Friday, October 31, 2008

The Independent Comes To Seminole Heights

Sources tell me The Independent, a cool bar in downtown St. Petersburg that's known for its craft beers, is opening a second bar in Seminole Heights, Tampa along North Florida Avenue between MLK and Hillsborough Avenues. It won't be too far from Cappy's Pizzeria.

Sean Henry, Chief Operating Officer for the Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum, Is Leaving

There are not too many chief operating officers who know how to operate a forklift, but there was Sean Henry manning a forklift when the St. Pete Times Forum arena became the dropoff center for clothes, medical supplies and furniture in the days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area a few years ago. Downtown Tampa really has no true downtown hub, so the Forum's plaza acted as the city's core when it came to collecting hurricane supplies and shipping them out.

That was emblematic of the hustling, scrappy Sean -- who also just happened to be the chief operating officer for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum.

In a business filled with phonies and stiffs, Sean was as real as it gets. That's why he stuck out and was liked by all at the arena.

Sean was as friendly to an usher or a floor mopper as he was to the suits who came into the Forum.

He was a New York Long Island guy who bled New York Yankees pinstripes, but he cut his sports-business teeth in food and beverage in Detroit for Bill Davidson and Palace Sports and Entertainment. Sean had also worked for the St. Louis Rams.

When Davidson and Palace Sports took over the Lightning and the former Ice Palace building, Sean and former Lightning president Ron Campbell were dispatched to Tampa to rebuild and market the Lightning and fill seats at the venue. He did a good job. He was named to the Top 40 under 40 by the Sports Business Journal two years ago.

Sean dressed in suits for the job to meet and greet the big-wigs in town, but at his core he was still a scrappy guy with street smarts who prefered short-sleeve shirts and hanging with his pals. He hustled his ass off to get to where he got to -- a nice corner office at the Forum.

He loved sports and loved meeting people -- regardless of their background.

That's why Sean Henry will be missed at the Lightning and the Forum. There was an announcement today in the building that Sean will be leaving. Sean spent 10 years with the Lightning and was responsible for all things business -- from figuring out new ways to massage revenue from the arena to negotiating with the city of Tampa.

He's a good guy and a scrapper -- even if he was a Yankees fan.

He'll do well no matter where his next stop is.

Farmer's Market Makes A Debut in Downtown Tampa

Tampa's downtown in the middle of the day is usually quiet. It's mostly city employees and office workers from the bank buildings walking to lunch places with a handful of homeless guys checking things out, too.

Today I biked into downtown and there was a real, live farmer's market in downtown Tampa for the first time after the city banned farmer's markets because he city feared it was competition to downtown eateries. (Yes, that's Tampa for you).

But the anti-farmer's market law was repealed and it was game on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the downtown park.

It was nothing like the downtown farmer's market in St. Petersburg you see on Saturday mornings. But there was a fun sampling of merchants peddling everything from veggie burgers and hot sauces to cheeses and jewelry.

The produce guy was supposed to show up, but I was told the fruit and veggie guy had his truck stolen somewhere in the Perry area, about three hours to the north.

So the farmer's market really didn't have too many farm goods.

But at least it was fun to see some life in downtown for change at the noontime hour along with a few adults dressed in costume.

Enjoy the photos.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free Lightning Game Ticket to Folks Who Bike to Saturday's Game

Riding your bicycle to Saturday night's Lightning game at the St. Pete Times Forum will pay off big-time because all folks who pedal to the Lightning-Ottawa Senators game will get free tickets!

It's part of the Lightning's Go Green Night activities, which includes a free eco-friendly rally towel to the first 10,000 fans!

The game is 7:30 p.m. See you there.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Go Vertical With Miss Vicki

I'm sorry to say that I missed the Tampa Freewheelers Hilly Hundred this morning. I got up way too late after watching the Phils beat the Rays in the bottom of the ninth inning just earlier this morning.

So I got out late and pedaled some 72 miles north and west to the Suncoast Trail and Starkey Park and New Port Richey before I headed home on Tampa Road/Hillsborough Avenue back to Seminole Heights.

