Yesterday on the Trail, just north of Laurel Rd I took this picture of “Pedaled Pete.”
That is the name I’ve given this Gopher Turtle that I’ve been seeing on the Trail for the past two years. I named him Pedaled Pete because the injury to his shell is about the same size as a bicycle tire and if you look closely you can see what look like tread marks!
I haven’t seen Pete in months and was worried that his time had come. So I was pleasantly surprised to see him yesterday. And he must have been happy to see me too because he let me take a lot of close up pictures without retreating into his shell!
Hi. My name is Isabella. That’s Isabella, not some condescending variation like Izzy or other silliness. Behind me is my chauffeur, Ira. I’m a Shitzu, and Ira, well, he’s only human.We’re visiting here from Indiana.
It was Ira’s idea to get away from the Indiana cold and head south for a few months. Fine with me. I don’t see too many humans going outdoors to do their business in the cold and snow. We’ve been to Sarasota before, but this time Ira looked at a map and spotted the Legacy Trail. I’m game. So Ira helped me with my goggles and off we went from our RV parked at Oscar Scherer State Park for our first trip on the Legacy Trail.
I like that we can cover a lot more ground on a bike than my short legs could otherwise take us. I enjoyed the sights, smells, and sounds along the trail from my comfortable front perch, all at a pace that I can grasp. I gotta admit I loved seeing all the different humans smiling at us as we rode by them, though I pretended not to notice.
What’s up with the goggles, you ask? Been wearing them for years when we go for a bike ride. It’s the UV. Oh, and those nasty dirt particles or insects in the air. I think they also add an element of Shitzu dash. Don’t you?
It was the sight of the unusually configured trike that first caught my attention. But as I approached from the opposite direction the image became more compelling: The woman with a smile the width of Siesta Key Beach, sitting erect in a large blaze orange box atop the two front wheels, protectively clutching a small stuffed animal lest it fall out of the cart and be injured. That her coat was color coordinated with the cart didn’t seem to me by chance.
The pedaler perched on a seat above and behind her over the single rear wheel; music blaring from a hidden speaker. Dave was piloting the craft, taking his mom, Jane, out for the ride on the Legacy Trail. Dave offered as to how he was a competitive cyclist on his “other” triathlon bike. He loved riding the trail, diverting to Honore when he wanted to ride the tri aggressively.
He’d been an FLT pedaler for the Surrey, a 6 person, four-wheeled bicycle for the mobility challenged. He’d been to Holland. “They are much more bike centric there.” He saw this style trike, and knew it would be perfect to take Mom out for rides on the Trail. “Isn’t it lovely out here” Jane said repeatedly. “Mom, do you remember when you used to live near Laurel Road and go for bike rides.” “Why yes, I think I do remember.” “What do you think of my new little friend,” Mom said pointing to the stuffed animal. “I just got it from Walmart.”
As I rode off, I couldn’t help but marvel at the remarkable bond of love between mother and son, now shared on a unique trike traveling along the Legacy Trail.
Little Stella was all smiles when I came across her riding her tricycle, with a little help from Mom and Dad. All three moved from Maryland last year to enjoy the many opportunities Sarasota offers. What’s not to like with the scenery and safety of being on the Legacy Trail under sunny blue skies, low humidity, and temps in the low 80s. Mom and Dad were beaming for this pic, but Stella was completely focused on pedaling. At just 18 months of age, Stella will be enjoying many future rides along the Legacy Trail.
I am a frequent rider on The Legacy Trial and am always amazed at the diversity of users I encounter. The other day I was just short of my planned turn-around point at the Venice train depot when I did a double take on a low-slung trike going in the other direction. I got to the depot, turned, and started heading north.
I caught up to the triker, and we started chatting for the next several miles. “Nice rig you’ve got there” I said. Dick said he enjoys the exercise and freedom that cycling provides. As for the walker carefully attached to the back of his trike, well, he said, you do what you gotta do. Dick told me he was in the middle of a planned 30-mile ride, and that he really appreciates the safety afforded by The Legacy Trail and Venetian Waterway Park compared to riding on roads. I asked Dick if he minded my taking a picture of him riding his trike. Sure he said with a big smile. Later, as we parted ways, I told him that seeing him riding his trike made my day. Thanks he said with that big grin.
The sun was shining, the sky was a deep blue with few clouds, and the wind was now in our back. Another great day riding on The Legacy Trail. But what I will remember most about this ride was meeting Dick with the big smile on his trike with the walker on the back.
Have you noticed how The Legacy Trail is remarkably free of trash? The vast majority of trail users follow the “if you carry it in, then carry it out” adage, or properly dispose of trash in designated receptacles along the trail. Nonetheless, some trash inevitably ends up along the trail. When it does, we are fortunate to have dedicated users like Ralph who combine a trail ride with trail cleanup. Ralph lives in a retirement community near the trail in Venice. He rides two to three miles a day, five days a week, on his specially outfitted trike equipped with a trunk for carrying the cans and other trash he picks up along on the trial. Ralph will be celebrating his 9th birthday decade in April 2016. We can count on him to stop and chat for a bit as he rides past our FLT Information Table at the Venice Train Depot.
