In an effort to help convince Pinellas County riders to cross the county line on their bikes, here are a few possible route suggestions. If you have a suggestion for a great place to ride to by bike, please tell me so I can add it to the list. This information was put together due to a number of people expressing interest in longer group rides. These could be just a few people or larger groups. They could be day rides or multi-day rides.
Points of interest along the way or as a destination are highly desired. Give us a good reason to go somewhere to enjoy both the ride and the destination. Google maps has a habit of changing the specified routes so there may be some discrepancies between what I indicated and what you see.
Because of the problem with google maps, these routes are gradually being moving to GPX route files which require you to load them into come sort of mapping program such as the Viking GPS data editor or directly into your Garmin, etc. also.
We tried to schedule the ride around the fires in Starkey Park and the Suncoast Trail and Adrian preparing to head home. Heading down to the wire, the Suncoast was open the night before but Starkey still closed and it remained so both days of the trip. Just before we started out Adrian emailed that he couldn't make it anyway... With Starkey Park closed, the number of routes to easily get to the Suncoast dropped radically but we made it to and from ok. Stopped to visit Jac and John at their new place just off of the Suncoast trail about 14 miles from the end. Great trip.
200k up, 200k back plus Cracker Swamp 600k for a great 1000k Vamp ride. First day of the 600k (269 miles) was almost a repeat of the Cracker Swamp 1200k first day. Second day (105 miles) was a north out and back. Great weather, great ride. Hard headwind riding the 200k home.(click for full size image)
Basically a 400k cloverleaf plus another 400k up and back so an 800k Vamp ride. This is the most difficult 400k brevet one will find in Florida as there is over 30 ft/mile of short climbing but much of it is fairly steep. This hit most of the well-known steep hills in Central Florida. Paul and crew yet again put on a fabulous brevet.
Friday, Jan 13th I rode the 200k up to Tavares and did the Swamp Rat CFR 200k and CFR 300k brevets and then rode back on Monday. Stopped by the Lake Lindsay Deli for lunch heading up. Had a good time pulling Mike, Keith and Ruth on the Saturday 200k and Calista on the Sunday 300k. All are great riders and fun to ride with. Riding back on Monday I had a great tailwind and a fun ride home. Made it to George's in Tarpon before they closed at 2pm. Fun 600 miles in 4 days:
Inverness and back yet again! Had a great ride with Adrian. Heading up, about a mile before Lindsay Lake Deli, we had to hop down off of the pavement and onto a nicely prepared roadbase they were just about to pave. Road was blocked to through traffic but the road crew waved us on through. We then stopped at Lindsay Lake Deli just in case it was open, but as I had remembered it was closed on Sundays and Mondays but Adrian looked like he needed a little rest so we had a seat on the veranda and a pickup quickly pulled up. Turned out it was the owner who let us in to buy a couple of drinks. Yeah for thoughtful people! We made it to the Withlachoochee Trail before we ran into rain which stopped after a few miles, just a little before we made it to Floral City. Had a great, uneventful ride back the next day. Tailwinds both days!!!
This is an excellent 2 day double century training ride for short touring. With only 12 feet per mile of average elevation gain (vs. the 50'-60'/mile centuries I used to ride) it's very easy with all but about 30 miles on trails. Just pack lightly for overnight, some walking clothes and the second day's ride.
Inverness and back. Great ride, though the section of Lake Lindsay Rd just west of Snow Highway (Lake Lindsay Deli intersection) was a little torn up as they are working to resurface the road. They recently had resurfaced the section just a little further west and hopefully it will be at least as good as that job.
Cracker Swamp 1200k brevet plus another 400k for me riding to and from, for 1030 miles! 88 riders coming from all over for this one. This was a fabulous event and my favorite brevet so far. I was able to ride most of the event with Gunnar Ohlanders, from Sweden, who did RAAM solo in 2012 (when I was doing 4-person RAAM with Larry, Jacquie and John), Dan Driscoll from TX, who runs the Texas Time Trials near Ft Worth and is an RBA with the Lone Star Randonneurs, and Kate Marshall and Victor Urvantsev ("Ride with Dentist is good!")from NY on a tandem. We had a blast riding together. This was cycling. A special thanks to Paul Rozelle and his fabulous crew at Central Florida Randonneurs for the incredible job they did. Easy (and fun) 1030 miles in 6 days:
September 620k Birthday ride. Did the first 330k last Sunday. Quit because It wasn't intended to be a solo ride. Finished the last 290k with Doug the next Saturday! Great job, Doug! I rode down to meet Doug in south St Pete, we rode across the Gandy, headed NW through Tampa to the Suncoast trail, rode up that, back down, through Starkey Park and back home.