I got a kick out of this sign along North Dale Mabry Highway about five miles north of Bearrs Avenue.

Pay no attention to the recession.

Don't worry about that empty wallet and hole in your pocket.

That empty checkbook balance -- just a figment of your imagination.

And lastly, Ameriscape USA will not participate in spelling participate correctly.

I visited David Luppino at the Suncoast Trailside Bicycles, a SWFBUD member store, and when I pedaled on the road that leads to State Road 54 to cross and hook into the Suncoast Trail, I saw the debris that David and fellow store owner Geoff Lanier had told me about.

State Department of Transportation, can you please clean up this debris at the intersection?

I was in New Port Richey on State Road 54 when I saw the beautiful Vicki Vertical. Mam, watch where you poke thoe scissors. I can't wait to meet Vicki Vertical's sister -- Honey Horizontal.

Improvising In Tampa

If you bike on the streets of Tampa, you will see just about every type of bicycle and every type of home-made accessory.

Like the old plastic tool box attached to the rear rack. Saw this rig on Friday.

Whatever it takes.

Times Column on Bicycling

Stephanie Garry of the St. Petersburg Times pedaled the 18-mile bike ride at the Share the Road Ride, then stopped by the Bicycle Bash by the Bay afterwards last Sunday.

Read her story in today's Times

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bullet Opens New Bike Business

Robert "Bullet" Ferrin has worked at a few bike shops around the Tampa Bay area and now the man behind the Skunkworks custom low-rider bicycles is launching a new enterprise called Hands on Bicycle in Clearwater.

Hands on Bicycle will have repairs and parts and also include self help, tool rentals and repair classes.

Contact Bullet at his bike shop number at 727-474-3880 and 24/7 emergency repair number at 727-483-4533.

Bullet usually brings his Skunkworks collection to the Bicycle Bash by the Bay, but we missed Bullet at last Sunday's bicycle festival. Here's a photo of Bullet and his collection from the inaugural Bicycle Bash by the Bay in 2006.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chip's Book Signing

Chip Haynes of Clearwater has been a force on the Tampa Bay bicycle scene for many many years as exemplified by his home-made bicycles and literary works. He has a book signing at 1 p.m. on Nov. 1 at Book Bank in the Largo Mall. It's for The Bicycle Book, a collection of stories, essays and cartoons.

Here's the store's summary of Chip:

"Chip Haynes is a graphic artist and everyday cyclist living in Clearwater, Florida with his wife, JoAnn and over 30 bicycles. Chip enjoys folding bikes, fixed gear bikes, and, well, just about every sort of bike, if only he had the time to ride them all. His advice to cyclists: Keep your bike tires pumped. His advice to non-cyclists: When the oil runs out, they’re all bike lanes. Chip's solo book, The Practical Cyclist, will be published by New Society Publishers in 2009. He can be reached at"

Discussion & Signing
Local Writer – Chip Haynes
Sat. November 1 , 1 p.m.
at Book Bank USA
Largo Mall, Tel. 727 588 0474

That's Chip on the left:

Hilly Hundred Update

Hey everyone. Sunday is the big Hilly Hundred ride and Ruben Watson, president of the Tampa Bay Freewheelers, is still looking for a few good volunteers. I'm passing along Ruben's note to y'all:

Once again, thanks to all of you who have pre-registered for the ride! For those of you who may have missed pre-registration, you can still register for the event on the day of the ride. Although the fee is $3 more the morning of the event, we will be donating the $3 to the Josh Kuck Memorial Scholarship Fund. As many of you are aware, the ride is in memory of Josh Kuck who was struck and killed in an accident on the ride 1 year ago. There will be an opportunity to donate directly to the Josh Kuck Memorial Scholarship fund at the registration table on the day of the ride. All checks should be made out to TBF, Inc (including donations to the Josh Kuck Memorial Scholarship Fund). You can even combine the registration and donation into a single check. We'll know what goes where.

