Once again we are pleased to share a Florida PANTHERS Post-Event Report from our guest contributor Kathy Foster, the PANTHER’s publicity chair.
Several times a year, the Florida PANTHERS get together for a weekend of riding in a different place. There are no fees, no T-shirts and no registration forms. Last weekend, 13 tandem couples from various places such as Miami Beach, Orlando and The Villages gathered in Vero Beach.
Saturday morning at 9 a.m., 13 tandems and their riders assembled at the oceanfront Holiday Inn, including a couple who had driven up that morning from Palm Beach Gardens and John and Johnetta Kelly from Hobe Sound. Laura and Hugh Aaron, who had recently bought a house in Vero Shores, bicycled to the start.
The idea for these rides is for us to have fun and to ride as a group as much as possible. We were all together at the first rest stop, just after crossing the bridge over the Indian River to the mainland. However, oncoming cars as we left the rest stop and a long traffic light shortly afterward ended up dividing us. Even so, riding with five or six tandems beats riding alone.
We all regrouped again at the second rest stop at a Publix. That is where the routes diverged, northward for those riding 53 miles and east for the 42-mile round trip. With the prospect of the wind blowing off the ocean and into our faces for much of our return, all but three couples chose the shorter option.
After a long stretch of riding into the wind, we turned right only to be halted by a flagman signaling “stop.” One side of the two-lane road was filled with trucks and piles of dirt from laying pipes. As soon as he saw our group, the flagman turned his sign to slow. We told him we had no problem with “slow.” He laughed and let all the tandems in, then signaled “stop,” giving us the road to ourselves.
The ride Sunday morning was much easier as the wind was missing. Pulled for 10 miles by Michele and Reg Ullman, we rode south along the coast, enjoying views of the ocean and a recently repaved bike lane.
Bob and Jan Thompson do the legwork for these weekends, including securing special rates for our lodgings. The next biking weekend will be Aug. 2-4 in Lake Wales. Although most members are from Florida, any tandem team can join the PANTHERS. For more information, go to http://www.floridatandemclub.org