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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sorry about not getting to my next post about movies.

Just wanted to apologize about not getting to my new post about movies but a couple of things have come up recently in the last couple of days.  I plan to post that new post this evening.  Thank you for your patience.  Until then I'm going to ask again if any other bike rider (s)/cyclist (s) (prefer other male riders, this time around because of the relationship issue that I expressed earlier) in the Atlanta area is planning to go and participate and ride in Chicago's World Naked Bike Ride on June 11th and either Portland, OR's evening/night World Naked Bike Ride or Madison, WI's daytime World Naked Bike Ride on June 18th to give me a holler and let me know if it's okay if I tag along (prefer to go via Amtrak, except not all the way to Madison, but there are other alternative travel means, and from the nearby Amtrak station there, it is only a 29 mile bike ride), I've also found some interesting and helpful suggestions regarding travel and at least a place to stay in Chicago and Madison.  Thank you ahead of time on that last plea.     

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A story in three parts about a bike accident, fighting offshore oil drilling, empowerment and some bike rides I'd like to participate in.

PART III:  How my continuing feelings and my very visible scar on my forehead from my March 1985 and my continuing opposition to Offshore Oil Drilling make me want to very much want to participate in a World Naked Bike Ride or two or more.  

Yes, folks who know me or think they know me or think of me in a different way:  Yes you read that right I want to ride and participate in a World Naked Bike Ride or two or more!   


Tonight from that e-mail, after I had detailed my bike accident and my work on opposing Offshore Oil Drilling it is though my feelings about what happened to me and my body from that bike accident by a hit and run driver and my long-standing opposition to Offshore Oil Drilling along Florida's coast was denied me and disregarded as though they were nothing, and they aren't nothing, they make me who I am and I am damn proud of that, and because of that I WOULD BE PROUD TO SHOW MY NAKED BODY WITH BODY PAINT ARTWORK ANYTIME, BUT ESPECIALLY AT A WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE!

Here is the link for the main webpage for the World Naked Bike Rides:

I'm sorry if the above seemed strident, but I am not sorry for my feelings about this issue.

I think a little history is again in order, first as to the history of the World Naked Bike Ride movement and then a little more of a reminder to everyone why I'd like to ride in one or more of them.   And some of this is going to come across as harsh to much of the geographical region in the U.S. where I call home -- but, oh, well a lot of it's true my dear fellow southeast U.S. residents.  (It isn't that I don't like living here, especially for it's environment overall, but boy is there a lot of backwardness and a lot of narrow-mindedness and a lot of things that are said to be not so obscene here that definitely are when revealed that goes on here.)

The World Naked Bike Ride movement actually has a different origin than about the issues I find dear to my heart that the modern day World Naked Bike Ride movement also tries to, excuse the unintentional pun, inbody.  In the late 19th century and early 20th century shortly after non-motorized bikes were first mass produced it is well-documented that women riders who had to wear very cumbersome, at best, very uncomfortable and very restrictive, at worst, clothing would many times take off those clothes and actually ride their bikes in the nude or naked.

The current World Naked Bike Ride movement's history is well-documented in this write-up on Wikipedia:

As you can see by the write up on wikipedia it isn't about the same issues that it started as, the promotion of being naked, or the protest against the war in Iraq (I participated in many protest against that war, one of only few here in the U.S. until 2005, and stayed totally clothed and probably wouldn't have used a naked bike ride for that purpose -- but I do appreciate nudist/naturist Conrad Schmidt from Vancouver starting the rides as he did for that purpose into what they would later develop into becoming about.)  No, indeed now the REASONS WHY I WOULD WANT TO PARTICIPATE ARE THE SAME REASONS WHY THE WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDES TAKE PLACE, BECAUSE THEY ARE PROMOTING A HEALTHY BODY IMAGE (INCLUDING FOR SOMEONE WHO MAY HAVE A SCAR ON HIS FOREHEAD CAUSED BY AN ACCIDENT CAUSED BY A NEGLIGENT HIT AND RUN DRIVER), PROMOTING THE AWARENESS OF BIKE RIDERS TO CAR DRIVERS AND WE MIGHT RIDE NAKED BECAUSE WE FEEL ALREADY VERY VULNERABLE, AND TO PROMOTE FINDING BETTER WAYS TO TRANSPORT OURSELVES THAT DO NOT INVOLVE THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS USE OF THE EVER DECREASING SUPPLY OF NON-RENEWABLE, NON-SUSTAINABLE, DIRTY, POLLUTING THE PLANET, NOT BEING ABLE TO BE DRILLED FOR SAFELY WITHOUT WELL-DOCUMENTED CASES OF OIL SPILLS THAT HAVE HARMED THE ENVIRONMENT FOSSIL FUELS, OIL AND GAS!  

And now a movement that started with only 29 cities worldwide in June 2004, has moved and increased to being one that has World Naked Bike Rides in over 70 cities in 20 countries worldwide.  Granted there are some limited areas geographically speaking but it is amazing how many there are and how many people participate in countries such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa (their first this last month of March 2011 in Cape Town), Peru and Brazil all in the southern hemisphere where March would be their summer.
Although in Australia there is one ride that takes place the second Saturday in June (smaller participation, but hearty souls that do so in their winter) to support the World Naked Bike Rides that take place in the northern hemisphere starting usually about that time of the year near beginning of the summer.

Throughout the summer there our World Naked Bike Rides in diverse areas and countries such as Greece, Germany, England (London is the largest worldwide on the second Saturday of June), Spain, France, the Netherlands, Mexico City and in Canada in several cities including it's birth city of Vancouver and one that I've seen the photos of that I would not mind participating in sometime in the future, Toronto, ON!   And then there those in the U.S., which I will get to in a moment.  And it isn't about getting naked, it's about promoting those causes that I mentioned above.  Nakedness when it occurs, and there are degrees of definition on that issue, certainly many of the participants would probably not go too often to a nudist retreat nor would the definition of what many of the participants who ride in them don't wear would make it necessarily at a nudist retreat, occurs because of the promotion of those issues.