Day-of-Ride Registration: 6:30 AM

Ride Start: 7:30 AM

Directions to Start: I-75 to exit 293. Go east about 5.5 miles and the school will be on your left.

The Hilly Hundred is made up of four ride distances of 18, 34, 63 or 100 miles. The ride offers a short-sleeved t-shirt, fully stocked SAG stops, mechanical support, and some door prize giveaways from our supporting cycling businesses.

Visit us at

Volunteers for this ride are a bit light after reaching out earlier this week. If anyone is willing to volunteer, it would be much appreciated.

Our volunteer positions are as follows:

Ride Prep: Get ice and all the food for the ride. Load the trailer with everything for the ride. Count and fold the t-shirts. We do this on Saturday. (5 volunteers needed - we have 1 volunteer).

Day-of-Ride Registration and Set-up: Hand out packets on the day of the ride. If you volunteer for this job, you will be able to do the ride on that day (5 volunteers needed - we have 3 volunteers)

SAG Truck Driver and Support: Bring supplies from the start/finish to our 4 SAG stops. (1 driver and 1 heavy lifter needed). The job is important but easier than it looks. (We have a faithful driver but a backup or extra heavy lifter is always a good idea.)

SAG Stop Volunteers: Hand out snacks and provide beverages to our cyclists.
(8 people needed - Already have 5 volunteers)

Roving SAG and Safety: Drive the ride routes providing assistance to riders. Please bring a vehicle or bicycle rack so that you can accommodate both the cyclist and their bike. Motorcyclists are also welcome (5 people needed - We have 2 SAG drivers and 2 motorcycles currently)

Start/Finish Cleanup: Cleanup the start location during the day and at ride completion. If you volunteer for ride cleanup at the end of the ride, you will be able to ride the 18, 32 or 62 on the day of the ride. (6 people needed)

Parking: Direct vehicles as they arrive. (6 people needed - We have 1 volunteers)

We typically provide a ride t-shirt to anyone who volunteers about 4 hours of time prior to or during the event. If you are volunteering:
- Tell me what job(s) you are interested in
- Tell me your t-shirt size
- Tell me if you are also riding in the event

In town on Saturday AM? If so, come join us on our Stanley ride (free for everyone). Details on our TBF website: (Click the "Rides" tab.)

Please contact me if you have any additional questions at 813-404-5721 or if you'd prefer to register via mail.

Thanks and see you on the ride... Ruben.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back Of The Line

I went out for a morning 56-mile ride, which included a pit stop at the New Tampa library on Cross Creek Road.

Check out the line for early voting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Trip To Boltsville Tonight

Bicycle Stories journeyed to the St. Pete Times Forum to catch tonight's Lightning game and it looks like the hometown Bolts have swapped places with the Rays as empty seats and a work-in-progress mentality have taken over the arena named after a local daily newspaper. Check out those empty blue seats.

The Lightning guys are a bit mediocre on the ice so the Lightning Girls grab a little attention.

By the way, it was Lightning 3 and Atlanta Thrashers 2 in OT. The Tampa bay team's first win of the season.

Hey, look who was at the game tonight -- Joe Maddon! Ha, just kidding. That's my friend Allen the usher.

How About A Little Sharrow Around Here

How much success do you think we would get if we ask the DOT, the cities and the counties to mark their busy roads used by bicyclists with "sharrows?"

sharrow n. A chevron-and-bike logo painted on a road lane to indicate that the lane is to be shared by both cars and bicycles.
Example Citations:

An ongoing safety measure being implemented in Thousand Oaks is the painting of "sharrows" on Thousand Oaks Boulevard between Moorpark Road and Duesenburg Drive.

The road marking, two forward arrows along with the familiar white bicycle logo, is used to show motorists and cyclists a safe, shared path on roads that cannot accommodate a continuous bike lane.
—Charles Ellis, "Cyclists learn how to pedal in traffic," Ventura County Star, October 19, 2008

Sharrows ... are perhaps the best tool for multi-modal transit safety that Santa Fe has seen in recent years — and at a very low cost. Sharrows currently mark select Santa Fe streets to remind both cyclists and motorists that the safest place for bikes on any narrow street is right in the middle of the lane, not on sidewalks, and not in the gutter.

