February 10, 2010
By Herb Hiller
A wildflower ramble and a whiff of speed accent this year’s 17th Bike Florida mass spring camping tour that takes place March 27 to April 2.
The 300-mile loop ride starts at the annual Florida Wildflower Festival in DeLand and also includes two hours of touring Daytona International Speedway. Much of the way is along the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop that has become a signature route of Bike Florida touring.
Tagged Greenways and Blueways, the tour passes through national and state parks and along springs, marsh, rivers, ponds and inlets.
Those up for it, can cycle on the packed sands of Daytona Beach beside the Atlantic.
“More than ever, the ride is about ‘place,’” says Bike Florida Executive Director Hope Howland-Cook.
“We love showing off small-town Florida with its seasonal and one-of-a-kind things to do. Bike touring naturally belongs far from traffic where slower pace rules and you get to meet people in places they love.”
Rides will visit St. Johns river towns, Lake Helen and Cassadaga, the home of the largest spiritualist community in the South; Flagler Beach beside the sea, and Ponce Inlet, site of Florida’s tallest lighthouse.
West of New Smyrna Beach, cyclists will cross near headwaters of the St. Johns River.
For the first time, Bike Florida has welcomed multiple non-profit organizations as varied as the Volusia Literacy Council, fraternities and sororities at Stetson University and the Florida Bicycle Association, to task member cyclists of the ride with raising bucks.
“As always riders can count on exceptional food and safe and beautiful rides,” says Howland-Cook.
Riders that can’t attend the entire week will be able to join Bike Florida for its DeLand weekend alone -- $135 for rides, meals, entertainment and overnight indoor and outdoor camping. Participation for Speedway Day, Wednesday, March 31, is $55 for rides around the great oval.
Weeklong adult participants will pay $450, including all breakfasts and dinners, and otherwise $375 for arranging meals on their own.
Luxury rides of the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop that Bike Florida launched in the fall of 2008 will resume this fall.
To register for Bike Florida’s Greenways & Blueways 2010 Tour, log onto www.bikeflorida.org.