Thursday, March 7, 2013

BWL Column: Celebrate St. Patrick's Day on a Bike

This week's BikeWalkLee column focuses on the upcoming Royal Palm Classic bike ride organized by the Caloosa Riders Bike Club, and also highlights the benefits of joining a bike club. Hope to see you on St. Patrick's Day (3/17).

News-Press "Go Coastal" section: 3/7/13
In the cooler months, organized bike rides abound throughout Southwest Florida, but many of them are geared more toward experienced riders. However, the newest iteration of the venerable Royal Palm Classic (now in its 15th year) offers those new to the bike-ride business an easy way to get started: A 15-mile guided loop ride where no one will be left behind.

For the seasoned rider, the Royal Palm route has been revised this year, now heading south from Buckingham Park down Treeline Avenue to Coconut Point and back through Gateway for the longer loops; distances of 30, 62 and 100 miles will also be offered.

“This year’s ride offers the same start location, but new routes,” said ride organizer and Caloosa Riders Bike Club (CRBC) President Steve Rodgers. “Add in costume contests (for the Best and Worst ‘Wearin’ o the Green’) and some chocolate mint ice cream provided by Oly’s Ice Cream and Coffee in Gateway, and we’ll be celebrating in stride with St. Patrick’s Day.”

Everyone will get the usual Caloosa Riders hospitality, as the host club always offers a well-supported ride with plenty of food and freebies for those who register. It’s also a good introduction to CRBC, the area’s premier bike club started in 1988 and now with more than 250 members.

Clubs such as the Caloosa Riders offer a number of benefits for bicyclists:
• A weekly slate of rides to get fit and make new friends.
• Regular overnight rides for the committed cyclist.
• Discounts for members at local bike shops.
• Plenty of opportunities to hone your cycle skills both on and off the bike.
• Advocacy to protect the rights and safety of riders.
“Annual membership fees are minimal in most cases and you can get a lot more in return,” Rodgers said. “To join, it's $15 per individual or $20 for a family. You get weekly scheduled rides, some with marked routes maintained by the club; supplemental insurance on any posted ride on our ride calendar; our monthly e-newsletter; discounts at local bike shops; and, best of all, the camaraderie of participating with other cyclists who share the same goals and ideals.”

One final note: While “wearing of the green” is not required to ride, having fun is considered mandatory… and usually hard to avoid.

If You Go
The 15th annual Royal Palm Classic
When: Sunday, March 17, registration opens at 7 a.m.
Where: All rides start from Buckingham Community Park, 9800 Buckingham Road, east of SR 82.
Distances: 15, 30, 62 and 100 miles, including a guided 15-mile ride for beginners.
Cost: $30 per rider before March 15, $35 after.
Rules: All riders must wear an approved safety helmet; no earphones allowed.
Registration: Online at
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Find more at

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