Sharrows are supposed to be intuitive educational devices, but perhaps a little introduction is necessary. The idea is that on narrow urban streets, particularly roadways less than 13 feet wide or with heavy streetside parking, the safest place for bicycles is in the traffic lane with the flow of other vehicles.

This is the safest position for maximum visibility and predictability. By taking the lane, cyclists avoid dangerous hazards such as storm drains and open car doors. Additionally, sharrows serve as a reminder to motorists that by state law cyclists are entitled to use the full lane whenever and wherever they judge it to be "practicable."
—Dan Baker, "Share the road; it's bike weather," The Santa Fe New Mexican, May 18, 2008

Earliest Citation:

Mayer expressed his concerns about using a sharrow on streets with parking. He believes that they should be used in locations with narrow outside lanes without parking. He also believes that staff should construct a bike lane and allow parking in the bike lane during non-commute hours.
—"Meeting Minutes," Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, July 17, 2003


Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition
The word sharrow is a shortening of the phrase shared-lane arrow (or sometimes shared use arrow). They're also called shared-lane markings.

Interesting National Bicycle Study

Here is a fascinating study about the needs and wants of bicyclists across the country.

One finding:

Overwhelmingly, bicyclists felt threatened while bicycling primarily due to motorists (88%). More than one-third of bicyclists (37%) also reported feeling threatened for their personal safety because of uneven walkways or roadways. One in 4 (24%) felt threatened by dogs or other animals, while 17 percent felt threatened by the potential for crime. Rural bicyclists were more likely to feel threatened by dogs or other animals (33%) than were other cyclists.

New Store Location For Oliver's Cycle Sports

If you attended the Bicycle Bash by the Bay Sunday, you may have noticed that SWFBUD member store Oliver's Cycle Sports couldn't make it. Randy Myhre, the owner, was busy Sunday moving his store from the old Publix shopping center location along Bruce B. Downs to a new store location in the Panera Bread shopping center across from Flatwoods county park also on Bruce B. Downs.

I caught up with Randy at his new store location today.

BBbtB Coverage

Two of the best velo writers in the Tampa Bay area are Adam Newman of the St. Petersburg Times and the famed Ghost Rider Jack Sweeney of

Check out their coverage of Sunday's Bicycle Bash by the Bay:


And you're looking at two other tremendous bicycle lovers in the Tampa Bay area. Here's Chip Haynes of Clearwater, who fashions bicycles and writes about bicycles, and our own Steve Swiger of the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club, who created the BBbtB Web site and also is known to fashion a bicycle or two.

Check out your SWFBUD stores at the BBbtB.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bicycle Bash by the Bay III

Bicycle Bash by the Bay III, brought to you by SWFBUD, was an amazing success today. Following the Share the Road Ride in St. Petersburg, the Bicycle Bash by the Bay drew more than 50 groups, vendors, businesses and agencies that were on the bandwagon to make bicycling more popular in the Tampa Bay market.

I owe a lot of gratitude to a small hearty core of volunteers who helped put on the festival.

Enjoy the images and photos from the Bicycle Bash by the Bay, held on a glorious sunkissed afternoon at waterfront Vinoy Park. Estimates were that about 3,000 people came and went today.

The folks at Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole stole the show by bringing two tents, all their gear and equipment via bicycle, leaving its store in Seminole around 6:30 a.m. and arriving at Vinoy Park at 8 a.m. It was an amazing feat, and stands alone in my book as far as going by bike in Tampa Bay.

Mayor Rick Baker stopped by around 2:15 p.m. and I enjoyed the honor of showing the St. Petersburg mayor around the big citcle of vendors and groups. He enjoyed chatting it up with everyone and said he was committed to making St. Petersburg the top bicycle lane/trail/path city in the southeast United States.

Cheryl Stacks reported that the city's bike rodeo program gave away 150 helmets.

