On December 1, 2007, local bicyclist Leo Rodgers was in a motorcycle crash that cost him his leg. On June 14, 2017, he gave a speech about what his injury taught him, one of many ways he has come to inspire others since he started riding a bicycle for transportation, exercise, and athletic achievement, riding roughly 100 miles a week on the streets of the Tampa Bay region.
“It was a huge turning point in my life,” said Rodgers of the crash. “It humbled me, took me off my pedestal and made me look at life differently. I was reckless and it changed me.”
Leo’s speech was a combination of reflective, humorous, and inspirational. His words prompted the audience to ask him questions as long as they could, which he answered joyfully. “It’s great to see all the people here tonight,” he said. “It shows how much our community of bicyclists has grown.” He said his favorite improvements to local infrastructure are the Courtney Campbell Causeway and the bicycle lanes on 40th street.
As much as Leo has inspired others to ride, he is motivated and encouraged to see the bicycle community in Tampa grow. Rodgers works at City Bike Tampa, a bicycle shop in downtown Tampa, where he is able to stay active in the bicycling community, repair bikes, and talk shop about what he loves most with like-minded folks. Leo commutes to work and just about everywhere else on his bicycle. He used to ride 25 miles to work in downtown Tampa when he lived in St. Petersburg, and now he commutes about 10 miles to work from the USF area.
Leo also rides competitively and his goal is to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics.