I’ve had the pleasure to have been in a paceline with many of you, but this will be my first one that I’m pulling while sitting in a comfy chair, sipping a great local beer.
Cycling has always been an important part of my life. Born in the Netherlands, it would have been nearly impossible not to spend part of the day on a bicycle. When I was 4 years old, my mother brought me to kindergarten on a bicycle. I was in front, in a seat mounted to the handlebars, while my older brother was in a seat on the rear carrier. It was really exciting to get my first ”big bike’ when I was 9, so that I could ride my bike to school by myself. The bikes have changed over the years, but they got me to school and to university for many, many years. For me the bicycle was an economical means of getting to school, to work, or the track club, but not so much a sport. At the time, environmental or health considerations did not play a role for me. That changed a bit when I got to Grenoble, France. Work was in the valley, about 200 m above sea level. Home was in the mountains at around 1000 m. Most days I took the car (a Peugeot 205), but the days I took the bike (also a Peugeot) really made the ride home quite a ‘sporty’ exercise. However, it was not until the Maglab got me to Florida and I became a member of Capital City Cyclists that I ever rode in a paceline, and here I am trying to write one.
I’m honored to have been entrusted with the club’s presidency for 2017. This will be the club’s 35th year after its inception in 1982. That year the original TOSRV (Tour of The Suwannee River Valley) and a push for bikelanes on Miccosukee road led to the first cycling organization in Tallahassee. This combination of great rides with your club buddies as well as an advocacy platform to spread the joys of cycling is a great tradition that I am committed to continue.
There is a lot of positives. We see more and more cyclists on our roads. The city and county want to promote active transportation. But 2017 does present some challenges to the club. We’ve been very fortunate to have Paul McManus run the Kids on Bikes and the Trips for Kids Programs and be the Spaghetti 100 Ride Director for many years. However, Paul has indicated that he will not be able to continue to do that this year as his growing business requires his full attention. Fortunately, Paul will stay around as a board member, and we greatly appreciate all that Paul has done for our organization over many years. There are other challenges. Our membership is significantly below the levels of a few years ago. There are few new participants on club rides. We have not a lot of young members. Not a lot of women or minorities.
Fortunately, we do have a great board to address these challenges. Kelly Beacher is our capable treasurer, Sarah Dugger our resourceful secretary, Garry Breedlove is our welcoming vice president. And who does not know Jim Mann, our Ride Group and membership Director, advocate Joe Barnett, and Karen Loewen who will help with our communication. And we are very fortunate to have Paul McManus and our previous past president Brady Irwin to share their experience and knowledge.
Foremost, we are here to serve our members and to advance cycling at all levels. I will be pleased to hear from you. Don’t hesitate to share your ideas, criticism, thoughts. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring comes early this year with the Havana Hills Spring Classic Bicycle Ride on Sunday Feb 26. The 88 or 48 mile routes take some of the most scenic and challenging roads in the Tallahassee area. You’ll get treated to lots of hills, and to views of southern mansions, oak trees, farm lands, and pecan orchards. The road is 100% paved and marked with White Arrows at each intersection. Proceeds from the ride will benefit the Havana volunteer Fire Fighters. More information can be found at the Havana Hills Ride website.
Ride begins on the St. Marks Trail at the Wakulla Station Trailhead on December 10th, 2016 at 10am. The ride is FREE and is intended to allow all levels of cyclists to ride to show their support of victims and survivors of DUI drivers. Riders will have support along the way, including snacks and drinks. The ride follows the St. Marks Bike Trail to the St. Marks River Park in St. Marks, Florida. Here is where the river feeds into the Apalachacola Bay at the Gulf of Mexico — a beautiful area in a little sea oriented town. At the park, riders will be able to make a dedication to a loved one, and sign a pledge to be a designated driver and not drink and drive. Free t-shirts OR water bottles will be given to partipants. The total out and back ride distance is 14 miles. The ride is organized by the Florida State University Police Department with support from the Florida Department of Transportation. Email Major Jim Russell for more information at JLRussell@fsu.edu. Helmets required – safety first! Please come out to make a statement that cyclists support DUI education and enforcement, to keep all of us safe!
Many of us who have seen the construction stages of the Cascade Bike Ped bridge, have been impatiently waiting for this to be finished. It carried a pretty hefty price tag, almost as much as a few hundred yards of Capital Circle, but now we can enjoy passing over this unique bridge connecting Capital Cascade Park with FAMU Way, constituting a crucial section of the Capital Cascade Trail that will connect downtown Tallahassee to the city of St Marks with a continuous multi-use trail. For those that have not been on the bridge and on FAMU Way, you should certainly give it a try. And you will count, literally. There is an official bike and pedestrian counter on the bridge. You’ll see that the city and the Blueprint folks have not forgotten about bicycles. There’s 2 bike repair stations along the trail along FAMU Way, as well as some misters. Certainly a great addition to Tallahassee, which recently made the list of the 50 Best Bike Cities in Bicycling Magazine.