Kudos to John Sinibaldi, the Bicycle Bash by the Bay emcee, who announced for five hours while taking only a handle of breaks.

The bicycle community in Tampa Bay is alive and well. It was certainly on display today and my helmet's off to all who took the time to visit BBbtB III.

Let's Bash

See you at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg today.

It's time for the 2008 Bicycle Bash by the Bay!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

BBbtB Is Sunday

Don't forget: Sunday is the Bicycle Bash by the Bay.

11AM to 4 PM Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg

Stop by and say hi.

Pre-Registration for the Hilly Hundred

Ruben Watson of the Tampa Bay freewheelers wants everyone to know that then pre-registration deadline for the Hilly Hundred bicycle ride is Sunday - 10/19.

TBF is pleased to put on the 2008 HillyHundred ride on October 26. As many of you are aware, the ride is in memory of Josh Kuck who was struck and killed in an accident on the ride 1 year ago. A portion of the proceeds from the ride will be donated to a memorial fund set up in the name of Josh Kuck. There will be an opportunity to donate directly to the Josh Kuck Memorial Scholarship fund at the registration table on the day of the ride.

The HillyHundred is made up of four ride distances of 18, 34, 63 or 100 miles. The ride offers a short-sleeved t-shirt, fully stocked SAG stops, mechanical support, and some door prize giveaways from our supporting cycling businesses. If you have participated in our annual Strawberry Century Ride, please keep in mind that this is our "no frills" ride and the tasty strawberry shortcakes are not part of this ride (mark your calendar for the Strawberry Century on March 29, 2009).

Pre-registration deadline is October 19 and the ride cost remains at $22 (no artificial increase due to economic conditions like gas prices!). You are guaranteed a t-shirt if you pre-register by October 19.

Visit us at for additional event details and to register online. Please note that day-of-ride registration is $25 and you are NOT guaranteed a t-shirt if you register on day-of-ride. We do order some extra ride t-shirts and these are given out on a first-come, first-served basis until no longer available.

In town on Saturday AM? If so, come join us on our Stanley ride (free for everyone). Details on our TBF website: (Click the "Rides" tab.)

Please contact me if you have any additional questions at 813-404-5721 or if you'd prefer to register via mail.

Thanks and see you on the ride... Ruben.

To stop receiving these mailings please go to the following URL:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mayor Rick Baker To Speak At Bicycle Bash by the Bay

I saw St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker this morning at the grand opening of a "green" Dunkin' Donuts store on 4th Street North.

He informed me that he will be attending the Bicycle Bash by the Bay on Sunday to enjoy the festivities and say a few words around 1 or 1:30 p.m.

Come on out to the Bicycle Bash -- the bicycle festival of Tampa Bay is set for 11 AM to 4 PM at Vinoy Park on the scenic St. Petersburg waterfront.

Stop by and say hi to me at the SWFBUD/Bash Info table.

For more information, log on to

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Ultimate Road Trip

Passed along by bicycling friend Ellen:


That would stand for baseball, barbecue, and bicycling.

This story from the Oxford (Ohio) Press is about Oxford resident Ron Zemko, who
last August made a valiant attempt to bicycle to fourteen minor league baseball games in fourteen days, while also tracking down barbecue joints to fuel his quest.

"I always fantasized about the possibility of putting together this trip," Zemko told staff writer Bob Ratterman.

His Great 2008 North Carolina Minor League Baseball, barbecue, and Bicycling Tour ended up being 2,344 miles long, though it wasn't all by bicycle.

Still, you gotta love a guy who says, "I do not let grass grow. I maximize every day. It was a great trip. If I was not at a ball game, I was eating barbecue or riding my bike."

Read the entire story here:

Compelling Case For Bicycling

Some compelling data and stats from Bikes Belong:

It's time to get kids riding. In just one U.S. generation:

The percentage of kids who walk or bike to school has dropped from 50% to 15%.
Safe Routes to School Childhood

Obesity has tripled.
Centers for Disease Control

Bicycle commuting beats sitting in traffic.

