Days 47 and 48: Orlando to Withla, then to Tampa

Yesterday morning, I had a cup of coffee, a boiled egg, and a piece of coffee cake for breakfast at Jon’s. Soon after, I got my things ready and bid farewell to Jon and Earline. Before I left, Earline took a selfie of all three of us and I will be featured in their Sunday newsletter. I feel famous already!

I used Komoot’s directions and rode out of Orlando. After a couple hours of riding on the road, I merged onto a bike trail. Soon, another cyclist came from behind and started chatting with me. His name is Doug and he’s doing short ride on this trail from his house in Winter Garden. He told me about a local guy named Bubba who organizes epic supported bike tours.

Doug the cyclist

At a rest station on the trail, Doug suggested I ride on this bike trail to Clermont before turning south to Withla even though it’s about 4 or 5 miles out of the way. I was a bit early anyway and the bike trail seemed tempting since I won’t have to ride with the cars. I decided I will ride to Clermont and check out the town. But Doug did warn me that there are some hills on the trail.

Riding on the South Lake Trail

The hills weren’t too bad. Nothing like the hills in the northeast US. Around 10:30 AM, I reached downtown Clermont, which is by Lake Minneola. The downtown wasn’t too big. I ended up having a huge tuna melt sandwich at Clermont Cafe. When I came out of cafe, I noticed my bike had fallen. I don’t know if someone knocked it over or if there was a strong wind. Luckily, nothing was wrong with the bike after a thorough inspection.

A huge tuna melt sandwich

I continued riding toward Withla. At one point, Komoot wanted me to make a left turn onto a private farm road. I decided to be smart this time and not go on it, unlike Ranchette Road going to Lake Helen. I decided to use to navigate the rest of the way to Withla. It’s a good idea to have multiple navigation apps on the smart phone in case of something like this.

I rode on route 33 for a short distance when an 18 wheeler truck went by me so close and so fast that the wind lifted the back of shirt onto the top of my helmet. This was another close call!

After getting on the local road and passing by some construction, I reached Van Fleet Trail. My Warmshowers host, Henry, lives on the 14.75 mile marker of the trail. It’s a strange address for sure.

The very straight Van Fleet Trail

When I got there I had ridden over 51 miles. Henry greeted me at his farm and gave me a tour. He has two horses, a donkey, two geese, a turkey, several goats, multiple chickens, and two dogs. I was impressed that he runs the farm all by himself.

The animals on Henry's farm

And here's Henry!

Henry is my age, 39. He did a lot of bike touring before finding this five acres of land for $5000 that’s right on the bike trail. He bought the land three and half years ago and he’s been working on it ever since. Henry told me that all his life he never had the discipline to complete anything, but on this farm he had to complete each day or else his animals would starve.

I used an outdoor shower for the first time. Then I listened to some music and did some writing about where I want to live. I don’t think a farm is my best option. I prefer a small condo or an apartment. I didn’t have a strong signal so I didn’t write a blog post.

There were so many yellow flies around where I was sitting and I was bitten by them many times. Nothing really happened to my skin at the time and the bites didn’t itch.

After a day’s work, Henry made three burritos and we each had one and half. Henry then gave me a cup of cold goat milk. It tasted so good since it had 11% fat, creamier than whole milk.

Soon after, I was tired and went to the room upstairs that’s above the horses’ barn. I decided to sleep on the floor with a blanket and a pillow.

I slept in the room above the barn.

This morning, I woke up at dawn. Henry woke up soon after all the animals woke up and made their noises. I wish I could have stayed to eat oatmeal with goat milk with Henry, but I had to ride over 60 miles to Tampa so I said my goodbye to Henry.

The moon was still out at dawn.

I rode on the Van Fleet Trail for about 15 miles before arriving in Polk City. I found the only restaurant that’s open at this time, Country Angels. I had a breakfast bowl consisted of tater tots, sausages, eggs, then covered with gravy and cheese. It was recommended by the waitress. Since I didn’t know what a breakfast bowl was, I had to try it.

Bike tools on the Van Fleet Trail

Beautiful morning!

A breakfast bowl

After breakfast, I cycled on the road westward toward Tampa. The sky was beautiful with puffy clouds, but the temperature was getting hotter and more humid. While on the road, I ran into a swarm of lovebugs that landed on my clothes. I didn't know if they would bite me or not so I quickly brushed them away.

I was running out of water when I finally reached a gas station convenience store. I bought an ice cream bar and filled one of my bottles with Powerade since I didn’t see a water dispenser on the soda machine. I think the cashier only charged me for the ice cream.

The puffy clouds

I kept on riding and riding, while looking for any restaurant signs. Once I got to Tampa, I stopped at Stefano Greek and Italian Restaurant for lunch. I ordered a gyro platter. It came with a salad and some bread, in addition to the entree. For the first time on this trip, I didn’t finish my meal since it was so big. I left some rice on the plate.

After lunch, I rode for another 5 miles to my Warmshowers host Cathi’s house. Cathi had told me that she’s going on a trip this coming Tuesday and warned that she would be busy packing and doing other things. But we still had a good conversation about traveling and bike touring.

Cathi had done some bike tours before there were smart phones and apps. She had to rely on paper maps and there was no need to carry any electronics. Now that she’s retired, she doesn’t go on too many bike tours anymore.

I took a shower and realized that the bites from yesterday by the yellow flies were beginning to itch. I used my Mopiko-S, an anti-itch cream, extensively to lessen the itchiness.

I will go out soon to eat something for dinner. Then I will call it a night. I rode close to 63 miles today.


  1. Continue to be impressed with your journey and your comments. Keep up the good work.

  2. BRB, moving in with Henry and that adorable donkey. I want to pet those long ears. It appears Henry takes better care of his animals than himself. Those horses look very healthy. Biting flies are the worst though.

    1. I tried to get a photo of every animal that Henry has. Yes, those fly bites are really itchy the day after.


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