Yet another fabulous (sort-of) Vamp-Ride! The 168 mile Cross Florida Ride was another great success. Though we had a NW headwind the entire ride, JV, Alex and I finished in precisely 8 hours. We had a 7:40 rolling time as I slashed a tire around mile 40 and the guys were gracious enough to help me get back on the road. The day went by pretty quickly and we had a lot of fun. My new pedal technique and new diet worked really well and I stayed relaxed and comfortable pulling about 160 of the 168 miles.
The CFR's 400k Brevet on March 5 was great. I turned it into an 830k weekend for me by taking the new route out Centralia & Lake Lindsay Rds, through Nobleton, Bushnell and Center Hill, then up Youth Camp Rd, Dewey Robbins Rds(which have some decent climbs) then Tavares on Friday and almost the same route back on Sunday. The 400k on Saturday went up to Melrose then a big circle through Gainesville, back to Melrose, then Tavares.
Central Florida Randonneurs 300k! Had a great time. First really good day in a while.
2nd Annual Pinellas Beaches 100K. Great day for a nice ride. We rode down from mid-county, then back for a 110 mile day. A bit windy early afternoon so the ride back was pretty quick.
Rode to Sebring for the Highlands Bike Fest . Great ride and weekend. Doug and Katy rode with me. Nice century ride on Saturday.
Tampa Bay Bridges rides. Too much fun... Two weeks in a row! And windy both times! First with John G. and then with Judy, we did the short version of the ride, which is a 70 mile round trip to Taylor Lake. First time across the Gandy bridge for both of them! I wonder how many St Pete riders have simply ridden across the Gandy bridge, much less across both bridges and through Tampa also! I know years back they used to fairly often but I have only heard from a handful who have done it in recent years.
Tampa Bay Bridges ride. Rode with Sonny and Tang on the new Clearwater to Tampa Trail that parallels Courtney Campbell. We went up through Clearwater, east on Cleveland, then Drew, over to the new Trail to Tampa. Caught up with a couple up from Miami visiting in Tampa, who were riding the trail. Strong riders so we rode and talked with them over to Tampa, then east on Cypress to S. Boulevard, east on Swann to Davis Island. Rode down to the yacht club then back up the east side of Davis where we ate lunch, then back over to Tampa, down Bayshore to Euclid, Manhattan, Gandy to St Pete, then rode to Weedon Island, Snell Island, then did the south loop to Pinellas Point, back to St Pete to Tang's house a little northwest of downtown to finish off their century ride. I rode back through downtown to 1st Av and back home to finish off mine. Both did a great ride. Please congratulate them the next time you see them.
Ride to Inverness and Back! On Monday, my daughter and I rode to Inverness (100 miles), then back on Tuesday, completing 500 miles in 5 days. With the new improvements along 50A/41/98 through Brooksville, we went that way instead of Howell Ave. Watch the RR crossing at the bottom of the hill on 98 headed west (downtown Brooksville) though as I ruined my front wheel on it headed back home. Wasn't a problem the last time I rode it but it certainly was this time.
Ride to Mt Dora! Doug and I started in St Pete before 6am Friday, rode through Tampa, Plant City, Lakeland, along the Van Fleet Trail, up near Mascotte, then NE via 561 (somewhat) to the Mt Dora bike fest - 150 miles. Rode the century on Saturday and the Bakery Ride (54 miles) on Sunday with some of the St Pete riders. However, I've decided that the route north of Brooksville along Lake Lindsay Road is far better than through Tampa/Lakeland or Hwy 50.
Tour de Tow (Bartow) Went to a friend's house in Lakeland Friday then got up early Saturday, rode to Bartow, did the Tour at high speeds with about 9-10 bonus miles thrown in due to missing the very poorly marked route, back to Lakeland, then back through Tampa (in the rain and through downtown during some big event that had traffic stopped) then clear sailing (against a strong headwind) through South Tampa and across the Gandy bridge back to St Pete. Garmin went bonkers so not sure but somewhere around 160 miles on Saturday, most of it under hard power. Strongest medium length ride I've done in a long time.
Birthday ride to Starkey Park! Great birthday ride for Steve from 102nd and the Trail to the rest stop at Starkey Park. Bob G. was nice enough to celebrate with us and we had a great time. We ate lunch in Tarpon Springs at George's Breakfast Station on the way back and stopped again for a short rest and refuel at Nauti Nancy's before riding down Myrtle through Clearwater. Steve got in about 82 miles, I worked in a century and I expect Bob was somewhere around a century also.
