[UPDATE] Cyclists Tackle 600 Miles of Florida Road

By: FSU PD Major Jim Russell; Eyewitness News Email
By: FSU PD Major Jim Russell; Eyewitness News Email

[UPDATE] 3-28 11:32am --

On the same hard pavement many avoidable traffic accidents occur in Florida, a team of cyclists, in collaboration with the Dori Slosberg Foundation, FSU Police Department, Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and event sponsor the Geico Philanthropic Co., traveled throughout Florida to ride a message home: "Survive the Drive". In this case, home was 600 miles away at the State Capitol.

Exactly 6 days later, onlookers dressed in green, cheered at the arrival of the cyclists entering the Old Capitol on St. Patrick's Day. Legislators, law enforcement officials, and students were present for the completion of the Geico Road Safety Bicycle Tour. Those gathered stood to recognize the importance of road safety and the risks of careless driving, an issue all citizens can be subject to, while awaiting the press conference.

The Geico Road Safety Bicycle Tour was in memory of loved ones lost including John Wilson, a Boca Raton firefighter who lost his life after being struck by a vehicle on his bicycle weeks before in Jupiter. His wife, Mary Wilson, sons, and local firefighters stood in solidarity on the steps of the Old Capitol.

The tour began on March 12th at Florida International University in North Miami, and continued to Boca Raton Fire Rescue Station 5, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Station 16 in Jupiter, The University of Central Florida, Seminole State College, The University of Florida, and The Florida State University.

During each stop, families who lost loved ones spoke on the detriments of dangerous driving behaviors, not limited to drunk driving, but also texting while driving, not buckling up, and car surfing that constantly occur on our roads. Demonstrations of the rollover vehicle, seatbelt simulator, and fatal vision goggles gave the public the opportunity to visually understand the impact of hazardous behaviors when driving.

During Florida Road Safety Week, the Geico Road Safety Bicycle Tour demonstrated its dedication to "Survive the Drive" on our roads and highways. The Dori Slosberg Foundation encourages everyone to get involved and make our roads safe for everyone who shares them.

Contact www.dorislosberg.org or call (561) 488-7900 for further information.

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16 5:27 pm

The team arrived expressing that today was, "the hardest" day of the tour, with over 92 miles completed for the day. It was a day filled with aches and pains, including requiring one rider to take a 30 minute break from riding due to a painful IT band in her right leg.

They are very excited about Thursday's ride into the Capitol, and are feeling very accomplished not only for the miles they put in, but especially for the many people they have reached with their message of traffic safety and responsibility on the road. They have survived the ride, now they want one more day to express to everyone Survive the Drive!

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 15 1:57pm

The community comes together in many ways to support our mission. The Alton Church of God outside of Mayo, FL opened their doors for the riders to rest. Thank you Pastor Tim Hamm!

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 17 1:43 pm

Strong head winds and cross winds are taking their toll on the team. Legs hurting and tendons are tightening up. As team captain Karin Clausen says in reference to the wind, "It's breaking us off out there!"

40 more miles to go until Perry. The team is really earning their miles, but this is what it is about. They are putting themselves through this so people will listen to their message and make traffic safety and responsibility a priority!

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 17 10:50am

Riders and crew got to sleep in an hour for a 9am ride start from Gainesville. Riders are looking good and riding strong. Valeria's bike was repaired in Gainesville at a local bike shop, Super Cool Bikes, who stayed open past hours just to help her out. Now her bike is running crisply.

Currently, we are 21 miles north of Gainesville on rest stop one at an Alachua County Fire Rescue station. Weather outlook looks good and the cyclists are starting to feel the impending accomplishment they are about to complete.
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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 16 5:30pm

Riders had a grueling trek from Lake Mary to Gainesville today. 116 miles with a deadline to get to a major event at UF. They pushed hard and completed a very disciplined ride. Along the way, Bruce Doras had a close call when descending a bridge, and Karin Clausen had symptoms of dehydration sickness. Finally, Valeria Nolla de Maxwell's bike finally had to be taken in for repairs after the ride due to shifting issues.

