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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018 2 weeks ago

Friends Of Lake Apopka hosting FOLA 40 bike ride

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Bicyclists can take the 40-mile trip around the lake or opt for shorter routes of eight, 16 and 32 miles — but all of them will showcase the restoration efforts taking place.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

Do you like to ride your bicycle long distances? Have you ever been curious about the other side of Lake Apopka?

Friends Of Lake Apopka is hosting its second FOLA 40 on Sunday, Nov. 11, which gives cyclists a chance to experience up-close the perimeter of the lake and see the restoration efforts in progress.

All rides begin at 9 a.m., and there are four distance options: 8, 16, 32 and 40 miles. The longest ride is both on- and off-road, and the Lake Apopka Loop Trail is a non-paved surface, so a hybrid or gravel/adventure-style bike is being recommended.

Following the bike ride, participants can attend an after-party at Crooked Can Brewing Company, 426 W. Plant St., Winter Garden.

Crooked Can, Winter Garden Wheel Works and Halo are the three primary FOLA 40 sponsors.

The registration fee is $45 and includes a FOLA 40 T-shirt and a free beverage at Crooked Can.

To register for the ride, visit active.com and search for FOLA 40.

Because this year's event falls on Veterans Day, FOLA is asking participants to consider contributing to Home At Last, a local organization that builds homes in West Orange County for wounded veterans.

The inaugural FOLA 40 was held in April 2017, and 65 riders signed up for the 40-mile route, the only one offered that first year.

Joe Dunn, acting president of FOLA, is anticipating more riders this year because of the three shorter ride options. He’s hoping to see 100 to 150 people enjoying the routes.

The ride is more about raising awareness than raising money, he said. Last year’s event brought in $400.

 

FOURTH-LARGEST LAKE

FOLA was founded in 1991 as a citizen advocacy group focused on restoring Lake Apopka to its once-pristine condition. Once a fishing paradise known for its trophy bass, Lake Apopka endured nearly five decades of pollution along its shores, creating one of Florida's most polluted lakes.

Restoration efforts have been ongoing since the state of Florida bought 20,000 acres of muck farms on the north shore of Lake Apopka to stop the flow of fertilizer and pesticides into the lake. That was a huge turning point in the lake’s recovery, Dunn said.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is restoring the north shore as a wetlands with more than 350 species of birds, bobcats and river otters. The 11-mile wildlife drive attracts visitors from all over the world, he said.

Miles of trails have been created around the lake, including the West Orange Trail, the South Lake Trail and the Hancock Trail.

Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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