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Happy Trails on a Bike

family-bikingThe Ultimate Family Fun on Wheels  – It’s May – Celebrate National Bike Month

In the pursuit of health, fitness, and family fun, Derek and Mary Blomberg of Metrowest, and their five-year-old daughter, Annalise, cycle together as often as possible along one of Central Florida’s beautiful biking trails. “It’s a fun way for us to exercise and spend quality time together while enjoying the great outdoors,” says Derek.

Today, families spend oodles of hours in vehicles commuting to work or school, shuttling to sports practices and music lessons, or sitting in front of a computer. Biking can be a satisfying break from the everyday hubbub —not to mention a fun, affordable, eco-friendly activity. Additionally, biking is a low impact sport with good cardio benefits and helps children learn to navigate and to practice safety skills.

Whether your family prefers a relaxing, easy-to-moderate ride, or a more intense workout, there are plenty of well-maintained, family-friendly, paved trails to explore throughout Central Florida. Each trail has its own distinct personality, whether it’s the landscape and sights to brake for, or shaded pavilions for memorable picnics. Discovering your family’s favorite trail can become quite an adventure.
David Sanborn, president and owner of David’s World Cycle stores in Orlando and Trek Bicycle stores in the Tampa/Clearwater area, claims the Seminole Wekiva Trail as his family’s favorite. “It provides a ton of shade on a hot day and you’re almost always fortunate enough to see wildlife,” he says. Another of David’s top picks for families is the Cady Way Trail. Weaving through the popular Baldwin Park, Cady Way takes you past cool ice cream shops and places to stop for a light lunch. When biking with children, setting a reward destination helps maintain a steady pace and keeps everyone happily pedaling.
The Blombergs love the West Orange Trail because it’s really wide and has great stopping points (stations) along the miles, offering nature trails (Oakland Preserve) and playgrounds (Chapin Station). “And then there’s the scenery! There’s one spot that even passes by an emu farm,” Derek exclaims. Sometimes the Blombergs take a break for lunch at one of the local restaurants in the revitalized downtown Winter Garden.
Tim and Dawn Craft of Clermont, along with their daughters, Katelyn (10 years), and Kayleigh, (12 years), opt for the Lake Minneola Scenic trail when they go for a ride. Tim ticks off the reasons it’s his family’s go-to bike trail. “Beautiful scenery, close to home, no steep hills, and much of it is away from heavy traffic. It’s the trail my girls have biked on most,” he notes. “As every bicyclist knows, you never forget the first trail you master.”

Gear Up
Thanks to a wide selection of riding equipment, the entire family can enjoy the sport.  For fun seekers who want to get on the trail but don’t yet own a bike of their own, a hybrid bike is a solid option, with sufficient gear choices and a comfortable saddle.  Bike-mounted child seats and bike trailers make cycling with little ones a breeze. According to Sanborn, once a child is old enough to hold onto handlebars without parents having to look over their shoulder every few seconds, it’s time to graduate to a trailer bike. “Children feel like they are riding a bike on their own, but are attached to the parent’s bike. These trailer bikes are great for longer rides.”

Consult an expert in a specialty store, such as David’s World Cycles, to help you outline your cycling desires and expectations before deciding what bike is best for you. While there, be sure to gear up, too. Helmets are a must. Kids will love picking out their own “brain bucket.” Fun accessories such as colorful streamers, bike baskets, and bells are optional.

Endless Possibilities

Your family might enjoy biking so much that you’ll want to get involved with community events, such as The Tour de Cure sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. Biking vacations are also popular around the state, as well as across the nation.

Rent beach cruisers and hit the sand on the coast. Could mountain biking be in your family’s future? The sky’s the limit. A leisurely family ride will pave the way for exciting, healthy adventure! So get pedaling.

Tips for Florida bikers:
-Slather on the sunscreen.
-Tote plenty of water and/or electrolyte drinks to keep the family well hydrated.
-Don’t forget to stretch. Stretching should not be done before beginning a ride, Sanborn advises. “To make the ride more enjoyable and avoid injury, families should ride two or three miles and then stretch.”
-Novice cyclists should review biking etiquette, safety, and even basic bike repairs before setting off on a ride.

Family-Friendly, Paved Trails to Get You Pedaling:
Baldwin Park Trail  Orlando – 4.5 miles 
Cady Way Trail  Orlando – 6.3 miles
Lake Minneola Scenic Trail and Clermont Trail  Clermont, Orlando – 3.1 miles
Little Econ Greenway Orlando – 7.25 miles 
West Orange Trail Oakland, Winter Garden,
Apopka – 22 miles 
Seminole-Wekiva Trail  Altamonte Springs to west of Sanford – 14 miles

For more information and resources for bicyclists, including detailed bike trail descriptions, maps, and parking info, check out the following websites.   (provides riding options for families with children and/or special needs children and/or adults)