TELL US ABOUT some of the bike clubs in the area?  PAUL TOBIO, RYDER BIKES:  We have some great bicycle clubs in the area. The main clubs are the Sarasota Manatee Bicycle Club, Village Idiots Cycling Club and Gulf Coast Velo. All of these clubs have different speed levels that help riders join group cycling. There are also a few subgroups that sprout out from these clubs – normally a group that has common speed/handling abilities that add a few more ride options weekly. If there are riders looking to get into racing, we have a few clubs that are focused more on getting people ready to race and help with tactics–a few of these are the Sarasota Cycling Club and Alpha Cycling.  CHRIS LEVINS, VILLAGE BIKES: There are several. There is Village Idiots which was started by Village Bikes about 12 years ago, but probably the most diverse bike club is the Sarasota- Manatee Bike Club.  They have rides that cover most ability levels from hybrid to road bike rides, and also an e-bike category. DEAN JONES, TREK BICYCLE: For those interested in off-road trails, the Swamp Mountain Bike Club is a great one. The biggest bike clubs in this area are the Sarasota-Manatee Bike Club and the Village Idiots. These clubs offer weekly rides and special events, such as the Gulf Coast Cyclefest.

What are your favorite routes for various levels of riders in the Lakewood Ranch area and why?  VILLAGE BIKES: Wednesday Night Worlds, a Village Idiots group ride during the spring through fall after daylight savings because I get to mix it up with my friends. RYDER BIKES:  There are so many great routes in the LWR area. Benderson Park is great for a casual ride or for people looking to do some interval training. LWR Blvd, Hidden River Trail, Lorraine Rd all provide an easy way to get 20-60 miles in. These roads all have large sidewalks for the casual rider and bike lanes on the roads to allow the road bikers to ride safely. People looking to go longer will add a northern section of Lakewood Ranch Blvd. over the Fort Hammer Bridge into Parrish and take Golf Course Rd. to Rye and Rutland Rd. to the Fish Camp on 64. Many of the new communities allow for new routes to pop up as well – Waterside and Del Webb to name a few. TREK BICYCLE: Some of my favorite routes for riders in the Lakewood Ranch area are the new development roads east of White Eagle Blvd. to Bournside as well as riding south down Lorraine. These routes are well suited for any level of rider as the bike lanes are big and there are little to no cars to avoid.

What’s your advice on the best ways to stay hydrated during a long ride on a hot day?  RYDER BIKES:  This is one of the most important aspects of cycling that many people do not take into consideration. Hydration starts off the bike, by continuing to hydrate throughout the day. During the ride, a rider does not want to get dehydrated as this affects the reaction time to obstacles that may be in the roadway. For most people,  a water bottle and holder on the bike are enough, some people will opt for a hydration pack that can carry more fluid. Additionally, water is normally not the best choice, but using an electrolyte replacement will provide better stamina for the rider. VILLAGE BIKES: In the heat of Florida you cannot just drink water when exercising. We recommend Skratch Labs hydration mix with your water to replace lost electrolytes.  TREK BICYCLE: During a long ride on a hot day, the best way to stay hydrated is to pack as much water as you and your bike can hold. I also recommend biking jerseys with pockets for bottles to hold any additional water you might need. A good rule to follow is to drink 20 ounces of water every hour of your ride on a hot day.

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What sorts of cool new gear are you recommending? TREK BICYCLE: There are all types of gear you can take with you riding but the gear I recommend the most is the newest brightest pair of daytime running lights, Garmin or other brand computers to track all sorts of ride data, and upgraded, stronger compound tires to give you a better ride with fewer flats. RYDER BIKES:  We are seeing many riders moving toward Garmin GPS devices to record their rides. These allow the rider to look at performance metrics from their rides and chart progress across the various rides. This also allows for the rear radar light that can detect cars and communicate them to the rider—a real game changer as a rider. Additionally, clothing has come a long way to add comfort for the rider – padded shorts in both lycra and baggie versions, and jerseys that are cut longer in the back to not ride up and provide pockets to store nutrition. VILLAGE BIKES: Probably the most game-changing piece of gear in the last few years has been Garmin Varia Radar.  The Varia alerts you when vehicles are coming up from behind on your compatible computer.  When combined with a mirror it gives you an increased spatial awareness needed on today’s roads.

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Can you talk about the different types of bikes and how a person might choose between them? RYDER BIKES: Bicycles have added a few more slices in types over the last few years. A consumer used to have the option of a cruiser, road, mountain or hybrid bike. Now there are additional options that take those four options and merge them to create a new riding experience—comfort hybrid, fitness hybrid, dual sport and flat bar road bikes to name a few. Choosing the right one can sometimes feel a little overwhelming and that is where the local shop comes to help. At Ryder Bikes, we ask how people are planning on riding, where they are going to ride and what kind of position on the bike they would like to be in–upright, leaning a little, leaning a lot–then provide a few choices. We have a great test ride area and want people to try a few bikes to feel the positioning. This allows the customer to make a great choice and enjoy their cycling experience. VILLAGE BIKES: Purchasing from a reputable bike shop would be my first recommendation.  Accessing a rider’s goals, what distances they are looking to ride, and if they have any previous injuries or limitations ( bad back, knees, etc.) is our job. These are all factors in choosing the right bike and many more. A good bike shop will be able to direct you to the right bike for your needs and provide continued service on the bike in the future. TREK BICYCLE: When it comes to choosing the bike a person might want, the type of riding is the deciding factor. The three main types of bikes are road, hybrid, and mountain. Road bikes are for riders looking to go longer distances at a faster pace, where they only ride on the street at a more aggressive riding position. Hybrid bikes are for more casual riders looking to ride on the road as well as light off-road trails and be comfortable doing it. Mountain bikes are for riders looking to ride through off-roads trails ranging from easy, flat trails through the woods to steep climbs and descents at fast paces.