Alan Snel has found a way to combine his three favorite things: bicycling, eating and Seminole Heights.
Snel, 47, is co-founder of Seminole Heights Bicycle Club, a group that meets regularly for bike rides and cycling‑themed events. This weekend, the club will pedal to eight Seminole Heights restaurants. Snel calls it a Hub Grub Ride.
Participants will spend five to 10 minutes in each restaurant. They won't eat a full meal, but they'll be able to meet the owners and take a menu. Some of the owners will give away samples.
The group will depart at 3 p.m. Saturday from the Seminole Heights Garden Center. The tour will showcase a range of businesses, from the iconic Taco Bus to Starbucks. At Bungalow Bistro, which reopens in March as The Refinery, cyclists will actually ride through the dining room.
"The restaurant is going to be closed to customers. We won't be bugging people," Snel said. Other stops include Front Porch Grill and Bar, Reservations Gourmet-to-Go, Cappy's Pizzeria and The Independent.
The tour ends at the newly opened and celebrated Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe. Riders can stay and eat at Ella's, return to one of the other restaurants for a meal or be escorted by Snel back to the starting point.
The total route is less than 6 miles.
"If you can breathe and if you're ambulatory and if you know how to ride a bicycle, you can probably do this bike ride," said Snel, who is also director of South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, a lobbying group.
Snel started Seminole Heights Bicycle Club in 2008. About 100 people are on the group's e-mail list — mostly Seminole Heights residents like Snel. He expects anywhere from 15 to 50 people to show up on Saturday, depending on the weather. Tampa police Chief Jane Castor will greet participants at the start of the ride.
Hub Grub reflects a growing trend of foodie exercise groups, including Four Green Fields Running Club, which starts and ends its weekly 5K at the Irish pub in Tampa.
"People like to use the bicycle as a way to discover and explore their neighborhood and get good exercise," Snel said. "They feel as though after getting the good exercise, they can enjoy the camaraderie of sharing a meal with people whom they just had the bike ride with."
Snel hopes to make Hub Grub an annual event.