Time for a little deja vu as we headed back to the barrier islands…again! This time the riding contingent was a little more robust as Jeff, Steve and Pete joined Angela and myself on a virtual repeat of last Thursday’s ride.
The morning was already warm, a sure sign that it was going to be a hot one, as I rode down Six Mile Cypress to meet up with the gang. A light drizzle started falling a few miles into my comute, but ceased as quickly as it had started. Just enough to cool you off, and get the bike messy, but welcomed nonetheless.
I arrived first at the meeting point followed shortly by Jeff, also on his bike (bonus points awarded to those that cycle to a rides starting point). Steve and Pete pulled up a bit later and began prepping their bikes as we waited on others to join us. For a while there it looked like it would just be the four of us, when all of a sudden Angela came zooming in doing her best Danika Patrick imitation, showing off her Germanic driving skills as she slalomed her SUV through the lot coming to a screeching halt next to Steve’s car.
Once all bikes were prepped, we headed off to the islands using Jeff’s preferred scenic route through Lakes Park. There was a headwind the entire way, yet we got to the base of the “mighty mount causeway” surprisingly fast. With headwinds around 12 MPH, the climb would be a little more tasking than last time, but fortunately, there was no buffeting of the wind and, as a bonus, traffic was light…anyways, a little added extra effort is good for the legs.
We were all huffing and puffing a bit by the time we completed the crossing, but quickly regrouped and started our classic loop through Sanibel. While slicing through the fun “switchbacks” on East Gulf Drive our chatter was focused on an incident that occurred to a couple of other Caloosa Riders over the weekend when they were pulled over by a rather incompetent (ok that was a little strong, how about misinformed instead) police officer for cycling too close to one another and being two abreast. Both, by the way, are completely legal under the Florida bicycle laws. To further profess his “misinformed brilliance” he even complained about their clipless shoes stating that they were “not safe because they take too long to clip out”. Apparently the Sanibel police are cracking down on island cycling…ironic, as Sanibel bills itself as a cycling friendly destination. I guess the Sanibel coffers might be a bit low, as he threatened the riders with a $159 dollar fine.
We kept the incident in the back of our minds, and did our best to stay within the letter of the cycling laws as we continued our loop. When we reached Doc Ford’s restaurant on Rabbit Road, we quickly elected to head to Captiva instead of returning to the causeway. Heat and headwind be damned, it was too nice a day, and the ride was far too enjoyable to start heading back.
We jumped onto Sanibel-Captiva Road and made our way up to Captiva for a nice shaded break, as well as some cold drinks and banana bread at the local Starbucks. Rested, refueled and with drinks topped off we headed back out to enjoy the downwind version of the ride.
As we approached Blind Pass, the hurricane produced cut between Sanibel and Captiva, we had a “near incident” with a local resident as he barreled out of his driveway into our path on Captiva Drive. Luckily, he saw us at the last second and managed to stop his hulking SUV avoiding a potentially serious mishap. It’s good to see that local residents pay careful attention to the large parabolic mirrors at the ends of their driveways before pulling out into traffic…NOT!!!
No harm, no foul, we just brushed off the shock and continued on. I suggested we stop at the Blind Pass bridge for a little photo op. Turner Beach and the azure waters of the Gulf always make for a great backdrop. While squeezing together on the the bridge’s bike lane for the picture, we noticed that a Sanibel squad car had taken interest in us and stopped at the beach parking entrance. Was this “Officer Misinformed” looking for a chance to pick on us? Not wanting to take a chance, we finished up our pictures and continued into Sanibel in a perfectly aligned pace line.
He immediately followed us, matching our speed and watched us intently from behind. In all honesty, I was actually looking forward to being stopped for incorrect reasons as I was armed with a copy of the Florida bicycling laws (BTW I am not confrontational and highly respect, support and admire all first responders, but I have little tolerance for creative interpretations of laws), luckily he eventually drove by leaving us to continue our tour.
We had another near incident with a delivery truck when we switched to the bicycle paths on Periwinkle Way. Yet another motorist observing the very obvious bicycle/pedestrian path signs…this is why I prefer on road riding vs cycling paths.
Back onto the causeway with the wind at our back, we crossed over to the mainland and continued down Summerlin Road. Pete was falling behind a bit (he had not planned for the longer route), so we decided to take a lunch stop at the Ruby Tuesday…frankly we were all hungry after 60 plus miles under the sun. It’s amazing how welcomed an ice cold Coke is after being in the saddle for so long. I’m not a big softdrink fan, but man did that Coke hit the spot. We put our waitress to work as we kept her hopping with refills as we all “grazed” on our salads.
Tummy’s full, we climbed back onto our bikes and took the scenic Linear Park back to our original starting point bringing to an end yet another wonderful island tour with great friends.
Route: Barrier islands
Ride Time: 4:59:15
Stopped Time: 1:33:00
Distance: 79.02 miles
Average: 15.84 mph
Fastest Speed: 35.83 mph
Ascent: 729 feet
Descent: 881 feet