THE MAN BEHIND the Iron Joe Turkey Ride

By Catherine Faerber, Executive Director,
Naples Pathways Coalition

The Naples Pathways Coalition’s (NPC)Iron Joe Turkey Ride is celebrating an anniversary. The annual event held in Naples on the Sunday after Thanksgiving is now in its 15th year and has become a cycling tradition.

The ride’s origin began over 25 years ago with a handful of fellow cyclists riding a metric century (100 kilometers or 62 miles) to work off their Thanksgiving holiday feast. Later, a local bike shop informally sponsored a BBQ after the ride.

In 2004, NPC was founded and adopted the event, and it was aptly named in honor local world-class Iron Man triathlete, Joe Bonness.

In 1967 as a child, Joe and his family began vacationing in Naples and their love for the area had them extending their stay every year. After graduating from the University of Milwaukee with a degree in Archeology and Fine Arts and receiving his certification in road construction, he moved his wife Sue and their young daughter Maggie to Naples permanently in 1981.

Always a student and expanding his unquenchable desire for knowledge, Joe obtained numerous safety-based certifications from the Florida Department of Transportation, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and sailing and cycling organizations. He went on to become CEO and president of numerous companies in every aspect of quarry operation and the road building industry that employed 350 people at any given time in eleven Florida counties.

With Joe’s knowledge and development of pedestrian safety action plans, 40 years of roadbuilding, and hands on traffic control, it is no wonder that his experience has “paved the way” no pun intended, for more than two decades of community service in Naples, focused on the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

When Joe, an avid cyclist and runner, moved to Naples and began training for triathlons, he quickly realized that a majority of motorists in Collier County were unaware that walkers, runners and cyclists had the right of way on the road where sidewalks and bike lanes were not present. He then committed himself to furthering awareness by working with the local government by promoting safety education for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians while advocating for much needed sidewalks and pathways in Collier County.

Joe is a founding member, past president and current director of NPC and has served on the Collier Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee since 2005.

Below are some of Joe’s remarkable Ironman Triathlete achievements: Competed in 65 Ironman races, had55 podium finishes, his fastest time was 9:09, raced in the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 17 times and won 6 times in his age group, was the oldest overall winner of an Ironman distance race in 2007 at 52 years old, and set a world record in the 50-54 age group for Ironman with a time of 9:18 in 2005.

NPC invites everyone to come out and participate in the Iron Joe Turkey Ride on December 1st at Fit & Fuel in the Pavilion Shopping Center, Naples and meet Joe. We will be celebrating Joe’s passion for safe cycling with fully supported rides for all levels –62, 40, 20. There will be a 5-mile Family Fun Ride and a scavenger hunt, which everyone tends to enjoy.

Register today at you have more ideas to improve safety in our community? Contact me at Follow us on Facebook and learn weekly safety tips or drop us a comment by visiting,

Have you heard about the future Paradise CoastTrail (PCT)? It will be a 70 + mile pathway network designed to provide a safe network of multi-modal pathways, making Southwest Florida safer for cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy for recreational fun or to travel to work. Make an investment in the future PCT by visiting

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