Before pulling up to the Croom Motorcycle Area this past Sunday, I would’ve bet the place would be deserted as temperatures climbed toward 90 degrees before 9 a.m. But as I stood in line at the gatehouse waiting to renew my OHV permit, I saw that the price increased from $60 to $80 for the year and realized the CMA is still the best training in town, open 7 days a week with 2,600 acres and miles and miles of natural rough terrain. At the window, the park ranger called me a “lovely young lady” as I paid for my 2016-2017 sticker, which made me smile since I was wearing a baseball hat and no makeup. Driving down to the day use area where most of the dirt bikers park, I recognized a few bikes right away.
“What are you doing here?” one of the guys asked as I parked.
“I’m home now,” I told him and we chatted for a few minutes as I geared up.
In the woods later, I passed a few bikes and quads including a father/daughter duo coasting down the trail. I started doubling whoops I would have normally rolled and realized I could combine the technical skills I gathered while riding out in Utah with the speed I needed to blaze the 26-inch-wide mostly flat Florida sand. Then I remembered I was still running hardpack tires, which I decided were really good training in high-speed sugar sand. The best part about Croom, even though I grew up riding these same trails, is that it always feels like returning home. I’ve ridden in several states, from Utah to North Carolina, New York and Nevada, and there’s just something about being in the Withlacoochee woods. I finally get to be myself, even just for a few miles.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George A. Moore