Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly column:End of rainy season means lots of cycling events

Florida Weekly 11/3/10

For many, it’s always cycling season, but the organized ride is officially in full gear throughout the state, including a number to choose from this coming weekend and beyond. The problem will be deciding in which event to take part. Because there are so many, I can cover only a few, including some I’m familiar with, both near and far.

One that I’ve been part of before but that now is in a whole new location is the Bicycle Bash Classic/Cure on Wheels, taking place in east Tampa at Flatwoods Park on Sunday, Nov 7. A combination expo and rides, this event includes bicycle stores showcasing bikes, the SWAMP Bike Club holding mountain bike demos, exhibitors showing all types of bike equipment and accessories, a swap meet, music and food. The Florida Bicycle Association will be set up there as well. As for cycling opportunities, there will be multiple distances to choose from, including mountain bike rides.

A bit further away, in Chiefland (located between Tampa and Gainesville), the multi-day Chiefland Fall Bicycle Fest begins Thursday, Nov. 4 and runs through Nov. 7. Although I’m not familiar with it, the fact that many of the routes include one or more rail trails that are located in this part of Florida makes it sound interesting. A few years back the Bike Florida tour (see below) mixed road routes with rail-trail riding in this same area of the state. Tent and RV camping, as well as nearby motels, are offering special rates for participants.

Also on the weekend of Nov. 6-7 is one for those who want to experience some of the best rural road riding conditions in the state: The North Florida Tour is being staged from Madison, just south of the Georgia state line. The towns and roads around Madison are more like the traditional south than what most think of when in Florida, making the riding experience very laid back and enjoyable. Getting there might take a while but it’s worth the trip. Again, Bike Florida and other tours have incorporated this area into its rides because conditions are so good.

The following weekends are also laden with options, some taking place in our own backyard. Riverwatch’s annual Caloosahatchee River Ride is happening Sunday, Nov. 14. Staged from Caloosahatchee Regional Park in Alva, cyclists have a number of ride choices, from a family-oriented 15-mile visit to Franklin Locks to a more ambitious metric century (62 miles) to LaBelle and back. With all the attention that’s been on our river’s health recently, taking part in the ride is a great way to support Riverwatch’s cause to save the Caloosahatchee River.

Another I’ve not taken part in but is just up the road at the Village of Holiday Lake in Charlotte County is the annual Pasta Bash Ride, being conducted on Saturday, Nov. 20. Distances from a metric quarter century to a full metric century are part of the offerings.

Finally, don’t forget to make plans to join the annual Bike Florida week long tour, this year taking participants through “Florida’s Eden,” which includes the communities of Gainesville, High Springs, Micanopy and others.

Advocacy update

A special fundraising event to benefit Stay Alive….Just Drive!, the organization that promotes safe driving — including distracted driving awareness — is coming up. The first annual SAJD Golf Tourney will be held on Nov. 13 at Eagle Ridge Golf Club beginning with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. SAJD’s efforts to curb distracted driving and other bad habits when behind the wheel benefit vulnerable road users (e.g. pedestrians and cyclists) probably more than anyone else. So, if you’re a cyclist, runner, walker or skater who also enjoys golfing, your participation in this tourney will help support a cause that’s important to us.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. 

— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/trainer and program manager for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle. org or 334-6417.

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