October 8 the Spaghetti 100 will take you along some beautiful rolling roads in north Florida and south Georgia. Either by riding or volunteering, you’ll be helping the Kids on Bikes program that is teaching our elementary school kids to ride bikes and ride them safely. For sign up and details see our Spaghetti 100 event page.
The 2016 National Bike Challenge has just kicked off on May 1st. This fun program is organized by the People for Bikes with the goal of getting more people on the bike for both recreation and transportation. As the challenge aims to change our transportation habits, it runs for five whole months from May 1st to September 30th.
You should sign up, but this is also a great opportunity to get your family, friends, and colleaques to sign up to get them on the bike more often.
Getting more people riding in and around Tallahassee is one of the goals of the Capital City Cyclists and we are therefor hosting the local part of the challenge. We’re covering the counties of Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, and Wakulla. It’s free, and there are great prizes to win. It’s also fun to see how you and your workplace or team is doing with respect to the rest of Tallahassee and the rest of the country.
Just go to www.nationalbikechallenge.org and sign up. You can join existing teams, or you can start your own team. Also, look for your workplace and/or school, or consider becoming the coordinator for your school or workplace.
The challenge runs from May to the end of September, and each month there are prizes to win. The rules are simple, 20 point for each day you ride, and one point for each mile you ride. You can log your miles manually, or use your smartphone or Garmin GPS device to upload your rides to endomondo, mapmyride, and also Stava !! The bike challenge website can then sync the rides you enter there. While all rides count towards points, miles, and calories burnt, miles you ride instead or using your car for transportation count towards dollars and CO2 saved, so you can keep track of your savings and your reduced CO2 footprint.
Those that participated last year had great fun with the challenge. It’s a great and free way of contributing to the cause. Give it a try yourself and spread the word among you colleagues and friends! Go to www.nationalbikechallenge.org and sign up!
Having completed an east coast route from Key West to Bar Harbor, ME during 2011-12, Dennis Wirth and I began planning a tour across the country. Like our East Coast route, we decided to divide our trip into three sections. One of the advantages of trip division is being able to avoid most extreme weather. On April 19, 2014 having hitched a ride with our buddy, Larry Kokesh, to Carbondale, IL, we headed east through hills and woodlands toward Yorktown, VA. Soon we were being ferried across the Ohio River from Cave-in-Rock to eastern Kentucky. While spending Sunday night at a church in Sebree, we were invited to join a Bible study group. Guessing this would last maybe 30 minutes we accepted. For the next two hours those folks ran chapter and verse circles around us.
We made it through several dry counties before hitting a wet one in Bardstown. Over all, both cycling and weather were very nice as we rambled across this beautiful section of Kentucky. Twenty-five miles east of Berea, a speed bump left me sprawled over my bike in the middle of the road, followed by the screeching of brakes behind me. The lady was able to stop a few feet short of hitting me. I thanked her for her offered ride to a hospital but completely forgot to thank her for not running me over. I was pretty banged up from the accident and with at least a week of mountains ahead, we decided to return home, having ridden 404 miles, and made plans to return come fall.
In early October Carl Vinson joined us as we returned to Kentucky. Starting in Berea we were headed into the Appalachian Mountains. For most of the trip we had very nice fall weather and scenic views. Getting into the mountains the climbs became more difficult. Dennis decided to mail home ten pounds of his gear which really helped him on later climbs. Since Carl was taking two weeks off work, we decided to try to cover the whole distance to Yorktown in that time frame, so we never took a day off. Riding through coal mining country we ran into lots of coal trucks as well as pro-coal signs. Four days of riding got us to Breaks State Park at the Virginia state line. The following night we camped next to the railroad tracks which ran beside the Rosedale Fire Dept. and listened to passing trains throughout the night. Our route soon ran parallel to I-81 as, we headed up the Shenandoah Valley. Gertie’s country store in Vesuvius, VA supplied a great lunch and our names joined many other cyclists on the restaurant walls. Shortly after leaving Charlottesville the mountains surrendered to the piedmont which extended nearly to Yorktown. It took us sixteen days to ride 739 miles. My wife, Jane Ann met us with the van as we ended our tour and were able to get Carl home by the end of his deadline.
