By Mary Shanklin
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The cycling route from the Gulf of Mexico in St. Petersburg to the Atlantic Ocean in Brevard County will near completion in three to five years, linking Central Florida cities and towns. Entrepreneurs are wasting no time setting up shop along the proposed trail hoping to cash in on the paved route.
Entrepreneurs across Central Florida have opened inns and bike shops — and one city is investing more than $1 million to boost business — all in hopes of benefiting from a bike trail that’s carving a path through the state.
With about 80 percent of the 250-mile Coast-to-Coast Trail now complete, the paved route grew by 13 miles last month with the opening of a segment from Titusville in Brevard County to Volusia County.
Hundreds of bicyclists gathered in late February at Titusville’s Coast to Coast Bicycle Co. to break in the newest section of the trail, which is aimed at a range of riders and pedestrians.
About 60 miles away in west Orange County, the Oakland Manor House bed and breakfast is set to open this month with plans to offer overnight respites for trail riders. The prospect of capturing groups riding across all — or even parts — of the state was one reason the owners decided to invest in re-purposing the historic home that overlooks Lake Apopka.
“That was a huge draw,” said proprietor Cynthia Schultz, a former University of Indiana adjunct professor. “If you’re a cyclist you’re looking for places to stay, this is just two blocks off the trail.”
To the west, Clermont has invested more than $1 million in a trail spur connecting its downtown to the trail, and staked out a trademark for the marketing slogan, “Meet Us in the Middle,” to reach trail users statewide.