Cycling Challenge Complete
Results: Miles, Memories, Momentum
Today we welcome back guest Blogger Kelly Morphy, a Florida-based advocate for healthy communities and an “aging athlete” who serves as Community Engagement Manager for the Love to Ride Florida Challenge.
When I started promoting the Love to Ride Florida challenge in October, I felt confident Floridians would show up by enrolling in the month-long bicycling encouragement program. I didn’t realize, though, how much actual riding we would do!
Despite the pandemic, a hurricane and weather that fluctuated from broiler-hot to bundle-me-up-cold from Oct. 30 through Nov. 30, we logged 263,304 cycling miles together, completed in 13,580 bicycling trips. Of those rides, the ones made for transportation—to get to a destination—prevented 5,555 pounds of vehicular CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere. Take a bow, Florida!
Of all the numbers collected thus far, though, the one most inspiring to me is that 131 people across the state who have hardly ever ridden a bike decided to try out cycling; as part of the program, they hopped (or carefully climbed) on a bike and rode. My mom is one of those people, and now she’s asking me to go bicycle shopping with her. This wouldn’t have happened without the Love to Ride Florida challenge.
Even more important than the numbers, I’m also learning the stories of the lives changed, the families brought together and the personal achievements celebrated through bicycling and through the Love to Ride Florida challenge. Here are some stories shared through the program that remind me what matters most:
“After retiring from the Army, I lost my purpose in life…. Since riding, I’ve lost more than 40 pounds and have started to encourage other Veterans to ride with me. Now we have a small group that meets up and encourages other Veterans who suffer from PTSD. Biking has become an alternative therapy for many combat Veterans.” – Aric Quitugua, riding for the Tampa Bay Cycling Meetup and Facebook Group
“I love to ride at night with my daughter! It gets us out of the house for some exercise, after a long day of digital school, and gives us a chance to talk.” – Brenda Sullivan, riding for Osceola County Riders.
“A few times each week we load the bike up with a bucket and trash grabber and ride to the beach and pick up trash.” – Robert Day, riding in East Central Florida.
“One day we’ll have a big party, but I wouldn’t change anything about our bike ride elopement.” – Laura Hardwicke, riding for the City of Orlando.
“I quit smoking about four and a half months ago because I was afraid I would die if I caught COVID. When I first quit, I started walking around my neighborhood when I wanted a cigarette (I walked a ton!) and eventually a friend suggested biking. After all the walking, biking was a breeze. I bike at least 6 miles a day, which gives me some much-needed breathing room from my work and graduate program. I have straight A’s, I feel great, and my lung capacity is apparently back to normal!” – Alex Lewis, riding in Central Florida.
“My son and I tried something new! The woods are a very different place to ride a bike, so why not try it?” – Miguel Riveros, riding for the Downtown Orlando YMCA.
“Yes, I was concerned about my heart, but I was also concerned that riding was going to disappear from my life. Not a chance! All five doctors encouraged me to ride a few days after my release from the hospital. The caveat was: go easy, back off on the distance big-time and take it slower for now; enjoy nature, take breaks and maybe a picture or two. Here I am one week later: biked 6 miles, went slowly, enjoyed nature and took a long break in the sun with my amazing and supportive Covid Cruiser bike friends.” – Nancy Balassone, riding for the COVID Cruisers of Mount Dora.
“My sister has considerable hardware in her leg from an accident, so to watch her fly down the streets with little to no pain was an absolute joy.” – Christina Allen, Univ. of South Florida.
Some people started the challenge by setting goals they weren’t sure they could meet, and then surprised themselves by going further than they’d planned. Among them is Becky Afonso, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Assoc., who set her sights on cycling 400 miles in 31 days during the Love to Ride Florida challenge. She exceeded her goal by more than 50 miles. Her personal reward? Pizza and a beer!
Becky’s foodie rewards and positive vibes are deserved, not only for meeting her goal, but for Becky’s unwavering support of the Love to Ride Florida challenge and her countless hours helping the program succeed in its inaugural year.
Thank you to Becky, all of the FBA members and supporters, and everyone who cycled last month for this amazing launch.
Next year, let’s hit One Million Miles.
What’s your cycling story? Is it in the Messenger? Our quarterly Messenger newsletter is available online for your internet reading pleasure, just visit the FBA website Home page . Want a hard copy of our Messenger? FBA members have the Messenger delivered to their door every quarter. Join Florida Bicycle Association or visit one of our bicycle shop members to pick up a copy and use the membership form inside to join!