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Sanibel Bike Club kicks off another season

By Staff | Nov 22, 2017

Sanibel Bike Club President Mary Miller welcomes everyone at the annual Welcome Back Fall Picnic. NANCY MALSON

At the beginning of the month the Sanibel Bike Club kicked off another cycling season with their annual Welcome Back fall picnic at Bowman’s Beach.

The club, which was founded in 1995 by Keith Trowbridge, offers something for everyone. The club’s mission, “promote the enjoyment of bicycling for recreation, transportation and health; advocate for improvement of the safety and infrastructure of Sanibel’s shared-use path system; and provide an opportunity for bicycle enthusiasts to socialize together.”

Sanibel Bike Club President Mary Miller said she and her husband started with the club in 2006.

“My husband and I were running marathons at the time and we would see them go by. We have been biking for years. The Bike Club would roll by and we would say ‘as soon as we get done with this marathon stuff, we have to join the Bike Club,” she said. “What a great club. We have inclusiveness for everyone.”

Approximately a half a dozen riders, Miller said think of themselves as “speedy,” while others amble along.

“We have folks that haven’t been on a bike in a while, but they love riding when they come down here,” Miller said.

The Sanibel Bike Club is comprised of more than 275 members, which includes a small portion of those members that ride.

“We have a lot of people who support biking on Sanibel,” Miller said. “They are our angel members who just keep repaying their dues and keep us going. They are wonderful.”

Some of the members have joined the club due to the monthly potlucks that are held at 6:15 p.m. on the second Monday of the month. Approximately 100 members gather at the Community House for socialization.

“You can see all of your friends and neighbors there. It’s a wonderful activity,” Miller said.

Every Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m., The Sanibel Bike Club leaves from the Community Park for their morning ride.

“We don’t do anything without including a meal somewhere, so we have three different restaurant locations that we typically go to,” Miller said.

The “speedy” group travels to Captiva, while another travels to Santiva with a stop at Sunset Grille. The third group travels to Normandie Seaside Cafe at West Wind Inn.

“Everyone finds a group that they are comfortable with and ride with. It’s just been wonderful,” Miller said. “We travel together.”

A Wednesday ride is also offered for those who like to get started later in the morning. It departs at 11 a.m. from the Community Park with lunch at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille.

Monthly off island rides are also offered. The next one will include the railroad display at Shell Point with lunch.

Those interested in multi-day rides can join the Sanibel Bike Club in April for a trip to Stuart on the east coast.

“That’s really the best way to get to know other club members,” Miller said of the two-day, two-night trip. “We did Stuart last year and I think we had 35 people.”

Another ride that is coming up is called the “Spanning the Years” on New Year’s Day. The ride starts at Community Park and it travels over the Sanibel Causeway.

“It goes over the Causeway as much as you would like it to go,” Miller said. “By New Year’s Day there is not a lot of traffic, so most folks go over the first two islands and they get to the big bridge and they go underneath. We have some folks that go over the big one and bring in the New Year.”

Afterwards a brunch is held.

In addition to the multitude of rides, the club has also been very involved with the city to ensure safety for all bike riders. Miller said between Huxter’s and She Sells Sea Shells an information center went up, which the club was instrumental in putting together.

Another one is being constructed at the corner of Casa Ybel and Middle Gulf.

“That is an area where there was no place to stop. You see a lot of cyclist trying to figure out where they are. We have a water fountain in and bike racks that are in. We still have a couple of benches to arrive and the maps of the island bike paths. People can get off the path and figure out where they want to go next. It will be a wonderful rest area,” Miller said.

The new area is expected to be completed around Christmas.

Those who would like to join the Sanibel Bike Club can download an application at sbcsite.altervista.org/SCB-Site/Home.html.

“We love to have new people ride with us. Everyone of every riding ability is welcome to join us. We have some folks that ride trikes. We accommodate everyone,” Miller said. “We are so fortunate to have these wonderful paths that can accommodate us.”

Miller said their kids got them into riding in the 1980s, late 1970s and now she rides four days a week.