Thursday, September 21, 2006

On the Pinellas Trail

Mom’s tennis match went about twice as long as she expected, so she wasn’t really up for a ride. I filled a couple of water bottles this time, especially since it was early afternoon, and drove to a park near the Pinellas Trail. There I switched from motorized to self-propelled transportation, jumped onto the trail, and headed south.

This area in general is more bike-friendly than most of Planet Georgia, although that’s changing quickly. There are bike trails on my planet — some, like Silver Comet, are quite a bit longer than Pinellas, and bike lanes are starting to make a welcome appearance along suburban highways. The area around FAR Manor is even getting a lot of attention from road cycling clubs these days, and I live only a few miles from some great mountain bike trails (more on both some other time). What attracts me to the Pinellas Trail is: 1) I’m not working when I’m nearby, 2) I only have to drive a couple of miles from where I’m staying to reach it, 3) If Mom or Solar aren’t doing anything else, I can have some company.

Yes, that’s a bike shop off the side there. Can you think of a better location? For a clever slogan, click the picture to get the full-size version and look at the sign at the top left.

This part of Florida is pretty flat — if you want hills, you pretty much have to make them yourself. Fortunately(?), there’s a good reason to make some hills: some of the main drags are four to eight lanes wide and busy all the time. Therefore, the occasional overpass adds a little more resistance than the occasional headwind or off-road tires provide. But just a little. The climbs that top out at FAR Manor are longer and about as steep. My mountain bike is geared for hills and off-road duty, so I just put it in the middle gears and rolled on up. Most everywhere else, you can select a (high) gear you’re comfortable with and spin the miles away. If you’re in better shape than I am, you could probably ride from one end to the other (and back) in a few hours.

The south end of the Cross Bayou bridge, looking back north. I rode just a little farther than this, to the top of the Park St./Bay Pines overpass, before turning around and going back. What with having to double back at one point and get a picture I forgot, I covered about 18 miles total.

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