Bike Across Florida '07 (YouTube video & huge review)

CJ Smith

New Member
Sep 11, 2006
Here is a video, now on YouTube, of my BAF weekend

This is my recollection of the endurance cycling event - Bike Across Florida for the year 2007. I will not be surprised or offended if you will find this to be more of a lengthy journal than a quick review of the event. I do want to be perfectly clear in stating that I did enjoy my experience and I have gone as far to say that it was the single most enjoyable and uplifting experience I have had in a long time. I would add that 99% of reason for my statement came from the fact that I love endurance events and my fiancée has never witnessed anything more than a sprint that I took part in on a Saturday morning ride with my cycling club.

Below you will see that I was able to take the time to list the high and the low points of the day for both me and the event itself. I am quite confident that improvements needed could be easily remedied and could, would, and should make next year's event an even better experience for all. I would venture a step further, by declaring that if I am stateside this time next year, I will be volunteering time to the B.A.F. event in hopes that it becomes all that it can be.

Lastly, I would like to mention that the reason I have chronicled this to the last detail is because a year from now - after some extensive globetrotting - I might not remember the particular improvements that riders, myself included, desired for the event.



ONE WEEK TO GO: Precisely one week before the event, I created a word document on my computer where I could track the weather in the towns we would be going through or near during the ride. These included Titusville, Oviedo, Apopka, Mount Dora, Leesburg, Bushnell, Floral City, Homosassa Springs and Crystal River. In the table, which I updated on Wednesday the 28th and Saturday morning, the 31st, I listed the projected Sunday forecast, the Saturday night low temp, the Sunday high temp, the chance for precipitation (%), the direction and speed of the wind, the humidity (%) and the UV Index. You see, if it was at all possible wanted to know exactly what Mother Nature was thinking about dispatching on April Fool’s Day. Next year I will simply forget about Mother Nature altogether. Instead I will be buying and synchronizing watch(es) for any of the race official(s) that hold the power to fire the starting gun (sarc).


ONE DAY TO GO: I woke early enough to get over to Palm Harbor’s Chainwheel Drive bike shop. I was there to purchase what I thought was a cycling cap from the Suncoast Cycling Club, only to find out that it was a baseball style cap (DOH! It’s all good because I get mixed up which athletes ride bikes, baseball players or cyclists… Now I got it straight… Now I am a baseball player!). My next stop was over at Publix (Curlew Road & Alt 19), where I picked up a bag of ice & few things before chatting with the “B Alternate” riders and seeing them off (thanks for the well wishes).

DEPARTURE: Headed to I-4 via Hillsborough. While having breakfast at Cracker Barrel at the Mango exit I noticed something upsetting. One of my aerobar pads had blown off. I was quickly on the phone with a Lakeland bike shop that sells a very popular brand of bicycle. They were absolutely no help what-so-ever. Well, even though they were miles behind me, I called my shop of choice - Chainwheel Drive in Clearwater. The call was taken by a woman who, after explaining my plight, instinctively went to the internet. Less than a minute into the call she return along with another employee who heard the story and knew the phone number for Orlando’s “Orange Cycle” right off the top of his head.

“Wow!” That’s right. This is a moment when you have to say “WOW!”

ORANGE CYCLES: I called them and they gave me simple directions. When we arrived we found the place to be “packed”. I bet there were 6 mechanics on duty and what seemed like a dozen others on the clock. I mean, who wasn’t there? The Specialized Rep. was there… and people – Geez! There had to be 60 customers in there at all times. My fiancée said to me that about 150 people must have come through the doors while we were shopping. I picked up new pads and they trouble shot a pre-existing computer problem with my wireless computer, to which I ended up with a wired Cateye just to end the entire BS surrounding it.

Clif Bloks were $1.49… Powerbar Gel was a buck… and just about everything desired was on sale, pumps, shorts, tool bags, CO2 kits... just name it! The service specialist, Dustin, got me in and out in about 40 minutes, which included Dustin being hit with a barrage of questions from all sorts of people and stopping to help others here and there. It was like watching a man juggle chainsaws… If you are good, you are good. End of story.

TITUSVILLE & THE HOST HOTEL: Just for your information the host hotel, the “Holiday Inn Titusville Kennedy Space Center”, was renamed last Friday to the Riverfront Inn (technically located in Indian River CitySee DeLORME Florida Atlas and Gazetteer) Unfortunately, organizers of Bike Across Florida failed to mention this tidbit on their website. Then again, the website still had links on their pull down menus that returned with “Under Construction” and the event was only a day away (UPDATE: The event is over and still the links to Race Rules, Amenities, Committee, & Volunteers remain “Under Construction” DATE: April 03, 2007).

