Florida Stories: On Two Wheels

“Cyclers see considerable more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to.” – Dr. K. K. Doty

My first adult bike ride took place in 2011. This inaugural tweed ride consisted of nearly 80 riders dressed in the tweediest gear available. I caught the biking bug that day. Riding the six miles around downtown St. Petersburg, FL with friends old and new. A brand new annual event was born with hundred of new riders joining each year, and I have participated in each tweed ride since.

This lovely video is proof of a wonderful day of riding, drinking, and shuffling. (And yes, I have a small cameo.)

Since that first group ride, I was hungry for more, and luckily found the Burg Pub Riders. Each month, there is a new theme, a new group of cyclist, and new breweries popping up for our pub riders to enjoy. I go to as many rides as possible. Even, attending a 12-mile ride from St. Pete to Gulfport last summer. Sure, I nearly died from the heat, but thankfully with a little help from a friend, I made it all the way home.

Biking is not just a social gathering. I’ve found an immense amount of freedom and childlike wonder in riding my cheap bicycle around town imbibed with local craft beers. I’ve met new people and have yet to crash. More importantly, I’ve found a new way to enjoy the nighttime: riding fast buzzing from too many drinks and too many laughs. It’s as if, my heart has doubled in size and a small part of me, that rebellious, mischievous girl, is back for good.

A tiny seed of pride was planted into my soul and has grown to explode over the next coming years. St. Pete has grown into an artsy community full of creative, festive, and locally grown fun. I’ve been having such a great time, that, for the first time in my life, I am having second thoughts of leaving my hometown for London. But really, its just another signal that my heart is in the right place, and my leaving is a rare and special thing. My life is going to change in a few short months. I will be in another country. My writing skills will put to the test in a demanding graduate program. I will be far away from my friends and family. It’s natural to be terrified of this next step and cling to all the beautiful people I’ve grown to love and cherish.

When I do move away, I know that there are cycling clubs and a massive tweed run in London (I plan on attending next May). There a culture of biking that is available to me in a new city; new way to connect to others through a passion for pedaling through a big, beautiful landscape with similar people with, hopefully, a few pit stops at the local beer gardens.


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