Polk County to Host 2013 Bike Florida Spring Tour

Florida bicycle event to bring more than 900 cyclists to Polk County roadways in March 2013.

Auburndale, Fla. (September 11, 2012) – For the first time in its 19 year history the Bike Florida Spring Tour will hold its week-long bicycle tour in Polk County. The seven day event will be held March 22-29, 2013 and will bring more than 900 bicyclists from around the United States and Canada to Polk County to experience the region’s natural beauty, restaurants, cultural attractions and local events.

The 2013 Bike Florida Spring Tour has been titled the Orange Blossom Special and throughout the week cyclists will have the opportunity to ride more than 450 miles during the event. Bike Florida will begin the Spring Tour in Lakeland on March 23 with the Sun ‘n Fun campus acting as the host facility for event registration, overnight camping and the starting and ending points for each day’s cycling routes on March 23 and 24. The Tour will leave Lakeland the morning of Monday, March 25 and will spend two days in Lake County (March 25 & 26) before moving to Lake Wales on March 27. The Tour will overnight in Lake Wales and ride routes will give cyclists the opportunity to explore eastern Polk County on March 28. Participants will ride back to Lakeland to close out the Tour on March 29.

“Bike Florida is excited to bring our 19th annual Spring Tour to Polk County” said Bike Florida Ride Director Becky Afonso. “As a native Floridian from the Tampa Bay area, I am especially honored to showcase an area of Florida not only close to my home, but close to my heart in the memories I have exploring these areas as a child.”

One of the main goals of the Bike Florida Spring Tour is to educate the cyclists on the history of the region and provide time for the participants to explore the local communities that they visit, which is a large departure from cycling race “tours” where riders compete against each other for the fastest times from start to finish. Bike Florida encourages the Tour’s participants to set their own schedule and ride at their own leisurely pace by providing three separate cycling routes for each day that the Tour spends in a local community. Generally a 20-30 mile route, a 30-50 mile route and a 60+ mile route is mapped out by Bike Florida, with an emphasis on providing riders direct access to local attractions, restaurants, museums and retail shops. Bike Florida is currently working on setting the routing for each day’s rides, with the goal of introducing riders to communities throughout Polk County such as Bartow, Mulberry, Polk City, Dundee, Haines City, Frostproof and Fort Meade.

Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing is working very closely with Bike Florida to market the event to potential ride participants, in addition to, getting area businesses, attractions and restaurants involved in the event. Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing has taken the lead on organizing committees that include the local chambers of commerce, civic groups, law enforcement and transportation planning officials that will help ensure a safe ride and one that will lead to increasing the economic impact with are businesses. “The 2013 Bike Florida Spring Tour is a true win-win event for our region as it provides a great opportunity for Polk County to showcase the our thriving arts community, our natural beauty and attractions to more than 800 cyclists from across North America” said Mark Jackson, Director Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing. “The social and economic impact to the area will be widespread as the daily routes feature our historic downtowns and main streets which will provide the cyclists with plenty of opportunities to step off their bicycles to patronize local shops, grab a bite to eat in area restaurants and interact with local residents.”

2013 Bike Florida Spring Tour Schedule

Saturday, March 23 – Lakeland, FL – Registration Opens; Three ride routes (western and southern Polk County)
Sunday, March 24 – Lakeland, FL – Three ride routes (western and southern Polk County)
Monday, March 25 – Tour rides from Lakeland, FL to Lake County, FL
Tuesday, March 26 – Local ride routes in Lake County, FL
Wednesday, March 27 – Tour rides from Lake County, FL to Lake Wales, FL
Thursday, March 28 – Lake Wales, FL – Three ride routes (eastern and southern Polk County)
Friday, March 29 – Tour rides from Lake Wales, FL to Lakeland, FL – Tour Concludes

With the dates and primary routing of the 2013 Tour having been set, Bike Florida is currently working on scheduling social functions, concerts, community events and guest speakers that will be added to complete the week’s schedule. Bike Florida’s Spring Tour has traditionally been offered only as a week-long Tour, but this year a two-day weekend package will also be offered for the March 23-24 opening weekend in Lakeland, FL. Bike Florida Ride Director Becky Afonso added, “From Spook Hill to Thrill Hill, our Orange Blossom Special Spring Tour will delight and excite cyclists looking to discover, or rediscover, a part of Florida rich in history and peppered with elevation changes not normally associated with the Sunshine State.”

Registration for the 2013 Bike Florida Spring Tour will open on Saturday, September 15 and registration forms and additional information can be found at www.bikeflorida.org. Bike Florida expects the 2013 Spring Tour to sell out and registration is available on a first come, first served basis.