Florida Keys — Cyclists are to pedal from Miami to Key West Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19-20, during “The SMART Ride,” a charitable journey that has been called the largest bicycle ride in the southeastern United States.
Produced by TSR Adventures and now in its 18th year, the fundraising adventure has raised over $12.5 million, according to organizers, with 100% of proceeds distributed among various AIDS service organizations throughout Florida. Beneficiaries include the Florida Keys’ A.H. of Monroe County.
The 165-mile Miami-to-Key-West journey takes bicyclists through the entire Keys island chain along scenic Florida Keys Overseas Highway and Heritage Trail routes. The event typically attracts 400 to 500 solo riders, 250 volunteers and multiperson teams of people ranging in age from 18 to over 70.
“This year will be even more exciting than usual since it will be the first time in two years that SMART Ride will happen in person,” said event founder Glen Weinzimer, who noted that the 2020 fundraising challenge wasn’t a group effort because of the global pandemic. “It will be very exciting to see all our participants back together again, making a difference.”
Riders are expected to depart Friday from the University of Miami’s Watsco Center at 1245 Dauer Dr. in Coral Gables. Ride starts are slated for sunrise, with participants pedaling approximately 100 miles to Hawks Cay Resort located on Duck Key. Rest stops are available approximately every 15-20 miles.
Overnight housing is reserved at Hawks Cay, and participants are to resume their ride the following morning to travel some 65 miles southwest to Key West. This year’s scheduled conclusion will be at Key West High School with a private closing ceremony.
Post-ride celebrations at local LGBTQ venues are planned throughout Saturday.
Registration for the 2021 ride is currently open with a fee of $135. All participants are required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event. Event information: thesmartride.org or AHMonroe.org
Riders are expected to depart Friday from the University of Miami’s Watsco Center.