Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club continues to ride after 35 years
When Lisa and Eric Schiffli of Cape Coral started biking with the Caloosa Riders in the early 1990s, AOL was just getting started and maps were needed to lay out the trails.
After being involved with the Caloosa Riders for about 10 years, the Schifflis left for a bit to raise their family.
In September, they returned. Although many group names and dynamics have changed, there is one major thing that hasn’t changed.
“Cyclists are cyclists,” Lisa Schiffli said. “The central part has not changed. There are fast runners and others who are just starting out.
The Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, founded in 1988, celebrates its 35th anniversary.
Its motto is: The Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club is made up of a wide range of riders of varying ages and backgrounds who all share a common enthusiasm and love for cycling. Members regularly participate in weekly rides throughout Lee County, road races and charity bike rides in Southwest Florida. The Caloosa Riders welcome new members who are interested in cycling and general health and fitness.
There are over 400 members; and there are benefits to being a member of Caloosa Riders, including:
· Discounts at local bike shops.
· Secondary accident insurance during club outings.
· Advocacy efforts are sustained to safeguard the rights and safety of cyclists in Southwest Florida.
· A schedule that includes more than 400 trips each year. That’s more than one a day.
Lee Waller, who has been vice president of rides for Caloosa Riders for the past four years, said there are weekly rides in Cape Coral on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.
“On our group rides, we choose quiet residential roads,” Waller said. “In our groups, we seem to get more respect from the drivers if we’re in a group.”
He said the organization had changed from a road riding group to one that added gravel and mountain rides.
“We have a lot of mountain bikers,” he said. “We also have a group called the Mud Cutters who trim the bushes on the mountain trails.”
There are routes for cyclists depending on how fast they want to go or how far they want to go.
The first Pride Ride – repeatedly postponed by the weather – was 49 miles between Sanibel and Captiva.
“We have a lot going on the weekend, 40-50 for the fastest groups,” Waller said. “We have half a century, 62 miles or a century, or 100. We also have a lot of events.”
July’s calendar of events is jam-packed with rides, including Bagel and Taco Tuesday rides, Minions and Panera rides, Thirsty Thursday and Cape Harbor rides, and more.
Waller said the pandemic has brought some people back to cycling. He added that there are always new trails being designed. The one that will be completed at the end of this year is the SUN Trail, along Kismet Parkway. The segment will extend from Del Prado Boulevard to El Dorado Boulevard, connecting to Van Buren Parkway and the Burnt Store Trail. The total length of the project is approximately 6.5 miles. In 2017, the City of Cape Coral received a $1.8 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to design and engineer a SUN Trail segment.
The Schifflis have noticed a few changes. Maps have been replaced by guides on their phones; rechargeable LED lights make nighttime travel easy; and it’s more social before than during the ride, although some people still like to have coffee, lunch or dinner after the ride.
“The best part is the moral support,” Lisa Schiffli said. “We work together and the other cyclists want you to improve. It’s miles of smiles.
“We are happy to be back.”
What: Caloosa Riders
Available to: Wide range of cyclists of various ages and backgrounds.
When: All year round. Walks are offered five days a week around Cape Coral and Lee County and there are special events like the Royal Palm Challenge.
Dues: Annual dues are $20 for an individual or $30 for a family of up to four.
More information: crbc.clubexpress.com; caloosariders.org or President Norman Nesbitt at 443-756-8505.