We were finishing up breakfast on September 5, 2014 in Astoria WA, as we began Part 2 of our tour. Going out to our bikes we met a cyclist who months later spent the night at my house. The whole area of western Oregon were beautiful green forests and dark blue waters. We rode through Portland, which was very bike friendly, spending the night with Dennis’ kin. The next morning, Jeremy, a good friend of our hosts, rode the first 30 miles out of Portland with us, ending at an over look, high above the Columbia River. Later that day we rode beside the river, soon arriving in Rainier. Two days later we met Bruce, a retired attorney from Scotland whom was beginning a ride to the Mexican border. His Bike Friday featured an internal gear hub and belt drive in place of a chain. Bruce mentioned his cure for a squeaky belt drive; he just squirted a little water on the belt. As we left the Cascade Mts. the color of the landscape turned from green to brown. Even after crossing the Columbia into the state of Washington, we could still see Mt. Hood over 100 miles to our rear. Heading further East we saw amber waves of grain, wheat fields which completely covered high rolling hills. About ten miles east of Walla Walla, while stopping for a snack, a car pulled over and a lady got out to talk with us. Turns out Alison was a doctor, who along with her family had done a bike ride across the country. She invited us to spend the night with them. They were a delightful couple, her husband, Dan, made very good beer, which went well with a wonderful evening meal on the back porch. Two days later we arrived in Lewiston, Idaho where we took a couple days off. Lewiston was a nice city and on our second day there we rented a car to go up into the Palouse area N to NW of the city. The Palouse is a very fertile farming area with large rolling hills. If we had the time, we’d have spent a few days cycling the Palouse. Heading east on a hot afternoon we did a long, tough climb up to the town of Winchester. Towards the end of the next day we made a long descent into Kamish, which was thick with smoke from forest fires. The smoke was so heavy we got a local resident with a truck to drive us past the fire area to a National Forest campground. We tried to pay him for his help but he refused. The campground was closed but we found a place to camp and had enough water to fix breakfast the next morning and ride another 40 miles to a resort camp where we camped while eating our meals at the lodge. The following day we climbed Lolo Pass, crossing over into Montana spending the night in Lolo. The next morning was a short ride into Missoula. We ended this trip with 663 miles of riding. Dennis had caught pneumonia prior to starting our trip, delaying us a week. This delay resulted in us not having enough time to cycle on to Billings for our flight home. So, we stayed a few days enjoying Missoula, which is a great place for cycling and huckleberry ice cream. While visiting the Adventure Cycling office there we met Joff Summerfield and his self-made penny-farthing bike, who was on his second trip round the world. After shipping our bikes home we spent our last evening in Missoula at the Iron Horse restaurant. We told our waiter, who had served us the night before, we’d be driving to Billings in the morning to catch a flight back to Tallahassee. He responded by saying it was also his last night since he was leaving in the morning. I asked him where he was off to and he answered “Paris.”
Early August 2015 found us busy making final preparations for the third and last section, Missoula, MT to Carbondale, Il. We used bikeflights.com to ship our bikes and gear out to Missoula which reduced the shipping cost by nearly 50%. On August 16 we left for Carbondale, Il, where we left my van with a Warm Showers host. Renting a car, we drove to Chicago in time to catch our flight on Frontier to Denver. However, due to weather the Frontier flight left two hours late and we missed our transfer to Missoula. We had to cool heels at a motel near Denver for two days. On our arrival in Missoula our friend, Linc Clay, met us at the airport and put us up for two nights. The next day we picked up our bikes, gear and got ready to leave the morning of August 22. For the prior two sections we’d primarily followed Adventure Cycling routes using their maps. On this trip we were plotting our own route using state road maps and a GPS. On the second day out, we left from Lincoln on a dirt and gravel forest road which took us up and over Stemple Pass, 6367 feet. Half the distance to Helena that day was unpaved. On our way to Townsend the following day we crossed over the Missouri very close to its source. Hwy 12 through a National Forest was a very scenic route except for the construction going on. At one point we were transported by truck for two miles, being informed there was no place to get off the road for truck traffic. Afterward we wished we had ridden this section since it was not nearly as bad as they said it would be.
