Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snacking For The Cycle In Seminole Heights

Want to see bicyclists going through a restaurant -- check out these cyclists on this afternooon's Hub Grub Ride as they stop by The Refinery (formerly Bungalow Bistro) on Florida Avenue as part of a restaurant bicycle tour in Seminole Heights.

Restaurant Cycling In Seminole Heights

The joys of life are defined by the sight of some 60 bicyclists pedaling down Central Avenue for a tour of eight local restaurants and a new restaurant owner couple inviting us to literally bike through their new restaurant on Florida Avenue and still another restaurant owner advising a swam of bicyclists to bike around his building on Nebraska Avenue and park our two-wheeled chariots on his porch outside the artsy eatery,

Those are just some of warm memories I took today from the inaugural Hub Grub Bicycle Ride -- the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club tour of eight restaurants in the neighborhood of Seminole Heights, Tampa.

After waiting for some rainy weather to move out of town this morning, we bicyclists gathered in front of the Garden Center in Seminole Heights at 3 PM for a six-mile bike ride around Seminole Heights visiting eight restaurants. I arranged the tour because it combined my three pastimes -- cycling, eating and exploring Seminole Heights.

I want to thank three Tampa police officers -- Jason Brocato, Jason and Kevin on bikes, plus car officer Fran -- who did a wonderful job letting us through intersections to get to our culinary destinations.

The bike club's members really came through -- Mike and Yvon Limerick who produced great maps of the route; Rick Hickman who did a nice job inviting folks on Facebook and Doreen Jesseph who came through with a catchy flyer. Our bike club has no by-laws, no membership fees and no titles, so we rely on people's love for bicycling and volunteer time to create events such as the Hub Grub Ride.

Amazingly, despite cool temps and wet weather in the morning, we drew about 60 bicyclists of all ages riding bicycles of all types to show that people really love bicycling in this city.

Let's get this bike-restaurant tour on the road!

Stop 1: Reservations Gourmet-To-Go
The lovely Elke and her husband Anthony were incredible hosts and got the bike ride off to a roaring start.

Everyone loved the food at Reservations.

Not too many leftovers when a gang of bicyclists descend on your restaurant like a horde of locusts.

There's my pals Mike and Yvon Limerick outside Reservations.

Stop 2: Taco Bus

There's Bridget on the road from the Taco Bus to Starbucks

Stop 3: Starbucks
Thank you Tiffany, manager of Starbucks on Hillsborough Avenue for having us.

Two of the most progessive politicians in the Tampa area, Linda Saul-Sena (L) and Pat Kemp (R), chat at Starbucks.

Stop 4: Front Porch

My two favorite T-shirts of the day -- that's Gordon Ridge (L) and Steve Swiger (R)

Thank you Front Porch for your hospitality.

There's Tanja and Jared, newlywoods whose wedding I was happy to attend.

Stop 5: The Refinery (formerly Bungalow Bistro)
Kudos to Michell and Greg Baker AKA The Cuilinery Sherpas who opened up their restaurant for the ultimate drive-through experience. Indeed, we biked right through their dining room while snacking on a delicious seafood dog. The Bakers bought the Bungalow Bistro from Elizabeth Graham and re-named it The Refinery. Good luck Michelle and Greg!

Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena enjoys visiting The Refinery, with Pat Kamp right behind.

Tanja comes through The Refinery.

Jose stops through and snags a square fish hot dog.

Margaret knew this was cool.

This cracks me up. Here's Elizabeth Graham, who sold her Bungalow Bistro to Michelle and Greg Baker, handing out free samples from her salon next to the Refinery.

Twin trailers at The Refinery.

On the way to The Independent after leaving The Refinery (formerly Bunaglow Bistro)

Stop 6: The Independent.
Thank you Veronica for your hospitality and free samples. Craft beer and bicycles -- is there a better combination?

Stop 7: Cappy's
Too bad Cappy's forgot we were stopping by. We went straight from The Independent to Ella's, skipping Cappy's.

Biking on the way to Ella's

Stop 8: Ella's
We biked down Nebraska Avenue and pulled in front of Ella's when the restaurant owner, Ernie Locke, a solid-built dude with a cool beard instructed us to bike around the buiilding and park our chariots on the wooden porch outside the restaurant. Ernie and his crew brought us a terrific display of snacks and 2-for-1 beers.

I was impressed with Ella's potato pancakes -- which is high praise from a guy who has been known to make a potato latke or two.

Bike helmets can come in all shapes and sizes -- as Daniel proves.

I think women who wear their helmets when they're not biking are cool.

Donny from USF is a frequent commenter on this blog.

There's Melissa, co-owner of Ella's and Ernie's wife, with her son Henry and SHBC member Doug Jesseph.

At Ella's, Beth one of the bicyclists still had her bike map showing the Tour de Seminole Heights restaurants.

Ella's art is amazing -- and it goes well with our bicycles.

