Ride for Veterans

Cycling and anything that keeps the wheels turning. Marine veteran remembering the time I served as well as looking to help others.

Getting some tail, and using my fingers.

Catching the tail wind on a brief ride tonight.

There’s nothing better than riding in the same direction as the wind. Doesn’t happen too often here in Orlando either due to luck, or the great stints of weather I end up riding in. When it does though I fully appreciate the added boost. The soundtrack to tonight’s ride brought to you by DJ Swan. Good buddy of mine and always has a great mix to pedal to. You can check out some of his tracks here.

It wasn’t a very long ride tonight, I wanted to do it more for speed and intensity to check on something my body has been doing. Too many migraines this week to ignore. I’m thinking there is a connection with my blood pressure. That or I have just been around too many other people that have been pissing me off. Both are plausible.

What the hell is the matter with people?

The-Big-Lebowski-WTF-GifThe end of July has always been a fuzzy time for me in the past. This year it’s just been filled with an abundance of inner issues. Combine that with the mini interactions I have with people, you know the ones that make one want to run head first into a brick wall.

A quick example of one of those mini interactions occurred tonight. I like to call these type of people too stupid to let their brain catch up to their own dumb. I’ll try to put that in plain English or something that makes sense. Ever watch someone do something you know is going to be wrong and at the same time you can see it on their face that they know it as well? Well in these instances these people are being stupid at such great speeds that it’s damn near impossible for them to stop the current actions.

This type of driver deserves a brick through the window.

 

Not too sure why drivers pull this maneuver, but they do constantly. Speeding past a cyclist only to slam on their brakes and cut in front of them to make a right turn. I’m thankful that I have quick enough reflexes to stop myself from slamming into the side of vehicles that do this. Wouldn’t it be much easier to wait 0.5 seconds for the cyclist to pass the road you wish to turn down?

The special person that cut me off tonight received a double dose of my erect fingers. Letting them know just how appreciative I was of their driving skills.

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Now how many of you perverts read the title of this post and assumed I was talking about a girl? For shame!

Running red lights without wearing a helmet.

Settling into a new home.

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Sorry that my posts have been few and far between lately. I recently moved to a new location within Orlando and have been working on getting everything situated. Can’t wait to get out on the bike once everything settles and explore past my previous boundaries.

Not divulging my location, but I get the pleasure now of seeing all kinds of skilled drivers around Conroy and Kirkman road. The erratic driving of tourists and pissed off Floridians is outstanding. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the the thought process of those who speed up to 50mph just to pass a car and then slam on their brakes to sit in backed up traffic. Was that one extra spot worth putting yourselves and others at risk? frabz-STUPID-DRIVERS--STUPID-DRIVERS-EVERY-WHERE-154d1f

My riding skills will definitely be put to the test while maneuvering through this part of Orlando. Even walking a couple of miles crossing the roads in this area is like playing Frogger. My first stroll out and I witnessed three separate car accidents within a half hour. Even with all the visible hazards I still watch people putting their lives at risk, especially those on bicycles.

Stupid cyclist.

Not sure the reason, but many of the people that ride bikes throughout downtown Orlando decide not to wear helmets. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I witnessed one such person on the way home from work one morning. This guy on a bike pulled out into traffic without checking his surroundings. Weaving all over the road and running a red light at a busy intersection. It’s pretty sad when someone like myself who loves cycling has to silently curse about a fellow rider.

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My new location is much closer to work so my primary rides won’t be just commuting back and forth to work anymore. I’ll have the chance to ride as a hobby and take pleasure in exploring my area. I’m very paranoid about getting hit by a vehicle in this area, but I believe with time I’ll get used to it and figure out ways to get to safer roads. Cannot wait for those 40-50+ mile rides in my future. Which I need to be doing more of, because unless I get back on the hamster wheel or curb my high intake of calories I’m going to balloon up and become a couch commander.

Excited about the road ahead.

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My life always takes twists and turns as I’ve said in my ‘about me’ section. I have a path I’m on and like many trips it’s a little foggy. I know of destinations I’ll come across and goals that come to fruition. Each day bringing me closer to what I desire in life. Just like any new ride the road will be lined with speed bumps, road blocks and unexpected pot holes. As long as I stay focused and determined I believe I can accomplish whatever I actually set my mind to. Tomorrow will be my first real ride in my new neighborhood. Hopefully I’ll make a few new cyclist friends or have some new stories to share. Stay safe out there and keep pedaling!

 

Why even have an Iraqi army?

