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Two wheeled tranquility

North Florida’s peaceful beauty draws motorcycle enthusiasts

Just about every community in North Florida has a network of backroads that will easily constitute a loop to be ridden with the satisfaction of even the most seasoned biker.
-SVT Photo by Jeffry Boatright

By Jeffry Boatright

There is a multitude of reasons why North Florida is a favored destination for various groups and individuals with assorted interests. The beautiful rivers and springs offer world class diving, there is an abundance of diverse fishing opportunities and hunting remains a favorite pastime for many. Still, there are many picturesque landscapes and aging structures that have withstood the tests of time, lending themselves to the caring eyes of artists, photographers and historians alike. With North Florida’s mild winters, the opportunity to embark on her outdoor adventures is simply a favorable possibility any given day of the year.

These are some of the reasons that motorcycle enthusiasts are also drawn to our area. There is a beauty and peacefulness to be found here, if we only seek it. Sure, every region has its own wondrous beauty and exclusive charm. Not every region, however, offers the consistent joy throughout the seasons that many find in our scenic Suwannee Valley region. Some regions are at times too cold, too crowded or perhaps lacking in the diverse landscape that many insist makes North Florida so special, especially for motorcycling.

While some motorcycle enthusiasts enjoy the tranquility of our backroads and countryside while traveling through the area, North Florida is home to a substantial number of motorcyclists. When two or more riders gather, conversation is destined to revolve around enjoyable routes they have ridden, both locally and afar.

It would be unfair to say that riding the Smokey Mountains on the famed Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap isn’t a biker’s dream, but we too often overlook local rides that are quite stimulating in their own right. Just about every community in North Florida has a network of backroads that will easily constitute a loop to be ridden with the satisfaction of even the most seasoned biker.

There is no rule that states an enjoyable motorcycle ride requires a week, a weekend or even an entire day in the seat. Instead, the splendor of our region can be enjoyed an hour at the time, whether on two wheels or four for that matter.

One particular hour-long ride is a little loop beginning in Live Oak that highlights some of the area’s richest farmland, stately timber, gracious structures, natural creeks and challenging curves. An eastward journey from Live Oak on SR 136 toward White Springs is where the ride begins.

After only a few miles, the route takes a southward turn onto CR 417, where wild turkeys can often be seen scouting the beautiful crops and farmland. The next turn on the course is back to the left, onto 98th Terrace (Mt. Olive Baptist Church Road), where the scenery is nothing less than spectacular. Beautiful woodlands, a sizable creek, and the likelihood of wildlife make this leg of the hour-long journey nothing short of enjoyable and adventurous.

The scenic 98th Terrace will end at Hogan Road, which has recently been resurfaced. A right turn onto Hogan Road leads into CR 137 in Wellborn, where another right turn is made. Depending on the time of day the ride takes place, a pit-stop at Bob’s Butts BBQ, which is located at the stop light, just might be in order. It is a good place to stop for coffee, breakfast, or perhaps a BBQ lunch or dinner, especially if the ride consists of a two or more riders.

From the appealing community of Wellborn, continue south on CR 137 for a very short distance and turn right onto U.S. 90. Again, the distance won’t be far before turning left, across from Wellborn Baptist Church onto Lowe Lake Road. Immediately, the beauty of this leg of the ride will be recognized and it is advisable to leisurely enjoy the beauty, not rushing the collection of curves ahead. In addition to those demanding curves, is the looming probability of ever-present deer. While the prospect of seeing wildlife might be invigorating, exercising caution and riding safety is necessary to avoid colliding with one of nature’s graceful creatures.

After a few miles of constant curves, which includes a generous portion of ninety degree curves, the road will lead to CR 49. A right turn onto 49 will carry riders through the beautiful Ironwood Plantation, where the amazing homestead on the left can be seen. After a couple of curves on CR 49, a left turn onto 97th Road will lead to a new leg of the ride. Along this stretch, majestic oaks form a canopy over the country road, offering a sense of relaxation and taste for more of North Florida’s rural riding.

The next turn will be when 97th Road runs into 140th Street. There, the loop will require another right turn and even more enjoyable curves, hills and breathtaking scenery lies ahead. Turn left onto 101st Rd then right onto 142nd St. This stretch of road will finally end at U.S. 129 where another right turn is required. A short stretch on U.S. 129 will quickly end when a left turn is made onto 138th Street, which will be the first paved road to the left.

After about a mile, on 138th Street, another right will be made onto 129th Road (Hughes Road, not US 129) and once again, timberland and farmland can be seen on either side of the road. After a few miles, that stretch of road will end and a final right turn will be made onto SR 51. From there, follow SR 51 back into Live Oak, maneuver the roundabout and continue on the SR 51 truck route, which is 11th Street. In less than a mile, a final left turn can be made back onto U.S. 129 and a short jaunt through Live Oak will return the individual or group to the starting point of the ride.

While there is an abundance of exciting rides to take throughout the Suwannee Valley area, this is just one of many. It just under 42 miles in length and requires a little more than an hour of seat time. It serves as a subtle reminder of why North Florida really is a favored destination for so many people with an array of interests.

The map above shows the route. The ride is just under 42 miles and requires a little more than an hour of seat time.