Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Biking to Breakfast

IYC bikers at Cape Haze Pioneer Trail
One of the things that attracted us to Punta Gorda was the active lifestyle here.    Nice weather and a group of people who like to get out there and try new things is a great combination!    We joined the Isles Yacht Club and it has a monthly newsletter that runs almost 30 pages long with all of the activities you have to choose from.   There are boating related groups (obviously) but almost every other activity you can think of as well from a book club to a kayaking group to card games to billiards to, you guessed it, a biking group.  

The group gets together almost every Saturday morning and bikes to a local breakfast spot.   I've only been once so far and we went to The Smokehouse.  It was a cold and blustery day (for Punta Gorda--it's all relative but I do think it was in the low 50s and windy) and I was happy to get to the restaurant.  We all piled in, with the women sitting at one table and the men at another.  People immediately started telling me that the biscuit with sausage gravy was the way to go so that's what I ordered.  Delicious and extremely hearty.  I didn't feel like I needed to eat the rest of the day.  Conceptually it reminded me of poutine in Nova Scotia--an occasional "treat" but a heart attack--and serious love handles--waiting to happen.  (In case you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing poutine, it's french fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy.  Sounds disgusting, I know, but it's actually very tasty.)

Once a month the group gets together for a longer bike ride.  The ride this week was to Cape Haze Pioneer Trail in Rotunda.  This "trail" is part of the national rails-to-trails conservancy and is in the process of being extended so that it will go all the way to Boca Grande, which will be nice.  For now, though, the ride was a disappointment--basically riding on a sidewalk through a neighborhood and back.   It was a beautiful morning, though, and I met some great people.  The gentleman who organized this particular outing is 76 years old and bikes or kayaks every day.  His bike odometer showed 5500 miles and he told us that he was disappointed that he wasn't able to adjust the odometer when he got it to add the 1700 miles he'd previously logged to the mileage.  Another rider of the same vintage showed over 24,000 miles on his odometer.  What????   I know these guys have had a long time to log these miles but I was told that they routinely bike 10-15 miles at a clip and they are in great shape so I don't think we're talking mileage accumulated over a lifetime.  I was pleased with the measly 13.8 miles that we rode that day and have to admit that my legs felt it when we got off our bikes.  (Note to self:  Training is required before March bike trip with the ladies.)

After the ride most of us gathered for lunch at a local Olive Garden.  (I do find that it's important to counteract the benefit of exercise almost immediately by eating so this worked well for me.)  I had a chance to talk with some people and add to my ever-growing list of things to do in the area.  A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a day.

The ride in February is to Myakka River State Park ( and should be much more scenic.   We were told that we'll have lunch at a concession stand in the park that offers alligator stew.  Now that's one experience that I don't want to miss!

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