“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”
~ John F. Kennedy
Former president JFK was absolutely right, it is one life’s greatest pleasures as well as one of the best and healthiest ways to explore or discover hidden treasures at a destination.
Pedaling to breathe in fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature and release stress does wonders for both mind and body.
That’s exactly what we experienced thanks to Earl, the owner of Acme Bicycle Shops during our visit to Charlotte Harbor.
We were invited to go on a 90-minute bike adventure from the northern tip of Gasparilla Island to Boca Grande Lighthouse, the oldest structure in the area which was built in 1890, and located on the south end. The path is 6.5 miles long (10 km).
We got ready for the road ahead by reviewing the basic rules, like sharing the trail with other riders and then picked our mountain bike.
We put our helmets on and off we went 😉
Riding is an excellent occasion to start a conversation. I rode next to Earl and asked him to tell me more about his passion in life!
He opened his first shop a few years ago along with his wife Karen who is also an enthusiastic bike rider and both are very active members in the cycling community. Business is going pretty well, they now have 3 shops!
Besides selling bicycles (ranging from basic to professional) and offering a complete repair service, they also organize custom-made individual and group tours all over Southwest Florida.
I was very happy to learn that every year Karen leads a group of 20 women and ride 400 miles (644 km) from Charlotte Harbor to Tampa. The “Annual Wheeling Women Tour’’ lasts 6 days! Isn’t that amazing?
I love it when a person speaks so passionately about what they do. They did follow their dreams and are now enjoying every moment!
There aren’t too many international visitors (he was very surprised to hear about all the places I’ve been to. Well, I told him I am a nomad, moving from one place to another) but he would love to see more of them 🙂
Now stopping on the side to capture the beauty of the surroundings was necessary!
This is a must in any itinerary: the Gasparilla Inn & club, where stars and even ex President Bush & family stay while on the island.
Lovely flowers in front of the Inn.
We still had a distance to go before reaching our final destination, so we continued.
We were getting closer! 2 more miles (3 km) to go!
Our final destination
What a great challenge that was! To celebrate this, I headed over to the beach to feel the white sand beneath my feet 🙂
Too bad it was grey & windy and we felt rain drops (you can see them on this pic). Otherwise I would have run straight to the water!
We had to leave, so we dropped off our bikes and bid farewell to our guide!
Honestly, we were all exhausted but really proud to have made it to the end.
I stopped quite often along the way, not just to get some rest, but to truly enjoy the sights and bring back memories.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Earl for his kindness, knowledge and professionalism. Every time I had to take a photo, he would stop and wait for me as well as Jennifer! So thank you both so much for your patience 🙂
Many thanks also to Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, Above Water PR and Acme Bicycle Shops for coordinating this fun adventure!
Now over to you.
Do you like cycling?
Where are your favorite places?
Let me know 😉
P.S: I would like to dedicate this post to a special person who was one of the brightest, cheerful, supportive and caring persons I ever had the chance to meet online and in real life. She absolutely loved cycling and was an award-winning athlete. I am pretty sure she would have been the first to comment (as she always did) & congratulate me on having accomplished this feat!
This is for Anita Mac, who unfortunately is no longer with us. She left way too soon. I learned the sad news earlier this week and it was very hard to accept. I had only spoken to her a few weeks ago. She not only was a fabulous travel blogger but also a great human being. She helped me so much in the past months and I feel so sorry that I was not there to lend an ear, simply listen and help her in return.
I already lost my best friend in similar circumstances and it took years for that wound to heal 😦
She will be missed dearly. I hope she found true happiness and peace she was searching for.