Each U.S. rush-hour auto commuter spends an average of 38 hours a year stuck in traffic.
Texas Transportation Institute

This costs the U.S. more than $78 billion in lost productivity and wasted fuel.
Texas Transportation Institute

More cycling means less dependence on foreign oil.

10% of global oil production goes toward fueling America’s cars and trucks.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

The U.S. could save 462 million gallons of gasoline a year by increasing cycling from 1% to 1.5% of all trips.
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, Bike Traffic, May 2002

Riding a bike is cheaper than driving a car.

On a round-trip commute of 10 miles, bicyclists save roughly $10 daily and spare the air 10 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
Commute Solutions, Emissions calculations

They also burn 360 calories!

Based on gas prices of about $4/gallon, the annual direct cost of owning, operating, and driving a passenger car roughly 15,000 miles is nearly $14,000. (It costs roughly $200 a year to maintain a bike.)
Commute Solutions

Biking can help you live longer.

Bicycling for transportation can reduce mortality by 35 to 40%.
Matthews et al., Andersen et al.

Bicycling is good for the economy.

The U.S. bicycle industry sold $6.1 billion in bicycles and equipment (retail value) in 2007.
National Sporting Goods Association

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Get Ready To Bash!

The Bicycle Bash by the Bay is less than four days away and it's shaping up to be an incredible event.

Here's your line-up of participants and events

Each SWFBUD store has a bicycle theme:

Bicycle Outfitters – Repairs
Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium – Fittings
Chainwheel Drive – Bike commuting
Oliver’s Cycle Sports – Road cycling
Revolution Bicycles – Body scan fittings
University Bicycle Center – Family bicycling and triathlons
Suncoast Trailside Bicycles – Racing

Scheduled activities

11:30 AM – Tampa Bike Co-op – Working on Your Bicycle
12 Noon – 2 PM -- St. Pete Bike Rodeo – Free Helmets for the kids
12 Noon – Long-distance cycling on a recumbent with Tim McClain
1 PM – Check out The Skirts, women’s bicycle fixed gear group
1:30 PM – Chainwheel Drive does bike commuting
2 PM – Tricycle and Kids Rides
2:30 PM – Long-distance cycling on a recumbent with Tim McClain
3 PM—Drawing for Free Bicycles courtesy of Cannondale and also free gear

Enjoy Food and Drinks from:

Papa John’s Pizza
Latam at the Centro
Old Farmer’s Creamery
Karl’s Hot Dogs
Dunkin Donuts
Tropical Smoothie Café
Sunshine Shakes
Belgian Pearl Waffles
Lino’s Frozen Lemonade
Mookie's Kettle Korn

Visit the Vendors of the Bicycle Bash by the Bay:

American Classic – the wheel makers in Tampa
Steve Toll – ISM bicycle seat
Florida Capital Bank
Boston Bill Sunglasses
Balance & Bliss yoga
Tampa Bay Rays
Fermin Mini Cooper
Let’s Eat St. Petersburg
Picturesque Photography & Gifts
Larabar nutrition bar from fruits and nuts
Max International antioxidant performance weight loss
Cannondale bikes
Bayfront Medical Center Brain Injury Prevention Program

The Bicycle Bash by the Bay is co-sponsored by the city of St. Petersburg

Check out the Florida Bicycle Association’s table – The Florida Bicycle Association is having its annual ProBike ProWalk conference in St. Petersburg this week from Oct. 20 to 23.

Check out the groups and clubs of the Bicycle Bash by the Bay:

St. Petersburg Bike Club
Tampa Bay Freewheelers
Seminole Heights Bicycle Club
Suncoast Cycling Club
The Hillsborough County Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee
University of South Florida Cycling Team
God’s Pedal Power
Tampa BayCycle
Police Unity Tour
Tour de Cure
Adventure Cycling Association
BACS -- Bay Area Commuters Services
PSTA-- Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
TBARTA -- Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pumping Up The Volume

Is there a more revealing set of statements about the state of our economy than these desperate pleas for one's bicycle pump.