Friday, July 15, 2011
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: A summer ritual, Tour de France captivates cycling community
Florida Weekly, July 13, 2011
After two solid weeks of a daily dose of the Tour de France — offered live on TV each morning and repeated numerous times during the day — many cycling enthusiasts are, by now, very familiar with the riders, teams and France’s geography. Sympathies go out to family and friends who have had to listen to our all-too frequent banter about the race and are no doubt just as over-saturated, as are we.
Our overindulgence acknowledged, I, like many others who appreciate this unbelievably challenging physical and mental feat, always look forward to July and the raised awareness it brings to cycling throughout our community, as it does elsewhere around the country and world. But one drawback the Tour de France creates in terms of promoting the sport among both cyclists and the general public is that far too many bike riders — avid and otherwise — are enticed to practice some of the risky behaviors of the pros.
By that I mean the roads become race courses where riders forget they are vehicle operators (i.e. bike drivers) who must follow traffic laws and exercise common sense at all times. Granted, some have legitimate reasons for training hard (see the following section) but no one should blatantly disregard the law and put themselves or others at risk for the sake of a workout. Besides obvious problems created by a “hammer-head” mentality, the bad impression scofflaws leave upon all cyclists is very real and long lasting among the general public. So I hope the temptation to blow traffic signals, unnecessarily hog the road when in a group, and flip-off those who don’t play along with bad bike driving behavior won’t be employed in the name of the sport of cycling.
Two new events coming up later this summer are sure to be of interest to many who read this column. First up is the Naples Festival of Miles, being conducted by Gulf Coast Runners (www.gcrunners.org) on Sunday, Aug. 28. The uniqueness of the event is that it’s all about running your fastest mile and includes prize money for age groups in both elite and open categories. Because the distance is short — a plus this time of year — this one should prove to be very popular in its inaugural year.
The second event, also in its first year, is more ambitious and will require a diverse set of skills. Galloway Captiva Tri (www.gearedup.biz), a sprint distance triathlon, will take place on Captiva’s South Seas Island Resort on Sunday, Sept. 18. The bike ride segment of the event will use all of Captiva Drive as well as the resort’s main road, the swim takes place in the Gulf of Mexico near the island’s northern tip and the run is within South Seas on a variety of surfaces (but not on the beach itself). Besides many other difficult logistical aspects of putting on this kind of event on such a small island, getting approval to close Captiva Drive is a major accomplishment. Organizers, public safety officials, business owners and residents of Captiva are to be commended. Let’s hope Mother Nature cooperates as well as everyone else has so far.
So much is happening that affects the pedestrian and bicycle world on the national, state and local level that I don’t even know where to begin. The best suggestion I have is to visit BikeWalkLee’s blog (bikewalklee.blogspot.com), Facebook pages (www.facebook.com/pages/Bike- WalkLee/116076351805158) or website (www.bikewalklee.org) to get up to speed on everything from Florida returning significant funds (i.e. our local tax dollars) to the feds that were meant for bike/ped infrastructure to an update on the city of Fort Myers’ move toward a complete streets policy.
Education and awareness efforts continue via a variety of approaches, including bringing bike clinics to summer camps, offering CyclingSavvy sessions to adults (cyclingsavvy.org) and campaigns to remind ourselves that we must pay attention to the road when driving and not be distracted or irresponsible (www.sajd.org). The Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition (www.safeleenews.org) is the place to go for more about these and other similar efforts.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and- CyclingSavvy instructor and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 334- 6417.