BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, May 6, 2021
by Ken Gooderham
First, an important qualifier: We’re talking post-pandemic on a wide scale… not if you’ve actually had Covid-19. That discussion is best left to you and your medical professionals.
But, as vaccinations rise and protective precautions fall, when will group organized events return – and return to “normal”?
A lot of factors will influence any return… what people feel comfortable with (that’s a broad spectrum), what governments require (it’s Florida, so probably not much) and what sanctioning bodies dictate (again, likely all over the map).
Looking at what upcoming events are requiring gives you a feel for what’s ahead in the short term:
- Proof: Some may require proof of vaccination (which can be fraught with politics), but more are requiring proof of negative Covid tests in advance of the event itself… which, if you think about it, makes the most sense health-wise.
- Crowds: More races are limiting numbers of both participants and spectators, for the safety of both. Yes, these are outdoor events which should be safer… except when people bunch up together either to start the race or watch it.
- Caution: Many race organizers are eliminating some event standbys in the name of safety… things such as packet pickups (making them either distanced or digital), mass starts (in favor of timed, spread-out kickoffs), and congested finish areas (moving food/drink and awards to places where distancing is more feasible).
Not only will these steps protect the event organizers (nobody wants their event to be a super-spreader, after all), it will help assuage the concerns of returning riders and runners who may be rightly nervous about group events after a year of pods, precautions and prohibitions. It should also make it easier to staff such events, either by limiting the size so fewer volunteers are needed or by making the events safer (and thus more attractive) for volunteers as well as participants.
But it’s not time to signal “all clear” quite yet. Some events – such as St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg – had to reschedule their return (in this case, moving from April to October). Others are taking their sweet time coming back, in hopes that more vaccinations will bring more participants (and more safety).
If your racing plans include a destination event, be sure to check both the event website and the local restrictions on groups and gatherings – since not every locale will be quite as lax as Florida.
Locally, we’re seeing a slow return to racing, with some of the traditional July 4th events on tap. Since summer is not the big event season in Southwest Florida, a slow ramp-up in races will fit nicely with rising vaccination rates as we strive to achieve herd immunity (or whatever vague semblance of that we can realistically expect to see).
That should bode well for the fall and the usual rise in local races corresponding to the drop (in relative terms) in our area’s heat and humidity.
Ride of Silence TBD
The Caloosa Riders website says the annual Ride of Silence is returning live… but only when, not where.
The ride/walk, which honors those injured or killed while cycling on public roadways, is set for Wednesday, May 19, beginning at 7 p.m., location to be determined. The slow and silent memorial was held virtually last year, for obvious reasons, so one hopes its return to an in-person event is a sign of returning normalcy.
Unfortunately, the reason for the ride is far too normal for riders and walkers, too, a symptom of the danger too many of the more vulnerable users face on our roadways.
Here’s the latest in organized running and biking events locally… but confirm with the organizers and be flexible in case conditions change and large-group activities are limited. Of course, wear a mask (or at least have one with you) and act appropriate to your age, physical condition and medical concerns.
FORT MYERS TRACK CLUB (ftmyerstrackclub.com):
Business Solutions Freedom 5K Run/Walk & Gunterberg Charitable
Foundation Kid's Fun Run, Sunday, July 4, Cape Coral Bridge
GC RUNNERS (gcrunner.org):
- Tropicool 5K, May 8
- SNIP Collier 5K, May 31
- GCR Firecracker 5K, July 3-5, virtual
ELITE EVENTS (runeliteevents.com):
- USA Independence Day 5K, Sunday, July 4, Estero
- Publix Run to the Arts 5K run/walk – in-person is now delayed to Nov. 20, runsignup.com or runtothearts.com
- Costco/CRBC Golisano Children's Hospital Benefit Ride, Saturday, May 22, starts at 7:30 a.m. from Costco at the Gulf Coast Town Center. 45 miles, five speed groups, minimum $20 donation, no reservations needed. Info at caloosariders.org.
- Wheel Lee Fun instructional series for young riders. Four weekly sessions beginning July 5, go to crbc.clubexpress.com/wheelleefun for details.
The Caloosa Riders are offering member rides, but some are open to non-members (and it wouldn’t hurt you to join the club); check their ride calendar (caloosariders.org) for a description of the distance and speed, and to see if the ride is open to all.
SW Florida Critical
Mass is offering their usual slate of family-friendly rides. Check out their line-up
online (www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/) for details and times (and to make sure the ride is still rolling).
- SW Florida Critical Mass ride, first Friday of the month. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Helmet and lights required, meet in the parking lot at 2180 West First Street, Fort Myers.
- Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, second Saturday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
- NE Lee Critical Mass ride, third Friday of the month. Gather in the Winn Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Blvd. about five miles east of the Interstate; gather at 7 p.m. and roll at 7:30 p.m. for a slow ride through Fort Myers Shores.
- Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, fourth Friday of the month. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape; helmets and lights required.
- Saturday Morning Slow Roll, fourth Saturday of the month. Meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.
If racing is not your thing but you’d like to support their return nonetheless, consider volunteering to help out at the few in-person offerings ahead. With Covid concerns still confining some of the usual volunteers, a few new helping hand would certainly be welcomed.
- 2021 Heartland Triathlon, June 12-13, Sebring. Kid’s event Saturday, adult Olympic and sprint triathlon, duathlon and aquabike Sunday.
- Fort Desoto Triathlon, June 26, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
- Sirens & Merman Triathlon & Duathlon, June 27, Sarasota
- Top Gun Triathlon, July 17, St. Petersburg
- Siesta Sprint Triathlon, Aug. 1, Siesta Key
- Fort Desoto Triathlon, Aug. 14, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
- Fort Desoto Triathlon, Sept. 11, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
- St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg) rescheduled to Oct. 1-3, 2021
- City Island Triathlon, Oct. 10, Sarasota