Bike Florida More Than a Spring Tour
The blog is back and today we welcome guest blogger Joy Hancock:
In case you didn’t notice, Bike Florida has been pretty busy lately. While some of it has been related to our 2018 Spring Tour, we have also been involved with three back-to-back events that have taken the majority of our time and energy. In my short tenure as the Executive Director of this organization I’ve seen that most people believe “Bike Florida” and the “Spring Tour” are one and the same. But we are so much more than that.
October 29-November 3rd: Forgotten Coast Tour (Completed)
Our first event was the Forgotten Coast Small Group Tour. Bald eagles soared overhead as we rode along the Gulf Coast and through wetland preserves. We played with live horseshoe crabs and shucked oysters that had been pulled from the water just an hour before. We took a riverboat cruise through Wakulla Springs where alligators, anhinga, and manatee alike put on a dazzling show.
November 7-November 11: Bicycle Tour Network Conference (Completed)
After a couple days’ rest we were back at it again as hosts for the Bicycle Tour Network’s annual bicycle tourism conference in St. Pete Beach. Bike Florida gathered staff and volunteers to assist with registration, answer questions, and lead daily bike rides out to Fort Desoto. Creative discussions with bicycle tourism visionaries from all over the world started me thinking about the future of Bike Florida, and how with the right people and the right ideas, we could be on the cusp of something bigger than any of us ever imagined. Stay tuned!
November 12-November 18: Saint Johns Small Group Tour (Completed)
This tour was the final stretch, and though the previous two weeks had been great I had some apprehension that we would not have the energy to do our best for this tour. I couldn’t have been more wrong. We took our group to a state park where you make your own pancakes, we went on a trolley tour of historic St. Augustine, and were taken on a guided tour of the St. Johns River. Plus we got to ride the A1A with a MONSTER tailwind. It doesn’t get better than that, does it?
Previously I thought that watching people enjoy themselves on a Bike Florida tour, big or small, was my favorite part of the job. But two things happened over the last week that created an even greater sense of satisfaction. The first was the realization that I have a great team of staff and volunteers with whom I love to work. Never before have I been able to collaborate with a group of people that have so much energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and love for what they do. To Ellis, Big Dave, Munday, Jenny, Ron, Leslie, Ken, Bob, Kendra, Mike, Isobel, Steven, Mary, Leigh, Linda P., Linda C., and all the others who were a part of this thing: thank you. It would not have been possible without you.
The second thing happened on the last day of our Saint Johns Tour on our ride from Palatka to St. Augustine. Along the way Malinda Peeples and the SEA Community Help Resource Center treated our group to a delicious brunch of grits, eggs, biscuits, bacon, and (most importantly) sweet potato pie. We sat in the beautiful pavilion located on the new trailhead of the St. Johns rail trail that goes straight into the heart of Armstrong, and Malinda gave a presentation to our group about their progress towards their dream of building a community center on the trail. Malinda revealed that Bike Florida’s donation of $7,881.00 made to the SEA Community during the 2017 Spring Tour enabled them to complete the purchase of the property on which the community center will be built. While this is just the beginning step of what will be a long journey, I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride in what our organization was able to contribute in such a short amount of time.
These last three weeks have made me see that Bike Florida is so much more than just the Spring Tour. Our small group tours allow for people just getting into bicycle touring to try something a little less intimidating, and with more comfort. On both of our tours this past month we had people who had just started riding bikes, people wanting to get more active, people celebrating birthdays, and people starting off as strangers ending up as friends. We taught people how to change flats, “take the lane”, and that riding a bicycle is the BEST way to discover a new place. We showed people how to relax Florida style.
Most importantly I saw how we are transforming communities through both demonstrating the benefits of physical activity and the economic impact we have on the communities that support our tours. While the residents of Armstrong don’t ride a lot (at least not yet!) Malinda shared with me that people are starting walking groups along the St. Johns trail to battle the obesity and diabetes that is prevalent in their town. If we were to fast forward 10 years, will Armstrong and its residents be active and healthy? Will their community center be completed, and will it be thriving? Will Florida be one of the top destinations to ride a bike in the United States?
I would like to think that the answer is yes.
Joy Hancock is the Executive Director of Bike Florida, and is currently serving as Vice President of the Bicycle Tour Network.
Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association share a common cause in bicycle education and promotion for residents and visitors to the Sunshine State. Share the Road license plate proceeds benefit Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association to further these efforts. What’s on your motor vehicle? Get the Share the Road license plate!
Do you have a bicycle story to tell? Photos to share? Be our guest and be our next guest blogger! Send your story and photos to Becky@floridabicycle.org.
Speaking of stories, our quarterly Messenger newsletter is available online for your internet reading pleasure. Visit the FBA website Home page or click here. Want a hard copy of our Messenger? Join Florida Bicycle Association or visit one of our bicycle shop members!
Complete Streets Savvy, or CSS, is a general bicycle educational presentation. The purpose is to provide basic information with regards to the Florida Department of Transportation’s adoption of Complete Streets policy and how cyclists and motorists can share the road safely. This presentation runs 10 – 15 minutes and is designed for legislators, county and city elected officials, civic organizations and other entities that meet regularly and need informative content. There is no fee. Visit the FBA Presentations page to see our complete line of signature presentations.
Have you heard? We have Move Over for People bill sponsors!! Thank you Senator Baxley, District 12, for filing SB 116 and House Representative Stone, District 22, for filing HB 117. Would you like to work the process with us to see these bills become a law? Visit our Legislative Platform page to learn more about our advocacy initiatives and to sign up for our 2018 Florida legislative session email updates.