This blog usually discusses legal issues and topics. Once in a while, though,
something else is important enough to be worth mentioning here. This is
one such story.
A Tampa area woman just set a world record for cycling. Amanda Coker, 24,
just finished riding more than 86,500 miles in one year. This number is
absolutely staggering. The prior record for women was about 30,000 miles,
which breaks down to 82 miles a day. Coker almost tripled this record,
biking an average of more than 230 miles daily for a full year (for perspective,
230 miles is roughly the distance from St. Petersburg to Jacksonville).
Coker even crushed the men’s record. Kurt Searvogel set a new world
record of 76,000 miles just a little more than a year ago. That seemed
amazing at the time, but his record stood for less than 18 months. Coker
actually began riding with Searvogel during his record-setting year, which
prompted her to seek a record of her own.
Again, it’s hard to convey how huge an achievement this is for Coker.
Many accomplished bike racers have never knocked out 100 miles in a day.
An even smaller number have hit the 200 miles per diem mark. Many cyclists,
including highly accomplished ones, don’t ride 230 miles in a week.
The fact that Coker cranked out these average miles per day is an almost
incomprehensible feat of human endurance. It’s so mind-boggling
that skeptics popped up in the online cycling community and doubted she
was really doing what she said. However, her speed and mileage were recorded
through reliable methods. And anyone who wanted to personally investigate
could go to Flatwoods and see her grinding the miles out every day.
Coker pulled this off at our very own Flatwoods Park, which is east of
Tampa near Fletcher Avenue and I-75. The choice made sense: the Flatwoods
bike loop is closed to vehicle traffic, so Coker did not have to worry
about cars and trucks (more about that below). But as one who cut his
cycling teeth riding at Flatwoods, I can tell you that while the trail
there is safe, it’s not exactly
Most of the trees in Flatwoods are tall spindly pines. Wind cuts right
through those trees, and a rider turning to face a headwind will often
see their speed drop by several miles per hour. There are few shady spots
on the entire seven-mile trail, and the heat and humidity on summer days
is brutal. Flatwoods also gets monotonous after a while. Just having the
self-discipline to keep circling that same seven miles all day without
going nuts is pretty extraordinary.
If all this isn’t enough for you, you should know that Coker did
this after suffering a serious bike crash in 2011. A distracted driver
struck her, along with her father, and left her with a traumatic brain
injury. Coker faced a long recovery, suffered from depression and anxiety,
and had to leave school. Her ride has been therapeutic for her and inspirational
for cyclists around the world trying to recover from serious injuries.
There is a lot of depressing news in the world. This news is not. We should
all marvel at and be inspired by what Ms. Coker has done right here in Tampa.