Coastal Cruisers Bicycle Club

For 30 years, the Costal Cruisers Bicycle Club have been rolling around Florida. With over 500 members, the club rides through Sarasota and Charlotte Counties, North Port, Port Charlotte, Rotonda, Englewood, Venice and Nokomis. The Coastal Cruisers seek out paths that tour Florida’s views of sparkling bays, lush forest and quiet parks. Safety and fitness, as well as personal connections and friendships, are encouraged in the club. The first Wednesday of every month, the club has regular meetings where members can share their biking experiences and successes. And every weekend, an individual member sponsors a ride and often times the club joins with other bike clubs such as the Village Idiots. All are welcome. “Coastal Cruisers accommodates all speed groups,” says John Galvin, the 78-year-old former president of the Coastal Cruisers board. “We have rides on Wednesday specifically for beginners,” he says. “We have members that have ridden across the country. One cyclist rode across Africa.” The Coastal Cruisers throw about half a dozen events a year, including rides and picnics in Myakka River State Park and a Pasta Dash dinner and ride. Prospective members must fill out an application. Membership costs $15 a year for new users and $17.50 for subsequent renewals.


Village Idiots Cycling Club

A USA Cycling registered bike club that focuses on cycling and charitable endeavors, the Village Idiots Cycling Club grew from the ground up. “10 years ago, a few people decided to go out and ride bikes,” explains Village Idiots President Jeff Adams. “It grew from eight members to 300 members.” Member age ranges from 12 to 83 years of age, and the club includes riders of all levels—dedicated, recreational and beginner. With regular rides on Saturdays and Sundays, the club hosts groups according to speed, with some cycling at 26mph and up and others catering to the slowest among them. “We get people outside to experience cycling and learn how to ride—to have some fun,” says Adams. “Also, to contribute to charities.” The Village Idiots hosts charitable rides, such as the Diabetes Tour de Cure in Lakewood Ranch and A Ride to Remember to benefit the Alzheimer’s Foundation. The club also puts time and effort into bicycle education for its members, ensuring riders learn to share the road responsibly. ”Safety is our biggest mantra,” Adams says. “We do what we do safely.” Memberships cost $30 dollars per calendar year and an application must be submitted, but non-members are invited to participate in group rides.

PERFECT PIECE OF ROAD: Smooth with Little Traffic

A spacious bike lane brings a bit of peace of mind and a smooth tarred surface works best, says Adams, and the fewer cars the better. “As you can imagine, not many of those roads exists,” he says.


Sarasota Manatee Bicycle Club

Founded in 1974 as an initiative to provide training to make cycling safer, the Sarasota Manatee Bicycle Club embraces cycling for recreation, fitness, exercise, sport and transportation. A nonprofit and volunteer-run club, SMBC hosts rides daily for cyclists at all levels, with a total of 7,500 rides each year for its 600 members. “We ride all the way down to Manasota Key,” says SMBC Member James Wheeler. “We even ride to Fort Desoto.” A large portion of the club is snowbirds, he says, with Wheeler being 77 years old himself. Yearly membership costs $25 for an individual and $30 for families. Interested riders must fill out an online application.

PERFECT PIECE OF ROAD    Withlacoochee Trail

“I love to ride the Withlacoochee Trail,” Wheeler says. One of the longest paved roads in Florida, at 46 miles long, the Withlacoochee Trail runs through ranches, small towns and river views about 60 miles north of Sun City Center. “I love to ride the Withlacoochee,” he says, “and locally, I love to ride the road along Casey Key or the road along Manasota Key.”


Sarasota Cycling Club

One of the area’s more intense groups, the Sarasota Cycling Club focuses on rider development and competitive cyclists, and has been active for five years. As a member of the Florida Clean Riding Clubs and a certified USA Cycling bicycle racing club certification, the club supports testing that encourages fair competition. The club has grown from fewer than 10 riders to 40, with men, women, master and junior riders. “The goal was to get more people involved in bike racing,” says Darren Dowling, president of the Sarasota Cycling Club, and the club actively supports its junior members. “They are the future of the sport,” says Dowling. Organized rides for members occur on Sundays, and members also participate in charity rides such as Ride to Remember, Diabetes Tour de Cure and Women on Wheels. Sarasota Cycling Club riders must be invited to join the club and prospective members must then fill out an application. Membership, for a full calendar year, costs $35.


“Honore is an awesome road,” says Club Secretary Keith Litzell. “We hate being on roads where the speed differential is really high.” And with its 40mph speed limit, four-lane road and bike path, Honore has a lot of what Sarasota cyclists are looking for. For long rides, the club likes to ride out to Myakka and the famous Chicken Shack, before heading back home via Fruitville. “Roads are less congested out east and drivers are more respectful,” says Dowling. “The park always has a good view and we get to see the wildlife while also riding in a safe environment.”