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Great ride last week on Longboat Key

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Great ride last week on Longboat Key

Old 04-04-10, 09:54 AM
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Juan Foote
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Great ride last week on Longboat Key

I was down in Palmetto, FL for a few days last week to visit a friend. He had some plans one of the days I was down so it presented a perfect opportunity to ride my bike, which I had taken with. I went on Bikely and found a few decent charted rides around the area, and decided that I would try Longboat Key, just outside of Sarasota, and below Sarasota Beach. The whole key is 25 miles long, and is a very nice area ($$$), the roads are PERFECT, beautiful beaches, and spring break to boot so all the scenery that goes with.

Driving in on 64 the traffic backed up about 4 miles out from Sarasota Beach with all the SB'ers trying to get down to the beach. There was a pulloff on the bay side for a recreation and boating area there with free parking, so I took advantage of that and unloaded the bike. The whole area is criss crossed with many walking/jogging paths that cyclists use as well. The roads also have bike lanes for the most part. Some of them more well maintained than others. I am not the type to ride on a sidewalk, regardless, so I took to the road. The drivers were very courteous, and did not crowd or get impatient. A good part of the ride in I was actually passing cars in traffic anyway.

Within a few miles I had already passed dozens of cyclists, many of them very recreational, lots of "strand cruisers" and mtb's but the occasional serious cyclist on nice road bikes, or even club groups. It was great, as I had the opportunity to pull up alongside and talk to quite a few different people. It was just under 4 miles down to Gulf Dr, and only a few more miles down the Sara. Beach side of the ride. The bike lane was terribly unkempt on this side, and I spent most of my time riding out on the road itself. Even here, most of the drivers were very nice, and gave me plently of space. Leading in, and crossing over to Longboat, there are two draws. Both of them had a nicely paved "sidewalk" to the side that allowed me to ride right over, and even had room for peds and fishermen to pass alongside.

Crossing over onto Longboat Key was like entering a different world. The road was pristine, the bike lane was obviously swept by machines, clean as a whistle, free of sand and debris. You could tell, also, by the cycling traffic that this was the prefered area to ride in the area. I was passing dozens every few minutes, and many more of the "serious" level on some really impressive equipment that I enjoyed oggling at. The whole area is high end resorts, clubs, and condos. The only real drawback was that if you have to use the restroom, they are a few miles apart and fairly rare. The ocean is only a few feet away for a good part of the ride, overlooking beautiful beaches and Turquoise blue/green waters. Traffic is very light, with low speed limits that are apparently well enforced given the total lack of speeders.

I was feeling really strong, there are no hills of course, and I was riding along in big gears and cruising at around 18MPH. I only passed a few cyclists on my side of the road, and was passed by a fellow...looked to be in his 70's if a day younger, and was KICKING along at a solid 22MPH. I tried to pace him for a few moments, and realized that wasn't going to happen and just let him go. About 18 miles into the ride, realizing that I was going to have to turn around and go back, I decided to seek out a place to use a restroom, grab a Snickers bar, a few sips of water, and backtrack. I pulled in to a BP station that had a bunch of flower boxes along the front. I leaned my bike against one, and instantly the store clerk comes out telling me that the owner would FLIP is she saw my bike in her flowers. I explained that I wanted to pee, grab a candy bar, would only be a minute, and was not ABOUT to let my bike sit on the side of the store away from the windows...nice area or not. He conceded, and I was back on the road in a few minutes. At that moment, turning back the other way, I realized why I had felt so strong. I was facing back into what must have been a 10-15 mile an hour headwind. My pace crawled to around 10 MPH, so on the way back, I had much more time to see and enjoy what I missed the first time through.

No loss, it was spring break, and there were lots of really nice things to see. Pretty cool overall, as I got to enjoy the view, and got hooted and hollered at a few times on the way back by carloads of overexuberant young ladies out "party-ing"...it was fun. Going back over one of the draws a Dolphin swam right under the draw, coming up to blow as I passed. I saw quite a few birds, cranes, and some manner of ground animal, really don't know what he was, about the size of a beaver. It took me quite a bit longer to return at the slower speed, of course, and the added effort used up the Snickers bar pretty quick. I was just down to my last sip of water when I finally came back in sight of my truck. I was really glad to be back at that point, and well satisfied with my experience.

I look forward to my next trip down, where I am going to plan out a bit more time specific to riding that area. I am really jealous that such is available to residents and visitors alike in the area, really wish we had something like that closer to me. Great time, and if you are ever anywhere near by I highly suggest trying it out.

Last edited by Juan Foote; 04-04-10 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 04-04-10, 10:14 AM
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Soooooo, did you stop at teh Hungry Fisherman for lunch? If not, you missed a great one!
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Old 04-04-10, 10:19 AM
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Pleasant to hear a positive,no near death experience in south Florida while cycling.
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Old 04-04-10, 02:34 PM
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Glad you had a good time in the West Central part of Florida. The beach rides really are a lot of fun. Our club often rides Clearwater Beach and south. As you said there are no hills (just some bridges) but the wind never stops. A great way to spend some time when the weather is nice, and it often is very nice. :-)

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Old 04-04-10, 07:21 PM
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That sounds like the Jupiter Island here on the East Coast except that the residents hate cyclists and have been known to put nails in the road and the cops, having nothing else to do, will harass you for riding two abreast.
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Old 12-09-17, 06:13 AM
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My gosh, the trip down this year will be eight years since this ride. Wow.
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