Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Light of 2008

I wanted to share with you the last light of 2009 here in Tampa, FL. That's Lake Roberta in Seminole Heights, only a few blocks from my house at about 6 p.m. today.

It's been a wild and wooly 2008 and I have a hunch that '09 will be much better.

Have a joyful and healthy New Year everyone.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cycling A Century With Nick On A Gorgeous Weather Day

Could you have fantasized better weather for a century bike ride than today's conditions: cloudless sky, Coloradoesque bone-dry humidity, gentle breeze out of the northeast then off the Gulf and 74 gorgeous degrees.

Today was the day my bike friend Nick Griffiths of Moffitt Cancer Center by way of Winnepeg and I had picked to ride 100 miles.

My route would consist of including segments of five off-road PAVED trails or park facilities:

-- Suncoast Trail
-- Jay Starkey Park in south Pasco County
-- Pinellas Trail from Tarpon Springs to Dunedin
-- Upper Tampa Bay Trail
-- Al Lopez Park's 2-mile loop in Tampa

It was a fascinating ride because we included many types of cycling scenarios in between the trail sections, which I estimated took up about 30 to 31 miles of the 100-mile route. Keep in mind we started and ended at my house in Seminole Heights, which is 12 to 15 miles away from the closest off-road paved trail.

In between the paved trail parts we biked in urban roads such as North Boulevard in Tampa; suburban roads such as Bearrs Avenue in the Carrollwood area. Troublecreek Road outside New Port Rickey and Main Street from Dunedin to Oldsmar; and busy commercial roads such as a 4-mile stretch of US 19 between New Port Richey and Tarpon Springs.

It made us appreciate cycling, for example, amid the beautiful open land of the Starkey Park in south Pasco County.

At Mile 22, we stopped at Suncoast Trailisde Bicycles and chatted with Geoff Lanier and Tammy. As the store name denotes, the bike shop is right off the Suncoast Trail at the Target shopping center on State Road 54.

Nick had no problem with cycling the 100 miles. It's amazing that his longest ride up until today was 40 miles. He had a terrific cadence in the final mile and showed no wear and tear from the century.

You see all types of bicyclists at Starkey Park.

The terrain in the Starkey Park is marked by high pines and low palmettos.

Around Mile 80, Nick and I visited the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.

University Hospital Billboard Ad Not Too Heady

I was bicycling near the 30th Street-Fletcher Avenue intersection when this billboard advertisement about Universoty Hospital caught my eye.

Here's a hospital, which theoretically is concerned about people's health, using bicyclists in an ad and they are not wearing helmets.

I should add that one hospital in the Tampa Bay area -- Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg -- has a brain injury prevention program that specifically focuses on getting people to wear bicycle helmets. They participated in the Bicycle Bash by the Bay in October and had a terrific showing.

No bicycle helmet in the University Hospital billboard ad. Maybe University Hospital is trying to create new business for its head trauma unit?

Times Tries To Get A Leg Up On The Competition

Have you noticed the St. Pete Times is doing some aggressive billboard advertisements featuring a canine watchdog theme.

I was cycling on 30th Street near Busch Gardens in Tampa when I saw this billboard.

Let's take a closer look.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

LatkeFest Celebrates The Season

I want to wish everyone a terrific holiday season -- Happy last night of Chanukah, Merry Christmas to all and a New Year of 2009 filled with good health and joyful times.

Friday, December 26, 2008

UPS Uses Bicycle To Deliver Packages In Oregon

My pal Picot sent a cool post from about a UPS deliverywoman dropping off packages via bicycle delivery.

Photo from

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Friendship and Upper Tampa Bay Trail Updates

Looks like even the quarter-mile or so of open bridge access is now gone on the Friendship Trail. From the St. Pete Times:

Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have decided to close the entire Friendship Trail Bridge after receiving a final engineering report on its structural deficiencies.

While the middle of the bridge was closed in November, rendering it uncrossable, stretches on each side were left open for recreation. That changed Monday after a private engineering firm warned that any portion of the bridge could collapse.

The firm said it would cost $4.1-million to repair only the ends of the bridge that had been open; $30-million to repair the entire bridge; $12-million to demolish the bridge portion only; and $81.8-million to demolish the old bridge and build a replacement.

Also, Ellen Pierson sends in this item about Hillsborough County installing mile markers on the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Biking Out East in Hillsborough County

You can't dangle a cool, crisp, sunny 62-degree day in front of me and not expect me to log a few miles. So I got in 94 miles cycling on State Road 60 to Bartow and then heading off to Lakeland on the Fraser Trail along US 98 and then taking US 92 out of Lakeland back through Plant City and ultimately back to Tampa.