Why even have an Iraqi army?

The feeling of victory was short lived.

A statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls as it is pulled down in central Baghdad April 9, 2..

Many U.S. veterans have spent time overseas in Iraq. Working their asses off to rebuild an entire country so perhaps others wouldn’t need to go there. So much money and man power was spent building up the Iraqi army and police departments in hopes that they would be come self sufficient. Eleven years after the war in Iraq began the Sunni and Shiites would rather continue to fight with violence instead of rebuilding their country.

Billions of dollars was spent in order to protect them. Instead all of the humvees and other military equipment we left there is being used to take back control. Town by town I’m watching Iraqi soldiers abandon their posts. Ignoring the reality that a destroyed country left in ruins will be worthless if victory is won on either side.

My friends and I spent a year there working with contractors, the army and the police. We watched streets filled with trash and blown up vehicles turned into clean roads and beautifully painted buildings. I had predictions about Iraq while living there. I knew that it would end up back in this situation. The Iraqi people don’t have a strong central government that each group can agree on so the feeling of allegiance is nonexistent. They were more concerned about getting money from the United States during the week they wanted it. Not thinking about the future of their country.

At this point I would highly disagree with any action taken by our government to dump more money into Iraq or to send troops over to help. Especially when we have veterans either in need of medical treatment or living on the streets of America. Would not be wise to enter back into another armed conflict when we can’t even take care of the ones that were once there. What kind of message does that send to younger Americans? Why would they want to join the military when they can see the reality of their efforts when they return?

With the downsizing of the military and the constant bullshit that the Veterans Administration has been piling on we are stretched too thin. We spend too much time building up the military forces in other regions of the world while making ours weaker. I spent eight years in the Marines and it’s apparent that I escaped the nonsense just in time. For those who have been to war I would not be shocked if they persuade their children not to sign up.

Please I would like your thoughts on this situation.

Florida has a hit and run problem.

Even the police officers are doing it.


Recently I’ve been seeing a lot in the news about ‘Hit and Run’ incidents. More specifically between vehicles and either pedestrians or cyclists. One of the drivers was even a member of law enforcement. Driving away could mean the difference of life and death for those involved. I understand that in some instances the pedestrians or cyclists were being unsafe. However consider the same situations involving your loved ones. Would you want someone to drive away leaving them on the side of the road? How would you feel about a person after finding out they were the ones that kept driving?

When I tried googling “cyclists killed” or “Pedestrians killed” I was shown results that already included the state or Florida. Titles such as Florida bike deaths lead the nation, or Florida is the deadliest state for walkers and cyclists. Starting to see the problem? For those who are quick to say that it’s the tourists that are causing the problems I can promise it’s not. After almost a year on the streets here It is rare that someone from another state causes me any issues.

Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act

Recently in Tallahassee action has taken place to impose stricter punishments for those involved in these accidents. A driver by the name of Michele Traverso Struck and killed a cyclist, Aaron Cohen. An article in the Tampa Bay Times gives a brief description of the new bill.

SB 102, called the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, creates a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of four years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. The bill also imposes a minimum driver’s license revocation period of at least three years and driver education requirements for people who leave the scene of a crash.

I find this to be an outstanding step in the right direction, but its not enough to just impose fines and strict penalties. I feel the bill should be amended to include a mandatory set of classes that each offender is required to attend in order to get their license reinstated. Clearly the pedestrian and cyclist laws are not being adequately taught to drivers throughout Florida and they need to be.

A new bill introduced.

Over two years ago in Tallahassee a cyclist was struck by a vehicle and subsequently left to die on the side of the road. The driver received a sentence of two years in prison as a result. Mickey Witte, lobbyists and fellow cyclists helped to pass this bill.

A community with a common understanding that this problem needs to be corrected. Aaron Cohen left behind a widow and two children. He also left behind the reminder that roadways aren’t safe.

Drivers in and around the Orlando area.20140514-020353.jpg

I commute back and forth to work 5-6 times a week and this story could have easily been about you or I. I’ve witnessed it several times, the drivers that pay little or no attention to their surroundings. Recently I’ve began keeping track of them here.(Wall of shameful drivers)  You could be on the list…

I know the solution to these accidents can’t be eradicated overnight. I know of a bike route that’s going to stretch across the entire state of Florida that is still in the planning stage. I really hope it comes into fruition soon!

