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A Holiday Ride To The Beach

A graphical view of my 23 miles beaches and back ride in St Petersburg, FL. It's a nice ride.

Short Rides with My Bride

One of the nicest parts of being in Florida is the time I get to share a ride with my bride.  This week we just took a leisurely ride up to our church and back, but it is a fun route:

Next week I am doing a 65 mile ride for Camp Korey in Carnation, WA.  A few more hills, but a great cause.  Hope you can support me!


Raising Money for Cirtically Ill Children

So today I am heading back to Tampa for a week then I return to Everett, WA.  I am arriving at the time we have a hurricane in the Gulf and the RNC in town as well.  Hopefully all goes smoothly.

But, the real reason I write - I am preparing for my next big ride.  On Sept 8 I am riding 65 miles to raise money for Camp Korey.  Camp Korey is based in Carnation, WA and provide a free camp experience for kids with critical illness.  I am hoping to do my best and complete this great ride.

To help track my ride, I just picked up a new bike mount for my HTC One X phone.  I will be testing this during the route to use Endomondo to track my progress and also to provide a few tunes along the way.

You can support me by following this link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support Camp Korey

Looking forward to the next adventure!

Been Too Long Since We Last Spoke

What a whirlwind year!  So far I have changed jobs, started the process of relocating to the Seattle area, shipped a bike across the country and climbed an 18% grade hill.  I'll let you guess which one was hardest.  The problem?  I have not have enough time to ride as much as I need to (and have put on 30 lbs).  What to do, oh what to do!

I have found a few rides that I quite enjoy in Everett, about 20 miles north of Seattle.  The picture to the right is the ride I did this past Monday - about 30 km, great scenery, and bike lanes all around.  It is so refreshing to live in an area so committed to cycling!

Of course, Washington has something we don't have in St Petersburg, FL.  Hills!  So my legs have been struggling to get used to the new terrain as I cycle on my Scott Speedster around Seattle.  I expect it so get a bit easier the more I ride.  At least, I hope it does.  If not, well, my rides might take a bit longer as I age.  At least there are only bears, cougars, and coyote to worry about!

The elevation gains of my 30km ride

"Take My Picture, Mommy"

It was a simple request at the ice skating rink in downtown Tampa.  The little girl, maybe six, asked her mom to take her picture as she played by the dancing fountains.  Her mom smiled and said "I don't have my phone, baby."  What a change the years have brought.  Ten years ago the answer would have been "I don't have my camera" rather than talk of a phone.  It is a statement that highlights the impact of technology on our lives.

Every day our eyes are filled with images that capture our imagination and create memories we carry throughout our lives.  Sometimes these images impact the way we see nature, other times it is simply how we see those who surround us on the streets of our cities, sometimes it is the opportunity to catch our child at play.  Human nature drives us to attempt to recreate these images and share them with those we love. 

Rainbow over Tampa Bay
 (Taken with Inspire 4G)
As a full-time bike commuter, I have seen many wonderful sights, especially the rainbows that have appeared in the sky as I began my journey home.  While setting up my ride tracker on Endomondo, I was able to quickly capture this image as the rainbow spread across Tampa Bay. 

This week I ran across an amazing gallery of photos taken by Ali  Zaidi using his Droid Incredible.  The photo library shows 38 photos taken of a variety of nature shots.  The key here is knowing how far the capabilities of our phones have come.  Our phones have become a key element in our daily lives, driving how we communicate and now how we capture and share memories. 

Thanks Ali for showing what can be accomplished with a little vision and a smart phone.  Truly some incredible shots in your gallery.

A Typical (Atypical) Morning Commute

It was 64 degrees and sunny Thursday morning when I was preparing my bike for the morning commute to work.  Not your typical fall morning in St Petersburg, FL, but a nice day for a ride.  There was a pretty good breeze -- weather reports indicated 10 - 15 MPH -- from the north, which added a challenging obstacle to the days ride, especially since my morning commute is due north (directly into this morning breeze). 

