6/03/2008

Indestructible Bicycle Man pedals across Florida


Alan Snel, an old friend of mine in Tampa, has accomplished something remarkable. He’s ridden a bicycle across Florida from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. That’s about 170 miles, and he did it in a dawn-to-dusk trek Sunday from Vero Beach on the Atlantic side to Clearwater on the Gulf Coast.

Pedal-powered marathons are nothing new to Al. He’s biked across the U.S. and makes an annual circumnavigation of Lake Okeechobee on his bicycle. He does the trip around the giant lake on the 140-mile-long Herbert Hoover Dike. A few years ago, he also dared to take on New York City traffic when he commuted by bicycle to a job in Manhattan.

Al made the trip Sunday to honor the memory of his friend Bill Fox, who was killed in a bicycling accident in upstate New York in 2002. Al was accompanied on his trip by a road crew that included friends and fellow bicycle enthusiasts.

Al’s account of his trip can be viewed on his blog, “Alan Snel’s Bicycle Stories and other Misadventures on the Road of Life” (
http://alansnel.blogspot.com/).

The photo above shows Al cooling his feet in the Gulf of Mexico after he completed his trip. Al didn’t say who shot the picture.

I’ve known Al since the early 1990s, when we covered the same local politics beat for intensively competing newspapers in Florida. We’d spend our days trying to beat each other’s brains out on the news front, and then meet for beers and baseball at Thomas J. White Stadium (aka “The Tommy”), home of the Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets in Port St. Lucie. Al didn’t bother taking a car to the stadium. He’d ride his bike.

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