When we were kids, bicycling brought us simple pleasure. As adults, though, we realize that cycling can bring tremendous fitness benefits, too. Biking offers a great cardio workout without jarring joints, while improving heart health.
The Naples area offers multiple options to riders of all abilities. A good place to start is with Naples Velo, a cycling club as well as a racing team that offers 23 rides a week, five specifically for beginners. For example, on Tuesday mornings, bikers meet at Cambier Park on Eighth Street South for an easy trip at a leisurely 14- to 16-mph pace to Port Royal and back. The route is designed for novices and includes some basic skills training.
Patrick Ruff, president of Naples Pathways Coalition (NPC), shares some tips for local cyclists, noting that roads west of U.S. 41 are good to help beginners get adjusted to biking, as the pace is slow. “Once you get past riding a beach cruiser for an hour and want a more competitive, stronger workout, check out the [more intermediate] local group rides offered at Naples Velo,” Ruff says. The club offers a scenic route on Sundays starting at the Marketplace at Pelican Bay going all the way to the Fort Myers Beach bridge. It includes a few bridges and turns and a moderate pace that will keep your heart rate up as you enjoy the sights around Southwest Florida.
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Advanced riders have several choices. A 60-mile ride into East Naples out of the Marketplace at Pelican Bay varies on three different trails with unlimited speed. Other routes include a ride to Marco Island, which is about 75 miles, and a ride to Ave Maria.
There is even the Fit & Fuel Café, where cyclists go to socialize or get a healthy meal after a ride. And pedalers will find resources at many of the local bike shops, such as Island Bikes, which offers personalized coaching.
Of course, safety is the top priority. The NPC has taken great strides to create and define pathways and ensure proper signage and sidewalks for rider safety. No matter where you ride, always remember to use caution—and have fun.
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