Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail – St. Petersburg, FL

Our first ride of 2022 was during a brief escape from the cold when we visited family in Sarasota, FL. While there are a couple of good trails in the area (Legacy, etc.), we decided to try the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail which starts in St. Petersburg and ends 50 miles north in around Keystone. This was inducted in 2008 into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, although we’re not entirely clear as to why. It may be because there didn’t used to be any safe lanes for bikers, runners or families to traverse in this area, so this was a great civic accomplishment. Fred was the city administrator who championed this back in the 90’s and Pinellas is the county it’s located in.

We rented bikes from a great store in the artsy, Scottish-founded town of Dunedin (pronounced dune-EE-din.) Kafé Racer is right on the trail and seems to do a brisk business renting bikes. They have a very efficient rental system – along with a café that sells baked goods, beer and other stuff.

The center of Dunedin had a crowded farmers market that Saturday morning, so we had to navigate around the pedestrians for about a block before heading south on the fairly low-trafficked trail. It was overcast and about 60 degrees, so that may have discouraged some people from getting on the trail (which is pretty laughable to anyone north of South Carolina in the wintertime).

The trail was wide and flat, except on the traffic overpasses, which were unlike any we’d been on before.  Each had four humps we rolled over on both sides of the ramp, so maybe that’s a Florida thing?

We rode past the outskirts of Dunedin, then through downtown Clearwater, where there is a paved and marked bike lane alongside one of its broad roads.There were several intersections, although most had stop signs for cars. The drivers of the cars seemed exceptionally courteous to bikers, often stopping well before we approached the intersection. Everyone on the trail was friendly, but that may just have been because, like most of the people we encountered on our weeklong trip, they were happy to be in warm, sunny Florida!

Truthfully, we had hoped for a more scenic ride as we headed south. While there was a wide apron of grass and trees on either side of the trail (some draped with Spanish moss), the yards of the older homes that abutted it were small, cluttered and overgrown.  However, along several stretches, there was a parallel walking trail – BRILLIANT!

So, below is our FIRST attempt to post a video clip shot from the new GoPro that Kellie wore on a chest strap hidden underneath her jacket. As you can see, the perspective is a little weird, so she needs to work on this. (Actually, she has a LOT to work on and her digital capacity is only slightly higher than Jim’s, which is somewhere south of zippity-do-dah.) But this is a compilation of the types of scenery we passed between Dunedin and Seminole.

Returning our bikes to Kafé Racer, we walked about two blocks to the “oldest microbrewery in Florida,” Dunedin Brewery. (There were other breweries along the trail, but we figured we had to try this one.)  We could immediately see why it had stayed in business for over 25 years; the interior was jam-packed with signage and decorations from beer festivals, game nights, etc.  Kellie, for one, has been happy to see that the standard microbrewery ambiance is finally moving away from simply cement floors, plastic chairs and some t-shirts hung on the walls.

Jim had their American Classic IPA, which was, as advertised, a classic IPA, while Kellie did a flight that included an ale, a wheat beer, a sour and a very tart Berliner weiss. Her favorite was the Apricot Peach Ale, which was lightly fruity and refreshing after the ride.

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