Hub Grub Ride Still On Today

I know the weather forecast doesn't look good for the Hub Grub Ride this mid-afternoon: scattered showers, breezy, cool temps of 52 degrees.

The ride is still on. I'll be at the Garden Center on Central Avenue at 2:30 PM and the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club will make an assessment regarding the weather before the ride, which is set for 3 PM.

It won't be heavy rain. So I'm hoping we can still do the ride.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hub Grub Ride Set For Saturday

The inaugural Hub Grub Bike Ride -- the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club's bike tour of 8 Seminole Heights restaurants -- is set for Saturday. Please start gathering around 2:30-2:45 PM as the ride leaves promptly at 3 PM from the Garden Center, 5800 Central Avenue.

The St. Petersburg Times did a nice story to preview the Hub Grub Ride.

The eight restaurants are not too far from each other. But I tried to design a bike route that includes several miles of biking while also keeping off Hillsborough Avenue, which can be dicey for a bicyclist in the I-275 entrance and exit ramps area. Here is the line-up of restaurants and our bike tour:

START: Garden Center, 5800 Central Avenue.
Central Avenue south to Osborne, make a left
Osborne to Nebraska Avenue

MILE 1: Reservations Gourmet-To-Go, Nebraska/Osborne corner
Nebraska north to Giddens, make a right, then a quick left into Taco Bus back parking lot

MILE 1.5: Taco Bus, 913 E. Hillsborough
Walk bike through crosswalk across Nebraska and head south
Right on Frierson, left on Taliaferro, right on Osborne, right on Central Avenue

MILE 2.9: Starbucks, Central/Hillsborough
north on Central to Hanna, make a left, go through Florida Ave. intersection, left on Tampa Street, left on Idlewild, make a right into Front Porch side parking lot

MILE 3.9: Front Porch, 5924 N. Florida Ave.
south on Florida Avenue to Bungalow Bistro/The Refinery

MILE 4.4: Bungalow Bistro/The Refinery, 5137 N. Florida Avenue
You can bike right through the side door of the restaurant and out the other side doors! Cross the street and bike south on Florida Avenue for only a minute or two.

MILE 4.6: The Independent, 5015 N. Florida Avenue
Go next door to Cappy's

MILE 4.6: Cappy's, 4910 N. Florida Avenue
south on Florida into Highland, make a left on Osborne and go through Florida and Central intersections to Nebraska Avenue, make a left and go 1/2 mile

MILE 5.9: Ella's, 5119 N. Nebraska Avenue
reverse route and head back to Garden Center. Nebraska, south to Osborne, right turn and go to Central Avenue; right turn and back to Garden Center.

MILE 7.4: Return at Garden Center.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SWFBUD Asks Tampa To Allow Bicycling In Curtis Hixon Park

Dear Karen Palus, director of parks and recreation, city of Tampa:

It's come to my attention that several bicyclists have been told by security at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park that it is not legal to ride a bicycle in this park.

I am writing on behalf of SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), a consortium of nine Tampa Bay area bicycle stores representing thousands of bicyclists, to suggest to you that the city should ALLOW bicycle riding in Curtis Hixon Park. Unfortunately, the city government's reputation for not being friendly, hospitable and accommodating to bicyclists as depicted in several national reports only gets worse when security tells people to stop riding a bicycle in this new big park.

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is an important transition area from the city's riverwalk where people can ride a bicycle to the city's downtown and Ashley Street. The city of St. Petersburg has many waterfront parks that compare favorably to Curtis Hixon and it's a common sight to see bicyclists pedaling through the parks that border St. Petersburg's waterfront.

I hope the city of Tampa's government can take steps to change its unfortunate reputation as a city not friendly to bicyclists and allow bicycle riding in the park. I contacted your department via the TampaGov Customer Service Center regarding this issue, but never heard back.

I also recommend you add more bike racks to the park. On the park's opening day in January, I saw many bicycles locked to the riverwalk railing and also lying on the grass in the park. Bike racks are a good way of getting people to ride their bikes to the park and surrounding businesses while allowing bicyclists to lock their bikes in a secure area.

Thank you,

Alan Snel

Director of SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers
A nationally-recognized consortium of 9 Tampa Bay-area retail bicycle stores committed to bicycle advocacy
Organizer of the Bicycle Bash festival, Florida's 2007 Bicycle Event of the Year

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This Century Ride Included a Mardi Gras Party

You can't sneak a clear, 77-degree day past me and expect me NOT to sneak in a 100-miler today. So, off I went on my 100-mile bread-and-butter ride that includes stops in Flatwoods, Zephyrhills, Dade City, San Antonio, New Tampa and the back to the home base in Seminole Heights.

The highlight was a mardi gras/safe spring celebration at the Pasco Hernando Community College that included free Popeyes's fried chicken, rice with a brown substance on it, and a danish for dessert.

This video shows that Pasco Hernando CC got talent!

This nice fella offered me some beads, but I just didn't know where to hang them on the Trek 2200 road bike.

