The Huracan 300+ is the second longes bikepacking race in Florida. This year it was around 340 miles, give or take with reroutes, etc. It consisted of dirt forest roads, singletrack and some road connectors. It’s a loop that starts and ends at the Santos MTB trails in Ocala, FL.
February 3rd, about 80 of us headed East out of Santos and meandered through road and singletrack to make our way onto the forest roads of the Ocala National Forest. Theoretically, we should have been able to roll as a big group all the way past the bombing range; but that didn’t happen. Almost immediately the group shattered and we were either solo or in small clusters.
I made it to the first Control sometime in early afternoon and was feeling pretty tired. A little back story: I spent most of 2017 off the bike and started riding again 4 weeks before the Huracan. I knew there was a good chance I’d bail at any moment, lol. Anyways, I refueled with beer and ice cream and got back on the bike. I was moving along and a not-real-fast pace through the singletrack of Paisley when a friend rolled up behind me. We had similar goals for the first night and decided to roll together.
It was pretty uneventful until we approached the first water crossing at night. I hadn’t really thought much on crossing a Florida river in the dark; but it’s about as sketchy as it sounds. On the 2017 Huracan, I crossed the river several times and found the shallowest crossing point and plotted it out. This time, the river was completely flooded out and so wide that you couldn’t see the other side in the dark. Also, there were shiny eyes everywhere and gator noises. I think we wasted 20 minutes and several shots of bourbon couraging up before we stepped into the water. I’m short and water crossings always suck. This was no exception and a little unnerving.
The next afternoon a massive storm system started to cross central Florida. Most of the folks who were behind it, stopped in Clermont. Judy and I pushed on until the last moment and holed up under a pavilion, waiting for the storm to pass. It finally ended and we kept moving into the Green Swamp. The Green Swamp at night is an eerie place.
The next day we finally made it to another control, the Lake Lindsey Mall. It’s a tiny, country store in the middle of nowhere that really caters to bikepackers. It’s a wonderful place to stop. Hot sandwiches, beer, heck, you can sleep out back if you want. Anyways, that is where I was hurting bad and needed a huge break. Judy was hardcore and kept going. We were 89 miles from the finish and Judy pushed to the end late that night.
I stayed at the store for a few hours and then met up with some guys from GA who were suffering pretty bad and were going to camp about 25 miles up the route. That sounded better than sleeping behind the store; so, we all got back on our bikes and slowly headed toward the campsite.
I woke up super early and rolled into Inverness at 2:30AM, cold and starving. I found a 24hr gas station and was in hog heaven, drinking coffee and eating microwave chicken biscuits. Those biscuits were the best food I’ve eaten while bikepacking, lol.
I was feeling pretty good and pushed on to Dunnellon, and through Tricycle trail. Starving again, filthy and looking like I’m in drug-withdrawals, I fueled up at Bob Evans. I was now back on my home trails and hauling ass, ripping through the singletrack back into Santos. My wonderful wife met me on the trails, as well as some friends and we rolled back to the parking lot.
3/6 dirt centuries.