Could you have fantasized better weather for a century bike ride than today's conditions: cloudless sky, Coloradoesque bone-dry humidity, gentle breeze out of the northeast then off the Gulf and 74 gorgeous degrees.
Today was the day my bike friend Nick Griffiths of Moffitt Cancer Center by way of Winnepeg and I had picked to ride 100 miles.
My route would consist of including segments of five off-road PAVED trails or park facilities:
-- Suncoast Trail
-- Jay Starkey Park in south Pasco County
-- Pinellas Trail from Tarpon Springs to Dunedin
-- Upper Tampa Bay Trail
-- Al Lopez Park's 2-mile loop in Tampa
It was a fascinating ride because we included many types of cycling scenarios in between the trail sections, which I estimated took up about 30 to 31 miles of the 100-mile route. Keep in mind we started and ended at my house in Seminole Heights, which is 12 to 15 miles away from the closest off-road paved trail.
In between the paved trail parts we biked in urban roads such as North Boulevard in Tampa; suburban roads such as Bearrs Avenue in the Carrollwood area. Troublecreek Road outside New Port Rickey and Main Street from Dunedin to Oldsmar; and busy commercial roads such as a 4-mile stretch of US 19 between New Port Richey and Tarpon Springs.
It made us appreciate cycling, for example, amid the beautiful open land of the Starkey Park in south Pasco County.
At Mile 22, we stopped at Suncoast Trailisde Bicycles and chatted with Geoff Lanier and Tammy. As the store name denotes, the bike shop is right off the Suncoast Trail at the Target shopping center on State Road 54.
Nick had no problem with cycling the 100 miles. It's amazing that his longest ride up until today was 40 miles. He had a terrific cadence in the final mile and showed no wear and tear from the century.
You see all types of bicyclists at Starkey Park.
The terrain in the Starkey Park is marked by high pines and low palmettos.
Around Mile 80, Nick and I visited the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.