The no report Bike Florida report,
the Inverness Bent event,
and the Bike Virginia debacle.

Greeting from the back of the pack.

It has been a very busy first half of year for Judy and I. Our new home in Port St Lucie was finally completed albeit sixty days late. I was registered as rider number 86 for Bike Florida 2004 this year and was eager to ride and camp in the Gainesville area. Last year's Bike Florida 2003 was my first camping touring event and I have been hooked ever since. The original completion date for our home came and went and it became clear that moving day was on a collision course with Bike Florida. As it turned out moving day was the Saturday of Bike Florida. While missing Bike Florida was a very big disappointment moving in to our new smaller, downsized home in St Lucie West has been a joy. And that is why there is no Bike Florida report.

In May the internet Central Florida Recumbent Riders forum was abuzz about a “bent-event” in Inverness. The Central Motel in Inverness became the focal point for a great weekend of recumbent cycling on the Withlacoochee Trail. While there was no official count, because there is no official registration or fees, the best estimate is about 80 recumbent riders were there. I do know there were fifty three rooms rented at the Central Motel, and some local area folks were there also, and some couples camped nearby.

The riders starting arriving Friday afternoon. One room was set aside as a hospitality suite and became the base of operations. Dinner was next door to the motel at a 50’s dinner. Most of the dining area had been set aside for our group and we did fill it up. And the dinner filled us up with great food.

With Inverness being about in the middle of the 44 mile paved trail Saturday morning saw the group heading north to the end and back. Along the trail are various stores and shops and the North section has two bicycle shops adjacent to the trail. It was definitely hot in the afternoon after our ride. We returned to the motel and after a cool shower I laid down for a quick nap. When I awoke, the sun had gone down and I missed having dinner with the group. They had gone in to town. Hence the adage: Ya snooze, ya loose. I just slipped across the street for a quick pizza.

Sunday morning we gathered to ride the southern section of the trail around 9:00 am in the motel parking lot. Along this section there is one bicycle shop that is exclusively for recumbents and is right on the trail.

The dinner next door is a popular Sunday morning breakfast stop and our group of unusual bicycles, tricycles and tandems attracted a lot of attention from the local breakfast goers. One gentleman in his 80’s went for his first recumbent tandem ride. He left grinning from ear to ear. Our group headed south for the days ride and took a “mandatory” rest stop at the bike shop. By mid afternoon we were all back at the Central Motel, packing up and saying our goodbye’s and planning the next bent event.

Missing Bike Florida was such a disappointment for me that Judy suggested I find another ride for this year to go on. While searching the web I came across the Bike Virginia web site. I had heard wonderful things about Bike Virginia from Bruce and Betty Everhart so I checked it out a little further. The Bike Virginia web site stated that this years trip was along gently rolling hills with an average of a 3% grade. As a building inspector I can tell you a 3% grade is the same as a handicap ramp. I just knew this would be one sweet ride to be on.

The timing for the ride was also great and meshed perfectly with our other vacation plans. Judy and I would leave Florida together and for the first week of vacation we would be together fishing and doing some Appalachian Trail exploring. Upon reaching Virginia, Judy would rent a car and drive to our home in North Carolina to visit with her family while I rode Bike Virginia. After Bike Virginia I would drive to North Carolina and spend a few days and we would ride home together. It was the perfect plan.

Friday afternoon I arrived in Bridgewater Va., registered and set up camp. I then went in to town to track down a fly fishing shop. I had seen a TV program about a special trout stream right there in Bridgewater. Saturday was to be local rides and Sunday was the first day we would be moving camp. Sunday’s ride would be 58 miles from Bridgewater College to James Madison College. Camping at Bridgewater was superb. With over 2000 riders the campus was covered with colorful tents and every kind of cycle you could think of. The facilities were perfect along with the meals and all of the Bike Virginia staff. I spent Friday checking out the town of Bridgewater and exploring the college campus. In the late afternoon I went fishing. Saturday morning I again went fishing for a couple of hours and then just hung out around camp. There was just so much to see and do around camp. The evening’s entertainment was Tom Snyder, the “Bicycle Comedian”. If you ever get the opportunity to see this guy do not pass it up. He has been traveling the country for the past 17 years on a bicycle having ridden 125,000 miles doing his standup comedy routine. But he has been on both the Leno and Letterman shows etc. This guy is a riot. He carries 100 pounds of gear on his bike. He has worn out six bikes. The last four have been provided by Cannondale.

Sunday morning it was time to break camp and hit the road. After breakfast I packed up my gear, loaded it on the truck and headed out of town. This was my first bike riding day.

Reality very quickly set in. I do not know what I was thinking. But five miles in to the ride I knew I was going to be in trouble. I was in no way prepared for the hills on this trip. I knew if I did not start walking up some of the larger hills right now I was not going to make it. The weather was nice and cool and I was wearing a tee shirt and vest over my cycling shirt. The Virginia country side was gorgeous. The farms are so meticulous maintained. While the hill climbs were miserable the descents were a real rush, cruising downhill at 35 miles an hour for as much as 2 or 3 or more miles at a time. With virtually no car traffic we had the roads to ourselves the entire day. By the end of the day I was truly beat. I had absolutely no strength in my legs. I had done an awful lot of walking up hills. AKA: Cross-training for a Walk-a-thon. I should have been doing “bridge work” at home to build up some leg strength long before this ride. I frequently ride sixty miles but this flat-lander was not ready for the hills of Virginia. After arriving at James Madison University, and getting a fresh cup of Starbucks coffee and an hour of sitting in the air conditioning I was rather well refreshed and I have to credit having ridden a recumbent for that. Will I do Bike Virginia again? You bet. And I promised myself I will be properly prepared the next time. My next planned bike event is in October in Mt Dora, Florida. Now I can handle those hills.

From the back of the pack, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.