April 2013 President’s Message as printed in WheelSpeak
Greetings members and friends,
The final action items are being worked on to bring the North Florida area our annual Spring Event, The Tour de Forts at Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County. Although this will be our first year in this location, we have seen this event grow steadily from low 300 participants to over 400 last year. This year we would love to see us break the 500 rider mark. I often hear the sports radio folks say that Jacksonville has the reputation of being a walk-up and pay town. However, do not wait to register for this event as online registration changes after April 14 and the window to include a T-shirt for $10 above the base entry fee will close. At $25 for members, this ride is priced to make it affordable without losing any of the day of ride features like roving SAG vehicles, motorcycle escorts, local bicycle shop mechanic support at every rest stop, fully stocked stations and a post-ride meal. Just choose your distance from 28, 38, 68 or 100 miles and get ready for a great event. Again, many thanks to Dave Townley and team they have thought of everything and are working hard to deliver a top-notch event to you.
Another strong addition to our leadership board this year has been Robert Knox as WheelSpeak Editor and the unofficial social media communicator. I add that last “title” as it is something we had asked him to take the lead on with regard to our facebook site. Robert has stepped up the interactive postings that people have responded to and practically posts photos and narrative of the member's meeting in real-time. This increased activity has resulted in a strong uptick in “likes” and dialogue on our site which now has 855 fans from around the world. We now have people from out of the area asking about buying our jerseys after seeing them on the facebook page. Way to go, Robert! Keep up the good work.
Speaking of our really sweet jersey design, it is on sale again. Purchase one and wear it with pride. Our jersey has become one of the most recognized club jerseys in the state and is been displayed on the roads in other countries too. Jonathan Tomassetti, who travels to Asia several times a year, sent back a couple of photos with him wearing it in Bangkok, Thailand. Christian Velasco and I proudly wore our NFBC jerseys in La Vuelta de Puerto Rico. If you are a member of either the Charity Ride Team or the NFBC Travel Team you are required to wear it to earn club mileage at events. If you are new to either of those groups, now is the time as we only open the sales window when we believe unit sales will exceed the minimum order quantity. Go to the Voler website to place your order http://www.voler.com/custom/ordering/li/3283. I’m thinking about ordering a wind vest this time around. They are very nice.
As I mentioned earlier, we host monthly gatherings for club members at The Mudville Grille in the St. Nicholas area of town – where Beach and Atlantic converge, near Bishop Kenny High School. If you have never come out to one you are truly missing out. Board member, Len Burroughs, has been doing an excellent job of lining up speakers of various topics from prevention of cycling injuries to the organizers of local charity rides. We normally draw around 50 or more club members who come to dine, fellowship and hear what’s going on in the local cycling scene. Just in the last two months, two different speakers have presented rides that recognize the loss of young men who died from injuries when struck by vehicles. City Cycle owner, Drew Johnson presented the Mt. Acosta Bridge Ride and Heather Neville came in the following month to introduce VeloFest in St. Augustine. Both shared their passion for helping the families of these fallen cyclists and their commitment to never letting the public forget about them. Both events are this month and we are encouraging all members to get involved with these worthy endeavors.
When it comes to being involved in worthwhile activity that is near to the wheels and hearts of every cyclist, our Bert Shaw leads the way. In the past month, Bert has been a critical part of the progress that cycling advocacy has made in Duval County. Under Bert’s guidance we have attended several sessions of City Council meetings to advocate for the elimination of a second “temporary” ban on the collection of fees by Duval County for new development. A portion of those fees were to be used to fund bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, but after last year’s ban yielded negligible results, well funded lobbyists worked hard to influence city leaders to do it again. However, NFBC club members Bert Shaw, Steven Tocknell, Jeff Hohlstein, Len Burroughs and myself stepped up to the podium and presented arguments against the proposed moratorium on fees. We were not alone as over the two council meetings so many people turned out and sent emails that the city leaders were overwhelmed by the showing. The result was the proposal did not make it out of committee and is stalled. Not stopping there, Bert and others then set up meetings with city council leaders who were now interested in hearing alternatives for better funding of the Bike/Ped initiatives. Then Bert and Chris Burns, Esq. sat down with JSO Sheriff Rutherford to talk about better enforcement of laws applicable to bicycling, better education for officers and getting involved with developing public service campaign to help make our roads safer. Amazing! Thanks to everyone who came out, wrote letters, called council members or just provided encouragement. We also thank those who have been working at this for a long time like the Jacksonville Bicycle Coalition, BPAC and area bike shop owners as we all benefit from the collective momentum. We hope we’re on the way to making this a safer city for all cyclists.
As I say almost every month, we continue to do all that we can to provide the best cycling club experience possible for our members and the cycling community at large. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for any suggestions you may have to add or if you are willing to contribute some of your talents to the club.
See you on the road,