Never the less, pulling into the hotel parking lot there were all kinds of BAF signs and arrows, some with sponsor names emblazoned on them and others without. One of the sponsors, Land Rover of Orlando, even had their official race vehicles there. Since they had helium balloons tied to them, they were easily spotted from the highway. Another dead giveaway was that each one had decals running along the top of the windshield that said “Bike Across Florida” (Hmm… This must be the place).

As we approached the lobby there were signs clearly posted that stated that the BAF packet pick-up was in room #120. I thought to myself that - so far - navigating this has been a breeze.

Before arriving at the packet pick-up location I overheard someone saying something about the route being shortened. I just blew it off, figuring someone was giving an early April Fool’s Day ribbing to another competitor (more on this later).

Inside room #120 I was instructed by the woman sitting at the first table to find my name and number(s) on a sheet posted outside the room (Heck that was simple enough). I returned and at the next table I provided my numbers and a woman handed me a manila envelope. As she did so, she explained that we had to wear the pink wristbands (enclosed) to get into the dinner and she said not another word. Within seconds she went back to sorting papers and discussing things with another organizer. So, I asked, “Are we done?” When I didn’t get an answer, simply guessed that we were and I walked away. My fiancée, Dharma, was a bit more insistent and tapped her on the arm and repeated my inquiry. To that she finally responded, “Oh yeah, you’re done.”



Before leaving I stopped past to see Kevin Danielson and Bill Krakov… They told me that Sugarloaf and 23 miles had been yanked from this year’s route. Well, add 23 or subtract 23… it still is “No problem.” I immediately adjusted my mental state to accept a ride of 142 miles instead of 165 (Like I said, “No problem… Done”). Although, I couldn’t help thinking, “What if you trained for weeks making assaults on Sugarloaf? (Oh well!)” For me it wouldn’t really matter since I never been there, rode it, or looked at even a photo of it. If the end result was a huge April Fool’s Day joke and it actually was in the ride… Well, I wouldn’t even know it. I’d just think it was another hill.

Just for your information my longest ride to date was 175 miles and I have had 4 rides longer than 142 – two of which rode last year.

OUR HOTEL: We weren’t staying at the Kennedy Holiday Riverfront Space Coast Inn or whatever… a.k.a. the hotel known by a thousand names (well everywhere except on the BAF website) or whatever it was now called. We opted to stay at the Days Inn at I-95 a few miles west (since it went by only one name). So, we headed to our hotel and checked in, freshened up and returned to the host hotel (I would like to note that there were two boxes full of phenomenal FREE Spring Break Goodie bags in our hotel’s lobby – one for him, one for her).

THE DINNER: After we donned our pink wristbands, got in line for the meal, we chatted with others as a trumpet player outside practiced the Star Spangled Banner for tomorrow mornings send-off.

The pasta bash was all you could have wanted. One plate of salad and one of pasta piled high was plenty for most attendees. The complimentary beverages were limited to iced tea and water, although I did notice that a few people had purchased beverages at the hotel bar and brought them in to the dinner (Note to self: Great idea!).

After clearing our plates and having our carbohydrate meter read full, we headed back to the Days Inn via a Wal-Mart stop for ice and some Sunday munchies.

DAYS INN: At our hotel, I sorted my ride gear, and tossed my bike up on my trainer, in order to fine tune my aerobar position. Before calling it a day I meticulously loaded the car and arranged the room so everything fell like dominos in the morning. I finally went to sleep between 0030 and 0100 hours after a shower and some TV.

Before I knew it the alarm chime was ringing (0515 hours) so I jumped up, got dressed and walked down to IHOP for some pancakes and orange juice.

SUNDAY, APRIL 01, 2007


In case you didn’t attend this event, it was broken into four parts:

1. Officer Down Memorial Challenge – 35 miles.

2. Officer Down Memorial Challenge – 55 miles.

3. A Ride Across Florida – 100 miles +

4. A Race Across Florida – 100 miles +

PRINT OUT… THROW OUT: I would like to say that the print out given to everyone with the map and directions on it could have stood to be less confusing. Besides pointing out the errors like left actually should have been a right and vice versa in the actual directions or becoming upset when there weren’t any arrows at various turns (although the director says they were there)… Well, besides that… The side of the print out that said, “PLEASE READ THIS” (course directions) included the following: “Estimated starting time: 7:00”. The other side of the print out (course map) stated, “OFFICIAL START TIME BAF = 6:45 AM. Was I supposed to just PICK ONE?

