Messenger Archive: Winter 2005

FBA to join race promoters in outreach program

by Raphael Clemente

Of all the different types of cyclists that ride the roads, racers and hard-core club riders are the most visible.

Unfortunately, in some areas they are also a leading cause of motorist hostility toward cyclists. While they are more prevalent and problematic in populated areas like Palm Beach County, Miami, Tampa and Orlando, some very big training rides occur in smaller towns like San Antonio and Palm Bay. Offensive, out of control, rude, dangerous, insane— drivers, public officials, and law enforcement officers often use these words to describe some of the group training rides that occur all across the state. Friction between cycling groups and other road users has reached critical levels in the following and other places:

Clermont — Police refuse to permit sanctioned bicycle races on country roads long used by cyclists.

Jupiter Island — The mayor was given a one finger salute by a fired-up pack of riders after he blew his horn at them. He responded by ordering the town police to crack down on the unruly bunch.

Key Biscayne — Hundreds of racers and triathletes train for competitions, battling each other for supremacy, and with automobiles for pavement.

The challenge: convince the hardcore racer-types that obeying the law and sharing the road is cool. Yeah, right. This is the equivalent of telling James Dean to drive the speed limit, buckle up and quit smoking. Bicycle racers and serious club riders are a testosterone/estrogen driven bunch who get satisfaction from bucking the system—en masse!
To connect with them we have to go to the one thing they all relate to: racing.

On December 5, FBA executive director Laura Hallam and I attended the Florida bicycle race promoters' meeting in Winter Garden. Just about everyone who puts on bicycle races in the state was either present or sent a representative. After a quick round of introductions we had a very productive discussion that came to a close with all in agreement that we need to work together to confront this challenge.

Two of the most outspoken and influential members of the group, Tim Molyneaux of Atlantic Shores Velo and Zahid Buttar, founder of Festival of Speed and Florida, had some excellent ideas for making inroads with the racing community. Some of the ideas discussed at the meeting were marketing and publicity campaigns, funding schemes, and membership drives focused on racers. With over 2,000 USCF licensed racers in Florida, the potential for increasing FBA membership is significant. We just have to figure out how to properly market it to the racing community.

While the full program is still in the planning phase, some of the first steps have already been taken. Most importantly, a meeting with the top racers in the state will be held to discuss the issue and request their participation as spokespeople. By getting riders that everyone looks up to involved with FBA and promoting safe cycling, we are taking a huge step in the right direction. Just like Lance and Trek (…and Oakley, and Nike, and Subaru, and Powerbar, and Cheryl Crow…), product placement is the key! If we slap an FBA logo on the top ten men and women cyclists in the state and get them talking about the importance of being involved with advocacy and sharing the road it'll only be a matter of time before many others follow.

The first event that FBA representatives will attend is a pre-season race on February 5, 2005, in Gainesville. This is a popular race, and has traditionally been the first true test of fitness for anyone who has hopes for success once the real season kicks off later in the month.

We will be signing up new members, distributing information, and gathering ideas to further develop the outreach program. One thing that we have yet to decide is a name for the program. E-mail your suggestions to me at We're looking for something creative, catchy and in line with our mission of getting the racing community involved with cycling advocacy and in harmony with other road users.

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Wheelers donate bicycles for South Broward kids

The South Broward Wheelers (SBW) Bicycle Club spent $5,000 this year to purchase 132 bicycles, helmets and locks for children who are in protective shelters or other social programs, including foster care.

For the third consecutive year, SBW was featured on a local WPLG-Channel 10 “Magnum’s Force” segment with the donations.
The bicycles went to five organizations: Women in Distress (third year), Children’s Home Society and The Village South (second year), and Kids in Distress and Children’s Medical Services of Broward County (first year).

Organizations received the bikes, helmets, locks and other items (including t-shirts, hats, rulers, and other things donated to SBW) and distributed them to children in their own programs. Bicycles were purchased at a discount at the Target store in Plantation, Florida. Store employees worked dilligently to get the bikes set up and loaded into the organizations' trucks. SBW members were also there to help out.

