The Pedalshift Project 274: Tampa to Disney World Bike Tour Preview

It’s the first tour of 2022, and it’s got, perhaps, a magical twist? I’m escaping the cold northeastern US winter and trading it in for sunshine, and a multiway trek across central Florida on my trusty Brompton. Similar route, totally different finish from  past years… what’s this year’s winter tour look like?

The Pedalshift Project 274: Tampa to Disney World Bike Tour Preview

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Tampa to Disney World Bike Tour Preview

A year off, but back with another central Florida in winter tour
Adding some new complexity to this one with some exploration of cycling in and around the WDW property in a calculated and safe fashion
The basics
TPA-Orlando area
3 days of riding
All roofed lodging
Minimal gear and carry
New things I’m trying this trip – a new more elasticy, form-fitting Brompton cover that I’m very excited about (#stealthmode)
Rough Itinerary
Day 1 – Fly DC to TPA early; ride to Lakeland, FL (~45 miles)
Day 2 – Casual start ; ride to WDW resort (~48 miles)
Day 3 – Ride from resort up and around WDW property, including multiple resort cycling paths (~25-30 miles)
Day 1 ride is directly from TPA airport (2019 got a ride, 2020 rode to TPA)
Considered a slightly further north than my 2019 route, but wanted to ride through downtown and the beautiful waterfront trail, so I added a couple of extra miles…  then I rejoin the 2019 route until I hit Lakeland
Slightly different route in Lakeland to account for staying on the northeast side of town, rather than the rental I did last time
Decided on hotel over Airbnb largely for value vs. cost
Day 2 ride initially was going to end after Dean Still Rd, the long rural straight west to east shot to the south of Disney property
Many of the Disney roads are shoulderless and high speed, and frankly just not safe to ride
Original plan was I’d do day 3 riding on resort paths, but was finding a dearth of info on whether I could bring my Brompton on Disney transportation between resorts (leaning no, but maybe stealth mode it passes as a stroller?) OR if I could get past  security via rideshare for resorts I wasn’t staying at without a dining reservation (probably? maybe? unclear). I was pretty stuck
BUT,  an email got me rethinking things
Listener and central Floridian cyclist Dale P. sent me an email about roads to ride in the area and also alerting me to a brand new video that was put up by YouTube Alex Regino about… you guessed it… cycling on Disney property (video here)
Turns out there are a few newish roads on property and a few lesser-traveled ones that are not take-your-life-in-your-hands riding AND it seems that cycling into at least one of the resort properties was not barred.
So I spent some time on Google Maps Street View and… I can safely ride to the resort I’m staying at on day 2, which to me is a HUGE win.
I’ll document it all for you, of course.
Day 3 is the fun one. Going back to the Dale and Alex tips, I’ll backtrack out of my resort and go to the northern side of the property and re-enter using the route suggested by Alex. From there I’ll do about 25-30 miles of riding through some of the bike-specific paths available (Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs… perhaps others).
My hope is to lay down a route for anyone who brings a bike to WDW and wants to ride, along with a real assessment of safety.
Then that night I’m going to celebrate by drinking around the Monorail resorts… sans bike.
Could be hot (it’s been in the upper 80s within the last week or two)
Could be cold (it’s been in the 50s in the last week or two)
Looks to be dry and seasonal though – low chance of rain and highs in the upper 70s or very low 80s with some overcast skies (WAHOO!)
I’ll make sure I dial in the right gear based on weather forecasts as I get within a couple of days of leaving
Seems like this will match the two previous rides (earlier in the year in 2019 and 2020) I encountered really excellent conditions, and only a bit of drizzle in 2020
Documenting the ride
Pretty much all of the March episodes of the pod
I might try to do  some video on this one, particularly the WDW riding  – TBD
I’ll also be able to assess what resorts are the best ones to consider if you’re hoping to bicycle to them.
Excited to share this one with you, and particularly intrigued with the unusual nature of the WDW resort riding… this is certainly a route not done very often, and while I have to assume someone has included WDW as a stop on a contiguous bicycle tour, there’s nothing I can dig up on it. Also, the Disney property is full of really interesting flora and fauna for day 3, so it should be a unique way to wrap up the tour.

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