‘SMART Ride’ Fundraising Cyclists to Pedal Throughout Florida Keys Nov. 17-18
Bicyclists are to pedal through the entire Florida Keys island chain along scenic Overseas Highway and Heritage Trail routes during a 165-mile fundraising ride from Miami to Key West.
The 20th annual SMART Ride, also called the Southern Most AIDS/HIV Ride, is set for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 17-18. Each year it attracts about 500 solo and team riders and 250 volunteers.
According to founder Glen Weinzimer, the ride has raised some $15 million since its inception, with 100% of proceeds distributed among HIV/AIDS service organizations throughout Florida including the Florida Keys’ AH Monroe.
Although Weinzimer has announced that 2023 is his organization’s final year of producing the ride, he expressed confidence that fundraising will go on.
“Over the past two decades, SMART Ride has built a family of communities working together,” said Weinzimer. “Many of the fundraisers that have become annual stand-alone events to support SMART Ride and the community will continue.”
Participants in the 2023 event are to depart Friday, Nov. 17, from the University of Miami and proceed from mainland Florida into the Florida Keys. The ride starts at sunrise with a scheduled 100-mile trek to Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key in the Middle Keys.
Much of the journey takes place on the scenic Florida Keys Overseas Highway, featuring 42 bridges over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Rest stops are to be available every 15 to 20 miles.
Participants are to spend the night in villas at Hawks Cay. They also receive meals and the services of a first-aid team and a holistic and wellness tent throughout the event.
Saturday, Nov. 18, riders are to cycle some 65 miles southwest to Key West.
Upon arrival, a police escort is to lead them on a final trek around Key West and down Duval Street. The procession is scheduled to end at the oceanfront Edward B. Knight Pier at White Street and Atlantic Boulevard, site of the Key West AIDS Memorial.
The public is encouraged to join in the closing ceremonies to congratulate riders, crew and volunteers.
Post-ride celebrations are slated throughout the day Saturday at LGBTQ-friendly venues in Key West. They include a closing party at the Bourbon St. Complex, 724 Duval St.
Registration for the 2023 ride is currently open with a fee of $135.
Event information: thesmartride.org
Images can be downloaded here.