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For those of us in the Tampa Bay area, another Bicycle Bash has come and gone. This year’s Bicycle Bash by the Bay was in a new venue (Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg), had some new sponsors and was even better-attended than previous years. It was a celebration of pure bikie love under the trees!

While Bikecommuters.com didn’t have a tent this year, I still wanted to share coverage of the event for those of you who couldn’t make it down. When the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club announced that they were hosting a ride to the Bash, I jumped at the chance to join them for a cross-Bay bicycle adventure.

The day started out hot and muggy, but that didn’t keep an intrepid crew of 16 cyclists from gathering to ride across Tampa Bay. Here is the group navigating the mean streets of downtown Tampa on the way over to the Bash:

going

And the view for a good portion of our ride — Tampa Bay from atop the Gandy Bridge:

gandy

Once we got there (about a 26 mile journey from our start point to Straub Park), we were greeted with a beautiful venue tucked under the trees. Shade was hard to come by at last year’s Bash in Vinoy Park, so this was a blessed sight after a hot ride over. The park is on the south side of the upscale Vinoy Hotel, and the landscaping, artwork and pavillion were all gorgeous.

First stop, the vintage BMX collection:

bmx

And a view of “tent city” from a distance:

tent city

Many local bike shops were in attendance…including all eight member stores of the Southwest Florida Bicycle United Dealers (SWFBUD), the parent organization that puts on the Bash. Lots of other bike friends were there, including the folks from the Tampa Bay Bike Co-op, the St. Pete Skirts, affiliated businesses and advocacy groups like Tampa BayCycle, Cure on Wheels and others. One of my favorite restaurants in the Tampa Bay area was there serving food, too: the legendary Columbia Restaurant, which has been serving delicious Latin-influenced treats continuously since 1905 (interesting factoid: their flagship location in Ybor City takes up an entire city block).

Look at all this bike love:

crowds

The venue was PACKED with folks of all bicycling persuasions…from fixie kids to triathletes, roadies to cruisers, toddlers to old-timers:

crowds2

One of the highlights of my day was spotting this Indian bicycle rickshaw…I don’t think the guy was giving rides, but it was sure nice to see such an unusual machine mixing it up with all the carbon, steel and aluminum on display around the Bash:

rickshaw

A good sized group of fixed-gear devotees was in attendance…there was word that some of them would be putting on a trick demo, but it didn’t happen while I was there:

fixie

Here’s the pavillion where the MC, John Sinibaldi, set up for the day, and also where bicycle-touring musician Rachel Van Slyke performed a couple acoustic sets for the crowd. The Vinoy Hotel is in the background:

pavillion

Did I mention the beautiful waterfront view of the park? This is on the back edge of Straub Park — a tranquil view and a great place to hang out with fellow cyclists throughout the day:

waterfront

Here are Seminole Heights Bicycle Club members Ken and Steve — nice guys who also pitch in periodically to help me test bicycles for Bikecommuters.com. If you look closely, you might even see that Ken is wearing our limited edition Walz Cap:

shbc

Well, the day was gettin’ on and it was time to saddle up and ride home. Most of the original pack regrouped and we got going. We were all bathed in the warm afterglow of another successful and fun Bicycle Bash, chatting with old friends and meeting new ones. We’re all already looking forward to next year’s event!

Paceline heading home:

paceline

It wasn’t over yet, though…as road debris claimed its first victim of the day. One of our riders flatted as we left St. Pete, and he held an impromptu “flat tire repair demo” for us:

flat

The day would claim one more victim, too…almost all the way home, our friend Doug flatted due to a piece of glass. In his haste to get home, he blew out his replacement tube, too. Luckily, a Good Samaritan had another spare and another cartridge of C02 to share, so we were all able to make it home safely. When it was all said and done, I had 55.3 miles on the cyclocomputer, a touch of sunburn and a sore butt and the fond memories of a really great time at the 2009 Bicycle Bash by the Bay. I hope you enjoyed my little photo tour, and if you are in the area next year, you should consider coming to the event…it gets bigger and better with every year!

For even more coverage and photographs, please visit our friend Alan Snel’s blog. He’s got three sets of photos to share.