What's a mardi gras celebration without a segway demo?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Get Better Soon John Sinibaldi!

A Bicycle Stories get-better-soon to John Sinibaldi, a bicycle leader in Pinellas County who was hit by a car driver who turned right in front of him while John was in a bike lane. You might recall John as the emcee of the annual Bicycle Bash festival.

John explained on Facebook:

OK, so there I am, doing a solo easy spin ride at about 20mph or so in the bike lane, when this woman turns at the very last minute right in front of me (no turn signal, of course). Hit her fender, slammed into her windshield, and then cartwheeled over the top.

Bike trashed (I havent'seen it yet), wrenched back, knee and neck, several really impressive hematomas, and shattered my left collar bone again. I'm home, but not ambulatory and very sore.

John provided this update:

I am so banged up I cannot walk, cannot sit comfortably, cannot stand. I feel like I broke every bone in my body. While I only broke my collarbone, I don't think I've ever been this beat up from an accident. Sooner or later I'm going to have to get up to go to the bathroom, and I'm dreading it. Napped for several hours; Percoset is my friend. :)

It's New Battery Time Times 2

It's time for new juice.

The odometer on my Trek 2200 road bike went blank this month at 23,000 miles after three years and three months.

The odometer on my Trek 5200 road bike is failing at 18,200 miles this month after three years and two months.

Wow, that 41,200 miles on two road bikes in a little more than three years. (That's not counting my urban errand bike and my new red coaster bike).

OK, I guess it's time to get new batteries for the two odometers.

Job done and odometers are back to zero.

Time to log a few more miles.

See you out there.

RIP Murray McDonough

Sad news from Tim Butts, president of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club . . .

SPBC Members:

Murray McDonough passed away last Friday. He had been severely injured in a mountain biking accident the previous Sunday in Lakeland .

Murray lived in Tampa and rode over to the SPBC rides Saturday mornings with the South Tampa Posse group. He would usually do the 24 South Ride and, a gifted athlete; he would often take lengthy pulls at high speed. Murray was noted for his unfailing good nature and kindness. All who knew him and rode with him will miss him. I’ve attached a photo of Murray and a group shot with him. He is on the right side of the photo wearing the “Fox” (brand) jersey. His family has set up a memorial page at “”.

There will be a Celebration of Life in memory of Murray at his house in Tampa (Hyde Park) 604 S. Oregon Avenue, on Tuesday (February 23) afternoon from 4 pm to 7 pm. Parking is limited in the immediate area of his house, but there are two parking garages for the Old Hyde Park Village less than two blocks away, as noted on the attached map. There will be “potluck” food at the Celebration. Please let me know today (by 4 pm) if you wish to bring an item.

I considered Murray a friend. I regret that I did not know him better.

Ride on Murray, Ride on.

Tim Butts
President SPBC

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Sweet Gem of Green Called Epps

Epps Park is one of those charming strips of green space you never hear much about in Tampa.

It's a park in Seminole Heights that makes this neighborhood an amazing place to live.

Like the 22nd Street Park, Epps runs along the curvy Hillsborough River and offers shady oaks.

Its access is amazingly narrow -- check out the skinny path that leads to this park that's tucked away on the Hillsborough. I biked the west side of the interstate and Florida Avenue to get a peak at Epps.

Leave those intoxicants at home when visiting Epps.

The path offers great access to the Hillsborough.

Sweet houses front the park.

Every Bike Ride Is A Real Trip

You never who will meet or what you'll find on a bike ride.

This morning's bread-and-butter 46-miler to Flatwoods yielded quite the find: a wallet on Morris Bridge Road owned by a guy named Jose Santiago of Lutz.

I gave the wallet to Eric the ranger at Flatwoods park who was planning to give it to Dean the sheriff's deputy who covers the Flatwoods park area -- and Dean would track down Jose.

But I thought I'd give Jose a call from the phone number on a business card in his wallet. I called and he told me he was already driving over to Morris Bridge Road. I told him to check in with the rangers at Flatwoods.

Jose stopped by the Flatwoods entrance, got in touch with Eric the ranger and wallet and Jose were re-united.

It was nice to know that less than two hours after I found the wallet on the side of the road along Morris Bridge Rd. it was in the hands of its owner.

The halfway point of my 46-miler is a break at Panera Bread in the shopping center across from the Flatwoods entrance off Bruce B. Downs.

At the Highwoods Preserve-Bruce B Downs Blvd. light, I met this guy who loves to hold his sign and cut a few dance moves at the street corner, too.

Check out this guy. America got talent, my friends. Watching the dance was a woman in Moslem garb in a car waiting at the light. Keep that in mind when watching Michael Jackson II pull a few crotch dance steps.

This fella was also happy to pose for a photo.

"But I ain't gonna dance for ya," he informed me.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Get Wordy, Get Fleshy

While cycling home from Flatwoods on 30th Street in Tampa, I biked by my new favorite church name: Word Became Flesh.

I guess when people eat their words at this church, they become born-again cannibals.