South Florida Recumbent Riders meet for LOST ride

OKEECHOBEE — The South Florida Recumbent Riders is an association of people who ride together, sometimes a couple times a week. It’s called a club, but the membership is free, there are no regular meetings, and there are no officers or treasury. It is simply some people in the south Florida area, who ride together and have a love of uncommon bicycles and lately tricycles in common. Originally formed on the internet in a place called Yahoo Groups some 16 or 17 years ago, by Jose Hernandez of Sunrise, Fla., the group has been well known and well attended since that time, with group rides and events. In the last few years, the club information about rides and gatherings is found on Facebook and the Yahoo address has been parked and mostly abandoned.

Recently, the group, using a Facebook announcement and discussion, amassed more than 30 attendees to make a long weekend visit to Sanibel Island to explore the many miles of bike paths there and share meals and fun.

On Sunday, Jan. 15, the South Florida Recumbent Riders met to ride one of the last remaining portions of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. The longest section of the LOST trail is the portion from the lock at Port Mayaca to Nubbin Slough and the S131 Structure there. The invitation went out via Facebook and ten people arrived at Port Mayaca by 10 a.m. for the ride to commence. There were some lost, LOST riders that morning. One member commenting that she had, “never driven so far in her life and not seen a Publix store.”

Winds are usually an issue on the LOST as it’s so far in the air on the top of the Herbert Hoover Dike, but the weather was not an issue on Sunday with a light breeze from the east most of the day and bright sunny skies. It was agreed by the participants that the weather was perfect for a ride. The difficulty of riding the LOST is the absolute lack of facilities of any kind.

Some of the members came from the Ft. Lauderdale suburbs and some facilities at the park at Port Mayaca would have been welcome.

The riders negotiated the gate at the north end of the park area, and headed up the path in two groups. A fast group of four or five riders, and a slower group behind with five or six more. All but one rider was riding a recumbent tricycle for the event. These little three-wheeled machines are low slung, fast and fun to ride, along with being very comfortable with large, lawn chair style seats, headrests and multiple speeds.

The first stop on the ride was the J&S Fish Camp for refreshments and the use of the public facilities there, followed by food and drinks. The South Florida Recumbent Rider group looked out of place, in bicycling attire among the leather clad motorcyclists who frequent J&S on a sunny weekend midday.

South Florida Recumbent Riders (left to right) Delroy Ying, Diane Timmons, Tom Timmons, Laura Ciffone, Susan Hernandez, Jose Hernandez, Russ Beals, Annie Correa and Ivan Correa take a break at J&S Fish Camp during a ride on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. Photo by Steve Ciffone.

But they parked all their rides in a line near the bar area, in best motorcyclist fashion. After a rest, the group broke up into two smaller groups. One group continued north on the LOST as far as the structure at Henry Creek, where two of their number continued on to Nubbin Slough. The other, smaller, group returned to the park at Port Mayaca for a trip distance of about sixteen miles.

Discussion later on Facebook, with photos of the ride posted was overwhelmingly positive that the LOST is a little-used resource for cyclists in the region, and discussions about the long-term closings of the path are not well received.

Some years ago, much of the LOST was open to hikers and cyclists, but with continued long-term closings of the path for the construction of a cut-off wall, and now the installation of new culverts that take two to three years to complete, it may be a long while before the South Florida Recumbent Riders can enjoy this trail system again.

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