Park Park information
Campendium Reviews of Lithia Springs – Our review and others of Lithia Springs Campground
Fish Hawk Preserve Trail Map
Alafia River State Park Park Information
Alafia River Mountain Bike Trail Map
More Hillsborough County Bike Trails
Stick around, our little buggy has begun it’s migration north and in our next post we’ll share a few secrets, treasures and wonderful things we discover in Georgia’s state parks.