Tag Archives: Florida

My Fun Ride

I should have written this post last Friday but my free time has been very limited lately. One of the reasons for that is that I turned 50 on Tuesday, but I will talk about than soon.

I was lucky enough to not only get the Fourth of July off from work, but also the fifth. My wife had to work so I decided to take the bike out for a fun ride. I left pretty early, about 7:30 or so. My plan was to ride a little past Downtown Dunedin to Edgewater Park, which is a linear park along the intercostal Waterway. I often pass by in the car and I never think to bring my camera along, which is too bad, because on many mornings the water is like glass and there are some beautiful pictures to be had. This time I put my camera in my seat pack and headed down the Pinellas Trail. The weather was perfect and I was able to choose my destination for the first time in months.

Pinellas Trail, Dunedin Florida

Not far from home on the Pinellas Trail

Pinellas Trail, Dunedin Florida

A view from the Pinellas Trail

Pinellas Trail, Dunedin Florida

Another view from the Pinellas Trail

When we moved to Dunedin in June, it was the third time I moved back to the city after moving away for one reason or another. Something keeps pulling me back and riding down the trail on a lazy Friday morning it is easy to see what it is. It seems peaceful here with great views along the water and a town with a bit of “culture” that caters to cyclists, probably since the trail runs through the middle of downtown.

Dunedin Marina

Dunedin Marina

Edgewater Linier Park in Dunedin

Edgewater Linier Park in Dunedin

Edgewater Linier Park in Dunedin

View from Edgewater Park in Dunedin

Old pier pilings

Old pier pilings

20130705_Dunedin - Edgew_2737I rode through the downtown area, past the marina and to the point that I wanted to photograph. Unfortunately the water was not as smooth as I had hoped for but I was still able to take a few good pictures before my hunger pains intervened. I had not eaten anything that morning so I thought I would stop at The Boxcar before heading home.

The Boxcar Cafe – photo from yelp.com

The Boxcar is a little café and store inside an actual boxcar on the trail in Downtown Dunedin. The Pinellas Trail was created from abandoned railroad tracks so it seems fitting that it is located where it is. I thought I could stop for a while and get a bagel and a cup of coffee. It has been a while since I have been there but I was not expecting to see it closed. There was a sign on the window about some type of organic business coming soon but I don’t remember exactly what it said. I just remember being hungry and having no good option. I didn’t want to go to a restaurant so I just headed home.

View of Downtown Dunedin from the Pinellas Trail

View of Downtown Dunedin from the Pinellas Trail. The Boxcar is just past the stop sign.

I rode about eight miles that morning, less than one way to work, but I loved the fact that I had nowhere that I had to be and I could just ride for the fun of riding. Next time I will eat first so I won’t feel the need to go home as quickly.

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Change of Scenery

The other day I decided to take a different route to work. I was looking for a change of scenery and found a way to work that seemed safe and added a mile and a half to my ten-mile trip. Since I actually wanted to ride a little further this seemed like killing two birds with one stone.

The new route was easier. I got on the road near my home and stayed on it for at least half the trip. It was a busy road but it went through a newer part of town so it was well planned with bicycle lanes the entire trip. It was also good because it allowed me to keep a faster pace than usual. I actually spent part of the ride passing cars that were stuck in traffic. Since I didn’t have so many turns and stops, I made it to work in one hour and five minutes, just about my usual time on the shorter ride.

Unfortunately, it seems with every silver lining there is a dark cloud. I assume Florida is not home to every idiot driver in North America but it sure has more than its share. I talked about bicycle lanes in another post, Riding on Sidewalks. In that post I mentioned almost getting hit by the mirror of a passing truck. This time I had a car drift into the bike lane and barely miss me. That forced me over to the far right of the lane where a pickup truck,  two vehicles later, also drifted into the bike lane. I guess I was lucky the first car forced me over. It also seemed that every large vehicle, such as buses, would come uncomfortably close when passing me.

If anyone is curious, I recorded that trip and a few others using mapmyride.com. They have a nice feature that uses Google Earth to show a “Flyover” of the route. I tried to embed the video code directly into this page but for some reason it did not work. Some of my maps are private because they go directly to my home so if one does not work, try another. If you sign up, feel free to send me a friend request.

