American Road Cycling

[ Home | Rides | Chatter Box | Comics | About | Fees | Join | Members | FAQContact | Dedication ]   


Classic Version | Safari Reader Friendly

Article #19
Bicycling Heaven (uncensored)

- SlingShot

"NO SHIT! Average...?"

"That's right..." responded the bicycle shop owner and turned back into the darkened recesses of the maintenance room. There was an almost smoky aura to the sun speared air that quietly surrounded him and the cyclist he had taken time out to help. It was a typical scene, in which an already busy owner puts aside pressing tasks to help a desperate rider get back on the road while at the same time fielding questions from people off the street or on the phone. These bicycle shop owners are national treasures.

I walked out shaking my head. When I reached the car my wife (The Black Widow) asked, "So what did he say?" I had to tell her, "He said the ride averages 30 mph." She snickered, "See I told you that you were going to get dropped!"

So that's what brought me three years later to my present situation: totally dropped, long forgotten and riding alone along the squared off patches of road meandering through the orchards. It is the high plateau between Montgomery and New Paltz with the typical repeats of long relative flat stretches then a tight bend right, a tight bend left onto another long flat stretch. There's often a fast downhill to a challenging uphill, then back to the flat where the road is flanked both sides by row after row of short pruned fruit trees bound by perimeter pines and hardwood. A bright clear blue sky drapes above incredible whiffs of flowering fruit in a close and warm 75°. I could swear in fact that I really am nearing New Paltz, if not for the palm trees, plus the fruit trees are orange (not apple), and it is late January not July. Actually I'm just outside San Antonio, Florida, and did I mention dropped?

That first meeting with the bicycle shop owner, Ted Potyka (aka: national treasure) of Trail Sport, (727) 395-0509, did not lead me directly to this ride. He was telling me about the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club rides. Later that year my sister-in-law showed me an article (Confessions of a Hairy Legged Wheelsucker, by Dan DeWitt) from the St. Petersburg Times about this ride in San Antonio—attended by the TRULY hard core.

Then I kept hearing faster riders at the St. Pete rides mention San Antonio.

It is a famous ride and that article is my favorite article about bicycling and the odd people who do it. It also proves how cyclists are the same everywhere.

You can read it yourself HERE.

If you like my articles... go read that one. It is better than any of mine, and if you DON'T like my articles... well, go read that one. It is better than any of mine.

[04/25/2018: The article linked immediately above was found missing from the Saint Petersburg News website, so I redirected the link to my own backup copy.]

So after thoroughly dis-enjoying a number of meager "30 mph" rides with the St. Pete Club, and being thoroughly pumped up by the "wheelsucker" article, and continually hearing the fast of the fast mention San Antonio, I was of course attracted to the ride like a moth to flame.

I was not disappointed. I got burned and dropped just like I hoped. The ride is incredibly beautiful and, although there are no four-mile climbs like OCBC'ers are accustomed to, there are plenty of challenges along both the 40 and 62 mile loops.

My favorite stretch is marked JJ's Climb. You might call it Ridgebury on a Stick. It is also similar to Dog Hill but with longer (though less severe) climbs, and four peaks (instead of two).

At the approach all four peaks can be seen lined up along a gentle curve and looming in the distance. I'm at a loss to describe it, but spinning into that first rise, while gazing up along the gentle curve past three swells and on to that final peak gleaming above the horizon, well it can really grab you by the heart and squeeze you into excitement.

You can just feel the long history of paceline dreams that have surely been dashed on each peak. Since I'm at a loss to describe it, here's how to find out for yourself.

Glenn and Sarah Weber own the San Antonio Cyclery. The Cyclery is a world class bike shop in the diminutive San Antonio where the also diminutive Pasco County Park is the start of the rides. I can't believe anybody would waste their time in Orlando and those overcrowded Disneyworld type tourist fiascos when there's true adventure to be had just a few degrees west, so I asked them if there is any local tour group/instructor that handles excursions/training along the San Antonio routes. They said no but mentioned there is a Bed & Breakfast just down the road from the bike shop, and they've been thinking about it. I'm sure if somebody calls them with an interest they will figure something out. [Here's a ride cue sheet and another.]

The Weber's are all about service and glad to help. I had Glenn work on my Serotta with excellent results. I needed to set up an appointment, because he was frantically working on seven Christmas bikes that were in for their new-bike set ups, but he first confirmed my problem wasn't an emergency then apologized for the delay saying, "I told everyone to bring their bike in any time. This is the first time so many have come in all at once, but I promised, and I'm keeping that promise."

That statement pretty well sums up Glenn and Sarah's character and explains why their little shop way out in the boondocks is always packed full of riders and activity whenever we show up. We also have never arrived at the Pasco County Park without seeing one or a few scary-fast riders setting out for a ride.

If you get sick of the snow, and can figure out how to wrangle a little time off to take advantage of cheap fares to Florida, you can reach Glenn and Sarah at: or (352) 588-2453.

At minimum they can provide cue sheets, a map and service your bike.

Be sure to ask Glenn about the day a group showed up for the Wednesday morning ride and pulled everybody along at 30+ mph...prompting him to wave his aero little white flag while desperately calling for a time out. Turns out it was a pro team from Belgium, which is not so strange for this famous ride that has been going on for 40 years or more.

Dr. Art probably has some bikes in his museum that have been ridden here.

Also be sure to let me and The Black Widow know if you are going to be riding in San Antonio. We would relish the chance to show up and kick your ass on those hilly roads (in Florida no less), or hear about your ass getting kicked by someone else, or take an easy ride with you if that's your preference.

We should always be available, because I never did provide a segue in this article which would take me off that ride, so I must still be somewhere along the course in paragraph four above.

Riding the San Antonio ride like a ghost ship, forever, and ever, and...enough.

With the hills, the scenery, the light traffic and the weather (did I mention it is 75° here today?), the San Antonio rides are as good as it gets. Plus they are only about an hour away from the St. Petersburg rides.

I'd wager there is no better place on the planet for cycling than San Antonio, except maybe Orange County (and environs) in NY... Bicycling Heaven.



This is the article that was subjected to censorship.

The first line "NO SHIT! Average...?" was changed to "No S?! Average...?"

Furthermore, SlingShot's byline was  kicked to the bottom of the article, and review of the censored issue showed that no other bylines had been moved, only SlingShot's. This insured that the numerous readers who regularly told Bob they scanned the newsletter looking for his articles alone, while reading nothing else, would certainly miss it.

Most people (per results of informal survey), and certainly all thinking people (per results of observance of fact) will find this spelling change to be the height of petty nonsense. Those who think a little deeper into the matter will reflect on the roots of such nonsense and realize that the ramifications of letting such actions go unaddressed can be devastating. Restriction of free speech which allows the festering of the sorts of radical religious fervor that generally goes hand in hand with such knee jerk reactions to "some" words regardless of "intent"  is not something Bob can endure.

For good reason, Mr. Fugett experiences a certain intensity to his feelings against censorship; and, since the change made was only 3 letters in a single word of a 1,243 word article, he understood this to be not "editing" but censorship clearly and nothing more.

See the Spin Bitch Chronicles INTRODUCTION for further explanation about Bob's immediate withdrawal from club membership and the controversy over his pointing out that the TALIBAN had taken over the club.

The short e-mail discussion that passed between SlingShot and his wife which occurred directly after the censoring is published as E-mail Fallout.


Classic Version | Safari Reader Friendly


this page last updated:
04/25/2018 11:26:16 PM

A Def Unc T Publication