By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Florida Freewheelers Bicycle Club will be riding out on their 31st annual Florida Bicycle Safari, April 30 through May 5, 2011.
Based in Orlando, the group of avid bikers pedal out almost every weekend on bike trails in the Central Florida area, but once a year, they undertake the Florida Bicycle Safari, their “springtime adventure that features supported rides over some of the best cycling roads in North Florida and South Georgia,” according to the event website, www.floridabicyclesa-fari.com.
The Safari is limited to 250 bikers, plus volunteers who run the rest stops and lunch stops along the trail, drive the trucks with the camping equipment and mark the routes. This year, about 225 Florida Freewheelers will be participating in the Safari.
Also this year, Michael Halley, Greenville Town Council Member and avid cyclist himself, will be joining the group, and he wants to alert Madison County residents that there will be a lot of people in the area on bicycles during the first few days of May. “We don’t want anyone to get run over,” he said.
Also, with over 200 club members in town, “that’s a lot of people who’ll be spending money locally.”
After first spending the weekend at the Suwannee County Fairgrounds near Live Oak, and touring the different bike trails there, the group will arrive at the Cherry Lake 4H Campground, Monday, May 2, and spend the next three days touring the trails throughout the county and in South Georgia.
While they are in Madison County, they will also visit places of historical interest, such as the Ray Charles house in Greenville. Tuesday evening, May 3,
Greenville Mayor Elesta Pritchett and Bob Bunning of Treasures of Madison County will visit the group at the 4-H Campground, where Pritchett will share stories of growing up in Greenville, and Bunning will talk about some of the history of the Madison County area.
In addition to riding the trails all over the county and spending money in the local economy, the Freewheelers will be promoting awareness of cyclists sharing the road with automobiles, while emphasizing responsible biking and personal safety for all cyclists – whether for diehard enthusiasts like themselves, or those who enjoy just pedaling around their neighborhoods.
With that issue of safety in mind, some of them will also visit Greenville Elementary School, Wednesday, May 4, at 10 a.m. to educate the students about bicycle safety and to present them with bicycle helmets.
“This is my first Bicycle Safari,” said Halley. “But, it probably won’t be my last.”
Halley, who is also on the Chamber of Commerce’s Cycling Committee, a member of Greenville United Methodist Church and the chair of United Methodist Cooperative Ministries, will be undertaking an even longer tour after finishing the Safari – a 1600-mile trip to Michigan.
That’s a lot of pedaling.
Florida Bicycle Safari To Bring 200+ Bicycle Enthusiasts To Madison County
By Lynette Norris