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Crowded out?

March 2, 2009

Crowded out?

Riders often rewarded by finding cool spots off beaten path

Deep in the middle of the Florida boonies, motorcyclists trade the flashiness of Bike Week’s main drag for lazy llamas, the lure of a one-way bridge, abandoned antique cars and other oddities that a random rural road might offer. 
Such journeys require a sense of adventure and buns of steel. By mile 250, the hope is the scenery and good eats are reward enough.

For northerners starved for a long ride after a harsh winter or locals with time to kill, Florida’s country roads are open and flat — but not in a boring way. Beckoning the curious is the easy part; finding the cool stops isn’t.

Enter Glenn Gottlieb, chief road captain of country road and mystery tour rides for the Daytona 200 Motorcycle Club. With thousands of bikers rolling into town, Gottlieb and a road crew will be showing folks the other side of Bike Week as they journey on 150- to 250-mile rides.

“We take you to see things that maybe you’ve never seen before,” said Gottlieb, a New York native who leads tours through places some Floridians probably haven’t heard of — Scrambletown, Fruitland, Eureka, Welaka and Umatilla. “I could go all week and not do the same roads.”

Along the way, riders see Florida’s version of the countryside, such as the guard dog Chihuahuas that bark up a storm as vehicles approach a one-way bridge on North East 148 Terrace in Eureka, or the handful of llamas grazing a property on Em-En-El Grove Road in Lake County. If the usual abandoned sofa doesn’t interest you, stop on Emeralda Island Road for a picture beneath moss-draped oaks where a couple of fishing rods poke out from an antique Ford truck that was converted into a dock for a pond.

Gottlieb and other club members take the roads less traveled to stay out of traffic and discover new places. “We take roads we haven’t been on before to see what happens,” he said. “It’s just nice to go exploring.”

Sometimes all it takes is hanging a left, instead of the usual right to bump into a place like Scrambletown on County Road 314 near Silver Springs. There you’ll find the Scrambletown Country Store, a little shop that’s been a part of this former moonshine village about 50 years.

“I’ve lived in this area almost 10 years and I’m still discovering new roads every day,” said Jerry Tanner, a longtime motorcyclist who went to Scrambletown with Gottlieb for the first time last week.

That’s not to say these men aren’t armed in these modern times with maps or global positioning systems.

But knowing which businesses offer unique views and treats is something that comes from experience. Read on for a preview of some stops on the motorcycle club’s country road tour.

kelly.cuculiansky@news-jrnl.com

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If you go
WHAT: Country Road Tour and the Alligator Mystery Tour

INFO: Check out country roads throughout several counties with the Daytona 200 Motorcycle Club road captains on Monday and Friday. If you like surprises, the Alligator Mystery Tour on Wednesday will take you toward the Space Coast area. Meet at 9 a.m. First come, first served. For more information, call Glenn Gottlieb at 386-677-2061.

COST: $15

WHERE: Meet at the Daytona 200 Motorcycle Club headquarters, 3602 International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach. Turn on Firetower Road.

— Kelly Cuculiansky

Mystery visits
Here’s a glance at some of the spots you can visit along the way:

SCRAMBLETOWN COUNTRY STORE: 15480 N.E. County Road 314, Silver Springs, 352-625-5383. Scrambletown is a tiny community in the Silver Springs area. Stop by the store and you might meet owner Evelyn Sapp, who says the village got its name during the Prohibition days of the 1920s and 1930s. The townspeople were famous for scrambling whenever the authorities came in to bust residents for moonshine and prostitution. The store started out with just $7 worth of bread, candy and chips more than 50 years ago,. It’s passed through about six owners and still has an old sign outside for “Kelley’s Kountry Store. Scrambletown, Fla. We hang ’em here.”

CACTUS JACK’S: 23740 N.E. Highway 314, Salt Springs, 352-685-2244. If you have to use the facilities, make sure to ask for a “GONE TO PEE” sign for your cup, which also warns passerby to, “LEAVE MY DRINK ALONE!” Also, take a look behind the building to see a huge collection of antique odds and ends that owner Phil Anderson’s late father collected, including Model A and T Fords from the 1920s and 30s. A small fire pit is outside, where musicians are known to pick banjos and guitars for impromptu jams during Bike Week festivities.

ANDERSEN’S LODGE: 10 Boston St. (off County Road 309), Welaka, 386-467-3344. Stop by the bar on the water for a spectacular view of the St. Johns River. The bar looks like a small shack mounted high on stilts above a small marina. Outdoor seating and bench swings offer visitors an unobstructed view of the river. Live music on the weekends.

DUCK’S DAM DINER: 9685 S.E. County Road 464C, Ocklawaha, 352-288-8332. Located near the Ocklawaha River dam and lock system, the Duck’s Dam Diner is a fun stop for the Daytona 200 Motorcycle Club.”People look at you funny when you tell them you’re going to the Dam Diner,” member Jerry Tanner said. When you’re done eating, check out the Moss Bluff park area about a block away, where you can see the dam and locks in operation.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2009 3:51 pm

    If you found the moonshine stories you should have a look at this brief video of the facilities at Strait Shine in Prince Edward Island, Canada. They have a modern take on legal moonshine. It’s worth a look!

  2. Joe "Gunny Ski" Pawlowski permalink
    February 22, 2011 8:50 pm

    I once lived in Scrambletown. The old grocery store was an old wooden building back in early 70s. We called it “Count’s Grocery Store”. Used to have a cage with a Mina bird by entrance. It’d whistle at good lookin’ girls, and when asked “Where’s grampa?”, it’d answer, “Grampa gone fishin”. I used to get a Three Musketeer bar and Sprite drink for 50 cents at “Count’s”.

    I’ve been gone looonnnggg time. Left in 75 for Marine Corps. That area has changed. Back then the forest was thick, uncut in the Scrambletown area. My buddy Bill Rogers and I used to go bottle hunting in the forest across the road (314) from Lake Lynn. We searched for old Still sites where old bottles would be scattered. Most the old bottles were old clorox bottles. Occassionally we’d find interesting old medicine bottles. There was definite evidence of the moonshiners in them thar woods!

    As for ‘biking’, Bill had an old Sachs 125 (german enduro bike, had a weird leading link front end) with engine that’d been bored out couple times. It was fun riding back in the old logging trails behind Fore Lake, as well as through small sand burrow pit filled with water. I personally only had a bicycle … But I rode it from Lake Lynn to Salt Springs and back on the eve on hunting season in Nov 72 (it was COLD!).

    Enjoy the Ocala National Forest … I once did.

    Gunny Ski

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