Ride your bike

06/05/2014 10:00 AM

05/30/2014 2:29 PM

Mark Kent, CAC-Florida Medical Centers Florida CEO

It turns out living year-round in paradise might bring with it some unexpected summer hazards. “I see a lot of friends and colleagues start to slow down in these months,” said Mark Kent, Florida CEO for CAC-Florida Medical Centers, one of the state’s leading healthcare companies. “It’s hot, and people don’t want to go outside. The kids are home, so parents often start eating foods the kids like.” A little too much of that, Kent warned, and summer in South Florida’s tropical heaven can quickly turn into something not so divine.

Which is why CAC goes into heavy messaging mode during this season, spreading the word to patients and their families that they need to make a point of staying active, regardless of how much the mercury rises. One of the best ways? Go old school and pull out a bike, suggested Kent, an avid cyclist who on weekends regularly rides about 30 miles. There’s no better way to get exercise, he said, but also to connect with the city around you, its sites, flora and fauna. “It’s an incredibly communal experience,” said the single father of two (he has a 20-year-old son in college and a 7-year-old daughter who lives with him.) “There’s just something about being on the bike, and not encapsulated in a vehicle. When you’re on a trail and you’re riding through nature, it’s transporting.”

Not to mention a proven way to stay in shape. In the three years since he started cycling (his first experience was training for the Tour for the Cure for Diabetes race), Kent has lost a whopping 26 pounds—and kept them off. “I had stopped running because it was too hard on my knees and, in a short time, I put on weight,” recalled Kent, who after a few months of dabbling with a hybrid bike, finally committed by investing in a cycling bike that’s lighter and built for speed. “It was the cycling that got me back in shape.” Yet even in a hard body town like Miami, he said it’s not only about aesthetics. “Sure I like the way I look,” he said. “But I love the way I feel.”

THREE GREAT BIKE TRAILS

Whether you’re looking for a little leisure or feeling a need for speed, here are three rides perfect for you and your bike.

Oleta River State Park: Florida’s largest urban park is best known for its bike trails, which offer everything from challenging 10-mile courses for experienced mountain bikers to less intense three-mile paved trails for novices. (3400 NE 163rd Street, North Miami; 305-919-1846.)

Old Cutler Trail: If you want something seriously lush to look at while you’re riding, this is your trail. The fully paved 11-mile bike path will take you past some of Miami’s most spectacular homes, under the cover of magnificent Banyan trees. It’s ideal for beginners or those who prefer an unhurried ride. (Starts at Ingraham Terrace Park, 6901 SW 42nd Avenue, Coral Gables.)

Markham Park Mountain Bike Trail: Highly regarded among serious cyclers and mountain bikers across the state, the trails at this Sunrise park are built and maintained by a group of volunteer bike aficionados. With more than 11 miles of winding paths (that range from “mild to wild,” according to the park's website) you’ll see lakes, stunning landscapes, even the occasional alligator. (16001 W State Road 84, Sunrise; 954-357-8868.)

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