MARCO ISLAND — Dr. Jim Seegers, a certified general surgeon, isn’t peddling drugs, but he promises he’ll get you high.
As organizer of Tour de Marco, a bicycle outing for sightseeing on Marco Island and in Goodland, Seegers believes people of every age and every stage of conditioning will enjoy what he has planned.
“It’s a ride, ride, ride for casual bikers to see portions of the island and the uniqueness of Goodland they may never have seen,” he said on Saturday. The Tour de Marco is designed to be fun and not competitive. Participants can choose a 15-mile ride with no hills, a 30-mile ride that offers hilly terrain in the Estates District and Key Marco, and a 6-mile no hills, bailout for those needing a shorter distance, he said. All rides begin at the Greater Marco Family YMCA in the shaded area of the Air-nasium.
Seegers thought of everything to make the tour enjoyable. The first 200 registrants will receive water bottles designed for bicyclist. All participants will be able to enjoy refreshments and water at the beginning, end and mid-point of their rides, and everyone participating will be entered in a raffle for prizes at the end of the tour.
Groups will have experienced guides located in front, middle and at the end of each distance ride, and service vehicles will provide roadside assistance if needed. Seegers painted directional signs for each intersection along the routes with 15-mile pointers painted red and 30-mile arrows yellow. Volunteers and Marco police will aid in directing traffic.
Seegers sees the tour as a chance for people with bikes in their garages to get out and enjoy the scenic sunshine of Southwest Florida. He became an avid cyclist after his first triathlon.
“I went up and down stairs; I lived an active life. I thought I was in shape, but by the end of the triathlon, I felt I was going to die,” he said. Now, he routinely swims half-a-mile per day at the Marco Y, biking to and from his Goodland home.
Chairing the tour is one way Seegers feels he can give back for what the Y has done for him. The Tour de Marco is a fundraiser to help the Y financially.
“I am so impressed with how efficiently the Y is run,” he said. “No matter what stage of life you’re in – young, old, healthy, infirmed – you’re always welcome there.”
Tour de Marco registration begins at 7 a.m., Sunday, April 1. The cost to ride is $25 per person if registering on the day of the event. Cost is $20 for pre-registration online at active.com. The longer distance ride begins at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to last until 10:30 a.m. Tire pumps will be available before the ride, and someone will be there to help if bikes need a quick tune-up, Seegers said.
“Riders typically go between 13-15 mph on the longer ride,” he said.
The 15-mile ride with the 6-mile bailout begins at 9 a.m. from the same location and should take riders about one-and-a-half hours to complete. Speeds are slower, averaging about 10-13 mph, Seegers said.
Both rides have a mid-way point at the newly built Collier County Boat Park in Goodland. Refreshments, a resting area and modern restrooms are available at the park. Both rides should arrive back at the Y’s Air-nasium around 10:30 a.m. for music by DJ Steve Reynolds and raffle drawings. Participants need to be present to win raffle prizes.
Rules of the road require all riders to wear helmets. Electronic earphones are prohibited.
“No helmet; no ride,” Seegers said. “I always stress the trinity of safety: a horn, a helmet and a mirror, although only the helmet is a mandatory requirement for the Tour de Marco.”
For island visitors or residents without bikes, Island Bike Shop, 1095 Bald Eagle Drive, has bike and helmet rentals available.
“I can make this one promise,” Seegers said. “Riders will be on a natural high when they finish the ride, and they’ll have bragging rights that they’ve done the Tour de Marco.”