CLERMONT, FL -- If you biked with the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club I bet you didn't know that you were cycling with a cutting-edge bike club that could be the new model for bicycle clubs in Florida and this country.
That's a message I got from a Saturday afternoon meeting of statewide bicycle club leaders from around Florida that was organized by the Florida Bicycle Association in collaboration with the Florida Freewheelers, the local bike club in central Florida that's putting on the 30th Horrible Hundred bike ride in just a few hours here in Clermont.
The Seminole Heights Bicycle Club is all about getting people on bikes in a community and putting on slower rides so that people who otherwise would not be biking on roads would feel comfortable to pedal on routes with groups.
Bicyclists come in all shapes and abilities and some feel intimidated by the Spandex-and-jersey roadies on high-priced road bikes. So, the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club invites cyclists of all interests to join us in an informal setting to ride 5 miles in a fun family ride or 10 miles in an urban ride or 20 miles in a longer and slightly faster ride the first three Saturdays of every month. Our group agreed that the only rule is that you wear a helmet and bring a road-worthy bicycle in working order.
The first two rides -- the slow family 5-miler and the urban 10-miler -- usually draw bicyclists who wear long shorts and T-shirts and pedal an assortment of bicycles from urban cruisers and hybrids to mountain bikes and some older road bikes.
The feedback I got Saturday afternoon from the Florida Bicycle Association is that the SHBC might be the new model of bike clubs -- a group of bicyclists who go at a slower rate of speed wearing non-cycling clothing for the pure joy of bicycling.
For the record, the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club is a unincorporated group with no membership fees, titles or by-laws. Our weekly Saturday bike rides held the first three Saturdays of the month are kind of a meet-up style gathering with a designated ride leader for the purpose of showing the route.
We also have special bike rides outside of the regular schedule such as the last Saturday of this month -- the Thanksgiving Leftovers Bicycle Ride at 11:30 am for an easy bike ride to eat leftovers at 22nd Street Park in Seminole Heights.
I'm only a few hours away from starting the Horrible Hundred bike ride here in Clermont with some 2,000 other bicyclists. The weather forecast is for sterling, Chamber-of-Commerce conditions -- cool, dry, blue skies and low humidity with temps in the mid to high 70s.
I did this bike ride about six years ago and recall the mass of bicyclists and in just a few hours there is supposed to be a record number for this bike ride, celebrating its 30th year.
Later this late afternoon, I'll have photo coverage on this blog.
Also, there's the MDA ride in Dunedin-Clearwater today in Pinellas County. And if anything, just get on your bicycle today. It's going to be a gorgeous day to ride!