Bike events, trails and shops

click to enlarge FIRST CALL: The Pub Bike Ride happens the last Sunday of every month. - Michael Minichiello
Michael Minichiello
FIRST CALL: The Pub Bike Ride happens the last Sunday of every month.

The state of Florida, including the Tampa Bay area, has a mind-boggling array of biking recreation and retail options. Here’s just a sampling to help get you rolling. 

Special Events

C2C Spring Ride Choose from a 50- or 65-mile loop in the hills of central Florida, on March 28. It is a supported ride, much of it on light traffic and back roads, with beautiful scenery and some challenging terrain, but is suitable for recreational, enthusiast, or experienced cyclists. There is a minimal $20 charge for support, cue sheets, and a group lunch at the finish is included in the cost. C2CBikeRide.com.

Cross Florida Bike Ride Scheduled for late October, this ride is a perennial favorite. The fully supported, recreational group ride that transverses Florida from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico over three days. Includes transportation from Lutz, to Ormond Beach for start, support vehicles, snacks and water, hotel accommodations for the two overnight stops, breakfast, lunch and sag-stop snacks, great routes, wonderful people, with transportation from the Gulf of Mexico back to Lutz, and much more. Due to the desire to keep this ride a friendly, memorable event, the Cross Florida Ride is limited to about 50 cyclists, and generally fills up about a month before the Ride, but Team C2C, which organizes the event, does provide a waiting list that allows riders to fill in if someone has to cancel. C2CBikeRide.com.

Florida Caverns to Coast Tour Seven-, five-, two- and one-day options from Blountstown to Marianna to Port St. Joe. Features indoor and outdoor camping, multiple daily ride options, 151 to 520 miles in seven days, beer gardens, a beach party, food by Dixie Grill Bike Catering and get this: a No-Sweat Shower truck service. Plus there’ll be an end-of-ride party to celebrate your accomplishment and nightly entertainment. Registration is Friday, March 20. Riding starts Saturday, March 21. Bike rentals, luggage delivery and tent service available. Starts at Blountstown Middle School, 17586 Main St. N., Blountstown. Fees vary. bikeflorida.org/2015-spring-tour.

Tampa Two Stroke Two-Wheel Roll Out The vintage scooter club hosts a super-fun annual bike scavenger hunt every year. 2015’s ride takes place Feb. 21 and heads out from Seminole Heights to Ybor. More details to come. Check here for updates.

click to enlarge Bike events, trails and shops - CHIP WEINER
CHIP WEINER
Bike events, trails and shops
Gasparilla Criterium & Cycling Festival Tampa’s seventh annual downtown race event, presented by Cigar City Brewing and Bright House Networks, promises to be bigger and better this year. It will feature a Kids Crit, Corporate Relay and 3K Beer Dash. The 3K fun run takes place on the criterium course; registration is $20 in advance ($25 on race day). All participants will receive a complimentary Cigar City Brewing beer (21 and older only) and a commemorative T-shirt, along with beer discounts at the Criterium Watch Party. A health, wellness and bike product expo will also be featured. March 21-22, noon-10 p.m. gasparillacrit.com.

St. Petersburg Bicycle Club 27th Annual Spring Classic A social and ride scheduled for April 19. More details TBD. stpetebicycling.com.

Group Rides

Casual Ride on Pinellas Trail 15 miles on Pinellas Trail, 14-15 mph, Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Helmet needed. No ride on third Wednesday of the month. Leaves from Pinellas Trail/Dunedin, one block north of Main Street at parking lot adjacent to Trail. Call 727-441-2444 for more information.

Critical Mass: Tampa & St. Pete Florida has reached critical mass when it comes to bike injuries and fatalities, and riders on both sides of the bay are working in tandem to reverse the trend. Critical Mass: Tampa and Critical Mass: St. Pete hope to spread awareness by leading rides that take place on the same evening, the last Friday of the month, in hundreds of cities. Groups meet up at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park at 7:30 p.m., and the ride heads out promptly at 8 p.m. For St. Pete residents, Williams Park is the point of departure, and the ride starts at 7:30 sharp. Last Friday of every month. facebook.com/criticalmasstampabay.

