Epic Ride at Little Big Econ

My son, Shael, turned seven on 10 April. A few weeks before his birthday, I asked him if he had something special in mind. After his usual request for Sushi dinner, he said that he wanted to “do something special with me.” No lie. I was super proud and felt so special. He is such a great kid. Very sweet and loving. I can’t ask for anything more in my big guy.

We discussed possibilities over several days or so, and at the last minute, I suggested that we go somewhere he had never ridden. Little Big Econ State Forest became the call – not just for the fun trails and fun time in the woods, but for the possibility of seeing an alligator. All of our requests were met many times over, and we left with two of the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen on a dad and son.

Over the course of more than three hours, we meandered and navigated our way through everything I know at this maze of unmarked trails through deep and very old Florida. We ended up riding the entire river route, past the last trail near the river into the woods, and to a service road on the far side. And yes, I said, “over three hours.” This is shocker. The trails are not tough for me, but he is seven and riding a 24 inch mountain bike, which is slightly big on him (think a 29er looks big on someone with a small frame). Not once did he complain. Not once did he want to turn back. The only thing we did was stop here and there to gaze at gigantic alligators and sip some water. Here are some photos:

Stopping for our first alligator siting. Look across the far back (click the image to enlarge) and you will see it. A small one for the day.

Stopping for our first alligator sighting. Look across the far bank (click the image to enlarge) and you will see it. A small one for the day.

The trooper peering out from behind a tree. Lurking in the woods. Sneaking up on the gator.

My trooper peering out from behind a tree. Lurking in the woods. Sneaking up on the gator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this is pretty amazing. I am still blown away at his endurance and technical skill on the bike, but there’s a kicker…

We did not bring any food with us. I dug a gel out of my pack at the half way point. I took just a little to trick my body into releasing some stored energy, and he had the rest. Yes. The math is correct. We rode three hours (mellow pace, of course) on nothing but water and a couple sips of gel.

Here’s the last gator we saw before getting creeped out and heading back to the truck for some snacks and cold water:

wpid-imag0129.jpg

Sunning. Too close for comfort. I estimate this one in the eight-foot range. We saw two that were significantly bigger.

Cheers and Happy Birthday Shael. I love you.

Advertisements

About Jim Newell

Associate Professor of English, Daytona State College / Thinker / Ponce Inlet Surfer / Improviser / Dad
This entry was posted in 2014, florida, Mountain biking, Ride Report, Trail Report and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s