2012-03-14 / Outdoors

Southwest Florida is crankin’ with events

There was quite an impressive combination of non-motorized transportation on display when 300 of the thousands of folks who came to the opening of JetBlue Park took BikeWalkLee up on the offer to park their bikes in a bike parking corral, thus saving themselves the hassle of driving and finding parking. That option was no easy task at an event that created massive traffic jams, both on Daniels Parkway and inside the park perimeter “roads” (a term I use loosely).

Almost to a person, the most common comment besides a hearty “thanks” was “will this service be available for all of the games?” Unfortunately, it is not. But if Lee County Parks and Recreation and the Red Sox stay true to their word of this being a “green” facility, the current less-than-adequate number of bike parking spaces will be expanded to accommodate everyone who would use them. Let’s wait and see if the letter of support the Red Sox submitted endorsing Lee County’s plan to improve the bike and pedestrian paths and on-road features that lead to JetBlue Park was more than words on paper. I have high hopes they’ll come through.

A week later, the Hooters Half Marathon took place along McGregor Boulevard, over the Edison Bridge, and back past the former Red Sox home, City of Palms Park. More than 1,100 runners braved an early race downpour and then punishing wind. But in the end, finishers were rewarded with the usual first-class treatment this Hooters/ Omni event is known for, not to mention clearing skies and a top-notch band. Ryan Hopper of Cincinnati, the men’s winner, kicked butt, winning by more than five minutes. The women’s winner, Sarah Wanzo of Florida’s Fernandina Beach, was no slouch either, besting her closest competitor by almost three minutes.

Besides sponsors Hooters and the Omni Club, I can’t say enough about the Fort Myers Track Club’s preparation and race management, the many volunteers’ dedication, and the city of Fort Myers’ cooperation in what is a very challenging event for everyone, but one that pays many dividends for the whole community. Thanks to all, runners included.

At the same time Hooters was taking place in Fort Myers, the annual Royal Palm Ride was being staged from Buckingham. And just like the run, those heading out for the 100-miler were dealing with a downpour and wind. In this case, the cyclists waited out the passing front’s weather. Considering the weather, it’s amazing that anyone decided to ride. But many did, a testament to their hardiness.

Among those riding was a family that decided to meet in Florida just to take part in the event together, a mom and dad from Colorado, and a son from New York. While the ride may have been painful, the lunch provided by Hollywood Bikes and the sunshine that followed seems to have made it an excellent family reunion. And not only did Caloosa Riders Bike Club plan and manage this event, but it sent volunteer cyclists to Hooters to help out there as well. That says a lot about CRBC.

Upcoming events

Our area’s oldest running event, the 36th annual Lehigh Spring Fest 4-Miler, takes place Saturday, March 17. Then a newcomer, Get Your Rear in Gear 5K, to promote and benefit colon cancer awareness, is happening at Twins/Hammond Stadium, on Saturday, March 24. And, of course, the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb (www.lungusa.org/ pledge-events/fl/fort-myers-climb-fy12/), takes place on Saturday, April 28, at High Point Place in downtown Fort Myers.

Advocacy update

The 2012 Florida Legislative Session is almost history as of this column’s submission. As the dust settles, we’ll see how things shake out for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users, among others. One piece of legislation that will have implications appears to be heading to the governor’s desk. SB390/HB1223, a multi-issue bill, clarifies the mandatory bike lane law and allows cyclists who are cited for having no lights to forego a fine by showing proof of obtaining/installing them, among other things (other elements are not so good). Check for details of this and many others at BWL’s blog (http://bikewalklee. blogspot.com/).

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.

— Dan Moser is a league cycling & CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334- 6417.

Upcoming Events

Running/Walking:

Lehigh Spring Fest 4-Miler, Saturday, March 17, Lehigh Acres (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)

Get Your Rear in Gear 5K, Saturday, March 24, Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)

L.O.S.T. 5K (Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail), Saturday, March 31, Okeechobee (www.okeechobeerotary.org/)

For more Lee County running events, visit Fort Myers Track Club (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) and 3-D Racing (www.3dracinginc.com). For Naples/Collier running info, it’s the Gulf Coast Runners (www.gcrunner.org). Charlotte County running information is at www.zoomersrun.com. Walkers can visit www.meetup.com/ Walking-SWFL. Cycling & Other Events:

Pedal & Play in Paradise Ride, Saturday, March 31, Punta Gorda (http://pedalandplayinparadise.com/)

L.O.S.T. Bike Ride (Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail), Saturday, March 31, Okeechobee (www.okeechobeerotary.org/)

Fight for Air Climb, Saturday, April 28, High Point Place, downtown Fort Myers (www.lungusa.org/pledge-events/fl/fort-myers-climbfy12/)

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