PHOTO PROVIDED BY COURT NEDERVELD Riders get ready to leave from the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s parking lot at the start of last year’s Wheels and Wings bicycle ride.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY COURT NEDERVELD Riders take advantage of a sag stop at the end of last year’s 10-mile Gentleman’s Race.
ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY PEACERIVERRIDERSBICYCLECLUB.COM A rider who can exceed 25 miles per hour in this year’s Wheels and Wings will receive a framable speeding warning signed by a Punta Gorda police officer.
By GORDON BOWER
PHOTO PROVIDED BY COURT NEDERVELD
Riders get ready to leave from the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s parking lot at the start of last year’s Wheels and Wings bicycle ride.
Riders take advantage of a sag stop at the end of last year’s 10-mile Gentleman’s Race.
ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY PEACERIVERRIDERSBICYCLECLUB.COM
A rider who can exceed 25 miles per hour in this year’s Wheels and Wings will receive a framable speeding warning signed by a Punta Gorda police officer.
Peace River Riders plan unique bicycle ride
By GORDON BOWER
Let’s Go Correspondent
Southwest Florida bicycling enthusiasts are well aware Punta Gorda has become a cycling destination. The proof is in the numbers; 438 riders showed up for TEAM Punta Gorda’s Pedal and Play in Paradise ride in March.
Not as well known is a unique summer ride organized by members of the Peace River Riders, a local bicycling club whose membership has soared as the city has transformed itself into a Bicycle Friendly City.
This year’s Wheels and Wings, scheduled for 8 a.m. July 7 out of the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s at 1105 Taylor Road, is the third, and word of the fun to be had on the ride is spreading.
Ride Director Court Nederveld said, “We had 80 riders for the first one and 100 last year. We’re expecting 150 riders for WW III, as it’s affectionately referred to, and maybe a smidge more. We’re limited by the capacity of the restaurant. Since all the riders won’t be there at the same time, we can go a little over.”
The reason Beef ‘O’ Brady’s capacity is important – riders’ $25 registration fee includes a dozen wings, two adult beverages or softer drinks of choice and stage 7 of the Tour de France on the restaurant’s flat screens, the perfect end to a ride. Also included are a T-shirt and a chance to participate in a 50/50 drawing.
The bicycling is still the major drawing card for cyclists. Wheels and Wings offers distances for all skill levels, as well as a couple of unique twists not normally found in other rides.
Newer cyclists will enjoy the 15-mile Mystery Ride, which will have participants riding to the airport, out to Cleveland Drive east of town and then back on Riverside Drive and the Harborwalk bike trail, all the while using clues to solve mysteries at various sites.
Mystery Ride organizer Sheryl Martin said, ‘It’s going to be a blast… We’ll take all the papers with the correct answers and draw the winner of the prize out of a hat.”
A 32- and 50-mile ride organized by Ray Heisey is for more skilled riders. The 32-miler also will head out to the Cleveland area and back but moves on to Ponce Park before returning to Beef ‘O’Brady’s. The 50-miler follows a similar route but adds a trip to the wide-open spaces of Washington Loop Road. All rides will have plenty of sag stops and be well marked and safe, according to Heisey.
More advanced cyclists also can participate in the Gentleman’s Race, a measured 10-mile stretch at the beginning of the 50-mile ride. It’s a mass-start race and very competitive, with the winner receiving a Tour de France-style yellow winner’s jersey.
Even more unusual is an opportunity to get a speeding warning for a rider who can crack 25 miles per hour.
Nederveld said, “It’s called the speed trap, and it will be on a side street close to Beef ‘O’Brady’s. There will be a radar flashing riders’ speeds. Do at least 26 miles an hour and receive a written warning suitable for framing from a Punta Gorda police officer after the race.”
Information on Wheels and Wings and registration forms can be found at www.peaceriverridersbicycleclub.com. Pre-registration by July 2 is necessary to get a T-shirt. The closing date for pre-registration is July 5; same day registration starts at 7:30 a.m. and is $30. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s also will open its bathrooms to riders at 7:30 a.m.
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