Other states have already put into place new roadways that provide for a safer shared roadway. This is a costly procedure and I don’t expect that it will be completed through most states right away. You can’t put a price on someone’s life however. With the growing cycling community throughout the United States we need to adapt and fit the needs of everyone.

Time to clear up a few misconceptions about cyclists.

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Many times I have heard the honks of vehicles or the words, “GET ON THE SIDEWALK” shouted at me. People I’ve talked to have tried to tell me that bicycles on the road is illegal and the roads are meant for cars. WRONG, in fact roads were originally created for bicycles. Read up on the facts. Each state law is different in today’s world and motorists and cyclists would benefit from reading them.

Florida law concerning bicycles: (These are some of them, the rest can be viewed here.)

(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter, except as to special regulations in this chapter, and except as to provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.
(4) No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle may attach the same or himself or herself to any vehicle upon a roadway. This subsection does not prohibit attaching a bicycle trailer or bicycle semitrailer to a bicycle if that trailer or semitrailer is commercially available and has been designed for such attachment.
(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…
6) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.
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One of the major differences between vehicles and bicycles is that they are not allowed on highways or interstates. Basically if the speed limit is higher than 55 MPH bicycles are prohibited from entering. Which there are signs all throughout Florida has signs designated to let pedestrians and cyclists know.

Unless those with the power to implement more bike lanes or educate the population on a large scale does so, drivers will need to accept the fact that cyclists and pedestrians will from time to time be on the roads. The cowardice act of hitting someone then leaving them on the side of the road is disgraceful. I agree with this new bill because 2 years in prison is not enough. In my opinion it should be weighted the same as vehicular manslaughter.

Everyone out there stay safe! Drivers and cyclists alike. We don’t need to put ourselves in a situation that requires notifying the next of kin.

Traded my bike for a box of doughnuts. (And other memories)

 

Recently while texting back and forth with one of my new friends, I learned something horrible. It stopped me dead in my tracks causing me to die a little inside. She had never been on a bike before. . . I’ll work on getting her on a set of wheels, now however is a time for reminiscence.

This made me start thinking of all the adventures and bikes I had when I was a child. Wow feeling kind of old writing about all this. My earliest memory on a bicycle is a little foggy, my mom tells it to people every now and again so it stays fresh in my mind.

My first bike.

The Training Wheels Come Off

There’s only about five to ten seconds in my memory of riding the bike with training wheels. I would make circles in the driveway or ride a little ways down the sidewalk and back again. One day my parents decided to take those training wheels off the bike.

I climbed on the bike as they watched to make sure I wouldn’t lose my balance and topple over onto the sidewalk. Then I was gone. I took off down the sidewalk and wasn’t looking back haha. My parents had to chase after me, as I continued around the block. Going faster than I ever had before on my tiny 12 inch tires. I don’t remember falling with that bike although I’m absolutely sure I did.

Miles down the road.

In my early years I wasn’t exactly not known as a klutz. I will admit though, a lot of it could have been prevented if I would have listened to people. A fantastic example of advice I should have heeded was do not wear sandals and ride your bike! Told to me by one of my uncles. This occurred a few years after my first bike, unsure of my age at the time.

Sandals were so convenient! Just slip them on, hop on the bike and take to the roads. When I returned home I would hop the curb and park my bike on the front lawn. (Didn’t have to worry about it being stolen back then.) Flying down the road towards my house I went to repeat this procedure and my foot slipped! I didn’t make the jump over the curb this time. My toe collided with all of the words I should have listened to invisibly placed on the edge of curb. Immediately my toe began flooding my sandal with blood.20140508-192430.jpg

My uncle took me inside the house directing me to the bathroom so I could place my foot in the bathtub. I believe his words were, “bet you won’t ride your bike with sandals on anymore will ya?” To this day I refuse to ride in anything other than shoes or cleats made for the bike. I cringe whenever I see others with something other than shoes on. If this happens to you it will not be a happy day.

Just like the pros!

Another great bone head accident occurred around the age of 11 or 12. My uncle’s a triathlete and would watch bike races on the TV from time to time at my grandparent’s house. I became curious as to why the riders were hunched over in such a weird position. He explained to me how aerodynamics worked and planted an idea in my mind.

I only lived about 5 or 6 miles away from my grandparent’s house depending on the route taken. The route was complete with rolling hills which allowed me to coast down them gaining addicting speed. Hmm how do I become more aerodynamic on a basic mountain bike? I tried crouching down with my chest over the handlebars at first. Wait I remember watching skiing on the winter Olympics! They would always put their hands behind them to make themselves more aerodynamic! Come on I was a pre-teen obviously I knew all there was to know about the subject.

