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Biking Fort Myers, Florida

Biking Fort Myers, Florida

Goodbye snow and single digit temps!  This week, Craig and I are enjoying the beautiful weather in Fort Myers, Florida.  We vacation in Fort Myers every February to visit Craig’s mom who lives down here during the winter.  Usually by February, we’re ready to get out of the cold and get our butts down south for a week of sunshine and palm trees.  Despite the frigid temps in St. Louis, I’ve been enjoying all my winter bicycling. But I ain’t gonna lie… biking is a lot more fun when the weather is warmer.

Wide paved multi use trails run alongside almost every main road in Fort Myers.

Wide paved multi use trails run alongside almost every main road in Fort Myers.

Which brings me to one of my favorite things to do in Florida… you guessed it… BICYCLE!  Fort Myers is an outstanding place to bike.  I admit that there are some negatives.  Gramma and Grampa don’t seem to be the most alert, cautious drivers.  Everyone down here drives too fast. There is way too much traffic.  And nobody is on the lookout for bicyclists even though a ton of people bike here all year round.

So why do I think Fort Myers offers such fantastic biking?  There are bike trails EVERYWHERE.  Almost every main street includes a separated paved trail.  So although cycling alongside a jillion noisy speeding vehicles is rather annoying, it’s very possible to safely bike anywhere you like off road.  Just watch out for Grams and Gramps zipping in and out of all the shopping centers and restaurants as you’re tooling down the bike trail.

FLAT FLAT FLAT as far as you can see!  HEAVEN!!!

FLAT FLAT FLAT as far as you can see! HEAVEN!!!

Another marvelous thing about biking in Florida is the topography.  It’s absolutely FLAT.  Not a hill or valley anywhere.  After pumping up and down the hilly Missouri terrain, I feel like superwoman biking in Florida.  A 50 mile bike ride feels like a mere 20.  We can go forever.

And of course the weather down here in February is perfectly blissful… highs in the 70s and 80s and sunshine galore.  PARADISE!  After pushing pedals in my heavy layers and ski mask for the past six weeks, baring my pasty white skin and cycling in my cute little summer LOL cycle chic ensembles is exhilarating.  Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

Beautiful Lakes Park

Lakes Park

Besides the street side trails, Fort Myers boasts a plethora of lovely parks with well maintained multi use trails.  Our favorite biking is on these wonderful trails where we can enjoy the fabulous weather and scenery away from the obnoxious traffic.  Craig and I have been visiting a different bike trail every day.

On Tuesday, we cycled over to beautiful Lakes Park, a 280 acre park on the corner of Summerlin and Gladiolus.  Lakes Park features a large freshwater lake, pavilions, gardens, boardwalks, bridges and a wide paved trail winding through the woods and around the lake.  A miniature train chugs along a tiny track around the park.  Kids splash in the kiddy water park.  Much fun.

The southern end of the John Yarbrough Linear Park

The southern end of the John Yarbrough Linear Park

On Wednesday, we biked over to the John Yarbrough Linear Park. This six mile trail traverses through a slender greenspace area sandwiched between Highways 41 (Tamiami Trail) and 739 (Metro Parkway).  Pine woods line the southern half of the trail making it feel somewhat remote even though it is enveloped in the middle of the bustling highways.  The trail crosses a couple of busy streets but trail users are routed around to cross at crosswalks with stoplights and motion activated warning lights.

The trail meanders along narrow Ten Mile Canal which is full of turtles and fish and aquatic plants.  Herons, ibis, cranes, hawks, ospreys and other tropical birds wade in the marsh and perch in the trees along the trail ever on the lookout for a tasty meal of fish.  Strange looking cormorant birds sun themselves next to the water, wings outspread, black heads pointing upward.  We watched an osprey hovering above the canal suddenly pull in his wings and drop headfirst into the water.  He flew away with empty talons.  A certain fish got lucky this afternoon.

So pretty!

So pretty!

The northern half of the trail is surrounded by train tracks, industrial area and a small airport and is not quite as pretty as the southern section.  But the entire trail is bordered with palm trees and ornamental plantings.  The trail crosses the canal several times over gently arched metal bridges.  Several trailside shelters, covered picnic tables and workout stations add to the appeal of this well-maintained bike trail.  We love this trail and bike here every year.

Tomorrow we embark upon our most ambitious bike ride of the week… our annual 40 mile trek from Fort Myers to Sanibel Island and back.  Watch for my upcoming blog about our favorite Fort Myers day trip!

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