Of course, airing-up your tires and hopping on your bike is always an option any time of the year.
March is Florida Bike Month, designated a few years back in order to take advantage of the weather and as a way to get folks out of cars when much of the state is dealing with serious traffic congestion created by tourists and snowbirds.
But National Bike Month still reigns supreme, even considering the intense heat we usually experience this time of year. It’s been taking place since 1956 so has a long established history. Local annual events taking place include:
- Schools are signing-on for Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 10 (walkbiketoschool.org).
- Bike to Work Week, May 15-19, with Bike to Work Day Friday, May 19 (keep an eye on bikewalklee.blogspot.com for related events).
- Ride of Silence, which honors those who died or were injured while on their bikes, on Wednesday May 17 (Fort Myers ride staging from Centennial Park and organized by Caloosa Riders; Sanibel ride staging from 1200 Periwinkle Way and organized by Sanibel Bike Club).
- Critical Mass/Slow Roll rides happen four to five times each month and in different parts of Lee County. Organizers say these rides are for “cyclists young and old, casual and competitive. We come together to enjoy riding bikes and sharing good times. Fun socials and well organized group bike rides in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel Island, northeast Fort Myers, Estero and LaBelle. All riders ride at their own risk. Rules of the road apply.” Distances range from six miles for the Saturday morning family ride from near downtown Fort Myers to 10-15 miles for other rides, all moving along at 10-12 mph. See www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL for a full listing of each ride and all the details.
- Our area’s longest established bike club, Caloosa Riders, conducts group rides every day except Mondays and Fridays. Routes cover many parts of Lee County, from the islands to deep inland. Distances vary from 15 miles to over 40 miles and riding speeds vary as well. Anyone is welcome but joining the club is highly encouraged (membership fees are very reasonable).
- Now that season is behind us it’s possible to actually enjoy Sanibel Island’s pathway system again. Sanibel Bike Club (sbcsite.altervista.org), an organization I believe to be the driving force behind the island being a Silverlevel Bike Friendly Community, hosts a Saturday morning ride each week.
- A number of gated and manufactured home communities have their own bike clubs. If yours is among them and you haven’t joined them for a ride, May is the time to do so.
- Many of our local bike shops host rides or are the staging location for them. Dates and times change with the season but those I was able to confirm include Trek Bicycle Stores (trekbicyclestoreusa.com) in Fort Myers and Estero; Fort Myers Schwinn (schwinncyclery.com) in Fort Myers; Coastline Cyclery (coastlinecyclery.com) in Fort Myers; Bike Bistro (thebikebistro.com) in the Iona area; EA Bicycles (eabicycle.com) also in the Iona area (it organizes mountain bike rides locally and out of town); JRA Bikes (find on Facebook) in North Fort Myers; and Paradise/Go Girl Cycling (gogirlcycling.com) in Fort Myers.
While on the topic of bike shops I’d like to encourage anyone who is thinking of purchasing a new bike to keep in mind a few things when making a decision.
First off, let me state that I have no financial interest in any bike shop and my comments are purely based on personal experience and in the interest in promoting the use of bikes for transportation, fun and exercise.
In almost all cases, new bikes come unassembled so one of the biggest advantages of purchasing from a bike shop versus a big-box store is that an experienced bike mechanic will be assembling your bike.
That means it will be put together properly (not by someone who just assembled a barbecue grill a few minutes earlier) and if there’s a problem they’ll fix it, something big-box stores can’t really do. You’ll also be steered to the right bike for your needs and be properly fitted. And while you can find bikes costing thousands of dollars in most bike shops they also have a selection at very reasonable and competitive prices.
When asked where to go to buy a bike or for service I always suggest first visiting the store closest to where you live or work. If you’re unimpressed or otherwise not happy with the merchandise or attitude, go to another.¦
- Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and 334-6417.