Once again we are pleased to share a Florida PANTHERS post-event report by Kathy Foster.
Several times a year, the Florida PANTHERS gather at a Florida locale for a laid-back weekend of riding and socializing where no one has to run the show and everyone gets to ride. Eleven tandem teams met in Vero Beach June 13-15 for just such a weekend.
Couples, a mix of first-timers and old-timers, came from Tampa, Daytona, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando, The Villages and various points in between. Headquarters this year was the Sea Turtle Inn, a family-run place a few blocks from the oceanfront, and many dollars less than the Holiday Inn, which handled the overflow.
Saturday at 8:30 a.m. we gathered at the Sea Turtle where club president Bob Thompson handed out ride maps. Then we were off on a beautiful ride up A1A. Members Hugh and Laura A., who live in Vero, said the little traffic we encountered would die out after a few miles and they were right. The sky was overcast and just before reaching the rest rooms at MM 14.9 near Sebastian Inlet Park, we felt a few drops. Since the route was straight up AIA and back, riders were free to turn back whenever they felt “half-tired,” as Bob said.
Eight couples pedaled on to the convenience store/Subway at MM 22, seven turning in. Jim and Sharon of Daytona kept going and when the rain unleashed they turned around, eventually linking up with three homeward-bound couples.
Paul and Jeanne K. and Meg and Michele U. had planned to do the full 58 miles. “It (the rain) was getting to the point that maybe we should (turn aroud) but then it stopped,” Michelle said. Michelle classified the ride as “wet and wild, keep calm and ride on.”
In the evening, we gathered at the oceanfront restaurant adjoining the Holiday Inn, topping that off with a walk down the beach or down the sidewalk a few blocks to Kilwin’s ice cream, run by a Vero Beach tandeming couple.
Next morning we headed south down AIA, rewarded with a well-paved bike lane and frequent views of the ocean. Then we crossed bridges over the Intracoastal and the Indian River and headed back on a junglely road. Those of us at the back of the pack took Hugh A. up on his offer to detour and see some Old Florida vistas that they’ll include on next year’s route.
Nancy R. of Dunedin called Vero her “favorite away-bike weekend. Being from New Jersey, I’m used to biking around the ocean, but it’s not blue like it is here.’’