So whether you want to do as little as 15 miles or as much as 100 miles, or anything in between, these rides are for you. Some of my favorite riding areas you may have heard of or even ridden and some may be new to you.
Shark Valley, located about 60 miles South on US 41: Shark Valley is at the entrance to Everglades National Park. This is a great way to view the Everglades at your own pace. The path is nicely paved and flat, which makes it easy to ride for any style of bicycle and any level of bicycle rider. The ride can take you from about two to three hours or even longer depending on how often you stop and enjoy all the nature there is to see. They also rent bicycles from 8:30AM to 4:00PM. On your way back from Shark Valley why not head into Everglades City for a nice casual ride or even lunch?
Biking in Olde Naples: I have found, as well as a lot of other people, that riding in Olde Naples & the 5th Ave. area can be very relaxing. You can also put in a lot of miles if you would like. I start the day by parking at the parking garage off 8th St. S. (It’s free!) and get my bike unloaded and head out from there. I usually head down 5th Ave. to Gulf Shore Blvd. and head south. At the end of Gulf Shore I take a right on Gordon Drive all the way to the end and then turn around. On the way back on Gordon Drive, I like to take all the streets on the right (I call them finger roads), Kingston, Galleon, etc. There are many interesting roads and beautiful homes to admire and you will always end up back on Gordon Drive.
I then like to head to 3rd St. South and stop for a cup of coffee at Tony’s off Third or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants along 3rd or even somewhere on 5th Ave. What a perfect way to end a great day of riding.
Some upcoming rides that may be of interest:
Tour de Tots, November 5th, 2011, Sugden Park, Naples. This ride will include distances for all levels, even children. There are 1.5, 3, 10, 20, 40 & 62 miles. The entry fee is $10(if you register early,) $5 extra if you show up that day, plus a donation of one to three toys depending on what distance you are riding. There will be a kids’ bike rodeo, live music and food. Check out the website for more information or to register, www.pcrswf.com
There are many other bicycle rides and events all throughout Florida. The best places to find rides are on a few different websites: Active.com, bikeride.com, and floridacycling.com. Another great site to check out is Mapmyride.com. This website is great because there are a lot of rides listed and mapped out by other cyclists. If you have a ride you enjoy you can sign up and map your own. They even have an application for your smart phone.
So now you are armed with a few events and rides that may peak your interest and fill up your weekends with some healthy, casual activities. So get out and ride, and maybe see some new sites in Florida and even revisit some old forgotten places.
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 adhoc committee.