Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Long Windy Ride

As I've said, we're getting ready for a hilly bike event.  Since we don't have a lot of hills, we were pleasantly surprised to get a very windy day.  Riding in the wind really does get you stronger and improve bike handling skills.  Today's wind was perfect for a long ride challenge.  The wind was around 17 mph, gusting to 26 mph.  We headed out to do at least 50 miles.  (Which we did.)

Our funny critter sighting was a very close run-in with a wild pig.  The wild pig was darting out from a deep roadside ditch to cross the road.  He never heard us on our bikes, and his wild-eyed expression, his frantic jump into the air, and his panicked scramble to turn around and head back to the cover of the roadside bushes was truly comical.  A pig is agile and quick, but its large size makes scrambling movements look downright silly.

Florida has the image of being heavily urbanized.  Well, that is pretty much what coastal Florida and Disney Florida are like.  But inland or south near the 'Glades, things are pretty rural.  Our home's postal address is Lake Placid.  But that small town of a little over 2000 is about five miles from us.  We actually live in an unincorporated community called Placid Lakes.  Placid Lakes was created by August Tobler back in the 60s when he decided to develop his ranch, which bordered on Lake June, into a planned community, complete with a small canal system for boat access to the lake.  It's about 4.5 square miles of land with about 8100 residential lots.  In almost 50 years, only about 2000 of these lots have had homes built on them.  A good number of these homes are vacation homes of Florida coastal people and winter homes of snowbirds.  The homes are boring in a comfortable way: little ranch style homes from the 60s and 70s, Florida international style homes from the 70s and 80s, and, that standard from the 80s to the present, the boring Mediterranean style home.

If I had to show just one picture that says it all, it is this: a view of Placid Lakes' "downtown."  It has the town hall (see the flag?) and the adjacent "business district" (a convenience store and gas station which share a very small strip mall with two real estate offices, a barber shop, and an empty storefront). That's it.  Down the road a mile is the standard small country club and golf course.  A few miles farther is a small air field with an array of hangars and outbuildings.  That's about it other than a few acres belonging to the local model airplane club and a small park and boat launch on the lake.  Placid Lakes, Florida 33852.  A blip of a community surrounded by ranches and wildlife preserves. 
Downtown Placid Lakes