Once again we are pleased to share a Florida PANTHERS Post-Event Report from our guest contributor Kathy Foster.
Despite rain clouds covering most of Central Florida all weekend, the PANTHERS found two dry patches for biking on Saturday and Sunday, August 1st and 2nd. The Florida tandem club meets annually in August for a biking weekend in Lake Wales. Larry D. From New Port Richey said it was the only place in Florida that was dry on Saturday.
Now better known as the closest town to LegoLand, Lake Wales was once a stopping point for travelers and freight between the north and Miami and is making an effort to revive its picturesque downtown. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express north of town, which is just two miles from Florida’s Scenic Highway 17.
Saturday morning eight couples, including Jim and Sharon B. who had driven from Port Orange in the wee hours, gathered for an 8 a.m. start. Fearing rain, six teams chose the 39-mile ride. We were enjoying the scenery and the camaraderie and so we hung together. By the time we stopped at Lee’s Country Store for a break, we were deep into a rural Florida most of us rarely see. From Lee’s, the braver folks pedaled a loop around Lake Easy to get 55 miles. Jim B. says they saw Easy Street, too, and discovered it has a dead-end.
Saturday afternoon, Bill and I went downtown with Laura and Hugh A. to eat lunch at the highly recommended Lake Wales Family Restaurant. The food was good and plentiful, so much so that at dinnertime, we shared an entree.
Organizers Bob and Jan T. had made reservations for 16 at The Sizzling Grill for dinner. There was something to accommodate non-meat eaters like Gabe and Diana M. and Nancy R. The Chicken Parmesan Margaret and Tom F. ordered looked luscious. We shared the seafood platter, which was also good.
Again to avoid more rain clouds, we began our Sunday ride at 7:30 a.m. We saw many small lakes and passed through the small towns of Lake Hamilton, Dundee and right past Melonies Cafe, whose owner once sang about her pair of brand new roller skates. We made it back to the Holiday Inn ahead of the rain.
We look forward to seeing our PANTHER friends and plenty of other tandem riders at our next event, the Florida Tandem Rally Oct. 23-25 in The Villages. See floridatandemclub.org for details.