A late fall / early winter getaway to bring my mother to Florida gave me a chance to ride in the Tampa area. I chose Sarasota as it was close to my friend, John’s, place.
I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn – Bradenton-Sarasota Airport. I researched some routes and found a 50-mile loop ride of Sarasota. When John and I discussed routes he said he could meet me at the hotel for a 40-mile loop. I hoped to do the 50-mile ride but would go with the local knowledge.
It was 70° when we were ready to roll out at 10:00 a.m. Sunny, I applied sunscreen and we were off through the campus of the University of South Florida. We took a bike path, briefly, then followed side streets to downtown Sarastoa.
We rolled slowly through the downtown area. John had a Christmas music playlist and a portable speaker and was playing (blasting?) Christmas music and was wishing people a Merry Christmas as we rode.
We crossed the high bridge over the Sarasota Bay. John kept the pace high over the bridge. It wasn’t difficult but I didn’t feel like having a nice easy conversation either. I’m not suggesting he was trying to drop me but no worries, I matched his pace side by side ti the top.
Once over the bridge we visited Lido Key before crossing another bridge to Longboat Key (someone can double check me on this). We slipped into a couple private communities just to ride on quiet streets away from the busy traffic which was on this key.
We crossed another bridge onto Anna Marie Island and Bradenton Beach. John proudly showed me the (Green Bay) Packers Bar. We stopped in briefly at his place. He grabbed me an energy bar from his fridge which was appreciated. With one bottle on the bike – I need to ask for a refill and didn’t, I would need energy today.
We left the island via a causeway back across Sarasota Bay to Bradenton. We tried to avoid the main roads but a couple of times had to jump on US 41 which was very busy. It has a “bike” lane which is a small strip next to the main road’s three lanes separated by 5″ of white paint.
But John and I made it safely back to the hotel. He had asked me the mileage earlier and I wasn’t displaying it. As we got close I looked and asked him if he wanted to know. He agreed and I told him it was a lot more than 40. At that time we were at 52 miles. We arrived back at 54 and change and John wanted to ride to get to 55.
Once he left an headed back to downtown Sarasota. I wasn’t sure how far it was but it was farther than I thought. I turned around knowing I would have finished 100 km and ended with 103 (64 miles).
Sun. Water. Friendship. It doesn’t get better.
DISTANCE: 64 miles
SPEED: 14.5 mph (we toured a lot on slow streets)