Ride Report—Green Swamp
With the CB down until Wednesday when it's new seal will arrive ($12 by the way; Honda still stocks them.) I decided to take the Savage for a ride yesterday. On the first Sunday of each month there is a motorcycle (and old car) swap meet up in a little town called Webster. There are usually tons of old bike parts, heavy on the Harleys, but plenty of metric stuff, too.
My left mirror had vibrated apart a few weeks ago while riding the Virgin Whore, and although I was able to retrieve it intact from the road, my attempts to take it apart to get at the now loose parts rolling around inside failed and resulted in a broken mirror-glass. I thought someone at Webster was sure to have a cheap set of mirrors and it was going to be this weekend, so off I went on a much needed ride.
The only problem with riding to Webster from here, however, is it is located northwest of the Green Swamp and Lake Wales is southeast of the swamp. It is normally a decent enough ride taking back roads to Auburndale, then Berkeley Road to Polk City, and then SR 33, a straight almost curveless run through the heart of the swamp, to Groveland on the north side. Turn west for a few miles passing through the little village of Mascotte, then north on CR 471, and you are at Webster. It is a pleasant run of about 70 miles with very little traffic from Auburndale north with forest on both sides most of the way, but who doesn't like a twisty or two thrown in? Besides, I had run that route numerous times and I was looking for a change.
I called up the great and powerful Google Maps and started looking for roads that an arrow could not follow. I found a route that would also let me hop up to the swamp without going through the whole suburban Winter Haven/Auburndale area. Instead I took State Road 17/US 27A north, to the little town to Haines City. From Haines City I caught Old Polk City Road (Main Street inside the town) across US 27 and into the swamp.
Once past the houses on the outskirts of Haines City, Old Polk City Road (aka CR 17) trends northwast past a couple lakes then meanders west to CR 557 (Old Grade Road). This road has many large sweepers, while not challenging twists they do bring welcome relief to the usual straight line riding that prevails here in Florida. Traffic, too, is very sparse on this route through the wilds of the Gree Swamp.
At Old Grade Road (CR 557), I turned north and headed to Dean Still Road then west to 33, finishing the ride as usual. But what I should have done, as I discovered on my way back, was to turn off Old Grade Road, north of crossing I-4, and taken Fussell Road over to SR 33. Fussell Road is a winding, fun road that takes you to SR 33 just south of Dean Still Road. There are many curves on this road, and most of them are serious curves, not sweepers. Just take extra caution as some driveways enter the roadway on these curves, so watch for vehicles entering the road before blasting through them. Most all the suggested speed signs on these curves are 10 to 15 mph below what they can reasonably be taken. I saw no sand on these curves, either, but as you know that can change from time to time, so stay alert. You're not going to feel like you are "ridin' the dragon" but you ought to have some fun and smiles on this little country road.
Normally, Webster is a fun destination with much to offer for those looking for vintage motorcycle or car parts and usually there is an antique car and motorcycle show on the grounds, too. On my ride as I was passing west of Groveland on SR 50 I passed through a small rainstorm. This was fortunate for me as it provided some welcome relief from the mid-90s temperatures, but unfortunately this same small storm had passed over the swapmeet and by the time I arrived about noon, now in sunshine, almost all of the vendors were packing up, with only a smattering of parts here and there and almost all of them for H-Ds. Attendance is smaller in the summer, so I guess any disturbance like this rain, makes continuing on for the rest of the day unprofitable for the vendors. I ended up with a beer and a pair of sunglasses (They fit under the helmet nicely and allowed me to keep the visor open for the ride home; making the heat a bit more bearable.) but no mirrors.
By the way, riding these roads look out for "road gators" and by this I don't mean shed truck tires laying in the road, I really mean gators on the road. I passed a small three footer on the side of the road on my way up, just off the road in the right side bike lane. I don't know if it was alive, but it wasn't there on the ride back so chances are it was. I don't think hitting even a little one like that would be kind to your bike or your hide.
Going up, once on 33 and approaching Groveland, an alernate route is to go left on Lake Erie Road to Bay Lake Road/CR565 north to SR50. An interesting route judging from Google Maps, too, for you dual sport afficionados is to turn left instead at CR 565 and go until you pass Van Fleet State Trail, where the road changes to dirt and is called simply "Logging Road" becoming "Center Grade Road." this route will take you to CR 471 which you can take north directly into Webster. I might have done it on Old Faithful, but I have not ridden dirt on the Savage yet, and didn't want to try my first time on an unfamiliar road.
"Ride Your Own Ride."