When I'm not in the office or running around after kids, you can usually find my on my bike riding the roads of North Walton County, down here in the pandhandle of Florida. It is beautiful countryside and I am lucky to live in an area where I can literally ride out of my driveway and right out onto some lovely country roads.

My personal favorite is some routes around northern Walton and Holmes counties along the Alabama border. Rolling hillsides curve around family farms and you can ride miles never seeing a car. In fact, last week when I went riding with friends we saw a gentleman riding his horse through the fields.

A couple cool facts about Northern Walton County cycling:

+ Knox Hill (just outside Red Bay off highway 81) is the only catagorized climb in the region. It's a nice workout with a solid gradient. At the top, you are rewarded with a sign explaining that Knox Hill is the site of the area's first school - founded in 1848.

+ Eucheeanna Valley (off highway 280 - a few miles down the road if you go straight instead of up Knox Hill), is the first Scottish settlement in territorial Florida and was named in honor of the Euchee Indians. This is a really pretty area to ride or drive through.

+ Leonia - a VERY SMALL two stop sign town. As the sign out front of the general store says "It's the biggest store in Leonia!" Of course, it's the only store as well.

+ Westville - this is over in Holmes County and, as you can see above, is the site of the coolest tree. I honestly believe this tree is better than the Tree of Life at Disneyworld's Animal Kingdom. The photo doesn't do it justice.

+ Ponce de Leon Springs State Park. This is a MUST-DO! Bring your nets, swimsuits and courage because you will need all three at this amazing watering hole outside Ponce de Leon. I don't know if this is eternal fountain of youth, but it feels like it. Ease your way to the 68 degree water and catch minnows with your net downstream or go for gusto and jump off the big rock right where the water bubbles up. Either way, it's fantastic.