Several persons gave the riders encouragement with clapping and thumbs-up signs, and the cyclists truly appreciated the motivational expressions!

Tomorrow, the team hits the roads again for 91 miles to Perry, FL.

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 16 3:46pm

Incredible welcome at UF! We had about 10 motorcycles, 4 police cars, a fire rescue unit, and more escort us onto the campus. Then a photo shoot at the football stadium, and a safety fair at the Plaza of the Americas. Wow!

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 16 12:28pm

Team approaching Ocala. Bruce has a flat tire 7 miles from rest stop #4. Team is still looking good, but the daytime heat is starting to set in. This will start to increase their hydration needs. They will need to keep plenty of water and electrolytes on board, and eat regularly. They will shut down quickly if they lack proper intake of water and food.

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 16 10:59am

Team still looking strong. They are headed toward rest stop #3 somewhere in the Ocala National Forest. Looks like about a mile and a half from us now.

Word is that University of Florida is going all out with a safety fair waiting for the cyclists to arrive. FHP has an escort in place bringing us into the Gainesville area.

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 16 9:59AM

Team looking good. Some pain creeping in. Karin has back pain, Mickey Witte has some pain in her right knee, and Valeria Nolla de Maxwell dealing with IT band issues in her right leg. Spirits are good and many people have stopped along the road to clap and give the thumbs up.

FHP taking good care of us, and EMS Units are keeping their eyes on us as we progress up the state.

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL TUESDAY, MARCH 16 9:35AM

Today will be a monster - 116 miles from Lake Mary to the University
of Florida. Team leaves at day break with a target arrival time at
2:15pm. Team is holding up well, but some issues with tendon
soreness and aches and pains. Expecting them to have to dig deep to make it on time. The event at UF is supposed to be big, and we
expect somewhere around 6 law enforcement agencies to be part of the escort into campus.

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UPDATE FROM MAJOR JIM RUSSELL MONDAY, MARCH 15

The team is in Cocoa Beach now after a great Day 1 and 2. 116 miles yesterday, and today, we head in to UCF and Seminole State College.

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PRESS RELEASE --

Between March 12 and 17, 2011, a team of dedicated and driven bicycle riders representing traffic safety professionals and stakeholders, will be riding from Miami to Tallahassee in a demonstration of their dedication to getting the word out about road safety. As part of Florida Road Safety Week, an initiative of the Dori Slosberg Foundation, and in partnership with the FSU Police Department, Florida DHSMV, Florida DOT, and the event sponsor GEICO, the riders will complete nearly 600 miles of cycling in six days.

During the ride, the cyclists, those who have lost loved ones to car crashes and invited officials will attend and speak at traffic safety events at the Florida International University North Miami Campus, Boca Raton Fire Rescue Station 5, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Station 16 in Jupiter, The University of Central Florida, Seminole State College, The University of Florida, and The Florida State University. The events are open to the public and will give attendees the opportunity to experience the rollover vehicle, seat belt simulators, fatal vision goggles and there will be appearances by the Vince & Larry Crash Dummies.

The ride will officially conclude on the steps of the Old Florida Capitol at 12 noon on March 17, where the riders, dignitaries and officials will address all Floridians of the importance of road safety and responsibility, because above all, everyone using the roadways must “Survive the Drive”.

The riders will also be escorted by law enforcement officers from the FSUPD, Florida Highway Patrol, and local agencies participating and enthusiastic about preventing needless injuries and fatalities on Florida roads. Florida’s citizens from all walks of life are asked to take time to come out and support the events.

If being at the events is not possible, the team can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FLRoadsafety and on Facebook under the Community “Florida Road Safety Week – The GEICO Road Safety Bicycle Tour”. Together, a unified Florida can save lives!


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