LOCK AND LOAD: I showed up around 0620, as ready as I could ever be and wearing my Suncoast Cycling Club short sleeve jersey. I took my bike off the carrier, listened to a brass rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and then bagpipers played as well. Immediately afterward I watched the “Race Across Florida” start. I looked down at my watch, time check: 0635. For a couple of minutes I found myself wondering why it had started 5 minutes late. Anyway, I was right there along with Dharma, taking pictures and making videos of the “racers” heading off into the darkness. I remember being truly amazed that so many riders had chosen to compete in the race.

Well, as the last racers were leaving I readied my bike and coasted over to see a couple of friends who were riding with the “P.O.F. Team”. I had noticed that they hadn’t started yet. They informed me that some of their team hadn’t arrived due to thinking the ride was starting at 0700 hours (Hey I get it! Like on the print out? Yeah that’s it!). I asked Mike of Chainwheel Drive, “When was the ride going to start?” Mike replied, “It did… That was the ride that just left.” I was confused. Someone else stated that there weren’t enough racers, so they just merged all events into one. As it seems they all started at 0635. The current time was 0643 hrs. Great, just great! Others around me were also finding out the grim details. Most were somewhere between disappointed and ticked off. Me? I just wanted to get going. I weaved through the police cruisers and over to my SAG vehicle to inform Dharma that I was late. She expressed genuine empathy and presented me with a hug and a kiss as a well-wish for the ride and I was off.

MY STARTING GUN: 0645 hours: I headed north on U.S. Highway 1 into the darkness for about a half mile. After I avoided being hit by a car at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Hwy. 50 (it seems a southbound driver really wanted to blow through a red light), my ride speed picked up. It was just after that light that I caught my first rider of the day. His name was Ron and he was from Holiday, Florida. He recognized my Suncoast Cycling Club jersey and we chatted for a bit as we rode.

CELL PHONE TO THE RESCUE: We hooked up with a group that was making good time (between 21 & 23 M.P.H.) and decided to stay with them for a while. Upon making the next two major turns something told me to contact Dharma and provide her with the turn details. So, I dropped to the rear of the group and I called her to be sure that she wouldn’t miss them (she didn’t) and the rest of the day proved to be nearly flawless

I did call my SAG vehicle from one more corner - at an Albertson’s grocery store - where two support vehicles shot past, including mine. My driver, fortunately, received my call just as the error was occurring, so being off course was limited to a tour of the Albertson’s parking lot.

MILE 35: As the riders delved deeper into the ride some completed their daily goal at the 35 mile mark. They had taken part in the shorter of the ODMC (Officer Down Memorial Challenge) rides. Others remained and hammered away in the group I rode with. We were still making great time cruising along at speeds of 23 to 25 m.p.h. Included in the group were three Police Officers who, according to their black jerseys adorned with bright green flames, were from a “Police Wellness Unit”. When we were at about 47 miles I asked one of the officers in the group if he was riding all the way to Crystal River. To my dismay he replied, “No” and explained that he was only riding the ODMC 55. I kind of panicked for a minute or two. Questions bounced around in my head: “Had I gone out too hard?” “How many from my group would be completing their ride at the 55 mile mark?” “Would I be riding alone after mile 55?” … Well, only time would tell. The only steady thought I had throughout my day was, “Just make sure you are riding about 3 feet from the curb/grass/edge of the road at all times.” This was just to try to avoid running over debris and getting that four-lettered “F” word that means that you can’t keep air in your tires (I don’t even want to jinx myself now by saying it).

MILE 55: After I checked my fuel and water, I opted to pass on the #3 SAG Station (mile 55). So, with my cranks steadily turning I made my way westward, bridging from rider to rider. Through it all I noticed that three guys had stuck with me after the 55 mile mark. We seemed to be working together nicely. Then, an incident that proved to be a “near miss” occurred. One of the guys was pulling and suddenly slowed to a near stop. The #2 rider pulled right and stopped. I was in the #3 slot, so I was forced to make a quick left to avoid a collision. We stopped momentarily and I asked them, “Have you guys ever ridden in a group or in a pace line before? You guys have to clearly call out your intentions… And please call things out when you see them, especially if we are riding together tightly” Apologies were abundant and from there on everyone called out trash, traffic lights, turns, road blemishes and obstructions, cars right… left, stopping, slowing, etc. … Chalk up points for the Suncoast Cycling Club there. My education was free and was gained by simply showing up. Maybe now there are three safer riders out there.