SBW used most of its sponsorship money from this year's November 7 Century to make the purchases. The 132 bikes almost doubled last year's 68 (which almost doubled the first year's 38). This is a program SBW hopes to continue to grow in the coming years. For information contact Neil Starr at 954-424-3513 or

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Quest for balance

by Zahid A. Buttar

I remember when Kim first told me she was pregnant with our daughter, Aliya. It was August 2002, and I woke up to her hopping around with a pregnancy tester, laughing and saying, "We're pregnant! We're pregnant!" Although ecstatic about the prospect of a child, I knew the end of my athletic career had just begun. Now, two years and four months later with the December 13 birth of my second child, Asad, I have realized that, indeed, my athletic career is in what those in the equity options business call a downtrend, a series of lower highs and lower lows. It is a strange experience to be in a simultaneous uptrend with life and a downtrend with something that is extremely important to me: physical well-being and the mental well-being that comes with it.

For the last 20 years or so, I have been at the elite level of some sport (first running, then swimming, then cycling, then triathlon and then cycling again). I've lost more fitness in the last two years than most people will gain during a lifetime. And—unless you're part of a handful of social misfits that consider “together time” riding a bicycle 70 miles on a Saturday morning averaging 30 mph and then riding 120 miles on a Sunday morning averaging 28 mph—you could never tell.

But I can. And THAT really wears me out mentally. I'm out of balance. For the first time in my life, I consistently don't have my balance.

My focus is no longer me or fitness but rather a business, a family and a 20-month-old kid who is becoming more and more fun by the hour. For the first time in my life, I'd rather be lying on the stretching mat talking gibberish with my little girl than suffering like a dog at 99.9% of my physical limitations. I'm coming to think that the game of life is centered around achieving and staying in balance, regardless of the circumstances, a lot like chess, where, regardless of the circumstances, you always have a choice. There's 100% accountability for your outcome because nobody but you makes the moves. And the best part about chess is that, although you can take your time, a move HAS to be made for the game to progress.

Just like life.

Make a move and you'll progress. Don't make a move and you'll rot. If you don't make a move, there is no game—in chess or life. The outcome of this game probably won't be known until I die. By then I'll either have won the quest for balance based on my actions and reactions or I'll have lost based on my actions and reactions. I do have some objective measures that will indicate to me that I'm on the right track? One I have in mind is to take Aliya, Asad and Kim on a month-long camping trip to Montana in April 2008—the month Aliya turns 5.

Of course there are intermediate goals and ways to track them, and, with 2005 beginning, it's time to focus on the game for the next 12 months. Exactly how do I plan on balancing my professional self (event promoter & nutritional advisor) with my athletic self and my dad self? I'm not 100% sure but the plan looks something like this:

  1. Arrive alive. There is no room for error in riding now. In August 2001 I got hit by a car so hard that it ruptured my left quad, dislocated both shoulders and messed me up mentally so much so that I couldn't keep a straight line when a car drove up on my left. And I was lucky. As I've learned, the number of driver/cyclist fatalities is increasing. There are things I can do to minimize the odds. Some I've learned through years of riding but I learned A LOT more recently through the Florida Bicycle Association and League of American Bicyclists course called Road 1, which is both challenging and informative. The most interesting thing I learned was the lack of connection between the people who build our roads and the voices of all those who use those roads—especially cyclists. I also discovered a very different side to a good friend, Rafael Clemente, a big voice in cycling advocacy. His presence as a racer in advocacy circles demonstrates that cycling advocacy issues are the responsibilities of ALL riders—not just commuter and group riders. Supporting safety at this point in my life gives me balance.
  2. Focus on the things that I can do. There are many things that I can't do but one thing that I can do is to help a cause that transcends modality. Our event business promotes running, triathlon, duathlon, cycling and inline skating events. What do those have in common? All of these participants can benefit from cycling advocacy. Even if you only run, chances are you have friends that either ride or do triathlons or you know someone who has kids who ride bikes. Last time I checked there were no qualifications to getting hit by a car. It's equal rights for cyclists, triathletes and kids (and even runners). Participants at our events can expect to see an advocacy presence there—especially our events that have free seminars and expos associated with them. Giving back to the community in this manner gives me balance.
  3. Adjust my definition of being athletic. I have already done this! I discovered that riding my Trek 5900 with a trailer up and down the Cady Way trail with my daughter in the trailer is as much fun as anything else I've done. It's just not as hard. I've changed my definition of me as an athlete from being a competitor to being a participant and empowering those who compete. It feels truly okay to go at “recovery pace” for the majority of things I do now (riding, swimming, running and rowing). When I do feel the need for speed occasionally I get that fulfilled at a group ride. Redefining myself for this chapter is necessary for my balance-and I'm cool with it. Will these three seemingly simple things aid my quest for balance? I'm really not sure, but that's the good thing about chess—you can change on a dime, take a break, reformulate your thinking and then try again.

