By JP Chartier
Nothing like an early morning, springtime bike ride along the Tampa Bay shoreline in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA to get your day started right. I got to tell ya, the beauty and the serenity of the area is mesmerizing, especially in the early morning hours before the rush of the crowds drown it out. Opulent solitude surged joyously in me, as I took in the early morning smells of the sea.
With the temperature hovering around in the low 70’s, and humidity a non-issue, my bike ride along the scenic shoreline of the Tampa Bay has become a type of “mobile meditation” for me. With each thrust of the pedals, my bike moves at a leisurely pace into the warm Florida sunshine, I feel the sea breeze at my back, washing over me, soothing my mind and soul, all the while carrying away my burdens.
Today’s ride on the North Bay Trail starts at the sun-kissed marina of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, where sailboats, yachts and catamarans bob rhythmically with trance-like perfection.
Above, the cries of seagulls blend harmoniously with the wind rushing through the palm trees, I feel my pulse quicken from the excitement, causing me to think to myself, “It sure is good to be alive!”
A short distance from the marina I’m greeted by two behemoth trees, looking magnificent with their stoic demeanor and muscularity! This is a favorite gathering spot for locals and visitors alike, and is the perfect place to catch some shade, to use as a meeting place, or to contemplate life.
Across the street from the trees are several shops and restaurants with outside seating, so one can soak up the sunshine and take in the tropical beauty of the surrounding area.
The trail continues past a few parks, including the Vinoy Park, which is a popular spot for large outside concerts and shows.
A bit further down the trail is the Vista Point Park which contains a very interesting human sundial. It’s easy to miss, I’ve missed it on several earlier rides.
“The Centennial Sundial at Vista Point” is an interactive granite sundial which stands near the original sundial built back in the 1930’s.
A semi-circle of markers denotes each hour, when a person stands in front of the half-circle facing north, a shadow is cast upon the correct hour marker, showing you the time. Pretty cool!
The views are stunning throughout the entire trail, including this one of the St. Petersburg Pier in the not too far off distance.
“The Pier,” as it’s known here, is shaped like an inverted pyramid, and served as a focal point for tourism for years, but closed in June 2013 due to structural deterioration. In 2013 the mayor, Rick Kriseman, had the fences removed from around the building. Now the Pier approach and Pier head are open to the public for pedestrian access, fishing and other related activities.
I continue onward with my bike journey, and the trail leads me to a renown St. Petersburg landmark, “The Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club.”
The AAA Four-Diamond pink hotel stands triumphant and stoic-like, encircled by palm trees standing at the ready, with a wonderful view of the nearby shoreline of the Tampa Bay.
The historic hotel has been offering comfort and elegance to its patrons since 1925, and can be found on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the years, there have been reports of supernatural activity at the hotel. Interestingly enough, many of the reports come from the visiting professional baseball teams, who are in town to play the Tampa Bay Rays.
The trail hugs the shoreline around to a bridge, which leads to the very wealthy neighborhood of Snell Isle, and the conclusion of today’s bike ride.
Where are some of your favorite bike trails located?