Connect with nature on FOLA trail ride

The third annual bicycling event takes riders on a scenic journey around Lake Apopka.

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The Friends of Lake Apopka citizen advocacy group is proud of its two-decade restoration efforts on the lake, Florida’s fourth largest, and hopes to showcase its best qualities on a 40-mile bicycle ride Sunday, Nov. 10.

In its third year, Connect the Trails is a scenic bike ride — of 8, 16, 36 or 40 miles — around the lake, or portions of it, depending on the ride distance chosen.

The 40-mile ride includes West Orange and South Lake trails, both paved, and the gravel Lake Apopka Loop Trail. The 8-, 16- and 36-mile rides are on gravel trails; a hybrid, mountain or cyclocross-style bike is strongly recommended for all distances.
The main goal of the ride is to support the FOLA mission to restore the historic Lake Apopka to its once-pristine condition. 

Participants actively supporting the ride at the various starting points and the finish point are Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey and District 2 Commissioner Christine Moore, as well as Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson.

All riders will receive an adult beverage at Crooked Can Brewing Co. after the ride, which ends at the Plant Street Market. T-shirts also are guaranteed for the first 150 registered participants. Any extra shirts will be available at Winter Garden Wheel Works Nov. 25.

FOLA President Joe Dunn said 110 riders participated in the 2018 event and about half were from the Central Florida area. The rest were from surrounding counties and other states, and one rider was from the United Kingdom.

Last year’s event “broke even,” Dunn said.

But Jim Thomas, founder of the ride, said, “We are about raising awareness, not raising money.” “That said, we can raise more awareness with a little bit more money,” Dunn said. “We hope to do better than break even this year.”

Registration will remain open until the event.

“Riding the Connect the Trails is fun, great exercise, a beautiful bike ride along the shores of Florida's fourth largest lake,” Dunn said. “Riding also helps us highlight the need to continue restoring our lake and to create a safe, 40-mile cycling loop around the lake.”

Once a fishing paradise known for its trophy bass, Lake Apopka endured nearly five decades of pollution. After 20 years of restoration efforts, the lake has seen remarkable improvement.

For more information on FOLA and how to get involved, visit

The ride coincides with Veterans Day, so FOLA is partnering with American Legion Post 63 to help raise funds to honor and assist veterans.




Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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