I do know this though: my kids will get to see me race a bike someday—that will give me balance.

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Off-road riding...
Avoiding bonk

by Rudy Miller

Bonk is the term bikers and athletes use to denote the feeling of sudden, complete loss of energy.

Your body has reached the point where you no longer want to continue any form of exercise. Typically this happens to bikers who are trying to complete a long ride, usually in excess of two hours. First look at what causes this physical reaction and then look at how to avoid bonking.
Your body makes fuel from carbohydrates, fat and protein. Your body stores glycogen (a partially soluble, starch-like substance produced in your liver, muscles and tissues) that is converted to simple sugar, as the body needs it.

Most people have sufficient body fat to live for many weeks without food, but bodies do not burn fat well without either glycogen or carbohydrates converted into simple sugar (Letting your bodies consume the protein in your muscles is not desirable and is also a slow process.) Based on my experience as a bicycle ride guide, persons who have not trained their bodies to store excess amounts of glycogen, can usually bike for about an hour and forty minutes before they bonk. If these riders have not consumed any carbohydrates during this time, they will bonk.

When this happens, they feel miserable, have no energy and usually have a rather dismal outlook if they are not near the end of the ride. While they have plenty of body muscle and fat, their bodies are not prepared to consume these without carbohydrates or glycogen.

To avoid bonking, you need to consume quick energy-producing food products throughout your ride. Don’t wait until you bonk and think that by eating then, you will quickly recover. Eating then will help, but you will be unlikely to enjoy the rest of your ride. Some of the commonly used energy drinks and foods are Cytomax, Gu, Power Gel, Power Bars and similar sports energy products.

I have read that biking legend, Lance Armstrong, drinks Cytomax on his grueling, long rides. Personally, this is my energy drink of choice. In a typical 4 hour ride, I will consume about two, large bike bottles of a Cytomax mixture using two scoops per bottle (twice what is recommended) along with plenty of water from my Camel-Bak.
Cytomax is available at health food stores and bike shops. The manufacturer claims the drink takes the “burn” out of muscles by reducing the lactic acid by about 40%. It can be used both during exercise and also as a recovery drink. Since you need to be drinking liquids anyway, this is an easy way to also replenish other system needs and since it is a liquid, it gets into your blood stream and to your cells more rapidly than food requiring digestion. Gu and Power Gel come in small, sealed packets with a thick syrupy consistency. These, too, are rapidly absorbed by the body, producing a noticeable effect within 15 minutes.

Typically these types of products contain calcium, carbohydrates, sodium and potassium. Use of bananas and honey is almost as effective and less expensive but more difficult to haul with you. Power Bars, and similar products, usually contain some protein, dietary fiber, and fat in addition to the items previously mentioned in the liquid products. These bars take longer to digest, but they also last longer in your system.