I decided to stick with my older route for now and rode home from work that way. If I want a change of pace I will have to go riding on the weekends, but that is time reserved for my wife. We bought her a bike a few months ago but it was too hot for her then. After that, her seat hurt so I bought her a comfy seat but then her wrists hurt from leaning forward on the ride. I few weeks ago I looked at another recumbent bike that I would really like to have but can’t afford it now. Rose said that perhaps after Christmas I could get a new recumbent and she could have my current one. Then she would ride with me. No comment!

In other news, on the way home on my ride mentioned above, my chain fell off while changing gears. It was dark at that time and even though the street I was on had lights, it was still difficult to see. I put the chain back on and then got back on the road but when I tried shifting to a higher front gear, the shifter broke apart and I was stuck in the lowest gear. I had to finish the last three or four miles of my trip in that gear.

I ordered a new shifter, that I think is correct, and it should arrive tomorrow or Wednesday. Hopefully I will be able to figure out how to install it. In the mean time it looks like I will be driving to work.

Endurance Progress

Today marks the first time I have ridden my bicycle to work four days in a row, and if you don’t count the weekend, it has actually been seven in a row. I realize for some of you, riding twenty miles a day is nothing, but less than three months ago I needed a day of rest after just one day of riding.

What I think is really great is that, unlike a gym membership, I feel like I want to ride even more. Since the rainy season here in Florida is almost at an end, there will be little to stop me from never driving again, except my wife. She likes it when I get home before her so I can take care of the cats and make something for dinner. Oh, the complexities of life…

I must say that my wife does deserve a little pampering. She works very hard and treats me well. As an example, when I got to work on Tuesday I noticed a big tear in the seat back support. I pulled it off the bike when I got home, washed it, and my wife, Rose, sewed it for me. She was concerned that the thread was not black but I couldn’t care less. I am just glad I didn’t have to park the bike while I waited for a new mesh back.

Sun EZ-1 Mesh seat back repair

Nice repair, huh? Should I complain about the thread color?

Riding on Sidewalks

It has been longer than usual since my last post. I have been busy creating a couple of new blogs (which i will add to my blogroll) but the main reason is I wanted to get a photograph for this post but I misplaced my camera. I thought I left it at work so I didn’t look to hard here at home. It turned up this weekend in my car but now the weather is bad again.

The issue I have is with riding on sidewalks. I know any hardcore biker would laugh at us armatures on the sidewalk but I have to say there are some area where I don’t feel safe on the road.

I ride about ten miles to work and about one mile, maybe a little less, is spent on the sidewalk. Perhaps a third of that is going against traffic.

When I was a child visiting my grandparents in Clearwater, Florida, I was scolded by a police officer for riding my bike on the sidewalk. Since then I always assumed it was illegal. When I was older I moved to Florida and have lived here since 1988. In all that time I have never looked into the law until just a few months ago.

Your state might be different but here is what the Florida statute says:

Sidewalk riding(Section 316.2065(10) and (11), F.S.)

A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
Comment:  Sidewalks are not designed for bicycle speeds, but a bicycle propelled by human power may be used except where prohibited by local ordinance…

A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.

I took out some of this regulation to keep my readers awake but there was a point in there that riding against the flow of traffic on a sidewalk was legal but dangerous because drivers pulling out of driveways are not expecting anyone from that direction.  It also said a bicyclist was three to four times more likely to be hit by a car while riding in the wrong direction. I am always careful but I need to be extra vigilant when riding against traffic.

I don’t like riding on sidewalks. Often they are uneven, and coming up from behind a pedestrian sucks because I feel I am invading their space and I should not expect them to move out of the way. I am also embarrassed when a  tough-as-nails cyclist rides by on the same busy street that scared me onto the sidewalk.

The bike lanes are a good alternative and many roads in the area have them but they are not perfect. I think I mentioned that a truck’s mirror came within inches of hitting me in the head while I was riding in the bike lane. The other problem is that most of the road debris ends up on the side of the road where the bike lane is. It can be tricky (and unsafe) maneuvering around the mine field of glass, pieces of metal and other crap. This is where I wanted to add a photo but I will just have to update this post when I have one.

If anyone has any thoughts or tips, I would love to hear them.