Sitting atop one of the steepest hills I could find I readied myself. Time to break a new land speed record! Gaining speed on the descent I very slowly moved my arms and placed the hands behind me just below the seat. Turns out my hands were lower than I had anticipated and they got caught between the tire and brake mount. The side of my fingers were used as brakes, and became stuck. I lost control of the bike causing the front wheel to turn and my stomach to finish the job of slowing me down by thrusting me into the handle bar end. Showed up a while later to my grandparent’s crying and explaining why my bike didn’t work anymore. Thankfully no permanent damage was done to my fingers.

I have to include this before my mom can mention it in the comments.

Donuts

I traded a bike for a box of doughnuts, a bag of sunflower seeds and $10.00.  Trust me, these was some really good donuts! I had that bike for a couple years and had beat the crap out of it riding it all over the place. I had repainted it a couple times with the wrong type of paint and used it as if it was indestructible. To me it had lost it’s value and I was itching for a new one. What better reason to convince your parents you need a new bike than not owning one anymore. . .right?

One of my friends didn’t have a bike and really wanted one. He was a bit on the heavy side, so we always went to his place for food like pizza bites or, ugh the donuts. The original offer for the bike was the $10.00. I wasn’t just going to give my only mode of transportation away so I refused. He sweetened the deal a little with a bag of sunflower seeds, but this still wasn’t causing any handshakes. Then after talking to his older brother, basically like a car salesman talking to their manager, he came back with an offer that included a box of donuts.

Now place yourself in my mom’s shoes that day. I walk in the house with a box of doughnuts half eaten and a smile on my face. She asks me to put my bike away, and so begins the fun. “Well I don’t have a bike anymore, I traded it for this box of donuts.” The look she gave me was outstanding. From that point on whenever I would bring a girl home to meet mom, she would always be sure to retell the story. Thanks mom!

The bike after the doughnut transaction.

I’ll admit it, I was a tough kid to put up with. Especially when it came to school. I want to say it was 8th grade when this happened. I used my mind to torment my teachers in the classroom instead of behaving and getting great grades. The result was summer school, even though I still think one of my teachers honestly hated me. Summer school was held at a school a few towns over around 21 miles away.

Regular kids would take the bus back and forth between the schools to take their classes. I was not a regular kid. After play fighting on the bus with one of my friends the driver thought we were being serious and kicked us off, banning us from using the bus for transportation. The school told us our parents would need to drive us back and forth for the remaining weeks of summer. Problem is my parents wouldn’t transport me. Only option was to take my bike. :)

So each day during the week I would pedal 21 miles to school then 21 miles back home. This quickly turned into a game of beat the bus full of kids back and forth. I may have been dumb and immature that year, but I definitely got in pretty good shape haha.

High school crush and a 75 mile bike ride.

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Up until high school I think the farthest I had ever been on my bike was between 40 to 45 miles. A young naive heart will make you do some pretty dumb things. Especially when your crush leaves for part of the summer to visit their family far far away. I’ll skip all the planning because to be honest there wasn’t too much of it. I left my house around 2am and began the ride to go see my best friend.

I had never been that far on a bike before but I was determined as hell to complete it. I can’t remember how long it took, I think it was around 8 or 9 hours by the time I finally arrived. I woke her up to let her know I had arrived, as she climbed out of bed I sneaked into it stealing it and making her sleep on the couch. My legs recovered faster than anticipated and I was able to tour around Alexandria Bay, NY and meet the other part of her family.

The results of the trip wasn’t what I had hoped for. The romantic gesture and miles I put on the bike wasn’t enough to win her heart, but in hindsight I’m glad nothing happened. She still remains my best friend from high school and one I can go to when I need an ear for my mind vomit. Long story short, we had fun tubing out on the speed boat all weekend and I made out with her cousin that ended up not talking to me after a couple weeks.

The road ahead.

Meditation

Meditation

 

There are many more memories of the time I spent on a bike, but they aren’t worth mentioning. Where I am today in my life I believe there will be plenty of adventure to share with others and memories that will last through the years. There are a few scars I have yet to form on my heart and body, but I look forward to them.

My bike now is a huge part of my life and I fully intend on helping as many people as I can with it. It’s frustrating sometimes knowing there’s people out there that are barely surviving and we as a country could do something about it. If I haven’t met you in person yet I hope we will have that encounter soon. Enjoy life, find your adventure and keep pedaling!