Setting the big payoff in Rails to Trails Bike Ride

Published September 27, 2006

Touring bicyclists, enthusiasts, racers and their families from Citrus County are hosting the 12th annual Rails to Trails Bike Ride at the N. Apopka Ave. Withlacoochee Trail Crossing in Inverness from 7-9 a.m. on Oct. 1.

This ride is an enjoyable tour not a race and each fall attracts riders who want to get in fitness miles on a scenic, gentle course while supporting Florida Department of Environmental Protection Greenways and Trails.

Rides are 14 miles, 32 miles, 46 miles, 60 miles and 90 miles. Triathletes who are training for upcoming Ironman events may choose to loop around on the Withlacoochee State Trail, which is 46 miles on the most popular route.

For more information, call (352) 527-3263 or e-mail octbikeride@earthlink.net.

STRANGEMAN'S BEACH BIATHLON: The 14th annual biathlon will start at Palm Pavilion in Clearwater Beach at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 14.

Clearwater race director Steve Strange, a top Clydesdale triathlete and cyclist, expects one of the biggest fields ever. The event consists of 2-mile run, .25 mile-swim, 2-mile run and .25-mile swim. Top five in most divisions will win awards.

"This year's Strangeman's Beach Biathlon will be the biggest yet," Strange said. "So many have called early because they want to race near the Ironman 70.3 swim course. I think the athletes are already getting into the spirit because of that race, which will be in November. They say they want to get a feel for the course here out on Clearwater Beach."

To register or volunteer, e-mail Suzanne Henslee at zanna@tampabay.rr.com or call Henslee at (727) 642-3929.

GREAT FLORIDIAN: Fred Sommer and his CFT/Sommer Sports staff and volunteers welcome all multisport enthusiasts for race weekend at the Great Floridian Triathlon XVI at Clermont's Lake Minneola Waterfront Park on Oct. 21 at 7:30 am. Widely known as "the people's Ironman" because there is no official qualifying race required, the GFT is a full Ironman distance triathlon: swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles.

In the past, members of the St. Pete Mad Dogs have constructed theme water stops, including a Halloween haunted house, a pirate ship and a Hawaiian luau, complete with music, palm trees and hula dancers.

The GFT is only one of three triathlons taking place on Oct. 21. Other events include the 22nd annual Florida Challenge Triathlon (half Ironman triathlon distance: swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles) and the shorter Super Sprint Triathlon. Call Sommer to compete or volunteer at (352) 394-1320 or e-mail fred@sommersports.com.

SAND KEY TRIATHLON: St. Petersburg pro triathlete Hank Campbell continued his winning streak by sprinting to a victory at Sunday's triathlon in Clearwater's Sand Key Park. Triathlon distances were swim 1/3 mile, bike 11 miles and run 3.1 miles, with Campbell, 27, winning in 55 minutes flat. The women's winner was Hollie Kenney, 34, of Baltimore, Md., in 1:01:23.

SARASOTA RACING: Local USA Cycling racers have been racing hard to earn Florida Series Points. Top locals earning points last week include Carmine Pici (Team Hotmark/Sweetbay) of St. Petersburg, Sheila Mitchell (Outspokin) of Largo, Pascal Yugy (Team Gearlink) of Clearwater and Chris Magazino (BBC) of St. Petersburg.