Rochester Hills PCT Bicycle Club

March 27 & 29, 2005
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During spring break this year, 2005 I drove to Florida with my family.  We split our vacation with both the McGraw’s and Clark’s.  We stayed the first few days with the McGraw’s on Sanibel Island and then the last part of the week with the Clark’s in Stuart.  The Clark’s are Bob’s in laws so Bob and I were together for the bike rides in Stuart.  First of all I want to thank both the McGraw’s and Clark’s for allowing us to stay with them.  Another bike club member, Barry, wasn’t involved in any of these rides but he was indirectly involved.  Barry, Carol, Amanda and Brian took care of our cat while we were gone.  I also want to thank my Mom and Dad for watching our dog Cosmo.   

I was lucky enough to do five bike rides while on vacation.  Two were on March 27 and one each on March 29, 30 and 31.  This story is about the rides on Sanibel, see the next article for the story of the rides while staying in Stuart.    

Bike Rides Sunday Mar 27, 2005
Even though Sanibel Island has very beautiful beaches I can only lay around the beach for so long.  I need to get out and move.  Because I couldn’t talk anyone into riding with me I knew these rides would be solo.  The McGraw’s have three bicycles that they keep at their condo.  One of them had a flat tire, but the other two were usable.  I also tend to be an early riser compared to the rest of my family.  It is not unusual for me to get up and go on an early morning ride or walk and be back before the entire family is even awake.   

This day I decided for my first ride I would go to the other end of the Island and check out the lighthouse.  I figured this ride was about six miles one way, so there and back would be about 12 miles which was a nice easy first ride.  Sanibel Island is geared for walking and bike riding.  It has a paved path along one side of all the main streets which makes riding very easy if you don’t go too fast.  Another nice thing about going out early is there aren’t too many people out clogging up the paths.   

While riding toward the light house I was looking around to see if I could see much damage from the hurricanes that blew across the Island a few months ago.  I was surprised to see how little serious damage I saw.  There was some landscaping disturbed and I image that some of the damage to the buildings and signs had already been repaired.  

Once I got to the end of the Island I got off my bike in the parking lot and walked a few hundred feet on a planked path slightly suspended above some marshy land to get to the beach.  I took a couple pictures with my phone camera of the light house.  After walking around for a couple minutes I decided it was time to head back.  I got back on the mountain bike I was borrowing and retraced my route back to the condo.  Even though the bike I was using was decent, I am not used to having to lean over so far to hang on the straight handle bars of this type bike.  I am not complaining, just noting my experience.  I was very appreciative of having any type bike to use.    

After hanging around the condo and the beach for the rest of the morning and having a sandwich for lunch I decided it was a good time for another ride.  Typically when I am by myself I don’t do much exploring because with my bad sense of direction I get lost fairly easy.  Being on a relatively small Island I figured if I did get lost at least I would never be too far away.  For this ride I decide to see if I could find the entrance to Jn Ding Darlings Nature Preserve, which is a really cool place.   

I stayed on West Gulf heading toward Captiva Island which is attached to the opposite end of Sanibel Island where the light house is located.  I went for a short distance when the bike path ended and dumped me out on to a residential street of a subdivision.  This street was very short and at the end was the entrance to another path.  I thought I was still heading in the right direction so I took this path.  It was a really neat path with a canal on the right only a few feet away and swamp land on the left.  There were local palm type trees and bushes on both sides and for part of the ride the branches were overhanging the path making it feel like I was riding through a tunnel of vegetation.  Part way through this path there was a sign which said I was on the West Rabbit Road Preserve Trail.  This was one of the most beautiful trails I have ever ridden.  It wasn’t long, maybe a mile and a half, but I sure was glad that I accidentally rode this trail.  I ended up on Sanibel-Captiva Road and only had to go another half mile west to the entrance of Jn Ding Darlings.   

I entered Ding Darlings and noticed there was a manned gate collecting entrance fees.  This is different from the last time I was there when it was all based on the honor system.  I rode the bike up to lady working in the booth.  The fee was $1.00 for bicycles.  The lady was very nice.  I asked how far the enter route was and she told me 4.5 miles.  I also asked what the speed record was for completing the course on a bicycle.  She quickly told me it wasn’t a race but a leisurely ride through a nature preserve.  I took this to mean the record was mine for the taking.  I proceeded to ride at a relatively fast pace that I thought I could maintain for the whole 4.5 miles.  I also timed myself and it ended up taking me 19 minutes.  So, that is the speed record for doing Ding Darlings on a bike.  The only bad thing about riding through so quickly was I didn’t get to look around as much as I would have normally.  If the weather stayed good I had a feeling I would get a chance to do this ride again before we left. 

Once I was done with Ding Darlings I was now 4.5 miles further from the condo.  When I got back on Sanibel-Captiva road heading east back toward the condo I knew I was in for a long ride, the wind had picked up and I was riding directly into the teeth of the wind.  I was also a bit spent after setting the speed record just a few minutes earlier, which didn’t seem like such a good idea when I needed all the energy I could generate for the ride back.  I just took my time and never stopped pedaling and I eventually got back.  I estimate this ride was approximately 20 miles total.   

I did make one stop at the Seven Eleven for a slurpee before the final ride along Tarpon Bay Road back to the condo.   

Bike Ride Tuesday March 29, 2005
It rained all morning on Monday and after riding 32 miles the day before my body needed a rest so I didn’t ride on Monday.  Our plans were to leave the Island heading for Stuart Tuesday around noon, which left plenty of time for another ride Tuesday morning.  I had already made up my mind to repeat the ride through Ding Darlings at a slower pace and enjoy the scenery.   

I repeated the ride from Sunday going the exact same route.  When I got to the entrance of Ding Darlings there was a different lady working the booth.  The sign says they want exact change for the entrance fee.  When I opened my wallet I saw that the only bills I had were 20s, no singles.  When I checked my pocket for change I found 66 cents.  This new lady working the booth must have been a Librarian before she retired to Florida because she was a stickler for rules.  When I told her I only had a 20 or 66 cents change I thought see was going to turn me away.  Finally she relented and took my 20 and gave me 19 dollars back.  I was going to tell her that I was the record holder for riding through the preserve the previous day, but with her apparent lack of a sense of humor I didn’t think it would help my situation. 

This time I did ride at a nice slow pace that allowed me to look around more.  I didn’t see any gators either day.  There were a lot of interesting birds and rather large fish jumping in the lake.  I didn’t bring Diane’s nice digital camera, so the only pictures I took at Ding Darlings was with my phone camera, see below for the couple pictures I took. 

On the way home I decided I would stop at Baileys General store to see if they had an inner tube for the bike with a flat tire.  Once I got to the shopping center I was surprised to see that one of our Bike Club stickers had found it’s way onto the bulletin board hanging on the outside wall of the store.  I found an inner tube so I bought it and took it back and fixed the flat tire.  It was the least I could do in thanks for being able to use a bike the past couple days. 

Again, I estimate I rode about 20 miles this day, for a total of 52 miles while on Sanibel.   

David Lindquist 


Light house at the end of Sanibel Island

Look closely to see if you see the club sticker

Inside Ding Darlings

Lookout structure in Ding Darlings

The pond in Ding Darlings

Path into Ding Darlings

Sing at entrance

Baseball field Max and I played catch on on Sanibel
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