My morning ride seems a bit easier since the recent time change.  There is something about the sun being up in the morning that makes the ride a little easier to commence.  However, sun or no sun, a stiff wind in the face will always add some excitement to the ride.  I threw my right leg over the top tube of my Trek 7.3 FX, launched Endomondo on my HTC Evo 3D phone and started the countdown to "free my endorphins," as Endomondo likes to speak at the start of a ride.  I always track my ride so this part of the commute is almost ritual.  This day would bring a welcome surprise along the route.

As the countdown hit zero, I pushed my left leg down on the crank, securing my "clipless" shoes, which ironically are not "clipless" at all, into the pedals as I drifted towards 13th Avenue.  A quick right turn and off to the races I go, moving along the road with ease with just the hum of the tires rising from the road.  Travelling east for the next mile, I notice a rare site -- another cyclist on 13th Avenue at the intersection of US 19. 

As I prepare myself to greet my fellow rider as we wait out the traffic light I notice an odd familiarity to the cyclist I am approaching.  I have definitely seen this jersey and bike before.  I pull up beside my fellow commuter and he looks over and gives me a hearty "heyyyyyy!" greeting with his Caribbean accent; it is my cycling friend Earl Henry. I haven't seen Earl on roads since late September, when he was training for the World Championships.  I usually see him about seven miles north of here at a place called "Gateway Center."  Gateway Center is a great area for a cycling workout due to the amount of pavement and limited traffic.  

Earl Henry
It's always good to see Earl.  He told me about his experience at the October race in England where he won two gold medals and set a world record at the World Championships for Track racing.  We speak briefly before the light changes and then head off in our different directions.  Seeing my 70-year-old friend out on his bike is oddly comforting.  Earl is a picture of health and a testament to the benefits of cycling.

It seems the breeze has picked up a bit but the sun remains and traffic is light.  Endomondo calls out my total time and my lap speed as I cruise through the kilometers it tracks for me on my ride.  I hit 28th Street and turn north to ride the next 8 miles directly into the breeze that is challenging me to pedal harder.

The roads are dry, the hum of my tires continues, and the wind begins to laugh at me as I push through the invisible barrier it is trying to erect.  Yet through it all I can only smile.  Endomondo calls out another lap time, slower than the last, and the wind begins to laugh as it punishes me by turning my 40 minute commute into a 55 minute duel.

I pull into work and get ready to hit the showers as the wind whips the flag flying in front of our building.  My smile widens as I laugh at the wind for the punishment it gave me this morning.  For I know what the wind doesn't; while we fought for close to an hour for my morning commute, this wind will be my friend in a few short hours.  Richard, the security guard, tells me, "that must have been a tough ride."  I nod my head and point to the flag.  See how the flag is waving?  He says yeah.  The wind is coming from the north, in just a few hours, this wind will push me home. 

Sometimes fighting through the barriers of a ride are eased by the smile of knowing this current barrier will soon be your aide, your friend.  It was a good day to be on a bike.

Be safe!

Trek Demo Days in Loves Park, IL

I have always wanted to go to Ocala or Alafia in central Florida to attend a Trek demo days, but my schedule has never really allowed me to.  Until today!  In Loves Park, IL.  I know, it isn't the same and that is true.  But, it was a demo days none the less.
Trek Bikes Demo Days - Rock Cut State Park

After flying to Chicago, I drove over to Rockford, IL for a business trip.  While here on a Sunday I decided to go over and check out Rock Cut State Park about 2 miles away.  As I pull in and drive around, what do I find but a Trek tent set up in the park.  It was quite a fun time and tons of new 2012 bikes!  They had a rack of Cronus CX and some Fisher 29ers.  Personally, I zoned in on the Madone 6.9 SSL - all 14 pounds of it.  I took it for a ride around the park and the first thing I noticed is this Tampa, FL boy is not used to the rolling hills of Northern IL.  It would have been nice to be in my cycling gear as well, but even in jeans and Merrill's, the Madone is a sweet ride.  With full Dura Ace components, this was easily the smoothest shifting bike I have ever ridden.  And this thing flew down the hills; once I climbed up and then got rolling.  I hit the drops and hung on around the hills and curves -- easily hitting 30+ mph. 

