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Rails to Trails ride gets record 1,600 turnout
By JESSICA MUNDIE, Times Correspondent
Published October 10, 2007
A strong statewide showing of cyclists showed their support by turning out in record numbers for Sunday's Withlacoochee Rails to Trails Ride in Inverness. Many cyclists took the 40-mile ride, while others rode 75-100 mile routes, winding up and down the paved path through rural Citrus and Pasco counties. Volunteers served lunch to more than 1,600 cyclists who came out for this annual fundraiser.
"We enjoyed 1,500 riders last year," ride organizer Al Harnage said. "This year our efforts were rewarded with a turnout of 1,600. And the money all goes to maintenance and upkeep of the Withlacoochee Trail."
Volunteers displayed information at the postride expo and luncheon, including those with details on Florida Bicycle Association and Share The Road.
Want to join a group of fellow cycling enthusiasts working for a common cause? Check out the following Web sites for opportunities to work on important cycling-related issues in the area:
www.floridabicycle.org: The Florida Bicycle Associationboard of directors includes Seminole's John Sinibaldi Jr. and cycling champion Ralph Clemente of West Palm Beach. FBA works on land access issues, rails to trails programs, Share The Road license plates, bicycle education, and crash support.
www.sharetheroad.org: One of Share the Road's favorite projects is all over the road - the newly designed and colorful share the road tags available for vehicles registered in Florida. Members also work to educate motorists about cyclists on the road and the laws.
www.bikeflorida.org: Bike Florida, founded in 1994, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote safe cycling in Florida. Known mostly for the cross-state ride (with 1,000 riders participating), the Bike Florida training programs are part of the Florida Traffic and Safety Program Network, training teachers, citizens, law enforcement agencies and students.
www.bikesafetyinstitute.com: Bicycle Safety Institute hosts a Web site on cycling safety, including statistics by state, humorous stories, updated photos and encouraging quotes, such as those by USA Cycling coach Joe Friel. Just click on the map for information on each state.
POINTS CHAMPIONS: USA Cycling officials are tallying up the last-minute 2007 Florida Series points after last weekend's races in Pinellas Park. Organizer Pablo Santa Cruz hosted the two days of racing and awards.
USA Cycling racers at the top of the points include the following locals: Master 35+ Mark Yeager (Neptune Cyclery); Master 55+ Mike McCollum (JAX Racing Team); Master 55+ Pascal Jugy (Team GearLink); Master 35+ Paul Kavan (Neptune Cyclery); Women Category 4 Sheila Lopez (Team Outspokin); Women Category 4 Lisa Whidden (Team American Classic); and Junior Steven Rusnak (Team GearLink).
For bicycle racing results, head to www.floridacycling.com.
GEEZERJOCK CHAMPIONS: Sandy Scott is a retired airline pilot and cycling champ, mostly know to his St. Petersburg Bicycle Club training partners from his recent comeback from a serious neck injury. Scott crashed when a spectator walked out on a time-trial course at nationals, but his toughness was really tested when he came back to win several national titles during his rehab.
Scott's most recent win has his SPBC pals smiling. GeezerJock magazine just voted the St. Petersburg resident as this year's recipient of the master athlete comeback of the year award.
Palm Harbor's Patrice Hoffman says she will compete in the GeezerJock qualifying triathlon in Orlando, with the GeezerJock championship triathlon to be held at Orlando's Moss Park on Oct.28. Swimming, track and cycling events will keep many masters athletes such as Scott and Hoffman busy competing at Tampa Senior Games this fall.
To learn more about this magazine, which focuses on masters athletes and their achievements, log onto www.geezerjock.com.
SUNCOAST TRIATHLON: Race directors Joe Fernandez and Freddie Rzymek are expecting a field of 500 competitors for their season-ending sprint triathlon at Fort DeSoto Park. Race date is Oct.27 at 7:30 am.
Race distances for Suncoast Triathlon will be swim one-third mile, bike 10 miles and run 3.1 miles, with a few surprises along the course. Proceeds benefit Friends Of Fort DeSoto Park. Call Fernandez to race or volunteer at (813) 874-7223, or check out www.suncoasttri.com.
LOCALS TO KONA: The following Pinellas triathletes are set to compete at Ford Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on Saturday: Art Halttunen, 57, St. Petersburg; Jennifer Hutchison, 40, St. Petersburg; Marcos Alegre, 71, Largo; Marni Rakes, 25, New Port Richey; and Dean Cosgrove, 47, Tarpon Springs.