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Time to Ride the Beaches

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Bicyclists cruise in Venice during during Ride the Beaches in 2011. (Herald-Tribune archive / 2011 / Dan Wagner)

Bicyclists cruise in Venice during during Ride the Beaches in 2011. (Herald-Tribune archive / 2011 / Dan Wagner)

Janice Hajek, a Clearwater cyclist, travels to Venice each April for Ride the Beaches.

She brings friends. She stays for the weekend. It’s her favorite bike event in Florida.

“The location, at Sharky’s and at the beach, is fantastic,” she says. “And the route is fabulous, south of Venice and Manasota Key. And the food is good and you can sit and look around and look at the beach.”

Hajek, 65, is looking forward to snacks during the ride, too. Marc Alton, the chef who founded the event, makes “Sharky Bars” out of Rice Krispies, chocolate, raisins and nuts. There’s nothing Hajek doesn’t love about Ride the Beaches. Well, almost nothing.

“The love bugs — oh, god, I hope they’re not out this year,” she says, laughing. “We hated it that one time, but it was funny.”

Riding SAG

David Reynolds, who owns Real Bicycles in Venice, says his bike shop always participates in Ride the Beaches.

“Every employee will be going — that’s how it works around here,” he says. “Last year, we rode trikes — adult tricycles — and carried water and tubes. We ride SAG — Support And Gear.”

Volunteers with Ride the Beaches have already painted red, white and blue shark symbols at intersections throughout Venice. These colorful markers point cyclists toward 15-, 35- and 70-mile bike routes around town.

“We get to use those all year,” Reynolds says. “We can tell people to go to a certain point and just follow the sharks for a 35-mile ride.”

New rider Some cyclists Ride the Beach year after year. Others are new to the race and the sport.

Jim Cupo, a 51-year-old from Port Charlotte, stays in shape with running, swimming and CrossFit training. A knee injury prompted him to try more cycling.

At the Tour de Cure in Lakewood Ranch last month, Cupo rode 62 miles on his old hybrid bike. It took him 6 hours, but he finished the ride. Then he bought a racing bike and signed up for Ride the Beaches, though he’s only doing 35 miles.

“That’ll be easier, less wear and tear, and I can get used to my bike,” Cupo says. “I just want to ride. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t have anything to prove, I don’t want to be that competitive. I just want to get out with other people and stay active."

INTERESTED?

Sharky’s Ride the Beaches will begin at 6:30 a.m. Sunday at Sharky’s On the Pier, 1600 S. Harbor Drive, Venice. There will be 15-, 35- and 70-mile rides. Entry fees include breakfast and lunch. $40. sharkysonthepier.com.
Last modified: April 28, 2014
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