But that's not all, let's clarify something right away:  One of the World Naked Bike Rides most important mottos of participation is the motto of "Bare As You Dare" and that means that some people will be uncomfortable baring more than others and that's perfectly acceptable.  Participants have ridden fully clothed in business clothes, some dress up in costumes, some in body paint that nearly covers their whole body, some in what many places would define as risque, but are probably worn all the time during the summer months and yes, many do participate naked.  And don't get it wrong, all of the World Naked Bike Rides do recommend the use of helmets (although it's not a requirement) to continue to promote to others safety in bike riding, and all of them recommend to participants to ride with some type of footwear (it's nasty out there in the streets to even riding fully clothed without some kind of footwear on -- ever tried it, I wouldn't!)   So, fully nude participants is highly unlikely to be seen.  Yeah, body parts that usually aren't seen are seen, but heck it's all for a good cause and also for fun, as well as the protest and that's why the idea of body paint work to promote the causes trying to be expressed by the World Naked Bike Rides are so important a symbol on many, if sometimes, not all of them!  Here as an example, of this, this is the first of the rides in the U.S. that I will document and more than likely if I get a chance to participate in one would be the one I'd probably would be the most likely to want to get to, and that is an HD video of the Chicago World Naked Bike Ride (which this year takes place on June 11th, 2011 in the evening) that took place in the evening of June 12, 2010 where there was much protesting of BP, for obvious reasons that summer:

And I myself would find it to be both exhilirating and fun to get to say I rode naked on a bike down the Magnificent Mile!  Chicago World Naked Bike Ride 2011 has a wonderful facebook page.

I myself would probably participate and ride, including my very first ride, more "Bare As You Dare" then many (with sandal shoes and helmet on, only, but with some body paint art work expressing my continuing opposition to Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida Coast!)  But I certainly would not try to force, nor is it even allowed, anyone else to participate in such a manner!  Oh, and that rasies another issue:  The rule is of these rides:  You only touch a participant IF THEY ALLOW you to!  And furthermore it isn't about sex or about trying to be provocative (except for the issues),  it's about promoting those issues.  And in some of this, of my interest, yes I'm kind of a little more cheeky than others -- I documented that a bit in Part I of this three part series, some past sexual escapades that I won't go into here, plus add that I several times as a kid ran in the neighborhood, in the dark, with either just underwear on or completely naked -- I always wore shoes, at 13-years old I masturbated on a dock in the middle of the afternoon, and I more than once while still living in Florida skinny-dipped in a swimming pool including three times in the middle of the day (I wasn't caught, but yeah the thrill was there.)

And, oh, btw, if you are worried about these bike rides being a bike race forget it, they are not!  A matter of fact other forms of non-motorized vehicular transportation such as skaters and unicyclist can participate and have participated!  The rides go slow enough so any kind of non-motorized vehicular transportation can stay with the group, but they are too fast for probably most runners to participate in (and foot traffic at almost all World Naked Bike Rides, except for one in Baltimore do not participate in them!)  And I've been told by other participants, on-line, that these rides will start to make you forget that you are naked if you are and that they become an exhilirating experience as time goes by and they don't hurt any worse being naked as they would be if you rode a bike fully cothed (and there have been times when I have rode a MARTA bus fully clothed here in Atlanta and on the PSTA buses in Pinellas County, Florida, fully clothed, over some nasty pot-holes both places that would make me believe that I'd rather ride my bike naked than ride over some of those pot-holes in a luxurious limousine in a fur-coat and fully clothed underneath!)

And three more things:  If you are there to ogle, leave that thought behind or DON'T participate because it is a protest first and foremost!  Most of our roads in the world were also not built and paved NOT for cars, originally and bike riders have more rights (as well as responsibilities) than one might think, and especially from some ignorance that passes for safe bike riding/driving here in the Atlanta area, if not much of the southeast U.S.   And despite some stubbornness to change people's mind the list of cities trying to join the World Naked Bike Ride is growing.  One of the most exiting possibilities of me participating may come in the form of going to the inaugural World Naked Bike Ride in Lexington, KY on the evening of August 27th, 2011!  There's a young man who I have come to greatly respect, named Troy Marusek, who is organizing the first World Naked Bike Ride in that city!  And I wish him and Lexington the very best in success!  (BTW:  Troy is the young man in the HD video linked above who at the Chicago World Naked Bike Ride rode as an Avatar!  Troy is to me, SuperAwesome that way -- you've got to catch his video on-line at facebook when he rode in the Philly Naked Bike Ride as SuperAwesome! {that ride is taking place on September 4, 2011 this year and the website can be found at: -- Philadelphia, btw, if I were to get a chance to participate in that ride would be the first time I was naked in that city, but not the first time I've been in that historic beautiful city, although the last time was more than fully clothed in late-December 1998, the dead of winter.})   Troy has a wonderful facebook page up for the Lexington World Naked Bike Ride and another one on the main page of the World Naked Bike Rides whose website already listed and linked above.

But here is the rub for me.  Will I get to participate in even one World Naked Bike Ride?  I don't know, from where I'm at both geographically and where I'm at in terms of financial consideration it seems probably not very likely (although I don't want to write, NOT AT ALL!)   I'm aware from 2006, that there was an attempt to get a World Naked Bike Ride started in Atlanta, GA, but from memory it failed pretty spectacularly!  I remember in the spring of 2006, I was actually at I do believe the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park and I can't remember names and the faces have faded, but I do remember a man I think in his late-20's or early-30's and a woman in her 20's approached me about the idea of the World Naked Bike Ride happening in Atlanta -- at the time I didn't have a bike and also was too busy with other things that I told the two of them, "That's interesting, would be kind of nice, but I'm too busy to think about it right now and don't have a bike at this current time."  (I wish I could have more focused on it, but unfortunately I did have more pressing matters going on in my life at the time; I might document those sometime in the future in a future post.)  And when I did meet up with the two of those people, again, in downtown Decatur later on in June of 2006, I found the reason why no Atlanta World Naked Bike Ride ever took place, and this is why it's highly unlikely that a World Naked Bike Ride will be happening here until a least a decade -- because of the fact that a judge overturned a World Naked Bike Ride here in Atlanta due to the arcane indecent exposure laws here in Georgia that don't even allow for a Nudist Retreat and the judge didn't even take into account under first amendment rules that the World Naked Bike Ride would be a protest.  (Yes, to my friends other places that have the opportunity of being close to a World Naked Bike Ride, we do have a nudist retreat here, but it is known to be well-hidden somewhere quite a distance to the southeast of Atlanta between Savannah and Macon, but it doesn't even promote itself in Nudist/Naturist literature due to the arcane laws of this state.)  And oh, then there were the awful news stories that came out of the judges ruling against a World Naked Bike Ride in Atlanta, including two outlets the CBS and FOX TV affiliates that gave the greatly misguided and ill-informed information that the World Naked Bike Rides allowed motorcyclist to participate!  (HOW SICK!)   I have wondered who those two people were that approached me, and if they happen to read this blog I would not mind if they contacted me, and I wouldn't mind if they are going to another World Naked Bike Ride, now that I have another bike, to let me know?   Unfortunately another problem of mine is I don't have a lot of money, I'm on SSDI and Medicare (for disabilities not caused by my bike accident as far as I know), but can ill-afford that well the transportation cost especially since if I could go to another city in the U.S. that has a World Naked Bike Ride I would want to go in the spirit of it's intent using as very little fossil fuels, if none at all, as possible and to me the best way to accomplish that is via Amtrak.  (The food expense would be another issue, especially since I have special needs in that area.  I think I have found a way to cover the expense of staying for a while in the city, curtesy of  my facebook friend, Troy Marusek, with him giving a great recommendation for not only when you go participate in a World Naked Bike Ride, but anytime, and that is a wonderful website called:  CouchSurfing!  Thank you for that recommendation, Troy!)

