Where Did My Brain Go?

Spring is for Smiling Bicycle Riders

I have always enjoyed riding a bicycle.

Bicycle riding relaxes me.

It is more relaxing, since I stopped carrying my iPhone and removed my speedometer. I carry ID, $4 for two for emergency bus rides, two Clif Bars and two 20 ounce bottles of water or a sports drink.

I forget about my problems. I check out the scenery, and stay motivated to reach my destination.

Exercise is a by-product. I also sleep better after a bike ride.

I try to ride at least twice a week, so I am not exhausted when I get home.

Waiting for the Sun

Seasonal riding is depressing. I have all sorts of warm clothing for winter riding. But it is hard for me to get motivated to ride when the temperature is near freezing.

Before I moved to Florida, I would usually feel great in October, after six months of riding.

Sadly, I would regress over the Winter and have to start over in the Spring. I needed a nap after my first few rides of the year.

Thankfully, I moved to Tampa, Florida last year.

Bicycle Riding in Tampa and Lexington

Wherever I live, I create a favorite bicycle route, away from traffic. My favorite route in Lexington, KY was ten hilly miles. I usually passed more bicyclists and joggers than cars on my Lexington route.

South Tampa has more traffic than my Lexington neighborhood. However, South Tampa traffic is concentrated on a few main streets. I only have to cross three streets with traffic lights, to ride ten miles.

Tampa and Lexington, KY are about the same size. But Tampa has more bicycle riders, because Tampa has better weather and more safe places to ride a bicycle. Tampa is "bicycle friendly."

Lexington has one major bicycle route on the the 12 mile Legacy Trail. Sadly, the Legacy Trail has one "rest area" with a water fountain, bathroom and benches. There are about 5 water fountains, and many benches along my favorite bicycle route. Tampa seems to have a public bathroom in every park, and I pass many parks while I am riding.

Bayshore Boulevard

Almost half of my route is along Bayshore Linear Park Trail on Bayshore Boulevard. I watch birds diving for fish in Hillsborough Bay. I often wave and smile at passing bicyclists.

It seems natural to wave to strangers, because many people wave and smile at me.

I used to time my ride in Lexington. I covered my Lexington route in about 50 minutes, including waiting for a couple of traffic lights.

Chasing Youth

I usually stay out riding for over two hours in Tampa. I stop about every other ride, to sit down for a few minutes. I enjoy sitting on the bench near Bay to Bay Boulevard, the halfway point of the Bayshore Boulevard path.

I sit long enough to relax and watch a few bicycles pass. Most of the riders are less than half of my age. Some are attaining speeds than I will never be able to attain for the rest of my life.

After a few bicycles pass, I pick one and try to pass it. At my age, it is fun to keep up with younger people.

I encounter a few, but only a few, riders older than me. One Grandpa inspires me. He rides much faster than me, on an expensive bicycle in the adjacent bike lane. I always wave at him. He smiles. I can keep up with him for about a minute.

I need a nap when I get home, if I maintain the speed of a twentyish rider for more than a few minutes.

Bicycling Beyond Bayshore Boulevard

I normally turn off Bayshore Boulevard to ride on the pedestrian walk of the adjacent Davis Islands Bridge. My bicycle shares the street with golf carts on Davis Islands, until I reach another bicycle path that passes through Seaplane Basin park.

I can vary my route by continuing along Bayshore Boulevard to Riverwalk, another pedestrian path. Riverwalk has fewer bicyclists, more pedestrians.

Riverwalk extends Bayshore Boulevard for about 2 miles. I can keep riding another mile to Channelside, if I feel like sharing a sidewalk with many pedestrians for a few blocks.

Bicycling in South Tampa

I visit Gadsden Park when I want a shorter ride, near home.

Gadsden Park includes the MacDill Trail, an asphalt path around Lake Gadsden which is connected to another path around the park. One lap around both paths is 1.47 miles.

There is very little pedestrian traffic in this park. The path by the lake offers a clear view of the lake. I enjoy watching birds dive into the lake, searching for fish.

Like most Tampa parks, Gadsden Park / MacDill Trail has a working water fountain and a decent bathroom.

Tampa Bicycle Riders Are Happy

Over half of the bicyclists who pass me in Tampa, seem to be smiling. Numerous strangers wave and smile at me for no apparent reason.

Anyone who wants to smile, should try riding a bicycle.