Extreme Jams Ripping bowl sessions are free for bikers and skaters on the first Saturday of each month. Highland Skate Park, 400 Highland Ave. N.E., Largo. largo.com.

History Bike Tampa History Bike Tampa meets the first Saturday of the month and departs promptly at 10 a.m. from Kahwa at the Element. The tour is provided free of charge, but there’s a suggested donation of $5. facebook.com/HistoryBikeTampa. First Saturday of every month. Kahwa Espresso Bar at The Element, 808 N. Franklin St. #117, Tampa. 813-228-7900. kahwacoffee.com.

Pinellas Pub Rides Tour downtown Dunedin, Ozona, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs watering holes. The next ride is Feb. 7 in Tarpon Springs. Future dates TBD. Visit facebook.com/PinellasPubRide for updates.

Pub Bike Ride The ever popular group ride tools around downtown, Seminole Heights, Davis Islands, Hyde Park and other Central Tampa areas. As always, “lights required, helmets recommended and no bad attitudes.” The January 25 ride starts at New World Brewery at 6 p.m., with stops at Lee’s Grocery and Coppertail before ending at Cigar City Cider & Mead. Free. Last Sunday of every month. facebook.com/pubbikeride.

Rules of the Road: Bike Smart/Drive Safe Tampa Bay Sierra Club’s February program features Karen Kress with a refresher course on safety guidelines for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians in urban areas. Free safety gear and Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide. New members orientation at 6:30pm. Programs vary month to month, and the public is welcome to attend. For more information and a schedule of speakers, call 813-741-3054 or visit florida.sierraclub.org/tampabay. Second Wednesday of every month, 7 p.m. 727-797-6261. florida.sierraclub.org/tampabay.

Seminole Heights Bicycle Club No fees — just show up with bike and helmet. On the first Saturday of each month, a short ride leaves at 8:30 a.m. from 1016 E. Clifton St., Tampa. for an easy-going 6-mile ride around the northeastern section of Seminole Heights. The intermediate ride is on the second Saturday of each month, leaving at 8:30 a.m. from the Seminole Heights Garden Center, 5800 Central Ave, Tampa. On the third Saturday of each month, the club’s longest ride leaves at 8:30 a.m. from the Seminole Heights Garden Center and ventures through neighborhoods, along waterfronts and urban areas with various terrain and level of traffic. More info at seminoleheightsbicycleclub.org.

Suncoast Cycling Club Saturday Club Rides North Pinellas’ cycling club leaves from Chainwheel Drive, Palm Harbor, Saturdays at 8 a.m. Sat., Jan. 10, ride ventures to Lake Chautauqua-Mullis City. For detailed schedules and printable routes, visit suncoastcycling.com.

Urban Restaurant Tour Ride for four hours to four different Tampa restaurants spotlighting one menu item each. Next ride is Thurs., Jan. 29. Itinerary TBD. Visit floridabiketours.com.

More bicycle clubs and rides can be found at tampabaycycle.com/rides.

Bike Trails and Destinations

Chain of Lakes Trail Ride 3 miles along a former railroad bed from downtown Winter Haven north to Lake Alfred in central Florida. As the name suggests, riders pass several lakes along the way in adddition to parks, neighborhoods and businesses. Parking is available at the southern end of the trail in Winter Haven at the Chain of Lakes Downtown Trailhead Park (611 Third St. N.W.) and at Inman Park (Eighth Street N.W.).

Courtney Campbell Trail The paved, ultra-scenic 5.1-mile trail provides pedestrian and bicycle access along the southern side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, connecting Cypress Point Park, Skyway Park, and Ben T. Davis Beach. The first 5 miles in Hillsborough County were completed in fall 2013, and an additional 4 miles are scheduled to be added this year, extending from the Hillsborough/Pinellas county line to Bayshore Boulevard in Clearwater. Parking is available on the trail’s west end at Ben T. Davis Beach, 7740 W. Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Davis Islands Outer Loop 9.14 miles of scenic, quaint Old Florida suburbia with Bay vistas and a dog park along the way. Find the route at mapmyride.com.

