Florida, A Bike Trail for the Bucket List

This post has been in the pipeline for weeks.  The Pinellas bike trail was my get-acquainted ride, and I am more and more pleased with Florida’s bike trails since I first drafted this.

One of the best urban bike trails I’ve ever seen is the 34-mile stretch between downtown St. Petersburg, FL and Tarpon Springs.  It is built on an old railroad right-of-way.  Welcoming signage marks one’s progress through Seminole, Largo, Clearwater, and Palm Harbor.  See the online map at http://www.pinellascounty.org/trailgd/PDF/all-in-one-map.pdf

The trail runs through commercial and residential areas as well as areas not yet ravaged by developers. 


The egret seemed comfortable in his habitat. 

 

To the best of my knowledge, the gorillas were not native to Florida.

The paved twelve-foot-wide path includes a separate lane for pedestrians.  Bridges carry cyclists over the busiest multi-lane cross streets.  Stop signs stand where the path crosses quiet neighborhood streets.  In a remarkable display of driver etiquette, absent everywhere else in Florida, autos stop for cyclists at these intersections and wave the bicycles across.

Along the bike path are several county and city parks complete with rest rooms, picnic tables, and parking areas.

Of course, local gourmet delicacies are available when you pass through town.

Over several days I parked at different points along the trail so I could ride out an hour and then return.  Little by little, the leg muscles quit their bitchin’ and the butt quit its shrieking.

I was feeling good, topping out at over 30 miles one day.  Good, that is, until I met up with my pal, Harry, from years gone by.  Harry is one day older than I.  He told me that he once started from the Tarpon Springs terminus and did the entire trail to St Petersburg and back in one Olympic effort.  I was even more deflated when he told me he rolled the whole sixty-eight miles on roller skates.

On my first New Year’s Day in California, I joined the Mount Tamalpais Interpretive Association in their annual hike to the top of Mt. Tam and commenced a tradition I repeated most years since.

It seemed like a sign from the Universe to send me an opportunity to open 2012 with a vigorous 25-mile bike ride on a glorious New Year’s Day with temps in the 70s.

10 Responses to Florida, A Bike Trail for the Bucket List

  1. karen wittgraf says:

    I remember riding our local bike trail (alongside corn fields) to the lovely destination of Fort Ridgley, which overlooks the Minnesota Valley and river. My two grandchildren were with me for the 14 mile ride. Eliza, age 9, exclaimed “I just feel so…so FREE”. I think she summed it up quite well. Keep pedaling, Al.

  2. Colleen Rae says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip – FREE as a butterfly – Don’t knock yourself for not doing what Harry did. I was once told by a wise woman – ‘never compare yourself to others, only to yourself in days gone by.’ Of course I realize you used to be practically a professional biker. (Is that the right use of biker? How does the word bycycle biker differentiate from a motorcycle biker?) I think you and Harry are a different ilk from most 70 plus year olds.
    Thanks for sharing the photos. BTW, there were many wonderful bike trails in Marin.

  3. Sandra says:

    I’ve always enjoyed biking too. Sacramento has one of the best along the American River. It’s about 28 mile scenic route from downtown Old Sacramento nearly to Folsom Lake Dam. Give it a try if you’re in the area sometime. Maybe I’ll join you.

    • allevenson says:

      Sandra,

      I know the American River Trail and did it several times back in the 90s. It is flat and scenic and I could do it one way even these days. Thanks for the reminder. If I get back that way, and I’d love to have you ride with me. AL

  4. Beatrice Kimmel says:

    Our W&OD (Washington & Old Dominion) bicycle/walking trail, as the name implies, was also laid out on a former railroad line. It runs from the Potomac River westward to at least Herndon, VA, 30-40 miles away. Too many Stop signs, though; between my home here in Arlington, VA, and Vienna, VA, there are 11 such challenges to contend with, two of which are very difficult to negotiate, as vehicle traffic comes from greater than the usual 90 degrees. – Ed

  5. Michael says:

    Just did the Steep Ravine/Dipsy trail a couple of days ago on Tamalpais, and duly noted the years have eroded my frisky pace. The old rail trail up the mountain was a good ride with the kids when they were in school. We were just in St. Pete, and surprised that we saw only one person on a bike. Thanks for telling us about this trail, when we’re back in St. Pete we will try it.

    When are you coming back to Alameda?

  6. Pat Bean says:

    I loved your bike trip, but worried about the gorilla. .I hope he has roommates and more room than was shown in the photo. I do so enjoy zoos, but I perfer seeing captive animals, which do live longer than those in the wild, having a decent habitat. Thankfully many zoos now agree with my philosophy. Awesome alligator sign. I ate alligator when I was in Florida. Have a great day Al.

  7. tanya grove says:

    So, have you eaten any alligator? And if so, original or hot & spicy??

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