Larry with Ken & Lauren from Trek Bikes
This particular bike was a compact set up with 53/39 double crank and 11 - 25 10 speed cassette.  Ken and Lauren from Trek set the bike up for me, 58CM frame with a Race XXL saddle.  I had to ride on some simple nylon pedals since I didn't have my shoes, but the bike was simply made to race and she quickly jumped out and screamed at me to ride faster.  I definitely look forward to the day I can upgrade my 7.3 FX to a pure road bike, but this bike is not for commuting.  She wants to race!

Trek Shop Towel and Winter Cap - Thanks Trek!

If you get the chance, hit a Trek Demo days and check out the 2012 line of bikes.  You will NOT be disappointed.  I can't wait for my next chance to go to a demo days.

be safe!


Vehicular Homicide: Car vs. Bike

Jury Duty: I Was Actually Seated!  Then I was dimissed just prior to deliberations as I was deemed an alternate.  Now why is that amazing?  Well, I am a full-time bike commuter and the case was Vehicular Homicide; Car v Bike. 

I have to admit, when the Voire Dire started and they asked if anyone rode a bike I figured I would soon go home.  I raised my hand and I was questioned at length about cycling:
Do you have a light on your bike?  Do you have a tail light that blinks?  Do you stop at stop signs?  Do you stop at red lights?  Do you ride on the road? Do you talk on your cell phone?  Blah, blah, blah...
I was completely surprised when we came back in to learn I was on the jury.  I was more surprised at the legal process in the state of Florida.  I can tell you without a doubt that the 2009 Toyota Yaris did in fact hit the cyclist.  I know the cyclist died.  I know the cyclist was crossing the street at an angle, against the traffic signals.  I also know the cyclist was impaired (drugs and alcohol).  What I don't know?  I don't know who was driving the car and I don't believe the prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt!  Why you ask?  Well, let's go over that.  But first - I can tell you it was a young black man on trial and the only black person on the jury was also dismissed as an alternate just prior to deliberations.  I know that we both felt, based on the evidence presented, the young man on trial was "Not Guilty."  I also know that the jury of his six peers, all white, convicted him of vehicular homicide, fleeing and alluding and leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death.  I also know this young man is facing 60 years in prison.  So why do I feel they got it wrong?

Well, let's start with the evidence.  First off, the eyewitness of the police officer, who gave a positive ID of the driver of a car, that the officer acknowledged was driving in reverse at 25 MPH; at a distance of 20 - 25 feet.  So, there was a positive ID of a black driver who was not facing forward, at night, from 25 feet away, in a black car. The original description called in was a "light skinned male with short hair."  Doesn't sound real black to me.  Also, I struggle with the fact that the officer changed his description 3 times over the first nine hours after the accident.

DNA evidence showed that the driver was NOT a potential contributor to DNA taken off either the drivers door handle or the steering.  However, the DNA evidence shows that the driver was a potential contributor to the DNA sample on the gear shift.  Oh, there are at least 100 other males in St Pete who also matched the sample.  It also showed it could have been a white male or a Hispanic male.

Finally, the car was found in an abandoned house in the defendant's neighborhood.  WOW - and that convicted him.

Don't get me wrong, I want justice for the cyclist.  But I want fair justice.  After three days of the trial, I am convinced he was not the right person.  So what to do?  Really, there is nothing I can do.  Except continue to be safe on the streets, continue to pursue cyclist rights.  More importantly, I can pursue fairness in the legal system.  As long as folks are railroaded, there will always be animosity between parties.

As always, be safe!
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