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Cycling season is in high gear

Just look around, and all the signs of Florida's fall cycling season are here, riders say.

Mountain bike clubs such as SWAMP and Ridge Riders are busily planning their annual campouts, training rides are mild, racers are tired and local bike shops are selling loads of tights, arm warmers and lights for early morning and evening rides.

Tampa's Wes Eubank and SWAMP (SouthWest Association of Mountain Bike Pedalers) have scheduled Tuesday evening trail rides starting at dusk at Flatwoods Park.

"Headlights of at least 10 watts are needed on the bikes," Eubank said. "We always want to have fun out there, while emphasizing safety for our riders. We will have a blast"

All riders are welcome, and helmets are required. For a weather check or exact riding times, call the SWAMP hotline, (813) 689-5109.

SKINNY TIRE CHAMPIONS: The area road riders who finished atop the Florida Points Series standings include the following USA Cycling competitors:

Robin Kavan (BBC/Jetworks), Tampa, Category 1-2 women's winner; BBC/Jetworks teammate Sherri Stedje, Lutz; Sharon Penn (Hurricane Cycling Club), Temple Terrace; top Masters 30-39 racersDave Stedje, Lutz, and Mark Yeager, St. Petersburg, both BBC riders; Chris Scott, Tampa, Category 4, and Masters 40-49 rider Mark Stein, both of American Classic.

St. Petersburg's Jim Zimmer and Mark McGarry (both West Coast Wheelmen) were top Masters in 40-44, and the top Masters in 50-plus were West Coast Wheelmen teammates Dennis Sullivan, St. Pete Beach, and Pan Am Games champion Earl Henry, Pinellas Park.

The top area junior was Chris Magazino (BBC/Revolution Bikes), who won major events this year, including Chicago's Downers Grove Criterium and last month's Dade Battle Of Brilliance in Dade City. The St. Petersburg rider also beat a national caliber field to win last month's Miami Cycling Grand Prix.

RIDE WITH STARS: Tandem rider and Pinellas County sheriff Mike Platt is inviting all cyclists to the annual Ride With The Stars, 8 a.m. Dec. 1 at Fort DeSoto Park.

There will be rides of 10 and 25 miles, a paddling event, inline skating and a 5-kilometer fun walk/run.

The giveaways include kayaks, cellular phones, bicycles and bike shop gift certificates. Ride with the Stars benefits the Sheriff's Christmas Sharing Project for kids.

"Everyone is working hard for this ride, but we want riders to come out and have a good workout and have a fun time," Platt said.

To register or volunteer for the event, call (727) 582-6486.

IRONMAN FLORIDA: Last Saturday's Janus Ironman Florida Triathlon (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles) in Panama City Beach was won by Great Britain's Spencer Smith in 8 hours, 21 minutes, 30 seconds.

The women's division winner was Katja Schumacher of Germany, 9:25:57.

Top area finishers were professional Alison Hayden, Dade City, sixth, 10:25:52; and Joe Bonness, Naples, 14th overall with a 45-49 age-group record of 9:11:13.

KONA QUALIFIERS: The Janus Ironman Florida Triathlon was the first qualifying event for the 2002 Hawaii Ironman.

The following Floridians qualified: Laura DeWitt, Brooksville; Sean Hendryx, Clermont; Glenn Peroni, Groveland; Paul Reback, North Palm Beach; and Danny Stevens, Dunellon.

Other top finishers were Anders Heidemann, Belleair, sixth in clyesdales, 12:02:06; and Tampa's Lara Shaw, 10th in 11:22:22.

St. Petersburg's Bryan Bartlett used his running power to finish strong, 11:11:30, knowing his Boley Center colleagues were watching his splits at home on the race web site _

Bartlett competed as a fundraiser for needy individuals at the Boley Center for Behavioral Health Care.