Any other bike riders in the Atlanta area up to going to a World Naked Bike Ride or two or more?  Feel free to contact me, please.  But be mindful of my financial concerns and needs. 

BTW, unless you think Atlanta is the only place in the southeast and even in the U.S. that has had problems even getting a World Naked Bike Ride off the ground, disabuse yourself of that notion.  For example there has never been a World Naked Bike Ride in Las Vegas or in many places outwest except for in Washington state, Oregon, California, New Mexico and Colorado.  Texas has seen some attempted.  North Carolina has had some, but they have seemed to disappear, recently.  None have happened in the following other states, at least yet:  Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii (that to me almost would seem a natural place to have one, but NO, not yet), Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina (those last three states if one did get organized there, I'd think I'd be a little more than nervous about participating in them, knowing the culture like I do in those three states), West Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia (although one seems to be trying to be organized for Fairfax County sometime this summer, keep your fingers crossed all those who are for the World Naked Bike Rides like me) and Maine.  Tampa , Florida tried to host a World Naked Bike Ride in 2007 but was met with much protest and a little more than some police interference and there the participants weren't even close to being what would be thought of as 'naked'. 

In closing my three part story, I want to make mention of a couple of other World Naked Bike Rides in the U.S., some with more of websites and one more with a video of one of them and a mention of another man who I have contacted and has treated me with the upmost in respect, certainly more than I sometimes get here in the southeast U.S. (but not always.)  That man would be named, Daniel Lorenz Johnson, a biking enthusiast, but also a humantarian, a nudist (I am aware of that, but boy is he nicer than many people I meet fully clothed), and a naturist and a protestor for all of the issues that I also protest for involving the World Naked Bike Rides (and more.)  Daniel Lorenz Johnson was a matter of fact the first person who I told about my bike accident, outside of my family, since it happened 26-years go (not many people get that confidence from me.)  And lest I forget, Daniel was responsible in many ways in starting the World Naked Bike Ride movement in the U.S., by starting the first ever one in the U.S. in his home city of Seattle, WA.

Other cities in the U.S that host World Naked Bike Rides are:  Albany, NY, Boston, MA, Columbus, OH, Burlington, VT, Madison, WI (on June 18th in the afternoon this will be their 2nd) , St. Louis, Denver, Albuquerque, Eugene, OR, Pittsfield, MA, and one of my other favorite possibilities of participating in one, New York City on June 11, 2011, in the afternoon will be their 3rd!  Some may wonder why I wouldn't participate in the World Naked Bike Rides in Miami, FL or New Orleans, that is because it is well-documented that those are very watered-down in terms of how much people are willing to "Bare As You Dare" and also in the summer those two cities in terms of humidity would not be some where I'd want to go even semi-naked, sorry folks there. 

I'll make special mention of two other cities, in the end, that have World Naked Bike Rides:

1.   Montpelier, VT (hosting another World Naked Bike Ride on the afternoon of June 11th):

2.   Portland, OR (they actually have two Naked Bike Rides, during the Pedalpalooza festival in early to mid-June, the first one is in the daytime on June 11th this year, the other one is in the evening of June 18th this year and this ride would be particulary 'suited' {pun unintended} for my cheeky side if I ever got to participate, hint-hint to other riders in Atlanta who might be going; the following linked video is from the 2010 Portland World Naked Bike Ride while the 13,000 participants/riders last year were riding through the bar district):

Well, I don't know if I will get to go, but even if I don't I want to say to all that do, have fun, be safe, and get those messages that I listed above out there and do like I have tried to do all of my life, get those other people to recognize us as more than naked and get us all weened of our dependency on oil and gas!

A story in three parts about a bike accident, fighting offshore oil drilling, empowerment and some bike rides I'd like to participate in.

PART II:   How my love of all things related to Florida's beautiful coastline has made me a fierce and determined fighter against Offshore Oil Drilling in Florida and how this relates to my love of bike riding.  

For as long as I remember bike riding, originally in my birth state and original home state of Florida, I also remember being accutely aware of how fragile the eco-system of Florida especially along it's Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, beaches, waterways, bays, estuaries and marshes could be.  Indeed much of what attracts Northerners to Florida is greatly tied into it's huge amount of water that surrounds it and also in it's interior.  Florida's water is also a sustaining source of both beauty of wildlife birds, manatees, and other unique sea creatures and life sustaining, for many of us humans, seafood.

But I was raised in a family that always taught me to appreciate the natural environment and continued to always have that as one of the most important aspects of my life.  And this was even more reinforced being from Florida and seeing through my first 31 years of life and for a brief time last year, 2010, because I am always reminded how fragile that beautiful natural environment of the state I'm proud to call my birth state can be if we are not good environmental stewards.