Flatwoods Park Trail The multi-purpose route is a favorite among Tampa riders. Its 7-mile paved loop provides woodsy beauty with possibilities to see critters such as armadillo, turtles, hawks, and deer. Picnic shelters, grills and tables available throughout the trail for a fee, as well as other amenities. Parking and Trail Access: The Morris Bridge entrance is about 5 miles northeast of I-75 on Morris Bridge Road (CR 579) at Flatwoods Park Trail. Taking exit 266 towards East Fletcher Ave/Morris Bridge Road goes directly to the park. The Bruce B. Downs Boulevard (CR 581) entrance is 1 mile northeast of I-75 via exit 270 at the intersection of Richmond Place Drive with restrooms and parking available.

Fort de Soto Trail The 6.8-mile, 12-foot-wide asphalt recreation trail connects the campground with the North and East Beach Swim Centers and the historic fort. pinellascounty.org.

Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail In St. Petersburg, the 40-plus-mile trail crosses dozens of pedestrian bridges with urban panoramas. The most scenic portion is the quarter-mile Cross Bayou Bridge, which spans Boca Ciega Bay. The northern section offers dining stops (see Food & Drink, p. 32) in Dunedin and Tarpon Springs, where a “dangerous intersection” sign is posted at a junction that forces bikers and pedestrians to play chicken as they cross. Visit pinellascounty.org/trailgd/default.htm for rules and access info.

The Good Neighbor Trail Runs 10 miles from Brooksville to the Withlacoochee State Forest, following the route of the former Florida Southern Railroad Line. First four miles is paved; remainder dirt trail recommended for mountain bikes. Free parking and restrooms are available at the trailhead at 70 Russell Street in Brooksville. ci.brooksville.fl.us.

The Nature Coast State Trail Formerly the Nature Coast Greenway, the 32-mile artery connects five small towns — Cross City, Old Town, Fanning Springs, Trenton and Chiefland — and includes a variety of trips. The 12-mile leg northwest to Cross City travels past Old Town, along the Suwannee River, where manatees swim during cooler months. A 7-mile swath of less-traveled trail (east of Fanning Springs) leads to the quaint town of Trenton, where a trailhead, restrooms, nearby businesses and a colorful railroad mural can be enjoyed. On a 9-mile route southeast to Chiefland, the trail girds hardwood hammocks along the northern boundary of Andrews Wildlife Management Area. Some have spotted bobcats there, but gopher tortoises are more commonly seen. Call 352-493-6072 for parking and other info.

The Upper Tampa Bay Trail Located in residential northwest Hillsborough County, the path runs along the west shore of Channel A from a trailhead off Memorial Highway and Montague Street, past Waters Avenue, Linebaugh, and then due north to Gunn Highway, Ehrlich Road and ending at Peterson Road Park. The current 7.25 miles make up the first three phases of a four-phase project. Maps and other info at hillsboroughcounty.org.

More info on all above trails and more and more at traillink.com.

Bike Shops & Rentals

Bike & Beach Rentals Regret forgetting to hitch your bike for your beach outing to Fort de Soto? It’s not too late to hit the area’s scenic trail. Stop here to rent 10 styles of bikes ­— from bicycles built for one to bicycles built for eight — suitable for all ages and abilities. Located in Fort de Soto Park behind the fort and gift shop. Rent a kayak and canoe here too. Download a brochure at unitedparkservices.com/pdf/brochure.pdf.

BikeSport If you live in the northwesternmost reaches of Pinellas, this comprehensive and accommodating shop is your go-to for all your biking needs and group rides. 3970 Tampa Road, Suite D, Oldsmar. bikesportbicycles.com.

Brandon Bikeworks As with other shops in this listing, the Eastern Hillsborough shop was included in the National Bicycle Dealers Association Top 100 Bike Shops 2014. 6048 Winthrop Town Centre Ave., Riverview, 813-438-8908. brandonbikeworks.com.

