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As Sanibel Bicycle Club starts kicking off busy season, members come back with adventurous tales

By Staff | Dec 16, 2015

With the busy season in full swing and the shared use paths starting to resemble a mini-version of a packed Periwinkle Way, the Sanibel Bicycle Club is starting to grow in ranks as part-time residents start flowing in.

The Sanibel Bicycle Club has many, many members and it swells to its maximum number when the holidays roll around. That means the club which helps maintain the shared use paths and educate visitors on how to practice safety while using the paths on Sanibel, is planning their annual events.

Last year, the club completed one of its finest accomplishments, by producing a safety video for guests and residents alike. The video is being shared on the Internet at different sites, including the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce, as well being a great tool to educate incoming visitors on practice healthy safety components to make everyone’s trip to Sanibel an enjoyable one.

The Sanibel Bicycle Club social activities started Dec. 14, with its holiday party and annual meeting, which held its election of new board members at the Community House.

The New Year brings the annual “Spanning the Years” ride, which is Friday, Jan. 1, starting at the Community Park and continues over the Sanibel Causeway bridges.

Ed and Sharon Hannon, who are members of the Sanibel Bicycle Club and are originally from Iowa, stop with their guide in England in front of a typical local limestone old stone house and wall. PHOTO PROVIDED

It ends with breakfast at the Lighthouse Point Condo clubhouse.

The Bike Club will also meet Jan. 11, for its potluck at the Community House with City Manager Judie Zimomra as the featured speaker. The February potluck will be Feb. 8, and will feature club members singing, dancing and performing safety skits.

“It will be a big event in the (Community House) auditorium, with lots of laughs and yet more important safety messages,” said Sanibel Bicycle Club member Patti Sousa.

The second Monday of both March and April will be the potluck dates, with speakers and programs to be announced at a later date.

The Sanibel Bicycle Club hosts rides around the island, as well as off island. Interested parties who would like to join, can visit the club’s website at www.sanibelbicycleclub.org.

Audrey Hagerman (pictured) and her husband, George, take 10-day bike tours of the European countryside twice a year. They are both members of the Sanibel Bicycle Club. PHOTO PROVIDED

With more and more members starting to meander back to Sanibel, adventurous tales of biking around the world are brought back with them.

For Audrey and George Hagerman, they have adventures to speak of annually, since they make two trans-Atlantic trips to Europe to bike the splendorous trails of the European countryside.

The Hagerman duo started bicycling in 1976.

“Prior to that, we lived in South America, where George worked,” Audrey said. “There were not many recreational biking trails there, so we really picked up biking after that.”

In the early-1980s, the Hagermans started their bi-annual pilgrimage to Europe to enjoy the biking.

“For 12 years, we were able to bike France every summer with tour groups, but eventually we decided to go out on our own,” Audrey said.

The Hagermans packed the basics for their 10-day adventures. They would fill up their saddlebags which snapped on the bikes and fly over to their destination.

One of their favorite countries to bike is Germany, which they have experienced on many different occasions.

“Germany has an amazing network of bike trails, they are multi-use paths and you can basically go anywhere on them,” Audrey said.

The advantage with Europe, is the countries are much more bicycle-friendly than the U.S., simply because the population there uses bikes for transportation purposes more.

This past summer, the Hagermans traveled to Holland, another bike-friendly country which has gorgeous countryside to see.

“You meet tons of native people on the trails and they are all friendly,” Audrey said. “We used to bike 30-40 miles a day, but now as we are getting older, it’s more like 20-30 miles.”

Audrey describes the bike paths as ones which parallel rivers, which makes the scenery that much more beautiful. All the trails are paved, with some gravel mixed in at times, and each path leads to small towns or villages, which have Inns to stay in.

The Hagerman duo rent their bikes, which are 21-speeds, and nice, quaint cafes and restaurants dot the countryside satisfy their meals.

They have had the opportunity to travel through villages celebrating Wine Festivals, since that area of the country has vineyards prevalent. Also, biking in all sorts of weather comes with the travels, so packing waterproof gear is vital.

“If it’s pouring, though, we stay in for the day,” Audrey laughed.

The saddlebag belongings include an extra pair of shoes, laundry soap for clothes, extra lightweight clothes and some snacks for the trip in between towns.

“It’s wise to have a hearty breakfast beforehand and always have water,” she said.

But most importantly, if you’re biking in Europe, being spontaneous is a necessity and be ready to appreciate all the beauty of the trip.

“We’ve been lucky and have had no major mishaps, just one flat tire in Germany, and we always feel safe when we are traveling,” Audrey said.

The Hagermans have also biked the U.S., including a 3,000-mile cross-country ride with a group for a fundraiser, which started in Portland, Maine, to Orlando.

For Sanibel Bicycle Club duo Ed and Sharon Hannon, their love for biking brought them to England last September. They have also made multiple bike trips over to Europe, including Austria.

The Hannons hail from Iowa, but live in Sanibel part-time. Their time in England was spent with a bicycling group and took them to areas the normal tourist doesn’t come close to experiencing.

“We paid a couple thousand dollars apiece, which basically includes everything, like the bike rental, hotels and two meals a day,” Ed Hannon said. “You have to pay your own way for the flight.”

Trips in groups, which is led by a guide, can be anywhere from five days to a week or 10 days. The price includes supper and breakfast, while the trips are all on paved trails or quiet backroads.

“We averaged 30 to 40 miles a day, sometimes it’s 20 miles,” Hannon said. “It’s a nice leisure ride usually. We visited three different towns and traveled a loop for 10 days.”

Some landmarks the trip stopped through included Shakespeare’s home in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon; Oxford and the famous mineral baths which were constructed by the Romans and are still usable to this day.

The final destination on bikes for the Hannons was Stonehenge.

“The trips are always oriented around something famous, such as a palace, a historical landmark or a waterfall,” Ed Hannon said. “We’ve been on trips which brought us up the Alps and through the Austrian countryside.”

Hannon does warn against making the bike trip your first experience on a bike. Be a seasoned biker, because then you will be able to enjoy the views and experience, instead of being stiff and sore after the first day.

But no matter where one can travel in the world, bikes will be a present commodity.

And when these adventures are over and the bikers are back on Sanibel, they still get to enjoy one of the best biking trail systems in the country, which just happens to be located in paradise, as well.