Ride to Lakeland, Fl for the Lakeland 600k brevet. I rode to Tampa to meet up with a friend to stay at his house Friday night then we got up at 3am Sat morning and rode with him about 15 miles to the Motel 6 start. I was having a blast. The course was great, though more difficult than any brevet I've ridden so far in Florida. Unfortunately, I apparently got food poisoning from the 200k control location, which showed up about 50 miles later and took me out at mile 215. Was fun meeting some strong riders I've never seen before. Hope to ride with them again someday.
Cross Florida 2015!! While not actually a Vamp-Rides ride since it didn't begin and end in Pinellas County, it is still a great ride.
Spring Hill and back yet again! We were headed for the Tavares 400k with a weather forecast of Partly Cloudy the whole way. By the time we had ridden to Spring Hill, it had rained on us almost all of the way and it was raining fairly hard in Spring Hill. We checked the forecast again. Current conditions in Spring Hill very erroneously still said Partly Cloudy. With the forecasts so far off we decided it would not be a great idea to travel on Hwy 50 in the rain so turned around and rode home in the rain. Still had a great ride despite having to spend most of a day cleaning the bikes up.
Spring Hill and back again! With another party, we rode up to Spring Hill and back again for 120 miles. Started getting a little windy heading up the last 5 or so miles but we had a great tailwind the entire way coming back. Fabulous!
Spring Hill and back. We rode up to Spring Hill via the Largo to Inverness route, then back for 120 miles. The E Lake/Trinity route through Trinity is much better than going the old route through Holiday.
Rode to Tavares, Fl for the Central Florida 300k brevet. We rode a 200k to Tavares on Saturday, then the 300k brevet on Sunday and another 200k back from Tavares on Monday. They had a good crowd for the Saturday 200k (that we didn't participate in but rode back with from Mascotte) and I think 41 riders for the Sunday 300k. Had a great time with everyone there. Not a fast ride weekend but decent averages of 18mph Sat, 19mph Sun, 17mph Monday with a few hills east of Brooksville and also north of Clermont. Had some fairly strong headwinds riding up A1A from Ormond Beach to Flagler Beach and heading west from Flagler. Traffic was a little heavy coming back on Hwy 50 Monday but not too bad.
To Tavares we rode up through Starkey Wilderness Park to the Suncoast Trail and then cut over along Hwy 50. From Tavares we rode up through Altoona and Seville then over to Bunnell, down Anderson Hwy to Ormond Beach, back up to Flagler Beach then returned back to Tavares. Come ride with us to Tavares soon for another great brevet!
Two day ride to Weeki Wachee and back. We just returned from an abbrevated version of the Largo to Inverness ride where we turned west off of the Suncoast Trail at Powell Rd/Elgin Blvd east of Spring Hill and took Elgin to Deltona, Cortez then Hwy 19.
Great ride. It was only 125 miles from my house. The only problem area was a stretch of S 22 St (causeway) SE out fo Tampa from the bridge to the first traffic light where they are rebuilding the northbound side of the road. I was maintaining 26mph into the headwind but pulled out a few times to let traffic pass. The truck traffic behind me was exemplary though. I waved and told them thanks. Ate lunch in Ft Meade at John's Drive-In. Needed a little break from the hard headwind. The waitress asked me if I would take her for a ride on my bike... Thought I'd heard everything. On Saturday, Byron, Dennis and I finished off the century ride with a 4:08 rolling time.
We are planning on doing some multi-day rides this year. I've done a number of 2 and 3-day out and back (mostly) rides the past few years starting in Pinellas County, including Ormond Beach, Melrose, Gainesville, Inverness, Dunnellon, Weeki Wachee, Mt. Dora, Titusville, Cocoa Beach, Sebring, . I've ridden to Tallahasee and back from Gainesville and to there from Pinellas County mostly along Hwy 98. I've ridden most of Hwy 90 in Florida several times (I think my favorite road) and all over central Florida on trips and brevets.
These can be leisurely rides or fast rides. I'll do either! Pick somewhere you want to go and we'll try to ride there and back. We usually do credit card trips these days so if you want to camp, just don't expect all of us to.
Note that google maps is no longer following the routes laid out in the following urls so most are likely incorrect. I will likely provide links to gpx track files in the future so you will need something to view them with.
St Pete to Davis Island. 21 miles to Thai Island restaurant for lunch!
St Pete to Apollo Beach. 40 miles to Circles Waterfront Restaurant!
