It's time to grab the bike, dust off the running shoes and hit the road for the 21st annual Tour de Cape, a three-day event that draws hundreds of participants to Cape Coral.
You don't have to be Lance Armstrong or a long- distance runner from Kenya to enjoy and take part in the tour as it offers something for all skill levels. Casual runners, walkers and cyclists are as welcome as hard-core fitness enthusiasts.
Last year, 600 cyclists and 200 runners signed up for the tour, according to Cape Coral Special Events Director Todd King.
King said people are always looking to renew their efforts to get healthy early in the year, which adds to the event's popularity.
But at the heart of the event's growth over two plus decades is the mix of activities and events for the whole family, King said.
The setting for the start/finish line, Cape Harbour, also acts as a catalyst for the event's popularity, King said, because it offers riders, runners and walkers entertainment opportunities after their exercise has wrapped up.
Tour de Cape moved to Cape Harbour three years ago.
"The aesthetics of Cape Harbour, combined with the entertainment and dining opportunities make it a great location to host the event," King said.
Tour de Cape takes place the weekend of January 21 - 22, with a special kick-off event featuring live entertainment on Friday, Jan 20.
Prices for the events are: $15 for the 5K Run/Walk; $30 for the Bicycling Tour; $35 for the ride and run combination.
Pre-registration is already taking place, but for those waiting to see if the weather will cooperate that weekend, walk-up registration is offered for an additional $5.
Pre-registration is available online at active.com, or can be done in person on Jan 20 from 5 - 8 p.m. at Cape Harbour.
The 5K Run/Walk takes place Saturday, Jan 20 and kicks off 8 a.m.
A "Family Ride" is also scheduled for Saturday, offering families a "mini Tour de Cape," according to King.
The cost is $5 per rider and includes hot dog, chips, drink and event T-shirt.
The course is designed to be safe and is well supported by the Cape Coral Police Department.
"This is an opportunity to get together as a family and and do an athletic event," King said. "It's a great experience for families and kids."
Sunday brings the main event, so to speak, when the Tour De Cape Bike Ride offers four recreational rides to meet any skill level; 15-, 31-, 62- and 100-mile courses are all available for cyclists.
Rest stops are placed every 15 miles for the bike course and "sag wagons" will patrol the course for riders who encounter challenges along the way. A continental breakfast is provided to all participants.
Cape Harbour Event Manager Glenda Swager said the event has grown so popular that people travel from out of state to take part.
She said she stands "in awe" of the participants and their equipment, as well as all the pre-race exercise that takes place to loosen muscles and prep bodies for the road ahead.
Having taken over hosting duties three years ago, Cape Harbour is honored to be home to one of the city's premier events, Swager added,
"We always feel like it grows each year," she said. "More and more people are wanting to get fit and it just seems to get more and more popular."
For more information visit floridabicycle.org or contact the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department at 573-3125.