How does this relate to bike riding?  Well, think about it.  I don't know how many of my readers have ever ridden a bike in Florida, especially around it's beaches and waterways -- but let me tell you, if you don't know, one of the most amazing experiences is to ride a bike along Florida's shores!  I've done so, and I was always amazed at the beauty I saw, and then became as well how fragile that beauty can be.  There were three times in my life that that was never so more true, the main part of this part of the three parts is about one of those times and another time of empowerment opportunity given to me to hopefully make sure that beauty is not taken away from us.

I think first I'd like to just take a moment to just state a few of things that influenced me culturally to take the time to think about the issue of protecting the environment especially in Florida.  I still remember reading  books, not always just about Florida, such as Rachel Carson's "The Silent Spring", Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' "The Yearling", Margaret Stoneman Douglas' "River Of Grass" and "Save The Everglades" and James A. Michener's "Centennial" (the last of which, as my mom who grew up in that era and in that part of the country attests is a true representation of what transpired countless times during the Dust Bowl in the center of the country during the Great Depression.)   But all of those books made me very aware of the fragile nature of the environment if we were not good environmental stewards.  Another influence of mine was the music I grew up with including, but not limited too, Arlo Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and countless other songs written and performed afterwards about the fragileness of the environment.  But one song in particular, that was a hit while I was a young child, strikes a particular chord in me about trying to do as much as possible to save a fragile environment such as in Florida because when it was a hit it was during a time in the early 1970's when me and others in the Tampa Bay area had to witness huge problems from smells and fish kills from a phenomenon known as Red Tide.  Although Red Tide is not always caused by problems of an oil spill the affects are not too dissimiliar. 

Here is a Wikipedia article on the phenomenon Red Tide (although I doubt that anyone who hasn't experienced this phenomenon first hand can truely appreciate what harm it can cause to an eco-system):

The name of that song that was a hit during the time of Red Tide, in the Tampa Bay area in the early 1970's that nearly choked me and choked much of the sea life to death in that area, that I experienced first hand was Marvin Gaye's hit, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology Song)".  

But I am not gonna linger there.  No indeed, because a more important battle loomed and that was against people who would want to potentially harm my beautiful birth state of Florida by oil drilling around it's coastline and in it's beautiful life sustaining waters.

Growing up in the 1970's you were always made accutely aware of how this world's dependency on non-sustaining, non-renewable fossil fuels of oil and gas was fragile at best, dangerous at worse, when we experienced years and years of oil shortages and long lines at gas stations.  Indeed, the majority of scientist do agree that we have either reached or will reach soon, in this century, a phenomenon known as oil peek in which there will be not enough oil and gas to sustain our seemingly unending appetitie for the stuff because we can't seem to ween ourselves from it by finding alternatives forms of heating our homes and businesses and alternatives forms of travel that do not make us hit that oil peek!   Yes, the next influence of mine on this issue would be none other than our 39th President Jimmy Carter (from here in Georgia) who tried his best to make us realize that the oil and gas shortages that we experienced in the 1970's were just the tip of the iceberg as it were to what could loom ahead of us IF WE DID NOT ween ourselves off of that dependency.  Yes, I was one of many young students, not able to vote, yet, who in 1977 - 78 tried there best to teach both my peers and adults both energy conservation to preserve oil and gas, but also to find and fund alternatives such as solar and wind to name just two that would ween us off that dependency because of Jimmy Carter's words of wisdom and warnings about what might loom ahead.  And one of the most important ways I did this was riding my bike instead of having an adult take me places such as school, libraries, movie theatres, neighbor and friends' houses, the recreation center, parks and parties via my bike instead of in a car.  I also started to realize at that young of age what could occur if an major oil spill or catastrophe were to happen along the Florida coast.  And such a spill came close to Florida on June 3, 1979 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Mexico as documented on the Rachel Maddow show on May 26, 2010 from MSNBC as seen on the following video (thank you Rachel and I'll let you take it from here):

My belief in the fragile outcome of a possible major oil spill or catastrophe happening off the Florida coast and adversely affecting it's fragile eco-system continued to be a major concern of mine and when I found out more than likely I would not be driving after high school I realized the wisdom of riding my bike and not emitting as much fossil fuel emisssions became more important to me.  Indeed when I got to the University of South Florida, in the mid-1980's, one of the major issues I worked on via volunteering with the Florida Public Interest Research Group, by canvassing and campaigning and helping with conferences about the issue was to prevent Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida coastline.  Yes, I even got on television in the fall of 1985, a few months after my major bike accident that I documented in part one of this story, during a conference held by the Florida Public Interest Research Group in Tampa (I was an audience member who was looking very sternly at the participants of the conference wearing as many lapel stickers and buttons expressing displeasure at the thought that Florida's coastline might be opened up for oil and gas exploration and possible oil spills and catastrophes.  I got rave reviews by fellow volunteers and paid staff at the Florida Public Interest Research Group from the news reports that showed me in the audience with the stern looks.)

Now, full disclosure time, yes I did learn how to drive or at least I thought I did.  That would have been during the summer of 1986.  But I always remember that I really always wished to more often ride my bike than drive and although most of that want was the fact that many times I felt more free on a bike and in touch with my surrounding environment, much of that was also because I did not like the fact that now I was one of those who were emitting fossil fuels that were not in abundent supply.  (I would stop driving in January 1997, when I got into more trouble with too many car accidents and had to work out some kind of agreement and abide by it, which I have since, that my sister who is an attorney made with a Fulton County traffic court judge that I would NOT drive, again, and would surrender my driver's license for good.  So, I can't drive, y'all!  Nor would I want to as the years have progressed.)

But I digress.  On March 24, 1989, another oil spill happened off the coast of Alaska (and I know I'm probably running the risk here of offending the "sensibilities" {cough-cough} of those supporters and followers of such people as former Alaska Governor and nearly devoid of brain cells Sarah Palin who would want to in their own words, "Drill, baby, drill!"  But I don't really give a shit if I do!)  This oil spill was caused by a leakage from damage on the Exxon Valdez.  This is documented in the following two youtube videos for those who might not remember, or choose not too or maybe too young to remember:

At the time of the Exxon Valdez disaster, I was a Florida Young Democrat, having originally joined the group and being elected the Treasurer and then the Secretary of the University of South Florida's College Democrats and working tirelessy as a volunteer on many campaigns in the elections of 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1988.  In April 1989, there was to be the platform committee conference in Tallahassee in the Florida State House of Representatives chamber in the State Capitol as happens every year to discuss and pass charter amendments and the platform of the Florida Young Democrats for that year and more than likely what would remain in the platform for the rest of the time of the existence of the Florida Young Democrats.  And many of these charter amendments, if not all, would eventually find themselves written into the permanent platform of the Florida Democratic Party as well.  Well, after the Exxon Valdez disaster, I decided that I would not let opportunity pass to make sure that there was a strongly worded charter amendment passed into the permanent platform of the Florida Young Democrats saying that we believed that there should be NO Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida coastline with NO exceptions in regards to mileage. 