St Pete to USF. 32 miles. Someone requested a route to USF in Tampa. I've ridden as far north as MLK Blvd north of downtown Tampa. Don't know the rest of the route.
St Pete to Suncoast Trail. 50 miles. Drop By Keystone Corner (on Tarpon Springs Rd) for lunch!
St Pete to Palmetto. 60 miles. Has anyone ridden the Tamiami Trail south of Tampa? I haven't found anyone who can provide riding information on it. I've wanted to do this ride a number of times but haven't yet.
Largo to Inverness . 99 miles. Goes up the Pinellas Trail through Tarpon Springs, over beside Keystone Rd, north on Lake Rd, east on Trinity Blvd, jog over on Duck Slough Blvd and FL 54 to Starkey Blvd, through Starkey Wilderness Park, up the Suncoast Parkway to head east on Centralia Rd, then continue on Lake Linday Rd to Istachatta on the Withlacoochie Trail then north to Inverness.
St Pete to Sebring . 112 miles. Goes over the Gandy bridge through Tampa, heads SE down Causeway Blvd, Lithia Pinecrest Rd, Agricola Rd through Ft Meade to Frostproof then south to Sebring. Great roads, very little traffic around Ft Meade, etc. Stop for lunch in Ft Meade.
Inverness to Gainesville. 75 miles. Continue from Inverness, either the same day or the next. I didn't like the stretch on SW Archer between Archer and Gainesville. Need to find a route with less traffic.
Dunnellon to Gainesville. 55 miles. An alternate suggestion that I have not tried, though it appears I have ridden most of the roads on the route at one time or another.
Brevets are a randonneuring event and a great way to accomplish distance rides and meet new riding friends. These are events where the riders follow an indicated course through a series of controls or check points at their own pace (mostly) that must be documented to indicate the proper completion of the course. Typical brevet lengths are 100k, 200k, 300, 400, 600, 1000k and 1200k.
I know of two RUSA supported Randonneuring groups that run brevets in the Central Florida area:
The Central Florida Randonneurs typically start their brevets out of Tavares, FL and always put on a great event. Tavares is just north of some of the best hills in Florida and CFR usually makes a point of including some of them in the shorter routes, at least. I usually ride the 200k up to Tavares the day before the event and ride back the day after.
The Gainesville Cycling Club has their Brevet Series each year. They have really good routes for 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k brevets. The 600k I rode went up into Georgia, back down almost to Tallahassee and back to Gainesville. I've also ridden up to Gainesville, ridden a 200k brevet the next day, then rode back the third day. Anyone interested? Anyone interested in starting a brevet series around here?
I've ridden from Titusville through St Cloud, Lakeland, Plant City, Tampa to Clearwater. Are there any points of interest worth riding to somewhere along that way? I've ridden from Clearwater to Gainesville and from Clearwater to Tallahassee and on through northern Florida (rode from Central Texas to the east coast, down through Clearwater and then back to Texas). Anyone interested in something up that way?
We spent almost two months the fall of 2014 (and again the summer of 2015 via a more northerly route) wandering by minivan with our bikes inside from Pinellas County to Portland, Oregon, down the Pacific Coast then through eastern California, Nevada, Arizona, back to Florida. We rode our bikes almost every day at least 30-40 miles on roads and trails as were fairly easy to travel on. West of the Natchez Trace heading northwest, ridable open roads were very few and far between until we reached eastern Oregon. Even in Oregon, roads were far less rideable than most places in central and northern Florida. Though the roads were typically not very amenable to cycling, the drivers tended to be far better and safer. Even in Portland, Oregon, the city streets are not great for cyclists but they ride them anyway and in huge numbers. Basically it appears to me that they have simply forced their way onto public roads and made drivers respect them through their numbers. We never once saw a single cycle peloton anywhere during the trip. Riders rode alone or in small numbers. Portland in 2015, with the huge influx of people moving to Portland and bringing their road rage behaviors with them, there were more problems riding in the area. The problem is apparently becoming a big issue for Portland riders as I read several magazine and newspaper articles published in the couple of weeks we were there regarding the conflicts, hits and deaths by drivers.
Riding back through the Florida Panhandle along Hwy 90 was simply fabulous. It's been about 6 years since I've travelled Hwy 90 and it was just as enjoyable as I remembered.
In my opinion, by far, Florida has the best backroads for travelling by bicycle anywere I've been in the USA. If we want drivers to learn how to deal with cyclists, maybe the answer is just to get out on the roads and ride them often and in numbers.
Sept 24, 2017