Bike & Hike / Central Florida / Festivals

2017 Tour of Sebring: Labor Day bike ride is a Florida classic

Sebring and Highlands County have gentle hills, scenic roads and friendly drivers, and those are all reasons the Tour of Sebring, a Labor Day bicycle event, is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. This year’s dates are September 4 to 6, 2017.

The Tour of Sebring brings together about 600 bicyclists from around the country and beyond.

Cyclists ride together on fully supported routes ranging from 11 to 62 miles for three days. On Sunday,  the big event is the Bok Tower Century, a 100-mile route to Bok gardens and back.

“If you want to ride on roads under a canopy of live oaks dripping with Spanish moss or if you want to ride past caladium fields or orange groves, then this is the place,” Rita Bennett says.

Elaine Dow, who has been coming from Sun City Center to the event for 10 years, says she likes seeing wildlife around the many lakes on the routes.

The Tour of Sebring is also pretty famous for its food. “We have one of the best chefs in Sebring catering,” according to Rita Bennett, long-time event organizer. A continental breakfast and a buffet lunch are included in the ride’s fees, which is $115 per adult for three days. Without lunch, registration is $75. You can also register for only one or two days at a reduced rate. (This does not include lodging. See more fee information here.)

Wally Vickers has attended many years.

“I look for areas to ride that have low traffic volume and that is what first attracted me to Sebring,” Vickers, of Lehigh Acres, said. “What keeps me coming back is the Highland Pedalers Bicycle club and the Kenilworth Lodge.”

The Highland Pedalers is the 175-member volunteer group that painstakingly plans the Tour of Sebring. The Kenilworth Lodge is the 1916 hotel that serves as tour headquarters and houses many participants.

The rides on the Tour of Sebring start early. By getting on the road between 7 and 7:30 a.m., riders see few cars and enjoy the most comfortable part of the day. After lunch on Saturday, an ice cream social is scheduled and other excursions can be arranged, from horseback riding to kayaking to visiting nearby Henscratch Farms and Vineyard. Participants make their own dinner arrangements.

If you can’t make this event, consider the club’s winter edition. In December, the Highland Pedalers present the Highlands Bike Fest. Like the Tour of Sebring, it features rides of various lengths, from an 11-mile route to a century. Here are details on the December event.

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