Every ride eventually ends.
And I will be finishing my nine-year Tour de Tampa stint soon.
I’m going home. Not to New York.
I will complete my final Bicycle Bash event on Nov. 4 and then return to newspapers.
I am heading West. I have accepted a reporting job with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where I will cover the business of sports – a beat I have covered at other newspapers.
I didn’t expect to last nine years in Tampa, let alone the past 6 ½ years working for a group of bike shops to increase the profile of bicycling in Tampa Bay and to get politicians to understand the value of bicycling for health, transportation and economic development.
I came to Tampa to work for the Tampa Tribune and I leave happy knowing that more people in government in the Tampa, Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay area seem to appreciate the many benefits that bicycling can offer a region.
The most beautiful thing of all is that so many of you joined my little journey to make bicycling more visible to those in power.
No fewer than 15 bicycle shops in the Tampa Bay area are or were SWFBUD members, while three lawyers joined the cause and even a really terrific guy who makes world-class bike seats.
SWFBUD was a unique concept, but in the end it was not financially sustainable in the long term beyond 6 ½ years. Besides, when I bike the mountains of The West, there's an exhilaration I just don't feel when cycling the flatlands of Florida.
I will cherish all the amazing people I met through bicycling in the entire Tampa Bay region and close to home here in Seminole Heights.
I have many folders of photos to remind me of the Hub Grub Bike rides and the Seminole Heights Club treks and the Bicycle Bashes held in St. Petersburg, Hillsborough County and now Tampa on Sunday.
I have nothing but smiles when I look back. The fact is it’s you who kept me going and motivated much longer than what I thought was possible.
You have no idea how much your emails and comments of encouragement meant to me.
At the start, I found myself on a lone branch at city council or county commission meetings urging elected leaders to fund trails or stripe more bike lanes or appreciate what bicycling can do to a community. Many of the politicians on the diases looked at me with bored expressions.
Now they listen because improving bicycle conditions means our Tampa Bay region can economically compete with other metro areas across the country.
They know that to attract talented people and high-tech businesses you can’t have an area that’s known for its Ghost Bikes.
So Sunday will be last Bicycle Bash. I’ll be around at the SWFBUD tent, so swing by and say hi.