It’s time to grease up the chain and air up the tires: A 28-mile Bike 5 Cities ride is coming up Saturday.
Bike/Walk Central Florida is partnering with Winter Park, Orlando, Casselberry, Maitland and Eatonville to give a free tour of safe cycling routes to help familiarize would-be cyclists. It’s a guided family-friendly ride on scenic bike trails and some residential roads.
“It’s the power of a great idea,” said Lisa Portelli, a board member with Bike/Walk Central Florida. “What Bike/Walk wanted was two objectives: One, to show where we can ride, and the second was to develop a regional, bike-friendly route map. The ride was really about promoting the map.”
The point is to get more cyclists comfortable with riding around Central Florida.
“We took information from all five cities, with individual single-city maps, and they all have maps hanging in their cities now,” Portelli said. “And we’re looking for feedback on it. We want to know people’s complaints. We’ll then develop the regional map and create these big regional maps.”
The introduction of the map system this weekend will wind throughout the north Orlando area. The long ride starts at 8 a.m. in Winter Park’s Mead Garden, looping south past Lake Ivanhoe, into Orlando’s Mills/50 district, curving north through Baldwin Park, then all the way up to Red Bug Lake Road in Casselberry before heading west then south through Maitland, passing Lake Sybelia on the way back toward Mead Garden. This isn’t a hillclimb; total elevation change is 333 feet over 28 miles. The ride will stop at each city event to give riders a break.
Portelli said the the biking community has embraced the idea.
“In one week, 200 people registered,” she said. “We didn’t even reserve Mead Garden, because we thought maybe 30 people would come. But we’re figuring it out.”
Each city involved also will feature rides along shorter routes to help show people where they can ride safely without the 28-mile commitment. Food, refreshments and music will be at those city stops, giving participants five ways they can check out their local bike paths. The smaller rides are for all ages; helmets are mandatory.
Winter Park’s shorter ride will be 5.5 miles long, leaving at 9 a.m. from the Cady Way Pool and Trailhead, 2525 Cady Way, before returning back. The event at Cady Way runs from 9 a.m. to noon.
Maitland’s 4.3 mile ride starts at 11 a.m. at Maitland Community Park, 1400 Mayo Ave. The ride will pass through the Dommerich neighborhood with a police escort. The event at the park runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Casselberry’s ride starts at 9:45 a.m. and will wind 3.7 miles from Wirz Park, 806 Mark David Blvd., riding along the Casselberry Greenway Trail. The event at the park runs from 9 a.m. to noon.
Eatonville’s bike event will last 2.5 miles, leaving at 11 a.m., in honor of Camari Dennison and other fallen cyclists. It starts at Life Center Church, 63 E. Kennedy Blvd. This ride also will feature a police escort. The event at the church runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Contact Isaac Babcock at