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Life on the Pinellas Trail, FL

December 28, 2011

Spanish Moss hanging from oak on one fo the trail

Although raised in New York, my grandparents lived in Florida (like all grandparents) and as a result many of my childhood memories are set on the Gulf coast. Two standout memories are key lime pies from J.J. Gandy’s and the Pinellas County Trail. Although both amazing, since this is a bike blog I’ll be focusing on the trail. Even back then, with a very limited view of what the world had to offer, I knew this trail was world-class.

The trail’s history began in the mid-80s after the Florida DOT purchased an old railroad right-of-way. In 1984, the Pinellas Bicycle Advisory Committee purposed the right-of-way as a bike route. Voters approved the “Penny-for-Pinellas” sales tax to fund 35 miles of trail in 1989. Today, the greenway spans 37 miles and includes an additional 13(ish) miles of park spurs. Imagine being able to complete a century on a dedicated car-free route whenever you wanted! If anyone can find a better use for a penny, please let me know.

Separate cyclists/runner paths

The trail reached my grandparents backyard in 1994. What followed for me was many hours of exploration, “search parties” headed by my older brother (I didn’t have a cellphone since they were only for important businessmen and Zach Morris), and some pretty awful sunburns which my pale NY skin was not prepared for (evidently sunscreen was not invented yet).

This year, with the wife checking out the nearby outlets, I was free to take another tour of the trail. First, I needed to do some necessary maintenance to the old trek hanging in the garage rafters. Hours later, the chain was lubed, the brake squeal was troubleshot, brake pads were changed, the brake squeal was further troubleshot, the brake squeal was ignored (within the first mile in ended up working itself out) and I was off.

The trail is flat, wide, and relaxing. Unlike Rock Creek Trail, the chance of colliding with runners or bikers is low. This is due in part to the very wide trail and also the separate paths for runners and cyclists. No more shouting “on your left!” Although I only completed a small portion of the greenway, I found myself daydreaming of what I could do for a living that would enable me to utilize this trail everyday of my life. I settled on a career at a local Chick-fil-A. My wife quickly squashed this ambition and reminded me of “my potential.” Guess I need to figure out another way to get there.

No problem little girl learning how to rollerblade, plenty of room for all of us!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2011 3:07 am

    what a great read! it’s probably for the best you don’t work at chick-fil-a… however it does sound deliciously, religiously tempting.

    • December 29, 2011 7:23 pm

      Thanks Dave. Just think, I would be free to do whatever I wanted on Sundays.

  2. December 29, 2011 5:01 pm

    Oh…just bought a Key Liime Pie at JJGandy’s…delicious.

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