Ride: Orlando FL to Lake Weir (Fat Daddy’s)

Destination: Fat Daddy’s, 10135 SE Sunset Harbor, Summerfield FL
Ride type: Lunch/Dinner, Loop
Total miles: 170 miles roundtrip
Travel time: 4 hours roundtrip

Overview of the Ride

This ride is a quick jaunt for some chow. Even though the destination is pretty close, this route gives you a nice two hour run from Orlando, keeps you away from the Villages and gets you to a spot that has one of the best burgers in Central Florida.

Fat Daddy’s is basically Key West on Lake Weir. Our server was laid back, the atmosphere was laid back, and everyone hanging out there was basically, laid back. You’ll be looking for a flat-roofed orange stucco from the street, but don’t let that throw you off. In the back you’ll find a Tahitian-themed bar. After a while, you start to realize the décor is more Margaritaville than Tahiti, but who cares, you definitely feel inclined to sit around all afternoon. The first table in the back door has a fire pit in the center – not what we you might be looking for in June, but come January, a good spot to park yourself.

If you’re into beer, this is the place for you. They have more than a bajillion different beers, and we’re not talking the various light versions of domestic brands. You’ll find Guinness, Newcastle, Bass, Yuengling, Amber Bock and about fifteen other brands on draft. Yes – I said on draft. We were on the bikes, so of the bajillion available to me, I had one – but with the temps in the 90s, it was the best single beer I’d had during the month.

The food was great. I had the Black and Bleu burger, which was a healthy-portion of Angus beef smothered in bleu cheese. Princess had the Big Mouth burger, and J&M each had the antipasto salad. I do have to say the salad looked very tasty with nice-sized portions of fresh Italian meat cuts. We had onion rings as an appetizer, which were a nice non-greasy compliment to the Newcastle.

Once our casual lunch of two hours had timed out, we hit the road. This is a great area for small restaurants catering to the locals. Keep your eye out for the next eatery adventure as you’re headed back. Oh – and I believe there might be an ice cream opportunity or two along the way.

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Bears, Eating and Bike Week 2008

Riding down for Bike Week is great. There are bikes everywhere, people everywhere, drinking everywhere, and sometimes bad things happen. So, rather than warn everyone, I thought I’d share a couple of handy map mash-ups from the folks at OrlandoSentinel.com.

First – Bears!! I’m with Stephen Colbert on this one: we’re all still in the dark regarding where they use the bathroom, they hock everything from cereal to gelatinous candy, and even young ones outweigh a Rottweiler. If you’re headed to or from Daytona via the Ocala National Forest, don’t make the mistake of thinking bears are hibernating so won’t be out. Be careful. You don’t want to hit one. Here’s a map of where some bears have been found on Florida’s popular roads.
Second – Eating!! OK, enough about safety and bears. You want to know where to eat, so here are a couple of searchable listings that give you some listings/reviews and health inspection reports.
And, you probably need some coupons, so here’s a link for some local eateries.

Ride: Orlando to Ocala (BBQ)

Destination: Backwoods Smokehouse, 888 County Rd. 310, Interlachen FL
Ride type: Lunch/Dinner, Loop
Total miles: 236 miles roundtrip
Travel time: 6 hours roundtrip

Overview of the Ride
If you haven’t been through the Emeralda Conservation area, you’ve missed out on some great Florida scenery. Emeralda Island road has some surprising sites, like a red pick up with antlers, and some of the better curves on this ride. Be careful on this road: there are some hairpin turns around objects like barns. The street signs are pretty well placed, and if you end up on a road other than Emeralda Island Rd., it will either dead end or lead you back out to a main artery.
The Emeralda Conservation Area is known throughout the state for the variety of birds that thrive in the marsh. The conservation area has been around since the early 1990’s and includes some great viewing areas.

Most of the ride up and back is through and around the Ocala National Forest. While you’ll get some very straight road, there are some interesting towns, many harkening back to the days when roadside attractions were the norm and everyone cooled off on the porch with some ice cream.

Lunch at Backwoods Smokehouse was great. The restaurant fills up pretty quickly with locals and bikers. On the day we went, a group of twelve showed up on their Harleys, Hondas, Yamahas, and a Ridley. Our table of four all had sliced pork, coleslaw and pinto beans, but once I’d smelled the ribs I had second thoughts about my order. Next trip for sure. The meal was great, the company exceptional (Mike & Jill), and the ride was only half over! Make sure you look into the free candy box near the register before you leave. There’s nothing better than a little jolt before you hit the road.

On the way back, we made a brief stop at Nicole’s Produce on CR 314A just after crossing CR 40 for some peaches, sweet corn and vine-ripe tomatoes. If produce isn’t your thing, check out the Lake Weir Fat Daddy’s ride. You’ll find plenty of great food and beverages at this local hot spot.

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