At around this same time, a few days after the March 24, 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster, I went to a campaign rally, in Tampa, for former Congressman Bill Nelson (now senior U.S. Senator of Florida) who at the time was gearing up to run for Governor of Florida in 1990.  While Congressman Nelson was on the podium speaking I was horrified to hear from him that the Florida Young Democrats and the Florida Democratic Party had no charter amendment in their platforms banning Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida coastline.  I was horrified, by this prospect, after seeing the news videos and photos in magazines and newspapers of  the results of the Exxon Valdez disaster.  Congressman Nelson's words about the lack of such a charter amendment was confirmed to me by an older woman who was an advisor to the Florida Young Democrats!  After he got done speaking, I immediately went up to speak to Congressman Nelson to ask him how it had occurred that the Florida Young Democrats had no charter amendment banning Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida coastline regardless of mileage.  Congressman Nelson told me that as a Florida Young Democrat in 1974 he himself had tried to have an amendment passed to ban Offshore Oil Drilling into the platform but was met with much resistance and it was defeated in the platform committee conference that previous year of 1974.  Congressman Nelson then urged me to work on such an amendment and get it passed for the 1989 platform committee conference, and if I did he would make sure that he would lend as much support as he possibly could to see that such a charter amendment would be passed to reinforce the Florida Young Democrats committment to ban Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida coastline regardless of mileage by getting one passed into the Florida Democratic Party's platform.

That night I went home to, New Port Richey, and started making calls around the state lobbying and feeling out my fellow Florida Young Democrats to get them on-board to pass a charter amendment stating that the Florida Young Democrats support a ban on Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida coastline regardless of mileage.  Unfortunately I must have felt as Congressman Nelson did in 1974 as I was met with ton of opposition and hemming and hawing that I would HAVE to scale back the amendment in terms of mileage!  UGH!  I kept on resisting this attempt to both not bring the subject up at the platform committee conference and/or water it down again and again mentioning was anyone watching what was happening up in Alaska?!!!  Finally, as though a port-in-the-storm, an answer came in the form of one call I made to the then Florida Young Democrats President Scott Maddox (a then politcal science student at Florida State University,  who would later go on to be elected mayor of Tallahassee and unfortunately not be elected in 2010 as Florida's Agricultural Commissioner.)  Here is the wikipedia article on my friend and one of my heroes Scott Maddox, thank you sir for the rest of the story of empowerment you helped me achieve you will always be true gentleman of his word to me and you deserve so much success:

Scott Maddox told me, when I told him about my proposed charter amendment to say that the Florida Young Democrats supported a ban on Offshore Oil Drilling with NO exceptions for mileage, that he himself had thought to bring up such a charter amendment but knew he could NOT as the President of the Florida Young Democrats.  He urged me over the phone to find him at the state Capitol when I arrived in Tallahassee and he would help me not only pass such an amendment but help me write it as well.  Indeed, Scott Maddox was true man of his word and helped me to write one of the best proposed charter amendments, I feel, ever was written for any party platform with making sure I included my love for my birth state's beaches, waterways, bays, estuaries, marshes, wildlife and life sustaining marine life in why I did not want to see off the Florida coastline a similiar disaster as was playing out at that moment in Alaska!  (Again, thank you Scott and this is why Scott Maddox will have my unending support no matter what office he runs for and no matter where else I am!)

When I got the proposed charter amendment to the floor of the Florida State House of Representatives and after I read it aloud I was met with yet again more fierce opposition and so many attempts to water it down in terms of mileage!  But I stood my ground and continued to say no, No, NO to such attempts including from two fellow former University of South Florida College Democrats (who in their lingering ignorance would later go on to switch to the GOP; I say good riddance, myself!  They were obviously fair weather friends, anyway.)  Scott Maddox from the front of the House chambers, as President of Florida Young Democrats also did all he could to spike these attempts at watering down and even having me yield to pull the proposed charter amendment.

Finally I had enough, and I said out loud, if this charter amendment was NOT passed, in light of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, into the Florida Young Democrats platform saying that we were for a permanent ban on Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida coast with NO exceptions as to mileage I could not and would not believe that this was the Florida Democratic party that tried to continue in a progressive movement forward and I might not be able to continue to support such a party.  My emotional, but well-thought out speech on this issue in support of my own proposed charter amendment apparently turned the tide and my proposed charter amendment passed WITHOUT opposition!  A few months later my charter amendment saying that the Florida Young Democrats supported a permanent ban on Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida coastline with NO exceptions for mileage became a permanent part of the Florida Young Democrats platfom and as I found out last year, during the 2010 elections, is still part of their platfom (some University of South Florida College Democrats I met in October 2010 had no idea that I was the person who was responsible for bringing that charter amendment into being, and when I told them, and I told them in a way where I was thinking I'm humble in regards to that fact I don't want to take the spotlight because it wasn't about me it was about doing what was the right thing to do and continue to believe that both as someone who rides a bike and tries to limit my emissions of fossil fuels and also someone who truely loves the beauty of his birth state of Florida and would not like to see it spoiled by an oil spill off it's coastline, they thanked me for doing that.)   So, for 22 years and counting the Florida Young Democrats, in their platform, have been against Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida Coast with NO exceptions as to mileage.  And yes I still consider that to be one of my most proudest moments!

Two years later, in 1991, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson was also a man of his word and got the Florida Democratic Party to adopt the same charter amendment in their party platform that the Florida Democratic party supported a permanent ban on Offshore Oil Drilling off the Florida Coast with NO exceptions as to mileage!  And yes, I consider myself proud of that achievement as well, and that I know that at least the party I most identify with and was registered with in Florida, continues to this day to know the importance of protecting it's most valuable resource it's coastline and waters! 

