USQRA Nationals 2017-Phoenix, Arizona

I got out to Phoenix and it was a busy weekend of wheelchair rugby. There was a banquet where the Hall of Fame inductee Sebastian “Dee” DeFrancesco was inducted in.  Troy McGuirk was also elected into the Hall but could not attend. Dee is one of the true independent thinking developers of wheelchair sports. He is also an unrelenting force behind anything he does. I have known Dee for a long time and the honor was truly appropriate and deserving. 

Dee is here with Brad Mikkelson, initial inductee and USQRA Hall of Fame chairman, and Hall of Famer, Chris “Cookie” Cook who introduced Dee. There was a nice crowd and several Hall of Famers attending. It is an honor I cherish. 

The Ability 360 facility is a complex of multiple disability organizations locally and nationally on campus. These offices are incorporated into a full accessible two court gym and aquatic center. The hot tub was great. 

The halls are filled with period photographs of disability rights before the ADA.

There were other pictures as well. This picture reminded me of my long time quad buddy, Harley Freedman, who I took with a friend in a raft in the Nolichucky river. 

The facility was great.

We were able to get out one night to a great Mexican restaurant in Gilbert called Barrio Queen. Chicken enchiladas with mole. Yum.

I am the third oldest referee at the tournament. I have officiated wheelchair rugby in my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. My partner for my last game is 20 and I am 60. This was great. 

We had a hotly contested game and St. Louis beat Houston. We will have a referee dinner tonight and home tomorrow. 

Croom Forest Metric Century-

I went up to Brooksville at o dark thirty for this ride. I was signed up for the 64+ miles. My old friend Steve Diez was there. He works for the Hernando County MPO and helps with bicycle lanes, paths and trails.

It was a little cool but not for long and within a mile we began riding the local trail. 

Steve was going to go short and it was great to see him. I had not seen Steve for a bit and two weeks ago saw him at Bike Florida. I was going long and I ended up riding with a nice group of people from Witer Garden, Florida. Did I say it was hilly? Everytime we seemed to get out of some rollers a few more came our way. Went out to fast too and that did not help. The roads were gorgeous. 

We hoped on the Withalacoochee State trail a couple of times. 

I should have taken a picture of the road arrows for this ride. They were DARK GREEN. I could not make that up. It was confusing to say the least. First SAG was at mile 39+ as well. 

The next pictures of the road were just…

It was a good ride for fitness with the rolling hills. It did seem like that at the end of the day a couple hills into Brooksville were just kind of killers. Slowed at the end due to a too fast rollout and pulls. It was a beautiful day with a real nice bunch of people. Peace out Tres dog. 

Gibby and Dog do Gasparilla music festival 

I picked up my soul bro Craig for a PM show of Marcus King Band at Gasparilla and we headed for downtown Tampa. Ben Baker a wheelchair rugby player from Magee Eagles recommended this band and I could see them. It was killer to be hangin with Gibby. We first saw a band from San Diego called Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe on the main stage. They were real fun. There was an elevated handicap section. That was really good.

I was getting a little nervous about getting a good spot at the second stage above from the main stage so away we went. It was a bit of an adventure and not well marked for wheelchair users. We were able to be in front of the barricade behind the VIP section. It was difficult for Gibby to see at times. There was no elevated spots for wheelchair users.

Marcus King Band did not disappoint. They played a funky southern fusion driven by the magnificent guitar playing of 21 year old Marcus King. 

We got to meet Marcus King and some of the band.

Gib and I went to Yeomans for fish and chips. Super day.

Day 6-Cayo Costa to Pineland Marine-7 miles

Last night a beautiful sunset after dinner. 

We had a local park volunteer who ended up being a folk singing sensation. He was tremendous. It was time to leave Cayo Costa for take out and the end of the trip. 

We had a beautiful day with great conditions. It was not that way last year. 

A tip of the hat to Bill Richards and all the staff that made the trip so wonderful. The Blueway was great and not to be missed by avid paddlers with Cayo Costa one of the true gems of the Florida State Parks. I would be remiss if I did not comment on how nice the participants were and how nice it was to be with them. Everyone was so unselfish and helpful. I had a chance to paddle with 4 people from the Cincy paddlers. 

Henry, Pat O, Pat F and Fred. It was like we knew each other for years they could not have been nicer to a total stranger. Henry is a trip. Hope to paddle in Florida with them soon. Peace and kindness. Tres dog

Day 5-Layover day-Cayo Costa State Park-Cabbage Key

A nice campfire with Paddle Florida last night and a sky full of stars at bedtime. A late roll out to breakfast and a plan for the ferry to Cabbage Key. 

A cheeseburger in paradise or somebody had stone crab. I put a dollar in the restaurant which goes to charity every so often.

Here was mine. 

Had to climb the Cabbage Key water tower.

The views from the top were amazing. 

It was a great day trip that got us home to Cayo  Costa in the early afternoon. Cooler than yesterday with no swim or paddle planned. The beach is still incredible. 

Hard to believe we finish tomorrow. I have seen manatees, dolphins, mullet, bald eagles, ospreys, fish, other birds, rays and a 3 1/2 foot baby hammerhead shark. Peace. Tres

Day 4-Jug Creek to Cayo Costa State Park-11 miles

Featured image is sunset on Jug Creek bridge in Bokeelia. Another beautiful morning with a touch of wind. Out the cut we went. 

Nice curl around the mangrove to the Blueway. 

We headed out into the more open water with some wind in our faces. 

We had some chop and quartering winds but still seemed to make good time out to the turn that went to Cayo Costa and we stopped for a snack and nature break. 

We scooted on over to Cayo Costa and took out. 

We stacked the kayak armada on the septic tank and hopped on the tram for luggage and campsite. I was luck enough to have Sea Star cabin #12. Home again. Swim, shower, PBJ AND nothing else. 

Peace. Tres dog