Monthly Archives: May 2009

Nobody walks in Florida

Go for a walk in Florida and you risk being stopped by the police. That was the experience of Viktor, my friend and colleague from Germany.

We were at a work conference in Florida back in February.  The conference was about 40 miles north of Orlando, in a pleasant area covered with orange groves and lakes.   The roads were surprisingly good for cycling.

But like in many places in the U.S., you can’t really walk anywhere.

Viktor, being a good European, wanted to go for a walk after the day’s meetings and before dinner.  So he left the hotel complex and  started to walk along the main road — a 45mph state route.   This apparently was an odd enough occurrence in Florida that the police pulled up and asked what was wrong, and whether he needed help.

“Just going for a walk”, didn’t seem to satisfy them, and they were insistent on giving him a ride … somewhere.

By definition, there must have been something wrong, because no one in Florida would “just go for a walk” out on a main road.  (They apparently didn’t consider that was the ONLY place he could walk, given his starting point).

Once you get beyond this as a good source for jokes … it’s discouraging to consider that this is the sort of mindset that would need to be overcome in order to make more pedestrian- and bike-friendly areas in the U.S.

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Can’t resist racing

When you live in a place that during winter is the butt crack of the universe (*), you need some small glimmer of hope to get you through until spring.  For me, it’s knowing that spring racing will start at some point.

The hours in the basement on the trainer, the rides in sub-freezing temps, the running – yes, running even – are made tolerable by thinking that there will be a race in some number of weeks (counting weeks seems better than months).  I’ll even sit on the trainer and visualize being in a familiar race, say Race at the Lake, and think, “20 more minutes, that’s only 7 laps.”  It’s enough to get through that last stretch when otherwise I’d be tempted to just climb off.

When the racing finally does come — which it did this year the last Saturday in February — I can’t resist doing the races.

A couple of weeks ago, there was hole in the calendar without a decent race option. It looked like Saturday and Sunday would just be training from home. But after racing almost every week since the last Saturday in February, it just didn’t feel right not to race.

So the emails went out late Saturday evening, and a couple of my Carbon Racing ‘mates and I decided to meet up in Aliquippa, PA for the only race within reasonable driving distance.  It was nothing big: a local criterium in a gritty industrial park on the Ohio River.  But the pavement was good (unlike what out local industrial park course has become), the racing was hard, and most importantly, it was a race. We rode pretty well, battled the wind and the PA racers, and finished 2nd and 6th.

It felt like a real spring weekend.

Afterward we drove back to Ohio, bypassing the PA Turnpike extortion ($4+ for about 15 miles), and rode a loop on the Tour of the Valley road race course.  You can see a video of the course here.  It’s going to be hard.  Did I say “hard”?  I meant  “fun”.  Yeah, it’s not going to be hard, it’s going to be fun (keep repeating from now until July).

(*) phrase courtesy Dave Steiner

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