And as I continue to pedal my bike, I know that whenever I will visit Florida that I have the backing of the Florida Democratic Party and the Florida Young Democrats in terms of knowing that I will get to see some of the most beautiful scenery of beaches, marshes and estuaries known to man.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A story in three parts about a bike accident, fighting offshore oil drilling, empowerment and some bike rides I'd like to participate in.

PART I:   How I did not let a bike accident that was one of the most indigent things that ever happened to me or happen to any cyclist keep me down and the empowerment it gave me to change a metropolitian area for fellow cyclist!

As everyone has already read from my first post I grew up in my family and a city, New Port Richey, FL, that encouraged bike riding and cycling as both a mode of transportation and a mode of leisure time sports.  I don't remember too well my first two bikes, the one I got on my 6th birthday on November 8, 1969 or my second bike that I got sometime after I turned 10 years old, but I fondly remember my third bike that I got when I turned 17 years old on November 8, 1980 and both for good and not so good memories but the bad ones I have turned hopefully into something good for not only myself but for others.

My third bike that I got on my 17th birthday on November 8, 1980 was one of two prized possessions that I got that memorable birthday.  One of the presents which I might mention, again, as to certain aspects of it during the rest of the three parts of this story was a vinyl copy of one of my favorite albums of all time the Beatles' "Rubber Soul" that me and my brother who is just a year and half older than me wore out the grooves on our older sister's copy of it back in the 1960's and 1970's.  (I mention "Rubber Soul" because that vinyl copy was given to me just a month before the brutal and senseless killing of my favorite Beatle, John Lennon, which was one of the saddest days when I was in high school.  I also identify with John Lennon a great deal because many are probably aware of his cheeky side, which I also have, but probably don't exhibit so openly {John was also the most thought provoking of the Beatles both in terms of the music he wrote and presented but also many of his comments both during and after the time the Beatles were together as a group}.)   My other prized possession I got on my 17th birthday was again my third bike an American made Trek 730 series.  Here is a photograph of a Trek 730 made in 1979 (my 1980 made one was not too dissimiliar and actually was in the same color)  presented by a Tom Adams (thank you Mr. Adams):

Like many of the early Trek made bikes, Trek was the first company, in 1976, to mass produce quick release road bikes.  As seen in Tom Adams photos.   That part of the ability to quick release that bike, especially the tires, is important to portions of this first part of this story.

That Trek 730 bike also took me very far and too places I never thought I'd ever go at the time I got it as a birthday present.  Indeed, at the time I got the Trek 730 for my birthday I had had and would continue to have a very difficult time learning how to drive a car.   I do believe that I had problems with eye-hand coordination and sight-distance and so was my family convinced of that.  (For example:  One time I drove the car into the side of our house, while my mother was in the car with me, YIKES! for her back.  Another time I drove the car into a fence slightly outside of New Port Richey while my second oldest sister was in the car!)   I think that the present of the Trek 730 was not only because I wanted it, but perhaps a hint that I needed to seriously consider that I would have to use the bike to get many places instead of trying to drive a car.

Well, when life deals you lemons you make lemonade right?  That's what I had to do with having a bike to rely on, for the most part, for transportation instead of a car.  That Trek 730 bike would see me through many of my transportation needs and WANTS all the way to my 24th birthday on November 8, 1987. 

Throughout the remaining months of my high school experience I had to drive/ride that bike many places to get around.  Many times several of my friends who were driving would deride me, but then again I realized that I wasn't contributing to the pollution level by emitting so much nasty oil and gas emissions.  Of course, I was a litle more geekier than I would become during my college years, that's when I left, nearly literally many of my male friends or acquantances behind who were relying on their cars for transportation, and believe it or not, not just in terms of the transportation aspect of relying on a bike instead of a car.  (Yeah, prepare for some interesting and rather revealing true stories.)

In my first full year of college, in 1982, while I was attending St. Petersburg Junior College in Tarpon Springs, Florida 10 miles to the south of where we lived in New Port Richey that Trek 730 bike saved my hide (and me being on the Dean's List of A/B students that year) on two important occassions.  Usually to get to the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg Junior College I relied on two of my high school friends who were also attending St. Petersburg Junior College via car to get there.  But on one very memorable occassion, in the summer of 1982, one of my friends forgot to set his alarm and did not come to pick me up to take me to St. Petersburg Junior College and I got antsy because I had a paper, in one of my Psychology courses, I had to turn in that would mean the difference between an "A" and a "B", so I packed my backpack and my helmet and despite my mother's protestations got on my Trek 730 bike and drove it all the way down to the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg Junior College (thank goodness for Trek's fortitude to make quick releases, because if they had not I would have been in more trouble, because I forgot to take my lock with me and had to quick release the bike and carry it around to hand in the paper!  And yes I got that "A"!)   And I drove the bike back to New Port Richey later that afternoon 10 miles the opposite direction!   The other time I had to rely on the bike because someone forgot to pick me up, was luckily an off-day at St. Petersburg Junior College for me, but an important day for me otherwise.  That was because that day was the day of the midtern general elections of 1982 in November of that year and that was my opportunity to cast my second vote of my life (my first was in September of that year in the Florida primary).  I'm still so proud of the fact that I drove my bike to the precinct where we voted in downtown New Port Richey at the shuffleboard club on Grand Boulevard, because if I hadn't I do wonder if perhaps it might have meant some trouble in getting my later to be known by me friends, Governor Bob Graham and U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles re-elected and a family friend of ours, Betty Castor elected to the State Senate as the first woman elected official to represent me in the state capitol of Tallahassee.

When I got to the University of South Florida in Tampa, in the fall of 1983, that Trek bike continued to be a very great source of transportation and of leisure sports.  I know that people probably thought that I was a little naive to rely just on a bike in north Tampa, but for me it was proud symbal of the fact that I wasn't polluting the environment as much as some of peers who drove cars.   Indeed that bike increased my need and ability to work on an issue I will get back to in the second and third parts of this story and that was working and lobbying against Offshore Oil drilling off the Florida coast by being able to go some places that cars couldn't go, such as apartment and condo complexes and dorms, to help me help volunteer for the Florida Public Interest Research Group's campaign on the issue (as well as several others.)

