Yesterday, Rick, my cycling buddy from the Caloosa Riders, and I made plans to stretch out our legs a bit and take a nice long 70 mile touring ride to Vanderbilt beach down in Naples. Our route was to be my Vanderbilt-70 (Tree Line Avenue to Three Oaks Parkway/Imperial Parkway/Livingston Road to Vanderbilt Road) with a refueling stop at the Fit & Fuel Cafe. The goal was to do a classic touring ride where the pace is relaxed and fun. Just good company, our fine tuned road machines and a lot of Florida sunshine.
It was still unseasonably chilly, well at least for this lycra clad Floridian, when I met up with Rick at the Sweetbay Market, but there would be no need for base layers as the temperature was going to rise quickly into the low to mid 80’s. Rick informed me that Larry, another Caloosa Rider, would be joining us a few miles ahead to accompany us on the tour. The more the merrier.
We headed out keeping a sub 20 MPH touring pace and met up with Larry four miles ahead near the entrance to the Plantation neighborhood. The winds were calm, a welcome change from the last few days, with just a light headwind to keep us cool as the temperature rapidly increased. I stayed out in front and lead the group (it’s not a pull when touring) the first 14 miles to the I-75 overpass. We crossed over and then all took turns up front as we cruised our way down to North Collier Regional Park for a badly needed besoin naturel.
We took advantage of the break and grabbed a quick bite of our energy bars while chit chatting about our families as well as all the amazing amenities at North Collier Regional Park including the water park, the recently opened Golisano Children’s Museum, sports complexes, and nature trails. We eventually mounted back up for the 5 miles or so remaining till we hit the mid way point at Vanderbilt Beach.
As we approached the beach, Larry asked us if we had ever cycled down the Naples coast. Neither Rick nor I had, so Larry suggested we “add a few miles” to our ride in the Pelican Bay area. Little did we know, that our “few mile” detour would turn our 70 mile cycling tour into a full 100 mile excursion…no complaints though, as no cyclist would ever turn down the opportunity to ride more miles, especially when exploring new areas.
Larry took us on a winding path hugging the Naples coast through some of the most expensive and exclusive real-estate to be found in Florida. The residences in this area have to be seen to be believed, as the square footage of these “vacation homes” is measured in the tens of thousands of square feet. Yet even with all the opulence and wealth, the people out enjoying the day were extremely friendly and pretty much just like you and me. Needless to say, the other 1% (of 1%) is doing well.
After meandering about we headed back north to Vanderbilt for lunch at the Fit & Fuel Cafe. This might have been the first time I have not seen the place absolutely filled with cyclists, but then we are out of season, and it was mid afternoon, regardless though, the food hit the spot. I recommend the turkey, bacon, avocado wrap. It will fill your empty tank without weighing you down on your ride.
The day so far had been flawless with picture perfect weather, delightful company and spectacular scenery. Heck we were even going to have a light tail wind all the way home, but of course my old friend Murphy had to interfere, giving me a rear puncture just a few miles after we had headed out from the cafe.
A quick tire change later (ok not that quick as my new tire irons are a bit funky to use…note to self, pack my old irons from now on), and we were back on the road, enjoying the ride home. This was Rick’s first ever 100 mile ride, which is a classic cycling milestone. What better way to break your century cherry than touring the coast of Florida with friends on a perfect spring day…ok, he could have had better looking cycling partners, particularly of the female variety, but he can’t have all his fantasies come true 🙂
Big congrats to Rick on his first 100 miles, and a big thanks to Larry for for the spectacular detour through Naples. Perhaps the cycling club could feature this tour from time to time. After all, there is nothing quite like a long bike tour with friends.
Route: Tour de Larry – 100 miles of SW Florida
Ride Time: 5:46:33
Stopped Time: 1:43:35
Distance: 98.17 miles
Average: 17.00 mph
Fastest Speed: 25.92 mph
Ascent: 508 feet
Descent: 565 feet