That evening we soaked in the hot springs connected to our motel in White Sulfur Springs. While eating supper that evening we met a group of horse women. It turned out one worked at Mass General in Boston and knew both my first cousin and Dennis’ daughter, both of whom were also employed there; small world. Two days later we arrived in Ryegate where David and Patti, our Warm Shower (a home hospitality organization for touring cyclists) hosts fed us and let us do our laundry. We slept in their full size tepee that night. The Billings Quality Inn provided impeccable service the following day with the manager coming to pick us up at the edge of town so we didn’t have to try find our way through Billings to the motel. After a rest day we headed south towards Wyoming. Just before hitting the state line a truck passed us and pulled over to the side of the road. An old man got out and presented us with boxed lunches. He’d seen us pass his home earlier and figured we must be hungry. No one had ever done that for us and we thanked him profusely for his kindness. On our way down to Sheridan and Buffalo on I-25 we skirted the Bighorn Mts. but still had several climbs and descents. The ride over to Gillette was long and hard with rolling hills and strong side winds. That evening we had a great Bison sirloin steak but the restaurant had the AC set well below our comfort zone. We headed south for over one hundred miles through an area where you could see for miles. Only two small towns of Wright and Bill provided food and shelter. At last we arrived in Douglas at the North Platte River which we followed southeast. In Glendo we ran into a cycle touring couple. They offered Dennis a used tire which was much better than his worn rear tire. We all rode together for a couple hours before parting ways. Soon afterward Dennis’ worn out tire went flat and it was good he had a replacement. On September 8th we reached Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, a state we had been told was flat. The next day riding 50 miles south to Kimball, we did many climbs in that flat state. Turning east on Hwy 30, the old Lincoln Hwy, we arrived in North Platte a few days later. There we loaded up on spare tubes since goat heads (like large sandspurs) and shards from radial tires had flattened several tubes. A dog breeder friend of Dennis’ joined us for supper that night. Headed towards Lexington we got on I-80 with plans to get off at an exit 12 miles to the east. We’d gone about six miles when a highway patrolman busted us for riding on I-80. In many western states it’s legal to ride interstate highways but not so in the Midwest. The officer was going to take us back to North Platte but on the way to the next exit we talked with him and he decide to let us off at the location where we had planned to get off. Our Warm Showers host, Bryan showed us around Lexington and took us to a real Mexican restaurant. Two days later we rode into Grand Island and our last Warm Shower hosts. Steve and Sherry were not home from work but they left us some snacks and bottles of cold Gator Ade. Over supper that evening we talked about touring, they had done shorter trips since they were still employed. We made York the next day and had lunch at Chances Are, a restaurant with a good reputation beyond state borders. We had planned to leave in the morning but hard rain was forecast so we stayed another day and watched the rain and hail storm from our motel window. Over the next two days we covered over 150 miles ending in Falls City. On September 21st, after nearly 600 miles we left NE, did about 20 miles in Kansas and ended up in St. Joseph Missouri. That day we met a second cycling touring couple on their way home to North Platte. This couple shortly before didn’t have bikes and were just talking about touring. Then one day the wife came home with a bike rack which started the ball rolling. With Missouri, came woods and hills and only short level sections. Four days later, not aware of the bike path on the far side of the bridge, we crossed the Missouri river on a six lane bridge in a lot more traffic than we desired. Surviving the bridge crossing we entered Jefferson City and found very steep climbs between us and our motel. The traveling Viet Nam monument panels were on the state Capital grounds and I found the names of two West Point grads I’d known in high school. We left a very pretty downtown area and this time took the bike bridge across the river and rode down a square round about which slowly took us down to ground level where a path led out to the Katy trail. Arriving in Herman, with both our bikes and us very dusty, we cleaned our bikes and bags outside the B&B before entering. Moving on, we left the Katy and returned to the hills of Missouri. As we crossed the Mississippi River into Chester Il, we knew the next day would end our tour. Most of Illinois is flat but not the very southern part. Going south on Hwy 159 for twenty miles we met a constant line of coal trucks both fore and aft. Just past the coal truck armada area, a young Englishman, just out of the service, pulled up on his touring bike. We followed his route to Murphysboro where the Brit continued on and we started searching for lunch. A little old lady on Main St. told us of a good restaurant and it was indeed. The last ten miles to Carbondale were flat and we had a bit of tail wind, which was a great way to end the tour, having covered 1,934 miles. We got the van out of the garage and drove over to see Jack, our Warm Showers host. After a shower and a lot of conversation about the trip, we took Jack out to a very good vegetarian restaurant for supper after which we began the drive home. On the way home we experienced more rain than we had during our whole tour. The tour was a good one but it was great to get home; there is no place like it.
Are you interested in seeing more people cycling in Tallahassee? Love to Ride Tallahassee aims to show more people just how easy and enjoyable cycling can be. All people have to do to take part is experience that great feeling you get on a bike by riding for just 10 minutes or more.
We’d like your support to spread the word, champion cycling and encourage your workplace to sign up.
• A fun and free incentive based bicycling initiative for local workplaces.
Workplaces are invited to compete between November 1-30 to see who can get the most staff riding to win individual and team prizes.
• Create a buzz about bicycling at your workplace.
• Great way to encourage people to rediscover cycling.
• Win prizes!
• For new and experienced cyclists.
It’s quick to register your work team online, visit www.lovetoride.net/tallahassee.
Love To Ride Tallahassee is sponsored by the City of Tallahassee, CRTPA, Leon County, Planning Department, Commuter Services of North Florida, and People for Bikes