Chainwheel Drive The mainstay in North Pinellas for the past three decades supports local bike clubs and state and national cycling organizations, providing support for rides and races all over the region. Two locations now: 1770 Drew St., Clearwater, 727-441-2444; 32796 U.S. 19 N. Palm Harbor, chainwheeldrive.com.

City Bike Tampa This recently expanded shop was voted best bike shop in an informal poll on CL’s Facebook page. The shop not only has a slew of bikes for sale — Bianchi, Kona, Jamis, Eastern and KHS among them — but it has been heavily involved in Tampa’s restaurant and history tours and other bike-centric events. “We only hire mechanics, they understand why a bike does what it does,” owner/manager Kevin Craft said. “Even though they aren’t always the best at sales, you get honest conversation about what you should really be looking for in a bike, not just what we want to put you on.” Reason alone to visit: Best of the Bay Best Bike Shop Dog winner Macey, the ultimate in canine sales associates. 212 E. Cass St., Tampa, 888-484-BIKE (2453) or 813-225-1777, citybiketampa.com.

Coast Bike Share Tampa's official bike share program provides 300 bikes located at 30 hubs across downtown, Ybor City, and Hyde Park. The program is managed by Cyclehop, a bike share consulting and operations company with 20 years of experience in the cycling industry. The bikes, designed by NYC based Social Bicycles, are 3-speed step-through style bicycles equipped with GPS technology that allows the user to easily locate the bicycles from a mobile app as well as track their mileage, carbon offset and gas savings. coastbikeshare.com.

The Energy Conservatory Bike Shop Also included in the National Bicycle Dealers Association Top 100 Bike Shops 2014, the downtown Dunedin mainstay specializes in adult trikes, BMX, recumbents, hybrids, fixies and fixie parts, cruisers, comfort bikes, rentals and electric bicycles. The shop repairs all makes and models, and will even work on electric bicycles and scooters too. Conveniently close to the Pinellas Trail. 745 Main St., Dunedin. 727-736-4432. energybicycle.com.

Flying Fish Shop here for awesome doodads and accessories, great closeout deals, how-to classes and just about everything you need to ride safely and swiftly. Customers have praised the staff for being knowledgeable, professional and helpful. South Tampa, 2409 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-839-0410; Westchase, 13038 Race Track Road, Countryway and Race Track Road, Tampa, 813- 854-1738, flyingfishbikes.com.

The Path Bike Shop In addition to a wide selection of mountain, road, fixie and other bikes, and a personalized suite of services, the downtown Clearwater shop hosts group rides and events out of their shop. 647 Cleveland St., Clearwater, 727-216-6726. thepathbicycleandrideshop.com.

Profile Racing Tucked away in a Bay Pines neighborhood, Profile is only one of four BMX manufacturers in the U.S. and sells to international distros, domestic bike shops and the public through its online store. Sales/freestyle team manager Matt Coplon (pictured) is a notable musician in the Tampa punk/indie scene and won first place overall, 30-plus class, in the 2014 FLBMX Contest series. See Matt and the gravity-defying Profile Pro Team in action at the Skatepark of Tampa, on Vimeo, and at profileracing.com.

Ride-N-Roll Cyclery and Racing Team The shop is a short ride to some of Pinellas’ loveliest beaches and hosts rides, offers friendly service and says it’s dedicated to growing the cycling community. 1260 W. Bay Drive, Suite E, Largo, 727-518-2453. RideNRollCyclery.com.

St Pete Bicycle and Fitness If two wheels won’t do ya, this shop has tri bikes, plus high-tech equipment like aero helmets, computers and heart-rate monitors, hydration systems, aero bars and wheels. The perfect shop for the triathlete. 1205 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg; 6648 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. stpetebicycleandfitness.com.

Vèlo Champ Read about owner Jordan Miller and his work in the community on p. 12. 6112 N. Central Ave., Tampa, 813-374-2424, velochamp.com.

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