The simplest solution is to consume some of these food and drink items BEFORE you get to the point of bonking. It is amazing how few riders bonk if they stop and eat something during the first hour and 20 minutes of their ride. You can train your system to store more glycogen and thus exercise longer before bonking. I tested myself on this about a year ago, drinking only water until I bonked. I lasted a little over 3 hours. Actually bonking helped me remember why I want to avoid bonk.

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the future of bicycling: youth profiles...
Starting young

by Lyndy Moore

Faith Neal age 12
Cape Coral, Touring Cyclist

How does a seven month old baby girl spend a weekend with her grandparents? For Faith, it's not in a stroller but in a bicycle baby seat carrier! And to whom does she look to pedal her around town? Her grandparents, Charlie and Lee Leibold, of course.

Her first bike ride was also a first bike camping event since they spent the weekend at Lake Manatee State Park. This started a family tradition that now has Faith's younger brother Kyle interested and vying for bike time. Faith was almost 3 when she did her first official multi day bike event, the Mt Dora Bicycle Festival. For this event, her grandparents rented a baby trailer and they all had a great time.

Bike Florida 2001: A Space Odyssey brought many firsts for Faith. It was her first weeklong bike tour and her first long day in the saddle as stoker for 70 miles with her grandpa riding captain. On Monday of that week, Faith was a combination flower girl/bubble girl for a wedding on the ride. Two other special memories from that week are the petting farm rest stop along the route in Volusia County and a bridge that provided a 27mph downhill for the tandem team. It was her fastest descent and Faith and her family still talk about the thrill it provided for an 8 year old.

The most miles in a week occurred in 2002 on Bike Florida's Beach Cruisin'. The many bike trips have provided Faith with the opportunity to have fun with people from all over the world and of all ages rather than her just own age group. Faith has friends from 2 - 85 and some of her best times on a ride are comparing notes with senior citizens or babysitting a two year old at a pool.

One advantage of traveling without parents around is the spoiling that only grandparents can provide. Not only do Lee and Charlie do their share of spoiling, but Faith's "50+ best friends," Linda Leeds and Lyndy Moore, fight over who has the most time with Faith and who is her best friend that week.

Now that brother Kyle is getting ready to take over the stoker position, Faith is testing her solo wheels. Lee and Charlie took both grandkids to the Lake Okeechobee Trail Thanksgiving weekend and Faith rode solo 32 miles one day and 7 the next. Faith is definitely growing up and becoming a beautiful young lady, but she will never outgrow bicycle touring.

Kain Rodriguez age 11
Orlando, Mountain Bike Racer

Kain Rodriguez has been riding since age 4. Mountain Bike Racing looked both fun and exciting and since he enjoys competition he gave it a try at the ripe old age of 6. One of the most memorable seasons was several years ago when Kain was the 6-8 Year Old Florida State Champion. What's remarkable about that season is that Kain won 5 of his 8 races with a broken arm.

Kain says that this season's 8th place finish in one of his junior races was awesome as well. Kain races for the Orlando Bike Works/Busby Flooring Team. As a 10 year old this season, Kain says it's pretty cool being the youngest kid on a bike shop team. His father, Karlos, is also a team member, though he's the rookie in the family since he's only been racing for three years. Kain rides a Specialized S-Works hard-tail and has two impressive goals for next season: make the top five overall and make more friends.

When Kain's not impressing folks on the bike, he's doing so off the bike. He's a fifth grade honor student and has never made a C in his life.
What has helped Kain be successful and what advice does Kain have for us?

  • Work hard, try harder.
  • Having a lot of support when you race helps you perform better. I was lucky to have the support of my family as well as my team.
  • Train in the off season, don't wait until race season to start.

What plans does Kain have for his future? “Becoming a professional bike racer while studying to become a veterinarian,” he says. “If bike racing doesn't work out, I can always play football." With Kain's early victories and his positive outlook on life, we'll be reading more about him and his successes both on and off the bike.

If you know of a Florida bicyclist, high school age or younger, send us their information and we'll try to do a feature on him or her.

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This Issue:

Outreach to racers

Bike donations


Avoiding bonk

Young bicyclists


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