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Florida cycling starts to picks up speed
By Jessica Mundie, Times Correspondent
Published February 13, 2008
Touring bicyclists come into their own this month, and each season they seem to enjoy Florida cycling more. This is the non-racing bunch, and their enthusiasm and participation always runs high, mostly due to the area's perfect cycling weather.
Northern riders have a strong presence in local pelotons, and they say the weather here is the best in the country for cycling. Check out the team vans at the start of regular local rides. Cyclists in the area know they are fortunate to be able to pedal without layers of thermal tights and jerseys.
BIKE SEBRING: One of the first events on Florida's 2008 bicycle touring calendar is Bike Sebring 12/24, Friday though Sunday in Sebring. This endurance event is a charity event by the Rotary Club of Highlands County.
Ride registration will be held Friday at the Four Points Sheraton near Chateau Elan from 6 to 9 p.m. The 24-hour event is a non-drafting endurance event, designed to challenge participants to ride as many miles as possible. It is sanctioned by the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association.
All riders will begin at the 12 Hours of Sebring racetrack at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, with the 12-hour portion ending at 6:30 p.m.Riders in the 24-hour portion will finish at 6:30 Sunday morning. The 24-hour finishers will then be qualified for Ride Across America RAAM.
Each year at Bike Sebring 12/24, there are rider categories for individual age divisions, novice, tandems, recumbents and handcycles. The mileage ridden has varied from 100 to 471 miles. The 471-mile rider was Larry Graham (male 45-49 division), who set the course record in 2006 on a recumbent bicycle for the 12-hour drafting event.
For more information on ride registration, housing and scheduling, head to www.bikesebring.org or call Mark Andrews at (863) 385-3936.
RAAM: For those interested in the ultimate ultra-distance cycling event, RAAM is June 8, and the 3,000-mile route starts in Oceanside, Calif., and ends in Annapolis, Md.
Outside magazine editors call the 26-year event "the toughest endurance event on the planet - the top run of the ultra endurance ladder.
Sign up for the RAAM mailing list at www.raceacrossamerica.org.
TOUR DE CURE: The American Diabetes Association has announced Tour de Cure 2008, which is March 9 in Venice, and early registration and packet pickup will begin at 6:30 a.m. More than 30,000 cyclists across the country participate in this annual fundraiser.
The 100-mile ride begins at 7:30 a.m, the 60-mile ride starts at 8, the 35-mile event is at 8:30, and the 15-mile ride starts at 9. All riders must raise a minimum of $150 to participate.
For information on ride routes, registration and the host hotel, e-mailKen Gibson at email@example.com or call (813) 885-5007, ext. 3110.
To learn more about fundraising, go to www.diabetes.org/tour or call 1-888-DIABETES.
12 HOURS OF SANTOS: Florida's premier mountain biking endurance event, the 12 Hours of Santos, is Saturday at Santos Trails in Ocala. Team and solo competition will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Hosted by Gone Riding there will also be a 12-minute relay for kids.
For information on camping, practice riding, registration, volunteering and pit crew rules, call Terry and Dave Berger at (352) 873-9279 or check out www.goneriding.com.
GOOD LIFE GAMES: Organizer Kathleen Fitzgerald announced that the pre-registration deadline is Friday.
The 29th annual Pinellas County Senior Games, widely known as Good Life Games, consists of sports and activities such as badminton, bocce, cycling, golf, disc golf, race walking, running, swimming and more. Athletes must be at least 50 years of age to play.
"The Fort DeSoto (Park) venue is very popular," Fitzgerald said. "Riders feel very safe out there, and the traffic is minimal. It's nice to have such a good place to have our athletes racing."
Riders wishing to register for cycling events (5K and 10K non-drafting time trials) may do so early on the race day, Fitzgerald said. The Good Life Games cycling events will be at Fort DeSoto Park in Tierra Verde on March 1, and they will be qualifying races for the Florida State Senior Games.
To learn more about Good Life Games cycling events, call race director Suzanne Henslee at (727) 642-3929 or visit www.goodlifegames.org.
CHILLY WILLY: The duathlon is Sunday at Fort DeSoto Park at 8 a.m., with distances of run 2 miles, bike 10 miles and run 2 miles.
The event is sanctioned by USA Triathlon. Helmets are required, and many different styles of bicycles may be used such as hybrids, and mountain, road and triathlon bikes.
To register or volunteer, call Joe Fernandez at (813) 874-7223.