Cycling in West Orange – Great for mental and physical health

“Exercise” is a word that really isn’t in my daily vocabulary but it is in my bi-weekly vocabulary; in a good month. My definition of exercise is and has been since I was much younger, bike riding. Even though I was hit by a car at age 15, I still love to ride; probably because I have amnesia about the accident. In all seriousness though, I didn’t ride very often until about 10 years ago. My good friend Jim Neumayer, loved to ride, along with his wife Eileen. They talked Nick and me into riding with them along the West Orange Trail. The first few rides were relatively short, from Winter Garden Station to Killarney Station in Oakland. It is only a 5 mile, 10 round trip, but seemed like 100 to me. 

The reasons for that are that Nick and I weren’t all that well prepared. We didn’t have bikes with lots of gears and cycling kits. That all eventually changed and made even longer rides seem shorter and much more enjoyable. We now have thousands of miles on our double-digit gear bikes, and we wear cushioned bike shorts and shirts with plenty of pockets in the back. We are now true cycling enthusiasts, even if only as “Weekend Warriors”.

Once a month though, on a Friday, I lead a diverse group of women on a ride along the West Orange Trail. We all have different types of bikes and clothing, yet we all have a joy for riding in common.  The part we all really enjoy the most, is heading back to downtown Winter Garden for camaraderie and some light refreshments at a chamber member restaurant. Networking on Fridays doesn’t just happen on a golf course! 

Riding along the West Orange Trail, whether towards Apopka or west into Lake County; hills and all and listening to good music while passing the old charm scenery is good for the heart and soul. Sometimes though, I ride close to my home in MetroWest, on the wide sidewalks along Hiawassee Road where I enter Turkey Lake Park and do a scenic, almost two-mile loop within the park. 

Once I started to ride, I found many ways to enjoy it even when on vacation in the states or Europe.  No matter where you are in the world, there are bikes and great rides. I even learned of and participated in rides by wonderful, local organizations hosting rides for various causes. Over the years, I have enjoyed the Winter Garden Wheel Works Think Pink Ride, a ride for the Winter Garden police department, Friends of Lake Apopka (FOLA 40) and American Diabetes Tour de Cure.  

Join me one day and I am sure you too can be a weekend warrior and cycling enthusiast and experience West Orange in a whole new way!

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Written by Stina D'Uva

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