Hey NASCAR. On yer left!
Eight hundred bicyclists are on the way!
At least that many cyclists are expected to ride a lap on the Daytona International Speedway next spring as one highlight in Bike Florida’s week-long bicycle tour to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The March 22-28 ride — named the Magical History Tour — begins and ends in Palatka. The ride features four layover days and three travel days, with overnights scheduled in Palatka, Daytona Beach and St. Augustine.
All bicyclists follow the same route on travel days; choices of several bike route options are available on layover days. Total length of the tour is 274 to 469 miles.
The Daytona International Speedway is home to Daytona 500, as well as other race car and motorbike racing. The primary route configuration of the track is 2.5 miles; bicyclists will be asked to ride on the skirt of the track and avoid the banked portion of the pavement.
Organizers at first reserved the speedway romp for bicyclists participating in the full week-long ride. Recently, however, Bike Florida is offering a one-day option on Tuesday, March 25, for those who want to ride around the speedway, as well as participate in the century or metric century options that day. See the website for details.
Also, cyclists who can’t make the entire week-long ride can join up for the weekend of March 22-23 for the Palatka Cycling Festival.
Fountain of Youth
Other highlights of the 20th anniversary for Bike Florida include a route along the intercoastal waterway, Ravine Gardens in Palatka, Marineland, Fort Matanzas National Monument, Tomoka State Park, the historic community of Armstrong on the Gullah-Geechee Trail, St. Augustine, and the Ponce De Leon Lighthouse.
Volusia County will host a beach party and Bike Florida will host an anniversary celebration at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, as well as other entertainment throughout the week.
The bike tour is fully supported with route markings, rest stops, and SAG support, as well as luggage transport and camping sites. Meals are extra, although a meal plan can be purchased. A list of vendors is available for bike transport, tent service, luggage transfer to hotels, massages and more.
Bike Florida is one of the first — if not the first — week-long or cross-state bicycle tour every year. The inaugural tour launched in 1994 when a small group of bicycling advocates rode from St. Augustine to the state government in Tallahassee.
Bike Florida is more than just a week-long bike tour. It’s also a nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization that works year-around to promote safe bicycling in The Sunshine State.
Ride director Ken Foster urges anyone interested in joining the ride to sign up soon, as prices will increase and slots will fill up. For more information about joining the ride, see the BikeFlorida Magical History Tour Registration Page.