SAG Station #4, was at mile 85 it awaited our arrival up ahead and further on there was SAG Station #5, at 109 miles. I thought that I would be utilizing one if not both of them since I had yet to stop. The three guys I rode with also opted to bypass all the SAG Stations, so we continued working our way past other cyclists and closer to #4.

BREAKAWAY #1: I have to note that the only thing thus far into this event that had slowed me down was the wind and the hills… Oh, and I had tried to do the smart thing – which meant conserving my energy by backing off my speed and waiting for the group I was pulling… Even though I constantly heard little overly pondered ride strategies in my head… For instance, “It would be a really long day if I didn’t stick with a group and ride in a pace-line.” Well, by that time the lack of organization associated with the events just frustrated me. So, I made my first serious solo move. I went off the front for about 25 miles because the other riders seemed content riding between 17 and 21 M.P.H. and I was comfortable at 21-25 m.p.h.

MILE 85: The three riders behind me worked together and ended up catching me just about a mile before SAG Station #4. I learned that two of the guys were friends from Southern Florida (West Palm Beach & Fort Lauderdale) and shared a common SAG Vehicle. The other was an awesome, 64 year old guy, named Geir (pronounced: gear … a great cyclist name, huh?). Geir was from Norway and although he was the oldest of the three, he was also the strongest. I want to note that he too had a support vehicle which made for a 3 vehicle caravan following us. As we closed in on the SAG Station we all agreed that we were pulling into it. Our break was long enough to toss a cold, wet hand towel on my head, wipe my face, literally run the restroom, consume a banana & a Power Gel, and refill my Camelbak. My best guess on the time of our reprieve from riding would be about 10 minutes. Unbeknownst to me then, but this stop would prove to be all that I would need for the duration of the event.

Still in the SAG Station, I was getting ready to leave when a large group that was not stopping at the #4 SAG Station, began to pass us by. The others rushed out onto the roadway in order to catch them and draft off the group. I, leaving last, said goodbye to Dharma and sprinted to catch the pack. Fortunately, I managed to do so within a distance of a ½ mile or so. I rode with this enlarged group for a ways, pulling until I was dropping people. They were strict about riding only as fast as their slowest rider. Their speed slowed and began to settle out at around 17 M.P.H. Something inside told me that I felt good, so again it was time to surge on ahead. This time I wanted help, I called out to the three riders that were with me earlier. I said “Come on let’s do this! We’re riding at 17 here!” I never received a verbal yes or no confirmation, so I really have no idea if they even heard me or not. It should have been obvious since I had been last in the paceline and I was headed back to the front. I can name at least three guys right away from my Saturday club rides that would have been right on my wheel… Uwe, Bob and Chris (“B Alternate” group) you know you would have been there.

BREAKWAY #2: All I wanted was to utilize the theory that four are stronger than one, but instead they decided to stay with the group. That was around mile 90… There I was solo again. Dharma later told me that she noticed when I rode with a group I pulled more often than the others did and I think that may have been what triggered her worrying during the early part of the day. She even sent me a text message that simple said, “Pace yourself!” Yes… this day had been tiring me, but this wasn’t the time to show that face. Think about it… I hadn’t even broken the century mark yet.

A PRIVATE TOUR OF HILL COUNTRY: Riding solo, I continued until just after Stage Coach Road, where I rode on ahead, instead of making a left turn (If there was a BAF sign at this intersection, I completely missed it). I was immediately chased by my SAG vehicle. Thank goodness for my support driver! She caught up to me within a ¼ of a mile & shouted out my error – I have never cherished our GPS more! Reflecting back I realize that without Dharma I would probably be in the Adirondacks by now.

After getting back on course on Stage Coach Road, my chain popped off my inner front chainring (the first of three such occurrences that day). The timing couldn’t have been worse since I was hammering uphill to latch onto two riders that had passed me during my own little private tour of the Floridian countryside. Dharma, who was following closely, was forced to pass me because of a line of traffic that was building up behind her. Additionally there was a total lack of safe places to pull off the road. She called me just after I got going again and said she was heading to the next SAG Station… She would be using the restroom there and I told her that wasn’t a problem.

