By Matt Walthour
A few of the big tours have come and gone already. We have seen some great racing already this year, the Paris – Nice race was packed with some fast speed and great victories. Coming up on April 1st, is the Belgian classic, Tour Des Flanders. If you don’t think you can quite make it over to Belgium on the 1st, or, if your bike isn’t ready to pound the cobblestones, not to worry. Instead, get ready for the best tour around, the second annual Tour de Marco.
The second annual Tour de Marco will be on April 1st this year and is guaranteed to be even more fun that last year. This year the ride again will benefit the Marco Island YMCA. The ride/tour will be directed by Jim Seegers, who is following on the great success of last year’s director, Scott Shook. There are only two distances, 30 miles and 15 miles, both of which are casually paced rides or tours of Marco Island.
The first of the two rides is a 30-mile ride leaving the YMCA at 8:00 AM, heading toward South Collier, north to Bald Eagle Drive, on to Barfield Dr., to San Marco Rd., then heading through Key Marco and then on to Goodland. Upon leaving Goodland, the ride will ease its way back to the YMCA via Barfield Dr. and through the “estates” area. The second of the two rides is a 15 miler departing the YMCA at 9:00 AM. This will be similar to the 30 miler, without the Barfield Dr., Key Marco area, and most of the “estate” area. Directional arrows throughout the whole ride will guide bicyclists to the bike routes. Marco Island police and volunteer riders, most wearing brightly colored shirts, will be on hand to assist with directions and traffic safety. There will be a rest area at the new Goodland boat ramp in Goodland.
Registration starts at 7:00 AM at YMCA airtorium, which is located at 101 Sand Hill St., 239-394-3144. You may register online at www.active.com, or pick up a registration form prior to the event at the YMCA. Entry fee is $20 until March 31, 2012, $25, the day of the ride. A parental waiver is required for persons under 18 years of age. There will be free water bottles to the first 200 registrants, donated by Island Bike Shop. There will be music provided by Steve Reynolds of the YMCA and also raffles at the end of the rides.
These rides will highlight some of the new bike lanes and multi use pathways and also some areas where you may have never traveled on your bicycle. As of December, 2010, Marco Island, with the help of the Marco Island volunteer ad hoc bike path committee, have completed approximately 26 miles of in road lanes and about nine miles of shared use pathways and there are many more in the works.
Things to remember for your ride: Please wear your helmet (required for the ride) and have and drink plenty of water throughout your ride. While riding the inroad lanes, you must obey all automobile rules of the road. You may also want to bring a camera. Most of all, enjoy the day and all that Marco Island has to offer on two wheels.
Matt Walthour, a Marco Island resident since 1985 is a graduate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and is the owner of Island Bike Shop and Scootertown on Marco Island and Naples. He is also a member of the Marco Island bike path ad-hoc committee.