 

The Photo Biker

I have been a photo enthusiast since my dad gave me a camera at around age ten. At eighteen I would bring my camera to parties. I know everyone takes pictures at parties now but in 1981, I was the only one doing it. Back then I was not interested in quality, only memories.

When I was around twenty-four my, dad gave me his Canon F1 camera, which was top of the line back then. My best friend Rick, who was in photography school,  taught me the basics, which got me interested in fine photography. That fall I took a photography class at the community college, which I loved. I took another class in the spring before moving to Florida. Money issues then stopped me from continuing that path but I never stopped enjoying it. You can see some of my photographs here.

When I moved back to Florida recently, I had difficulty finding a job and only worked part-time for a while. I have a Canon T1i that I would take on bike rides to nearby nature parks or I would ride along the Gulf looking for a good picture opportunity.

Pilings at Edgewater Park, Dunedin, Florida

Not far from downtown Dunedin, FL. Would have been a better photo at high tide.

As I mentioned in another post, you see a lot more while riding a bicycle than you would driving a car. Because of that, I almost always carry a camera with me. You probably would not have guessed that by the very few pictures I have put on this blog, but I plan to do better.

My Canon is too big to take to work so I have a little 12 megapixel Fujifilm XP20 camera that I keep in my pocket. It is waterproof, shock proof (although I have not tested that), dust proof and probably other proofs too. The pictures are not as good as the Canon but they are good enough and it has HD video that is easy to use.

I had this camera with me when I saw an unusaul looking turtle crossing the bike trail. I thought about stopping and taking its picture but I didn’t because a turtle on pavement was a boring, un-natural picture. I regret it now because I later searched online to see what breed it was but couldn’t find it. Who knows. It may have been super rare and I could have proven it’s existance…Or not.

I did get a chance to use my camera last week. I have been blogging about a rooster that lives on our property (romeorooster.blogspot.com) that had been missing for a couple of weeks until I spotted him on my bike behind a nearby plaza. He was standing next to a duck, which was also seen on our property, and her ducklings. I was able to use the photos I took in my next blog post.

My hope here is to inspire people to bring their camera with on their next bike trip. Even if you take no pictures, just having it with you causes you to notice things that you may not have paid attention to before.

Thanks for reading and if you have any photos taken while riding, I would love for you to share the link.

A Casual Ride

I bought a new, more comfy seat for Rose’s bike in hopes that she would join me on a ride, which she did on Saturday. Her friend Michelle also joined us, both on their new bicycles.

I finally felt like I wasn’t the newbie anymore as we rode the two miles or so to the park. I wanted to get a photo of me on my bike for the header of this blog so I asked Rose to photograph me at the park.

I made two big mistakes. I failed to mention I needed a wide-angle photo and she took a close up of me. I also failed to look at the photo she took. I just assumed it was good. Lesson learned.

When we got home, Rose complained about how hot she was and I realized that I did not even notice the heat while we were riding, which is unusual for me because I tend to enjoy a very narrow temperature range. I guess us humans can get used to almost anything, even this Florida heat.

More Bad Weather

I knew when I bought my bike that we were at the beginning of the rainy season here on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Often the rain comes from small rain clouds that pop up, deposit a light to moderate rain for a short time during the late afternoon, then blow on by.

That kind of rain does not concern me and I can live with getting wet. Unfortunately, what I have seen lately is heavy rain accompanied by lightning. That is something I do not want to have to ride through so my bike has been stuck in the closet since Monday.

The good news is that it is not lonely in there anymore. The other day, as I was filling the gas tank of our car, I noticed a women’s Trek Bicycle at the pawn shop next door. My wife and I looked at it and found it to be in good shape and very light so we put a deposit down on it. We got it yesterday and now it sits in the closet next to my bike waiting for drier weather.

I just checked the weather for tomorrow and it calls for a 60% chance of thunderstorms for my trip home from work. I think I would ride to work if the chances were 30%, perhaps even 40%, or if it was just rain and not thunderstorms.

I supposed I have become a little spoiled but I remember the last time I got caught in a heavy rain. I could not look in front of me while I was riding. I had to look down at my front tire and occasionally take a quick glance up to make sure I wasn’t going to hit anything. I also forgot my iPod was in my pocket. Do they make waterproof iPods now?