CRAMPAGNOLO (Hey, I wanted it to sound Italian): With my mind back in the event, I struggled hard to bridge the gap between myself and the pair of riders ahead of me. I remember telling myself just to ride my own ride… Let them go… This is something I use when ever I ride with a group. If I feel good, great go for it, but out here in the BAF event the reality was that I was about 30 miles from the finish line. Evaluating: I knew the distance to go to mile 142 – simple math. Unfortunately, I was not aware of the actual distance of 152 miles that would be on my computer at day’s end. After a lengthy pursuit I managed to work myself back to the two riders. I rode with them for about for about 3 miles and then while taking a turn pulling I was forced to drop back and draft due to a sharp cramp in my inner right calf. One of the riders, a guy named Steve Williams - who was wearing a Florida Gators jersey, inquired about my condition. I told him I was cramping and was going to drop. They passed me and continued on.

MILE 109: With what was supposed to be ten miles to go before the finish I was passing the SAG Station where Dharma was supposed to be. On the roadside, to the right of where I was riding, was a BAF sign with a big black arrow indicating a left turn. I was riding at about 20 M.P.H. and slowing fast… I thought to myself, “Oh man, that best not be a turn!” I called out my inquiry to a woman at the Station, located at a firehouse. She informed me that it was just a SAG Station. Well, not seeing my SAG vehicle and nearly perpendicular to the Station, I asked her, “Have you seen a white…” I stopped my question in mid flow and ended it with, “Never mind” as I spotted Dharma driving toward me from the opposite direction.

After turning around, Dharma rode with me a bit before pulling along side of me to ask if she could go on ahead to the finish. I told her I was fine – It was only ten more miles… I figured that riding the last ten solo wasn’t going to be an issue.

CRAMPAGNOLO II: Soon after she left my right leg bothered me again. I continued and rode through the pain up and down through this rolling section of the event. Somewhere in the hills along Lecanto Highway I caught up to those same two riders and I passed them. They hung on as I started to pull on a fast, flat section, somewhere over 130 miles. It wasn’t warp speed, but it was about 20 or 21 M.P.H. and that again a cramp struck. It fanned across the entire top of my right thigh and this time I dropped. I remember looking down at my bike computer and thinking “I’m almost done”. The mileage was 141.

WHERE ARE WE?: During last two miles riding north along Lecanto Highway a tall guy German guy, riding a red Cannondale with an IPOD on, pulls up next to me and asks, “How far is it to the finish?” I replied “I don’t know.” We traded computer info back and forth… We both had 140+. Right behind him was one of his teammates (?) wearing the exact same orange jersey. The three of us made the left turn onto State Route 44 and I hung with them for the next 6.6 miles. At Turkey Oak Drive the route made a right turn and weaved around several curves before coming to a traffic light. I looked for a B.A.F. sign, but was forced to stop due to the light being red. So, I pulled out the official map (The race commissioner told me that there was a sign there… Ummm, OK). As I dug my map out and managed to unfolded it, the light turned green and five riders flew through the intersection, passing me. They yelled out, “We turn left here! All I could do was quickly refold my map stick it into my Bento Box and follow them. Unfortunately the finish line was about four blocks away.

THE FINSH LINE: I was pretty ticked off because of not seeing a BAF sign posted at that second to last turn! (GRRR!) I crossed the finish line and my ride time was logged by the BAF officials as 8 hours 20 minutes and like everyone, I received a finisher’s medal. The reading on my heart monitor stated that my time was 8 hours 10 minutes and that stands in my eyes as my true ride time. My overall place was 34th, but again I corrected it to 22nd after peeking at the finisher’s sheet and seeing what place 8:10 would have been. What happened at the beginning of the ride was completely unacceptable. If this race is to make an impression on the cycling world outside our little greenhouse, here in the southeast, well then having the word on the street reflect better organization would help immensely.

REWIND: Back stepping a bit to one of Dharma’s concerns… When she arrived at the finish a rider, who had passed me and was completing the ride crossed the line panting & breathing unusually hard. I finished shortly afterward and although I am not sure how she pictured my condition being upon finishing the ride, she did say that she was amazed that I wore what she calls a “What next” look. I think I would call it, “I want to work to make this a better event! Where do I sign up” look.