I also found another wonderful way to use my bike.  And that was in the area of sexual pursuits.  As I became at the time less geekier and more, yeah I don't like to admit it but sexier, with my curly brown hair and baby blue eyes I noticed more women got interested in me when I drove my bike instead of driving a car.  Indeed two of my favorite sexual experiences because I drove a bike, and they both appealed to my John Lennon type cheeky side.  The first one of those experiences was being pulled into the stacks on the fourth floor of the University of South Florida's main Tampa campus library for a memorable sexual intercourse in those stacks by a young woman who just loved me in my biker shorts and helmet!  (Yeah, we could have been caught, and I think we made plenty of noise, but luckily we weren't, but the thrill was there.)   The other sexual experience happened when I was dating a woman ten years older than me, and one day at her apartment while I had on a similiar pair of biker shorts and a helmet she pulled me into an embrace and we had sexual intercourse on the balcony of her apartment, outside!  (Again, wasn't caught, but the thrill was there!)

But as with many things, with the sun and the good times sometimes rain must pour, both literally and figuratively as it did with me on one March afternoon in the year 1985.  At the time of this incident and accident I was living with my brother off-campus in an apartment in Temple Terrace about 2 miles to the east of the University of South Florida main campus.  Unfortunately for me, this one day that I totally forgot to take my helmet with me (people forget that back then, helmets weren't the law and they were not as encouraged as they later would be.)   I was driving my bike and about to make a right turn as I always did  onto a side road that led to the main thoroughfare 56th Street where across from it was me and my brothers apartment.  This side road entrance from the right turn had a fairly for Florida large hill sloping down and I was aware of it and always took proper caution to slow down when making the right turn and let my bike coast slowly but surely down the hill.  But on this particular right turn a driver (never would find out if it was a man or a woman) made a left turn in front of me!  I tried to stop but couldn't because I was too far down the slope, then I tried to swerve and the car driver wouldn't yield and I and my Trek 730 bike ended up flying through the air and I landed a couple of feet away my forehead crashing too the pavement below!
My bike, luckily for me, landed just inches away and probably cushioned the fall for me, just a bit in terms of my body core.  For several minutes, which seemed like an eternity, I layed there with my forehead open and with blood gushing out wondering to myself where was the driver and why weren't they returning.  I then realized that I felt exposed, even naked to the possibility of other drivers perhaps running into me.  Somehow I was able to lift my head and then the rest of my body, quick release the tires on my Trek 730 and get myself and the bike off of the road and onto a grassy area in the right of way not too far away from the apartment complex on the corner opposite of where the car had sent me and my bike flying.  When I did get up briefly to do that, the usual bright Florida sun seemed even more brighter than before reminding me of the Classic Rock song, "Blinded By The Light", as blood ran into my eyes from my forehead (I've heard that that is a common thing for head injury victims to experience light in brighter hues than they normally would.)   I also noticed a young woman outside of her apartment quickly go inside of her apartment.

As I lay there on the grass, again for what seemed like an eternity, I continued to feel exposed and yes, even naked, and wondered if anyone even took notice of what was happening.  That's when I heard a woman's footsteps in the grass and then heard what I assumed was the young woman I had seen earlier yell out at me, "Are you okay?"  I know she was trying to be helpful, but at the time all I could think of was, "Oh, yes, I just love to lay in the grass with my head open bleeding.  I do it for a past-time."  A few seconds later I heard sirens and then the two EMS workers took me inside to the woman's apartment as I was able to mouth that the sunlight was too much.  The one EMS worker continued to make sure I was conscious by holding up his fingers and the other one prepared the (I'm forgetting the name of it, exactly) thing that they lay you on to transport you in the EMS vehicle.  I did overhear the young woman give a description of the vehicle, to the police officer, but she couldn't get the driver's license number and the driver was never caught, and that would make me feel so much indignity at the thought that the driver had just left me there with no thought that I might be someones son, brother, nephew, uncle or cousin (all of which I was at the time) or even maybe father (which I wasn't), but more importantly didn't I deserve better than that just as a human being?   The EMS workers I would find out about 3 hours later after I awoke upright, from some medicine they had given me at the scene, in the emergency room they had transported me to Tampa General hospital about 20 minutes to the south of the University of South Florida (the University of South Florida hospital at the time was not nearly the hospital it would later become.) 

As I sat there, in a groggy state, I heard my brother's voice, and the doctor talking to him saying that I was purely lucky that I didn't fall into a permanent coma!   I also noticed that I had a huge white bandage wrapped around my head, and could feel the surgical scars underneath on my forehead of the stiches that I received where my head had been opened.   I was allowed to go back to our apartment that night, but I could only go to sleep upright.  And my brother had to come into my bedroom for what seemed every half-hour, but was instead only every hour to make sure I didn't lie down and perhaps fall into a coma!  (To say that was one of worst nights of sleep I ever had is an understatement.)   For about a week and a half I had to wear the bandage around and had to be careful how I washed my head and hair.  I was so relieved when the doctors removed my bandage and also the stiches, because I was never so grateful to get home and shampoo my hair as I was that day.  During the time I had the bandage on I did use it in a very humorous way as I pretended to my classmates that I was Johnny Carson's character of Carnac the Magnificent and could read what was inside envelopes!  But the pain of realizing that I might have been moments away from a permanent coma and being left on the side of the road with such an injury lingered throughout that week and a half.  Luckily that Trek 730 bike survived intact, had to put the quick release tires back on, but that was a wonderful thing.  And I did drive my bike again through that area, where I had my accident, although it took me a couple of weeks to do so as I guess I had survivor's trauma.

