With the passing of Labor Day and all of the talk about the end of summer, I was looking for an activity this past weekend to enjoy outside before the cold Florida winter sets in (that is me being sarcastic, for those of you who didn’t catch that).
In all honesty, I love being outdoors and being active. When I stumbled upon the West Orange Bikes & Blades website, I knew at once I had to go check it out. According to their brochure, “The West Orange Trail- when completed, will be a 36-mile, multi-purpose recreational greenway containing a 14-foot wide paved surface to be enjoyed by walkers, joggers, hikers, bikers, skaters and the physically challenged.” Currently, the first 22-miles of the trail are complete, starting from the Killarney Station in Oakland to Welch Road in Apopka. Not having biked since I was a child, 22-miles sounded like enough for me, so out the door I headed.
Unlike a lot of State/city sponsored recreational sites in Central Florida, Orlando Bikes & Blades is actually opened on Saturday & Sunday. In fact, they are even open on holidays as well! Should you have your own equipment, then your time is absolutely free, as there is no charge for parking or to use the trail. I do not happen to own a bicycle, so I rented one for the incredibly affordable rate of $6 per hour. There aren’t a lot of exercise activities I know of for $6 an hour. A zumba class at a studio can range from $10-$15 an hour and an actual gym membership doesn’t even come close to $6 an hour. Even more enticing, should you return the rentals before the full hour, your fee will be pro-rated!
With the trail opening at 7:30am on the weekends, it makes for a pleasant ride as the temperature is still cool, the people are few, and all is fairly quiet. Exercising outdoors in the fresh air and the occasional greeting from fellow trail users is the cherry on top. For my first ride, I clocked 14 miles in 1.5 hours. Should I want to make the full 22 (or 36) mile ride in the future, the trail would make it possible with its frequent outposts to stop, rest, and refuel at. The Winter Garden Station even runs through a strip with plenty of little restaurants and coffee shops complete with outside seating for stinky trail folk (and even some wine bars too, should that be your type of refueling).
After just one weekend on the West Orange Trail, I am hooked. There aren’t a lot of things left that combine fitness and fun, and are absolutely free. My new December Christmas present to myself may now be my next mode of transportation…the bicycle. Yes Dad, complete with helmet.
That being said, any bikers out there? The new girl needs help picking out a set of wheels.