FOOD & A SHOWER: The hot BBQ after the ride wasn’t vegetarian friendly. There was beef and pork and since we do not eat four-legged animals, Dharma and I ate Wal-Mart turkey sandwiches from our cooler with a side of the meatless baked beans topped with BBQ sauce offered by the BBQ (UPDATE: I have already been told that the caterer will be changed for next year and that chicken is proposed for the menu).

A much loved luxury was the outdoor shower. Although most riders simply showered off wearing their bike shorts, a few riders donned their birthday suits. These few caused a small confrontation because the cyclists were in plain view of a group of locals, many of whom were children that were celebrating a birthday in the adjacent gazebo (UPDATE: I have spoken to the race commissioner about this issue. The shower really is something riders to looked forward to. We just need to design an installation for a temporary curtain).


1. I would like to have found 3 to 4 riders that could do the ride at a pace of 21-25 (with a max downhill [with headwinds] of speed of 35-40). Those riders were probably somewhere 10 minutes ahead of me having started at the proper time. I was catching people that were being dropped by those groups.

2. Riders would need to be mentally and physically geared up to utilize a 10 minute break during the event. I chose to stop at the mile 85 SAG Station since it was near the 1/2 way point for the original 165 mile length of the event. For all other needs... a SAG vehicle would be present.

3. Lastly, we would all need to be informed of the proper starting time. The End.

B.A.F. 2008

THOUGHTS OF NEXT YEAR: As stated previously, if I am on the mainland U.S. next year I would enjoy being able to work with the organizers of Bike Across Florida. I would sooner work the event, in an attempt to right any of the wrongs experienced in previous years than compete – even if the starting time was known by all.

At the 2007 finish line I spoke briefly with Rick Flohr, the event Commissioner, but I felt out of place pointing out things that I, as a competitor, felt should be improved. I could have, but I just didn't want to come across as cocky or ungrateful. The week after the event I spoke with Rick on the phone and I have learned that he is a heck of a nice guy that really welcomes all comments, compliments and criticism equally. Let the truth be known, I am very thankful for all that Rick and the organizers have done because as we all know, without them there isn’t an event.

B.A.F. WEBSITE: If improvements are to be made to this event, then I believe the website is the place to start. If you go to the BAF website today you will see that in the pull down menus, there are about 4 or so links that STILL say "Under Construction." That is just not right. I do see it as a minor rough edge that can be easily ironed out. If they are running short handed, then looking for volunteer assistance with the web services would be recommended. The BAF site is not very complex to create or navigate. The most of the links from their current pull down menus do not host animation, photos or music (even though it could). To stay consistent with what is currently on the website, the links should appear like a simple word document when opened... Easy enough done, it simply just requires time. Last note on this point… if the link is deemed not important… Omit it. That would appear more professional than posting an "Under Construction" sign.

I am a firm believer that a site for any event should be completed before that event is to take place. Otherwise, it is like sweeping dirt under the carpet and pretending it is not there. It is there. Perhaps it is the engineer in me, but I do not start a project that I intend to leave unfinished… Moreover, if additional manpower is required… Then find it. I have thought about this and I feel that when people hear about the Officer Down Memorial Challenge, I cannot imagine that finding volunteers to help with the website to be a difficult task. I would start by approaching a local Titusville area high school honors computer lab class. This should solve the website issue and furthermore the project would be decent bragging rights for the students as well.

RIDE IT, LIVE IT, BREATHE IT: I truly believe that if you are an event organizer and you do not physically experience the course for the event in which you are promoting, and I mean in the manner it was meant to be experienced. Yes by riding it on a bicycle… either on your own or by nominating a group of riders to ride it (I’d actually prefer doing it solo) with a SAG vehicle. Then there is no way for someone to really comprehend the true magnitude of the problems your entrants could incur. In this 2007 event I spent nearly 50 miles riding solo and that number increases if you add in the distance I spent “pulling”. This is a statistic that probably would have been greatly reduced had I been supplied with the proper starting time of the event. Sorry, but yes… it goes back to that again.

When I create my weekly e-mails to my Cycling Club or friends I work on them as if I was blindsidedly receiving them. I think, “What questions could I come up with from the information that has been provided?” Sure, anyone could come up with a few questions, but I usually read my own e-mails out loud a couple of time before having them read by my fiancée as well. I do make mistakes like everyone, but I sincerely believe that am my most harsh critic. Picture setting the bar high, then raising it a notch... That is my workplace.

