Conquering the Territory
Central Florida Trail Riders held their 41st Annual Straight Arrow Enduro Event at Richloam Wildlife Management Area. Richloam WMA is one of seven large tracts of land that make up the Withlacoochee State Forest. The Richloam Tract, consisting of more than 58,000 acres, is located in Hernando, Pasco, Sumter, and Lake counties.
Central Florida Trail Riders (CFTR) located out of Orlando, Florida is just one of the 15 area groups that put on off road trails events for the parent non-profit Florida corporation, Florida Trail Rider (FTR).
There are two event series FTR conducts: a Hare Scramble and Enduro. Hare Scramble is open to all ages as the Enduro is geared toward more endurance off road trail riding for ages 16 and over.
“Enduro is a motorcycle trail that is cut through natural terrain, no man made obstacles,” Dave Nagle President of CFTR said. “It’s about the endurance. We have riders out there for four plus hours competing.”
On Sunday, February 26th one-hundred and fifty trail riders endured 63 miles of off road tract laid out by members of Central Florida Trail Riders (CFTR) and the Florida Forestry.
“It's tough, you are in super tight woods, you’ll get into places where your handle bars don’t fit between the trees. It’s very challenging and you have to be on your toes and alert,” Nagle said.
On every minute starting at 9am four riders spread across the starting point eager to fight for the lead on a single trail course. Riders are put through hours of intense wild terrain.
“It’s a great sport, a lot of great people,” Nagle said. “I like the competition of it and there is always someone out there that is willing to give you a helping hand, whether it’s with repairs or techniques that is the kind of people you run into.”
And the people that you are likely to run into are those that have been involved with CFTR for well over 40 years.
Hubert Ansel founder of the club, now 88, has been a member since 1971 and Dave Arnette was just 19 years old when he met Ansel.
“This is all family, kids, grand kids, wives, it’s much more family oriented now. It’s a good thing, it's progress,” Arnette said.
Getting his first bike at the age of forty one Hubert felt like he was the King of the world.
“I can sit and reminisce for hours about where I rode and what I did,” Ansel said.
“Not as many people like to ride in the woods anymore, although the turnout here has been good and that surprised me,” Ansel expressed.
Since hanging up his off road boots he still participates in organizing these events and knowing how the trail is laid out.
“It’s up to you to conquer the territory; it’s you and Mother Nature out there,” Hubert Ansel said.
Mark Good Forestry Supervisor for over thirty years also manages the Motorcycle area at Croom, in Brooksville and attends these events to ensure safety as well as address any environmental issues that may arise.
“They (CFTR) have been doing this for a long time; it’s easy for us because they’ve been doing it for so long. They are like part of the family,” Good said. “For something like this out here it’s a different environment and for what it does one day out of the year, it’s easily rehab. They have always done real well at cleaning up.
The trail layout changes from year to year, ensuring that certain areas within Richloam WMA are protected from any damage caused by the trails. CTRL and FTR have dedicated members that understand and work hard to protect any areas that the Forestry Department researched and proclaim to be sensitive areas and will work to change and/or re-route that trail.
“Everybody is working together, there is not one person making a decision. All our departments are involved,” Good said.
“We have club members that have an excess of over 100 hours in the last four weeks in getting this trail done and put together, a lot of hard working individuals out there,” Nagle said. “We respect the other uses of the forest. That is one of the curios of Florida Trail riders is responsible motorcyclist. We are trying to be the good stewards of the land.”