At the time I had my bike accident one of the classes I was taking to get my Bachelor of Arts in History was a Public Speaking course.  Shortly after, in April 1985, having my bandage and stiches removed I was told by the instructor of the Public Speaking course that if I did not get an "A" in my last speech a persuasion speech I would not be able to get a "B" and would be left with only getting a "C" something I really DID not want to have happen.  So, I decided to research the issue of why the University of South Florida Tampa campus area and the Tampa Bay area as a whole had not bike lanes and bike routes (or very little), at the time, and what could be done to lobby our government officials to get them to start being put up and drawn.  I even found supporting evidence that in Gainesville, Florida around the University of Florida campus that the amount of bike fatalities had sharply decreased in more than half due to the amount of bike lanes and bike routes they had there.  I also used my bandage that I kept in my persuasion speech and sure enough I got my "A"!  But I got even something more to be proud of from that speech a few years later, when in October 1988 I was volunteering on the campaign of then Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis for U.S. President and I met up with a young woman who had been a classmate of mine, in that Public Speaking course, who was also working on Dukakis's campaign but was also lobbying for getting bike lanes and bike routes throughout the Tampa Bay area.  That's when I found out from her that that group was using notes from my persuasion speech for their lobbying purposes!  She asked me if minded, and I said, "NO!", because I was just thrilled that what I said was being used to try and prevent bike accidents like mine from occurring again!  I did say jokingly, "Maybe I should have had my speech copyrighted!"  We laughed, I really didn't mean that.  To me, it wasn't about getting the glory, it was about doing the right thing to prevent bike accidents like mine from occurring again.   I didn't want another person to feel exposed and even naked after being left so cavalierly lying on the road with their forehead split open or worse.   To me, I know it may sound naive to some, but it isn't about one person, it's about the end result of some better outcome. 

Yes, I do miss that Trek 730, but it served me well, and it was a survivor just like I was.  I have been back in the Tampa Bay area since, and I am always so thrilled and so proud that more and more bike lanes and bike routes have sprung up in the area and I am so proud that my persuasion speech helped to make that happen! 

A few years ago, I was again in the Tampa Bay area, in March 2009 (on a day not too disimiliar to the day that I had my bike accident 24 years earlier) , and I got off a Transit bus near 56th Street and the road where I had my accident (me and my brother's complex was still there) and decided to walk down that street in the opposite direction from where I had started to make my way to that apartment back in March 1985.  I was totally amazed and so proud when I got to the five blocks before where I had my bike accident.  Indeed, I was amazed because in the intervening years the people of that area (I recognized the apartment complex where that young woman had called 911 and had come out to see if I was okay) had let those five blocks be bulldozed down into a flat surface, had replaced it with sand, and then had let grass grow and had built side lanes big enough for both bike riders and walkers.  When I got to that area, several bike riders passed me by with one of them looking at me as though I had lost my mind (in some respects I felt as though I did, because in my pride my mind was just totally blown away that I knew that there would never ever be a bike rider or cyclist that suffered the same indignity as I did 24 years earlier!)   I started saying outloud, that this was so wonderful that no one on a bike would ever have to face the injury or worse that I did because of the vision that was before me created by the residents, obviously, of that area.  A young man, who was walking his dog suddenly asked me what I was talking about and I told him the story of what this place looked like back in March 1985 and about my bike accident and he was totally blown away and he said to me that he was also a bike rider and that he was very thankful and proud of what I had accomplished.  I smiled and said thank you and wished him well in his travels on his bike.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A story, about my youth and bike riding.

Jett Marks suggested that I share a story with everyone from my youth in regards to bike riding and the fact that I created a word that not many other people know about.

I grew up in New Port Richey, Florida and I remember that my family and the community always encouraged interests non-motorized bike riding.  They also had a lot more, at that time, in the late 1960's and early 1970's encouragement to make sure car drivers realized that bike riders had the same rights and responsibilities as did the car drivers.

On November 8, 1969, when I turned 6 years old I received my first bike (can't remember make or model, but it was one of many of children bikes that you see throughout the world at that time; I was kind of a late bloomer to biking -- more on that at some other time) and I remember that the New Port Richey bike police held classes at the New Port Richey Recreation Department on how to properly ride our bikes, which was with the traffic actually driving your bike.  (Just as in this day and age with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition's Confidant City Cycling you are instructed to do.) 

Anyway, that's how I rode my bike and so did ALL kids and adults in New Port Richey driving with the same rights and responsibilities as car drivers with the traffic not against it.

But when I was about 13 or 14 years old, either in 1977 or 1978, a group of bullies down the street from where I lived tried to convince me that it was okay to ride your bike on the sidewalk (which it is not and even back then it was considered illegal in most states in the U.S. and in Canada.) 

So, one day, a few days later because I was in a rush to go to the Potter's IGA on Main Stret to help either one of my sisters or mom with buying an ingredient they needed to make that night's dinner and after meeting  up with those bullies who continued to insist that it was okay to ride your bike on the sidewalk -- I unwisely did that!

Well, imagine my surprise when the walkers on the sidewalk in downtown New Port Richey gave me very interesting and telling stares.  But it got more interesting and a bit disturbing when  New Port Richey police officer started following me in one of  those blue cars of theirs.  Then the police officer stopped me and cited me and warned me about how illegal it was to ride your bike on the sidewalk.  Well, I immediately got off the sidewalk and started driving my bike on the road with the traffic on Main Street!  (I also decided to never listen to those bullies, ever again!) 

And then as time went along, both in New Port Richey, when I had to drive my bike elsewhere such as to St. Petersburg Junior College in Tarpon Springs one time (10 miles from home), when I was going to the University of South Florida in Tampa, when we moved later to Decatur, GA and then for a brief amount of time when we moved to the Northlake area of Atlanta I never ever again rode my bike on a sidewalk -- up to the summer of 1997 when I did have to give it up for awhile (see first post by me.)  

And when I walked, which I still do, and sometime had to and wanted to do even as I continued to drive my bike -- whenver I walked on the sidewalk and also then saw a bike rider ride the sidewalk from my experience with the New Port Richey officer back in 1977/78, I decided that I'd tell those folks riding their bike on sidewalks, "That this wasn't a 'siderideyourbike'!"   Creating my own new compound word, 'siderideyourbike' which was a bunch of nonsense and quite illegal, since they are 'sidewalks' -- your suppose to walk on them folks!  (Of course, there is the alternative compound word:  'sideparkyourcar' to describe the annoyance of seeing a car parked illegal on a sidewalk!)       

Well, here I go starting a blog.

It was suggested by Jett Marks that I start a blog, so here I go.  Whether anyone reads it or not is a different question.  I have a lot of different interests and some that I don't know whether I should post or not.  I think I will open it up by saying I'm trying to get back into non-motorized bike riding (not racing) after an absense of 13 years and it seems that I'm not always finding that people are opening to me about in honesty in the Atlanta area about bike riding and that can be kind of annoying especially for someone who had a major bike accident caused by a hit and run driver when I was 21-years old.