Local Trek to Florida’s Fountain of Youth
Sunshine, good food, feeling like a celebrity, old Florida accommodations, a dip in the Fountain of Youth, and a dose of rain just for fun.
Bicycle Adventurers: Kendra and her favorite bike tour companion — her husband, Mike. Kendra's blog is here.
When: June 4–5, 2016, National Bike Travel Weekend
Accommodations: Warm Mineral Springs Motel — old Florida at its finest and near Warm Mineral Springs.
Distance: 75 miles in two days
Bonus tip for this adventure:
- Easy flat riding, much of it on The Legacy Trail
- Warm Mineral Springs. Near North Port, FL, this public sinkhole offers soothing 87-degree water. Learn more about Warm Mineral Springs, The Fountain of Youth, here.
- Waterproof panniers
Riding my bicycle from home is one of my favorite things to do. It irks me to have to load up my bike in my car, drive somewhere to ride, then drive home.
So, Adventure Cycling’s National Bike Travel Weekend was the perfect excuse to plan a weekend getaway from our front door to some exotic location. But where to go? We’ve been north to Tampa and south to Boca Grande on previous bike trips, and we wanted to do something different this time. So ... why not combine the bike overnight with an attraction I had been wanting to visit ... Warm Mineral Springs. The Springs are exactly as named and a unique place where many Europeans have settled to take advantage of the health benefits offered in the sulpher-scented, mineral-rich water. Touted as the original “fountain of youth” sought by Ponce de Leon, the 250 foot deep natural pool of water attracts visitors from all over the world. It’s a mere 30 miles from our house, and yet I had never been there. And so we went.
About half the distance to the Spring was on The Legacy Trail, a paved rails to trails from Sarasota to Venice. A stop at the end of the trail, Shamrock Park, provided us with some much needed shade and fresh cold water on a hot and sunny southwest Florida day. We loved the new water bottle filler on the drinking fountain — kudos to Sarasota County for that upgrade recently.
Our lunch at the Myakka River Oyster Bar was delicious as we loaded up on fresh seafood, cold beer, and chatted with Rita, the bartender who looked at us wide-eyed when we told her we rode our bikes 30 miles from Sarasota. Non-cyclists are often in awe that we ride distances that they don’t even like to drive in a car. We love to encourage others to cycle, maybe we will see Rita on a bicycle some day.
After lunch we checked into our accommodations for the night — Warm Mineral Springs Motel. Built in 1958, it is a perfect example of the Sarasota School of Architecture style made famous in the area in the 50s and 60s. It was in excellent condition and really felt like a blast from the past with it’s interesting concrete canopies and walls of glass. I am not much of a camper, so a local motel is perfect for me for a bike overnight.
After a visit to soak in the Springs, where we instantly felt younger and more energetic (might have been a psychological effect), we hopped back on our bikes to ride the 3 miles to dinner. The Olde World Restaurant was yet another step back in time and reminiscent of an old time supper club. The food was delicious and we unexpectedly ran into Rita, our bartender from earlier, who was eating dinner there with friends. She had been telling her companions about us and our ride, so we were happy to share our adventure with them. Sitting at the bar, we also had the opportunity to chat with other locals and the restaurant owner. When it was time to leave we were surprised with complimentary dessert from the owner to take back with us to our motel (glad I kept a pannier on my bike).
Rain earlier in the evening had cooled the air and the ride back to the motel was crisp and welcome after the hot day in the sun.
After sleeping in a bit, we packed up our things and headed up the road for breakfast. The Family Table Restaurant had great service and delicious food at very reasonable prices. Leaving there, we started our ride north back home to Sarasota.
With tailwinds all the way, we had about five miles of paved trail in North Port, five miles of bike lane on the Tamiami Trail, then 15 miles on The Legacy Trail. The weather radar earlier hadn’t shown any rain until later in the day, but you know how that can go. And the rain came. Luckily, we were on the trail where it felt safer to ride in the heavy downpours, so we stuck it out, and pedaled home.
Even though the trip was only a little over 24 hours long, I was reminded how much I love to bike tour. Thanks Adventure Cycling for inspiring us to join in the fun and participate in National Bike Travel Weekend with a bike overnight. As we were pedaling, it was a joy to think about all the other cyclists who were taking their bike trips at the same time, it made the world seem both big and small at the same time.
Your favorite local bike shop?
3800 S Osprey Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34239
Bike overnight tips and tricks?
We kept our trip super simple by staying in a motel and mapping our nearby restaurants. We also kept the distance shorter than usual so we could ride at a relaxed pace, stop and take pictures, and really enjoy the sights and sounds of our local area.
HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your own bike overnight adventure!