Florida Weekly, Aug. 19, 2015 "Outdoors" section
Dan Moser's column
Dan highlights the many bike touring options coming up this Fall, and his advocacy spotlight calls out the negative consequences of "carbon bombing" by "tricked-out" trucks and cars.[BWL note--sorry for delay in posting Dan's column...just returned from biking trip to PEI, Canada!]
Even before turning the first pedal stroke, sweat begins to form, eventually pouring out like a faucet as the bike ride begins. At least that’s how it goes for me this time of year. No sense bringing foul weather gear, even knowing a thunderstorm will likely hit; I’ll be just as soaked by sweat as I would by rain in short order. Not that I’m complaining, merely stating fact. But I am looking forward to the October weather change that also coincides with the start of bike tour season throughout Florida. Below are a few road trips to consider adding to your calendar. I’ll pass along some out-of-town running events in a future column.
Early October may not be quite the end of the summer weather pattern yet, but it’s worth taking a chance to head to Inverness north of Tampa in Florida’s Nature Coast area to participate in one of the 14- to 100-mile rides that are part of the Withlacoochee Rails-to-Trail Ride (railstotrailsonline.com). Later in the month, Oct. 23-25, come two competing and long-established weekend events: The Suwannee Fat Tire Fest in White Springs (suwanneebike.org) and Gainesville Cycling Fest, which includes both the Santa Fe Century Ride and Horse Farm Hundred (gccfla.org/gcf). Also happening that weekend — and closer to home — is Tour de North Port (peoplefortrees.com).
On Sunday, Nov. 1, the Gulf Coast CycleFest (smbc.us/cyclefest) in Sarasota’s Lakewood Ranch area offers 20- to 100-mile rides. For a special multi-day, an all-inclusive inn-to-inn tour with average mileage of 30-40 miles/day runs from Nov. 8-14; Bike Florida’s St Johns-to-the Sea Tour (bikeflorida.org/tours/the-st-johns-river-to-sea-loop) stages from St Augustine and explores the many interesting communities along the St Johns River and Atlantic Coast. Then, one of the most popular rides, the Horrible Hundred (horriblehundred.com), takes place in Clermont on Sunday, Nov. 15. The last November ride on my list is the annual Pasta Bash (coastalcruisers.net) in Port Charlotte on Saturday, Nov. 21. Finally, the Highlands Bike Fest (highlandsbikefest.com) is a three-day event happening in nearby Sebring from Dec. 4-6, that includes many activities and ends with a century ride on Sunday.
You’ll find a complete listing of rides and tours throughout Florida as well as much of the southeast U.S. on Florida Bicycle Association’s touring pages (floridabicycle.org/touring). While there, consider joining our only statewide bicycle advocacy and education organization.
I had read about it and saw videos of it happening, but until I witnessed it myself, the pure nastiness of it was even more shocking than expected. While traveling along First Street in downtown Fort Myers where it intersects Park Avenue and the northbound Edison Bridge, a tricked-out black pickup truck abruptly passed a car that was apparently moving too slowly for the truck’s driver who then blasted a large cloud of thick black carbon soot onto the car before turning toward North Fort Myers. The car, which had its windows open, and everyone else in the area, had been carbon bombed, also known as coal rolled. If someone with asthma or other respiratory condition was in the area I’m sure there would have been a medical emergency if they inhaled. Cyclists, especially when in groups, are common targets.
This sickening and deliberate action is passed off by some as a form of civil disobedience meant to make the statement that our environmental protection efforts have gone too far. Some say it’s merely a harmless hobby. In reality, it’s intended to harass individuals and foul our air and has both immediate and long term consequences. The sociopaths who spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to override a diesel vehicle’s system that prevents pollution of this type are no less guilty than the mechanic who makes it happen and those who sell the necessary components. This obviously illegal act (although, as usual under existing Florida law, difficult to enforce) is an indicator of the offender’s warped mindset. Let’s just hope these unstable people don’t own guns, lest they be challenged after spewing their carbon and invoke Florida’s archaic Stand Your Ground Law. If you see this happen, try to catch it on video and report the vehicle and its operator to law enforcement. Who knows, they may take action. At the very least, it’ll be on the record. For more on this and other bike/ped matters, be sure to visit BikeWalkLee’s blog at bikewalklee.blogspot.com.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.
— Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org or 334- 6417.