ARTWORK MARKETING: I would love to see the art concepts taken to the next level. T-shirt design improvement doesn’t mean costly additional silk screening. I will admit that I am not a marketing genius, but while wearing the 2007 shirt on Monday I had someone ask me "What does that say at the bottom of your shirt?" Then I stretched my shirt out to each side in order for it to be read. The event name: "Bike Across Florida" was written below the graphics (at stomach height), rather than above the image, where with the right font and color it would not only be more legible, but it would standout and promote the message with greater clarity upon first glance.

MAP & DIRECTIONS: How could I help with the map and directions print out? Well, first off by making sure that the starting times listed on either sided of it do not contradict each other. Having it fold up, like my cycling club’s weekly map/directions printout does, is a brilliant thing. Perhaps I could even get someone with that base knowledge to teach me the shortcuts on doing that. I know it would not be tough to figure out, but I'll take the cheat notes when getting caught isn't an option. Deem this not important? Well, I dropped back 5 places in the finishing order (after working to attain my position for 8 hours) in the last ½ to ¼ mile because I was trying to open and read the direction sheet.

MILEAGE CHECK: First, I would ride my bike over the official route to ascertain a proper mileage check as well as check of the directions that would be supplied to all participants. The assurance that not only the proper distances appear (from a bike computer manufacturer that I would lobby my butt off in attempt to have them become a sponsor for the event - SEE UPDATE BELOW), but the true, full names of the roadways appear on the directions. Checking the actual roadside signs and not accepting what Google Earth, Yahoo! Maps or equivalent say the road is called, is a must. They also need to be checked to insure that they appear in the proper order and the direction stated for the turns were indeed correct (all were issues during the 2007 ride). I would also want my findings proof read and checked (UPDATE: April 10, 2007 - I spoke with an employee at Cat Eye computers today. I did such as someone NOT affiliated with the B.A.F. event and I inquired about how their event sponsorship works).

My finally action would be to drive the course no earlier than a week before the event. I would note construction areas, poor quality roadways, etc. and report my findings at an OFFICIAL RACE UPDATE MEETING to be held at an established time the night before the event.

BAF EXPO: My last point to make … Yes, finally! Having participated in various running events and triathlons all around the world, I must say that one of the things I have truly enjoyed were the expos associated with the larger races. Now, I am not sure if this could be a reality for this event, but I am sure that it would be a way to raise money for the event. Ensuring that it could be a reality would first require a list of possible and probable vendors. If attaining vendors to participate in an expo was deemed “not a problem”, then renting a function room large enough to host both the “carbo meal” and set tables for the vendors would be the next order of business. Next, one would have to calculate a reasonable fee that allows the vendors to gain entrance into the expo (keeping in mind that the host hotel should be able to provide enough tables for both). A function room like the one for the 2007 Pasta Bash would not be acceptable due to size limitations.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

WELL, THAT IS MY TALE: I can not be any more proud of all or those who dared to accept any of the challenges offered in the B.A.F./O.D.M.C. for 2007. That feeling by far outweighs any possible disappointment that I could feel. I feel that hovering in the negative is a waste of mental energy. Unfortunately, that negativity was present during the post-event BBQ. I found that the negativity empowered me to want to volunteer for this event. I can not be more sincere in my stating that for the sake of the event and for the sake of everyone involved. This event is so very close to being flawless thanks to all the efforts put forth by all that were involved with it.


Cat Eye Computer Mileage: 151.7

Calories burned: 5899.6

Avg Heart Rate: 158

Saturday Weight: 156 lbs.

Sunday Post-race Weight: 147 lbs.



Orange Juice: 20 ounces

Metabolol II: 2 scoops (mixed with 12 oz of the juice)

Pancakes: 1.75 cakes (no butter or syrup – roll and eat).


Water: 105 ounces (Aquafina)

Gatorade: 62 ounces (Lemon Lime)

Clif Bar: 2 bars (Oatmeal Raisin)

Clif Bloks: 6 packets (1 Lemon-Lime, 2 Pina Colada & 4 Margarita)

Powerbar PowerGel: 1 gel packet (plain flavored)

Bananas: 1


Those remembered in the OFFICER’S DOWN MEMORIAL CHALLENGE: To those who had put their life on the line over and over until paying the ultimate sacrifice. These individuals will forever be respected for courage foreign to most of us.