Please do your part – don’t leave your trash on the trail. And the next time you see Ralph on the trail, please join us in thanking him for helping to keep the trail free of trash. Ride on, Ralph!
Beneath darkened, brooding skies they gathered at the historic Venice Train Depot for the 6th Annual Tour de Parks bicycle ride, sponsored by the Friends of the Legacy Trail. The weather forecast promised a good day; the misty morning suggested otherwise. Who would be right?
Nonetheless, they came, guided to parking areas by flashlight toting volunteers. They dismounted bikes from their automotive perch: mountain bikes; tri-bikes; beach cruisers; recumbents; single speeds, a few trikes. Many donned clip-in shoes. Others adjusted the brakes or added a few drops of chain lubricant on their bikes. They would be riding 62 miles – gotta make sure everything is just right. Other volunteers staffed a well organized, speedy registration process, handing out a commemorative t-shirt and food wristband for those who had pre-registered but had not picked it up at nearby bike shop Real Bikes the previous day.
Team members assembled. Friends from previous rides greeted each other and caught up on news. Newbies introduced themselves. “How are things at work?” “Have you been training for this ride?”
As in previous years, local restaurant and long time FLT supporter First Watch served bagels, muffins, yogurt and fruit for breakfast along with some fresh Florida OJ and a morning cup of joe: fuel to begin the day’s journey. Yummy. Our corporate sponsors Doctor’s Hospital, Sarasota Orthopedics Associates, Bucket Fillers, Venice Village Family Chiropractors, Bentley’s Boutique Hotel, Florida Ear & Sinus Center/Silverstein Institute set up tables and offered free trinkets and advice.
A quick pre-departure pit stop, and riders started to assemble on the trail, anxious to begin the day’s ride. There was a restless anticipation – let’s get going! As the clock struck eight o’clock, without fanfare, the wave of some 111 sixty-two milers and many of the thirty-seven milers headed north on the trail.
We soon crossed the trestles that span the beautiful, still waters of South Creek and Dona Bay. I noticed many cyclists looking up to eastern skies at the bright morning sun peaking through the clouds and fog as we rode over the trestles. It was a magical moment. It would be a great ride on what would prove to be a spectacular southwest Florida spring day with light winds, and mostly blue skies with just enough cloud cover to keep the temps comfortable.
We had over 425 enthusiastic riders for this year’s TdP, with the rest of the 37 and 15 milers leaving by 9 am. Riders ranged in age from 8 to 85 years. About two-thirds came Sarasota County, with half the rest coming from elsewhere in Florida, and the remainder from states as far as California and Maine. Six riders originated from other countries. About 50 volunteers provided food and drink at rest stops, served as route guides, or provided other administrative support. Thank you to local bike shops Sarasota Cycle and Bicycles International for providing SAG support.
This was my second time riding the 62 mile TdP. Many riders remarked how well marked the route was compared to last year – I didn’t need to pull out my map or cue sheet. The course offers a fascinating scenic diversity. I like riding through some of the many Sarasota area parks. I particularly enjoy the native scrubby plants along Oscar Scherer State Park, hoping to catch a glimpse of a soaring bald eagle, Florida Scrub Jays, or a gopher tortoise ambling across the trail. There are pastures with grazing long-horned cattle. The loop around along the narrow, winding trail through the canopy of hemlocks at Rothenbach Park provides an interesting change of pace.
Thirty-seven and 62-milers enjoy the final loop through Casey Key. Approaching Casey Key, I was forced to stop at the single lane 1920’s era swing bridge that had opened to allow a few pleasure boats passage. It’s a ride, not a race. I chatted amiably with a fellow TdP rider, the unmistakable smell of ocean air filling our lungs. Once on the Key, we rode along the winding, low-traffic ocean front road. It’s fun looking at the mansions of the rich and famous that line much of the road. A light breeze mixed the ocean air with that of the fragrant hibiscus that will brush against if you ride too close to the edge of the road. And then, suddenly, you are greeted with an expansive view of the ocean and bay. Wow.
In lieu of riding through a residential neighborhood after Rothenbach Park, this year’s course substituted a 3.5 loop around Nathan Benderson Park, site of numerous regional and national events, as well as the 2016 International world rowing championships. It’s a no-brainer tradeoff! The spectacular 400 acre lake is quite visible from heavily traveled I-75, which I’ve driven hundreds of times. It’s even better up close, cycling around the perimeter. What a transformation from what was once a borrow pit for the construction of I-75, with more improvements underway or planned.
I returned to the Venice Depot at about 12:30 pm, too late for some of the lunch time events. I’m told former County Parks & Recreation Director John McCarthy gave a rousing endorsement of The Legacy Trail and the TdP, as did Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines. I feasted on the pulled pork lunch prepared by Back Woods BBQ as I chatted with other riders.
Sure I was tired. That was the longest ride I’d taken in the still early 2015 season. But what a wonderful ride, with scenic views and the camaraderie of other cyclists of all abilities. This was the primary fund raising event for the FLT, raising over $10,000. I look forward to doing next year’s TdP. Perhaps you’ll join me.