Monday, July 13, 2015

Wheels and Wings 2015 (Sun, Rain, and An Old Race Track)

A friend said we should head up to Punta Gorda for the Wheels and Wings ride, an annual event put on by the Peace River Riders Bicycle Club. We definitely wanted to go. What's not to love about a ride on the rural roads of Charlotte County on Florida's west coast?

We drove over to Punta Gorda. We were a little group of 5 planning to ride the metric century (62 miles) route. At packet pick-up/registration we discovered two other Everglades Bicycle Club friends. They were planning to do the 50 mile route. It turned out the first miles of both routes were the same, so we decided to ride together while we could.

Pedal, pedal, pedal. The day was warm. Lots of early morning sunshine. The route was truly rural. Pastures with cattle. Piney woods filled with palmetto. Pedal, pedal, pedal.

We came to the first full SAG stop. This was where the ride's various routes split apart. As we continued down the road, clouds began to build. And build. Soon it was fully overcast. Not long after that the first sprinkles of rain began to fall. Which actually wasn't a bad thing. It got cooler. It was rather pleasant. Pedal, pedal, pedal.

The sprinkles gradually became a light rain. Then, on a quiet rural road, we saw ahead of us the demarcation where the real rain started. Pedal, pedal, pedal, and we were into the steady rain.

About 5 miles later we saw a woman with a big umbrella. She was waving for us to slow down for a SAG stop which was set up in a covered (yay!!) picnic pavilion of a small roadside park. Shelter from the rain! We huddled there while the rain cell moved away. Then it was back on the road. The remaining rain dwindled and stopped.

The final leg took us on a long loop through wonderfully green cattle pastures studded with a smattering of shade trees, shrubs, and shallow ponds. At one point a herd of cattle with impressively large horns was grouped close to the fence line near the road, seemingly half watching us and half posing for pictures. A mile further and we were at our final treat of the day, Three Palms Speedway, an old 3/8th mile racetrack that served today as a little velodrome for our ride. We could circle it as many times as we wanted. Excellent fun.

A few more miles down the road brought us to our cars and Beef 'O' Bradys and the after ride meal. What were the riders having to eat? Why wings, of course! Wings and beer. We munched and sipped, socialized with other riders, and finally said our goodbyes.

A very nice ride indeed. Definitely a ride to recommend to friends.