The Fakawi Gravel Grinder is the annual mountain bike ride that takes local riders off-road to see remnants of Old Florida. The 50- and 30-mile routes meander through networks of levees, horse trails and abandoned farm roads.
This year’s event starts at 8 a.m., Sunday, May 21, at Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida. For those who don’t want to do the 30- or 50-mile courses, there’s a 12-miler out and back on the levee.
Sunrise resident Jimmy Toural started the Fakawi ride. A competitive mountain biker, Toural and his friends were looking for ways to add miles to their bike rides to and from Markham Park. “I found some trails and thought it would be a good idea to set up a ride with some friends, and we did,” he said.
The event’s name came naturally, as Toural’s friends were constantly perplexed by where they were on the web of back-road trails. “We were just messing around, and a lot of the people that have been living in the area for years had no clue where they were,” Toural claimed. His friends kept asking, “Where the f*** are we?”
A lightbulb went off in Toural’s head: “Fakawi—that’s the name.”
Since the first official Fakawi in 2010, which attracted 75 riders, it has become a legendary event for local cyclists. Attendance has grown to several hundred. I can attest to that; I did it last year (the 30-mile loop), and thought it was a blast. Toural, who is 42 years old and is vice president of the Miami-based Galloway Office Supplies, said he added the 30- and 12-mile options because word of the Fakawi reached families, and now kids do the ride with their parents. It’s a family affair, but it also offers hardcore riders a competitive option. It costs $20 to enter.
A few words of wisdom: Don’t attempt this ride on a bike with skinny tires (a traditional road bike), unless you enjoy making contact with gravel or have amazing skills. Bring lots of water. Riders, according to Toural, should be prepared to ride two to three hours for the event, and while there’s water in a few places along the course, it tends to be hot. Bring food to keep you energized during the ride. And if it has been raining the days prior, be prepared to get muddy. Most of all, be prepared to have fun!
The fun continues after you’ve finished and hosed off your bike. There will be food and music at Markham Park—a big party. For more information or to sign up, to wherethefakawi.com.