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Giddy Up

When I last checked in, I was a night removed from the Dixie Motel, the place that scared Norman Bates away.

Our next stop was horse country in Ocala, Florida, where we had reserved a motorhome for the night. We had planned the trip (from Mount Pleasant to Clearwater) figuring we’d bike about 50 miles a day. Sometimes the best option was a fleabag, sometimes an Airbnb. And with Airbnb, sometimes your only choice is a motorhome or trailer. We had thought about bringing camping equipment and it was only at the last minute did we ask ourselves, what are we nuts? 

Fifty miles a day through the backwoods of Georgia and backswamps of Florida was nutty enough.

Anyway, Ocala was pretty as a picture and the soft, rolling hills were a nice change of terrain. There was very little traffic and who doesn’t like to see horses as you pass down a country road?  It was a pleasant enough ride that I almost forgot about my butt that was still grumbling. But since I bundled up, wearing two pairs of padded bike underpants (sorry for the visual), I could barely hear my cheeks saying, hey buddy, give it a rest. We’re hurting down here.

There was one horse ranch after another. A couple of them struck us as odd as their front gates seemed overly protective, like they were CIA horse training facilities. I won’t be surprised when horses start to talk (and spy). They will have been bred here.

You don’t have to believe me, but in mid-afternoon we passed by a racetrack named, Bubba’s Speedway. Bubba’s, yep. On a lark, we turned in hoping we could get our bikes on the track for a couple of runs but it turned out to be a dirt track, which was being prepped for that night’s races. They have speeding races and Demolition Derby and that sort of stuff here. We met a young lady who was going to be driving her dad’s suped-up speedster at over 100 mph that evening. Her name is Morgan Johnson, so if she hits it big, we can say we knew her when, y’all. 

There were some characters around getting ready. One guy drove an old T-Bird that was outfitted with a rooster on back, a rooster that could shoot water out his mouth like a hose. Others were busy putting together weird hybrid vehicles that would later be demolished in the derby. It would have been a great thing to see but the racing started at 7 p.m. and we still had 16 miles to go.

We pedaled along until we had to turn down a long dirt road. We passed horses who looked down with great curiosity at Rick on his recumbent bike. Finally, we turned in and down another long road and came upon our 40-foot motorhome. Ready to live large.

We were met by 10-year old Heather who said her mom was running errands and would be back shortly. It was a little strange that this 10-year-old and her two younger siblings were left here to meet us, but I guess the mom figured two old guys on bikes (one who needs two pairs of padded underwear) and had just pedaled 50 miles were gonna be harmless.

It was only five minutes before mom, Sue Ann, showed up and gave us the tour of the motorhome. It had a very adequate shower, a master bedroom for me, and a pull-out for the Rickster. (I won odds or evens).

After that tour, a better one was ahead. Sue Ann is a professional stagecoach driver. No, I didn’t know there was such a thing either. She and her dad drive (they don’t ride it) their stagecoach at rodeos and state fairs and corporate events. Their stagecoach is from the 1800s and is cool as any John Ford western.

Her dad is a kinda famous stagecoach driver who once took a stagecoach across the country—10 miles a day. Took him 16 months. It was called the Reminisce Hitch. Sue Ann was a little disappointed I’d never heard of it. But I have heard of Wells Fargo and her dad is also the official driver of the Wells Fargo stagecoach, which is the bank’s logo.

Sue Ann hopped up on the stagecoach and showed us a few moves of what it takes to drive. She then asked if we wanted to go for a ride in the jeep. The horses need regular workouts and get pulled along on runs around the ranch. I said sure, but that was before I found out 10-year-old Heather was the one who’d be driving the jeep. They do things differently out here.

Two minutes into the drive, I realized Heather will be over at Bubba’s Speedway in a couple of years. I’d hire her at Belle Rock right now.

It was a great, great day. But the next ride comes quickly. Early the next morning, we were headed for a place called Homosassa, not there’s anything wrong with it.

By Kevin Boyle 

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