Deputy Sheriff Michael Callin
Orange County Sheriff's Office
EOW: Weds.,
August 2, 2006
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault

Sheriff Christopher C. Daniels Sr.
Lake County Sheriff's Office
Sat., October 14, 2006
Cause of Death: Automobile accident

Sgt, Nicholas G. Sotille
Florida Highway Patrol Troop F.
Fri., January 12, 2007
Cause of Death: Gunfire

Deputy Sheriff Vernon Matthew (Matt) Williams
Polk County Sheriff's Office, FL
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Cause of Death: Gunfire

Deputy Sheriff Margena Silvia Nunez
Lee County Sheriff's Office, FL
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault

Deputy Sheriff Harold Michael (Mike) Altman
Jackson County Sheriff's Office
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Cause of Death: Gunfire

Deputy Sheriff K-9 DiOGi
Polk County Sheriff's Office, FL
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Cause of Death: Gunfire

Deputy Sheriff Brian Tephford
Broward County Sheriff's Office, FL
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Cause of Death: Gunfire

Spec Agt William (Buddy) Sentner III
U.S. Department of Justice - DoJ
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Under special consideration


Chainwheel DriveClearwater: To John: Thanks, but I want you to know that I reached down no fewer than 6 times to shift with my non-existent bar end shifters. Thanks for the STI install! What a difference!Also to the employees who made the difference on Saturday before the race. First, there was a female employee who went to the internet for a solution to my lost aeropadding issue and the male employee who was quick to pick up the phone and provide me with the phone number for Orange Cycles (Yes. They had everything I needed) You two saved me from having to uninstall my clip-ons or the other option was to spend time trying find a Home Depot to purchase foam rubber padding.

Orange cycles: Dustin & Howard: a huge “Mahalo Nui Loa” to these two for solving my issues.

Suncoast Cycling Club members: To “Coach”: Thanks for alerting me to the fact that such a ride existed. I remember we spoke of it during the rest stop at B G’s Foodtown (St. Pete) while riding the Annual Pinellas Trail Head-to-Toe Ride. To Paul G.: For his Words of encouragement. To All the “B Alternate” riders: For their well wishes.

COMMISIONER, ORGANIZERS, VOLUNTEERS and everyone involved with the event.

Last, but definitely not least… is my acknowledgement of my appreciation for the level of support provided by my fiancée, Dharma May. She became “all business” as my SAG vehicle driver, so thanking her is an absolute must. Dharma had never before stood in the shoes she suddenly found herself wearing on Sunday and she did an outstanding job. (NOTE TO SELF: I will have to have her refrain from watching the Tour de France this year because watching all those hours of coverage over the past 8 years proved to have not been such a good idea. You see, the night before BAF she didn’t sleep well. She said she was dreaming of the car driving madness associated with the TdF… crowds, guys leaning out the window fixing brakes, horns beeping, etc…) Seriously though. She was awesome at everything from offering to go on ahead to tell me how far the next group was, to her digital photography and videography skills… From her uncanny ability to communicate via text messages, cell phone calls, even her inquiries to me out the passenger window were second to none. It was truly her ability to provide me with the aid I required that allowed me to successfully complete the BAF 2007. She is an amazing individual and fortunate am I to always have her in my corner.

Before our meeting on the internet more than eight years ago, she was comfortable with the beautiful rural settings surrounding Jackson, Mississippi. She came to Florida in 2001 for me, a transplanted New Jersey guy. It was a sacrifice that has not gone unrecognized. I knew/know that she was/is away from her family, friends and at times even away from her children. I am sure that she probably never thought she would ever be juggling the jobs that are more commonly associated with a cycling team manager, even if the team consists of just me. Well, on April Fool’s Day she listened to a pre-dawn explanation of what was where in the car, which included tools, spare wheels, an extensive first aid kit (that would have allowed me to do surgery), beverages, energy bars, gels & bloks, towels, extra clothing, maps… just name it and I had it. She drove the support vehicle, watched for others cyclists and vehicles, paced me, handed me water bottles on the go, communicated with me and the other SAG drivers, and she made a frantic and speedy rest stop smooth like spreading butter on bread. Not forgetting to mention that when I was at my most frustrated, which was Saturday afternoon, she provided morale. It was then that I thought I would be late for the packet pick-up, but not in her eyes. Throughout the weekend she upheld a level of strength that I could not begin to imagine harboring. For all of this and everything since that cold day that she flew into Islip Airport in 1999 to meet me (a.k.a. “Day One”) I say thanks to her. I know I will continue to do such for always.


Natchez Trace Parkway Century 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ridgeland, Mississippi

And as they say up south in Mississippi… “BYE Y’ALL!”


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