Suzette Dohany riding her bike.

How to Enjoy the Ride:

Speech professor Suzette Dohany shares her favorite bike trails.

//By CYNDIE COX

Professor Suzette Dohany, who teaches speech and interpersonal communications at Valencia’s Winter Park Campus, believes in the power of the pedal. Together with professors Val Woldman and Damion Hammock, they started the Winter Park Campus bicycle club three years ago.

A bicycle enthusiast since her south Orlando childhood, Dohany has a few tips for beginner cyclists. First order of business: choose the right bike. “The best thing to do is go to a local bike shop. Try out a couple of different styles, such as comfort hybrid or mountain. Find the style you like, then try different brands of that style,” she said. “Don’t be shy and don’t rush into it. Ride three or four of the style you want to see what feels right. For example, I’m riding a men’s bike because that’s what I’m more comfortable with.”

For longer distances, she recommends a lighter bike that will help you conserve energy, but admits they’re more expensive. However, used bicycles are a great way to pick up a bargain on a premium ride.

Accessories are a must. “You definitely need to ride with a helmet,” she said. “Beyond that, I found that when I rode without accessories, I was not nearly as comfortable. I bought gloves and upgraded to a very comfortable seat, and I use clip-ins (a pedal and shoe that clip together to improve pedaling efficiency).”

As far as safety goes, she recommends using lights, even during the daytime, acknowledging that drivers don’t always look for or see cyclists. Follow the same rules of the road as you do when you’re driving. Most important, make eye contact with drivers near you. “I want to make sure the driver knows where I am at all times,” she said.

While she was happy to share her knowledge of all things bike, she noted, “I’m not an expert. I’m just passionate about it. I’m passionate about finding something that makes me happy.”

Before she pedaled away, we stopped Dohany to ask her to name her favorite biking trails.

  • West Orange Trail (22 mi): from Winter Garden to Killarney Station (5 mi) and continue on the South Lake Trail to Clermont (9 mi) (if you want hills)
  • West Orange Trail, from Winter Garden to Apopka (13 mi) (if you want fewer hills)
  • Seminole Trail (23 mi): Start at San Sebastian Trailhead and end at Panera or Peach Valley Café in Lake Mary. Enjoy the fabulous artwork by Jeff Sonksen along the way
  • Anywhere in the Netherlands!