In past years, US 92 was a narrow two-lane road but the road has new pavement on the side of about four feet and also there are also raised wooden walkways being installed, too. The Tampa region is so terrible for bicyclists and pedestrians that when you see new work like this, it really sticks out and gets your attention.

I wish more roads in Tampa and other local areas would be retrofitted with a few more feet of pavement on the side such as 92 to offer bicyclists a better chance for a safe haven.

US 92 without the paved shoulder. It means cycling in the regular traffic lane.

Eastern Hillsborough County is strawberry land. The Strawberry Festival is a huge strawberry party at a terrific venue. Here's a well-known strawberry business.

You have the right to fly a Confederate flag in this country. Which is why some fella who owns some land off US 92 built a flagpole to fly a gigantic Confederate flag as part of celebrating southern heritage.

Thing is the mainstream meaning of the Confederate flag across the country is that it represents racism, lynchings and bigotry. So if you really want to inform people about southern history, heritage and culture, why not work on opening a museum that teaches people about such topics instead of flying a flag that makes you look like a marginalized fringe redneck who is agitating people for the sake of pissing people off?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Chanukah Everyone

Last year during the holiday season my bicycle pal Ellen dropped off a bicycle wheel wreath that I modified slightly for Chanukah this year. Here's Ellen with the finished product. Happy Holiday of Lights and happy first day of winter.

LatkeFest this year is Sunday Dec. 28 from 2-6 PM.

It's Holiday Shopping Time, Fun-Lan Style

Bicycle Stories pedaled to the local bazaar better known as Fun-Lan and like any shopping center in the Tampa Bay region, the place was packed with shoppers and bustling commerce.

Fun-Lan had its own Santa, too.

Buy it straight from the corn truck.

It's not just the Christmas season if the Vega-Matic man isn't peddling his wares.

The Betty Boop collection was looking fine.

For the love of God, dude, please keep that orange shirt tucked in -- I don't want to see any crack activity this holiday season!

Anyone need a rug 'cause the rug car was in the house.

Pickled okra and cabbage in the truck bed.

I enjoy the high-brow art work, such as ET looking contemplative.

Pal, you're about six months late.

Anyone with a bicycle handlebar like this one?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Make Sure You Have Your Fog Light This Morning

Man it was foggy this morning -- as in good ol' fashion Northwest soupy fog which cut down visibility to about a block in front of you. Such were the conditions for the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club long ride that took off at 8:30 a.m. today with six cyclists in the fast group and about a dozen bicyclists in the slower group led by Margaret Shepherd.

Somehow we met up in downtown Tampa after both groups took a spin from SH into downtown Tampa and then around Davis Islands before meeting up at a downtown Tampa hotel before we took the northern route on Florida Avenue back to Seminole Heights.

Steve Swiger was the fast ride leader and likes to work with his hands -- he's a terrific computer guy, too.

Doug the USF philosophy professor is known for his wool jerseys and excellent attendance.

You're looking at the famed Ghost Rider. Jack is usually seen on his commuter bike, but today he broke out the sweet Bianchi.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Painful Shootout Loss For Bolts Tonight

Tonight Bicycle Stories visited the hockey arena in downtown Tampa -- or the Channel District as its specifically called -- and the hometown Lightning lost in a shootout to the Colorado Avalanche thanks to a boneheaded decision by the officials who someohow reached the conclusion that Bolts goalie threw his stick at a shot when in fact he made the save and the stick was dropped AFTER the save was made on the shot during the shootout.

But the story here is always the scenes behind the hockey game on the ice -- so take a peak.

Motorcycles in this market are a real crowdpleaser with the male demographic -- even at a hockey game.

It's not the holiday season in Tampa without the frozen sculptures.

Everyone loves a chocolate fountain.

Ah, the lovely club level. People like to go to a hockey game but not everyone actually watches the hockey game. Sometimes the conversation and food are better than the hockey team.

There's my Seminole Heights and fellow bike club member friend Rick on duty as an arena cameraman. Rick and his nice wife Lisa do the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club web site.

Cigarette lady works the club level. I mentioned that cigarettes are a bad habit and she said she prefers cigars.

The famed Pin Lady -- she said she has 150 pins on the jersey and her cap.

It was Hanukkah and Jewish heritage night at the arena.

High stickin chicken concession stand. Good eats.

It's not every day a chicken is seen wielding a hockey stick.

The sad Beacon Brothers head home. They always walk this way. Beacon on the left and Brothers on the right. They are, after all, the Beacon Brothers.