The FLT Tour de Parks Fun Ride – An Illustrated Report


Tour de Parks Fun Ride

April 2, 2013

The (FLT) 2013 Tour de Parks Fun Ride was an outstanding Park exploration event.  The Tour included a 16 mile, 37 and 62 mile bicycle ride.  The three routes “visited” forty-four City, County and State Parks.

As part of a new program to give residents and visitors ideas for travel routes on the Legacy Trail to other parks, the 2013 Tour de Parks route maps are available online at  More walking and bicycling travel ideas will be added later to the FLT website.

The 16 mile route honored the recent designation of Venice as a Bicycle Friendly Community by including much of the “Island Route” and some of the Venetian Waterway Park and Legacy Trails.  See 2012 City of Venice Map by Bike Walk Venice.

The 37 and 62 mile routes took riders along The Legacy Trail to Palmer Ranch going past Oscar Scherer State Park, Urfer Family Park, Colonial Oaks Park, Blackburn Point Park and Nokomis Beach on Casey Key.  Riders on the 62 mile route also enjoyed the wooded loop through Rothenbach Park and the sight of a rowing regatta at Nathan Benderson Park.

The 2013 Tour demonstrated again the drawing power of the non-motorized Legacy Trail to get people out to exercise. FLT hopes to one day see an 8-mile extension of the Legacy to Payne Park in downtown Sarasota. This completion would create a continuous non-motorized trail from Caspersen Beach and Shamrock Park in South Venice through downtown Venice to downtown Sarasota. Such extension would be a great step forward for the wellness of our communities and for tourism.

In addition to the ride, participants also received breakfast, lunch and a safety message t-shirt.  The start and finish for the Tour de Parks was held at the Venice Train Depot.  The Tour was presented by FLT and Sarasota County Parks and Recreation.  Major sponsors for the event included First Watch (continental breakfast), Sarasota Orthopedic Associates (t-shirts and two raffled bicycles), and Venice Regional Medical Center.  Bicycle support was provided by Real Bikes and International Bikes of Venice. Lunch was catered by Captain Eddie’s.

Despite overcast and windy weather, there were a total of 390 participants out of 414 registrants.  Thirty-three percent of the riders rode the 16 mile route, forty-six percent rode the 37 mile route and twenty-one percent rode the 62 miler.

In order to encourage their participation, riders age seventy-five and over and fourteen and under were exempted from paying an entry fee.  There were a total of 75 participants in the seventy-five years and over category.  Three children under 14 rode.

Approximately  16% of the registrants were from Florida counties other than Sarasota.  Non-Florida riders represented 15 states.

Altogether, the riders rode a total of nearly 14,000 miles.  Helmets were required and safety was foremost on FLT’s agenda.

The best and most lasting effect of the Tour de Parks is that all of the proceeds go directly back into programs and equipment to improve and enhance the Legacy Trail. Presently FLT is working on a program to place information kiosks at each trailhead and crossroad.  Four are in place at Nokomis, Laurel Road, Laurel Park and Osprey Junction Trailhead (OJT).  The OJT kiosk includes a cooled water fountain.

The Tour t-shirt was used to benefit all walkers, runners, rollerbladers and bicyclists by including a safety message on the back that reads: “Please Announce: Passing on Your Left”.  This is the latest in a series of FLT t-shirts designed to increase everyone’s awareness of trail safety practices.

Plan to join us on March 23, 2014 for the 2014 Tour de Parks.  The Start/Finish location for next year’s event will once again be at the Venice Train Depot on The Legacy Trail.


Mike Gippert


FLT is a Chapter of The Friends of Sarasota County Parks a 501 C 3 organization




Photographs by LuAnn Booker from the Fun Ride

Slideshow Available Soon (watch website)

TdP Riders Leaving The Venice Train Depot

Real Bikes Riders On “Coaster” Bicycles

TdP Riders On The Legacy Trail Overpass

Returned From Parks Tour And Having Lunch At The Venice Train Depot