Tampa Bay cyclist Leo Rodgers lands on cover of ‘Bicycling’ magazine

The 35-year-old Paralympic athlete is the subject of a new long read.

click to enlarge Tampa Bay cyclist Leo Rodgers lands on cover of ‘Bicycling’ magazine

It’s been my experience that there aren’t a lot of people who haven’t noticed Tampa Bay cyclist Leo Rodgers.

The 35-year-old commutes 25-miles each way from his home in St. Petersburg to City Bike Tampa where he keeps a mechanic position. After recently getting a tune-up (or lights, I can’t remember) at the downtown Tampa shop, Rodgers—gap-toothed smile and all—passed me my bike, and enthusiastically said I was ready to run from the cops. I’m not bike-gang worthy by any means, but Rodgers made me feel cool as hell for a second. His enthusiasm is infectious, which is why it’s pretty cool to see that it played a part in landing Rogers on the cover of Bicycling magazine, which called the father of two “the kind of cyclist we all need right now.”

As Los Angeles writer Peter Flax put it in the long read published online Wednesday, “Leo isn’t in a bike tribe—he’s in all of them.” And now the bicycling world knows a little more about those gangs, too.

“He likes to go out at night in khaki shorts and smash it with a fixie crew,” Flax wrote about Rodgers, who’s won eight medals during four trips to the U.S. Paralympic Track Cycling Open, “he likes to do hard paceline training rides with the local spandex roadies and he likes to go out for gravel epics with dudes who consume a lot of CBD chewies.”

Flax’s piece—which includes contributions from Tampa photographers Bob Corislin, who started the story, and James Luedde, who finished it—paints a picture of Rogers’ St. Petersburg home, and it follows him to Tampa and Ybor City where he revels in the camaraderie of his biking friends (and the bars they visit sometimes). The article transports us back to Rogers’ youth and takes readers to meet his family. It also sheds light on a 2007 Fowler Avenue motorcycle accident where Rogers’ leg was sliced open by a guardrail before his body was dropped in the Tampa Bypass Canal. The end result of the accident: Rogers having his left leg amputated above the knee.

A lot of the article is about how Rogers found a Redline single-speed from his childhood and re-ignited a love for cycling that’s now taken him to races across the country, but the whole of the piece is a beautiful document of the way hardship, perseverance, friends and an unbridled love of life can lead to the discovery of what makes life worth living.

“It's hard for me to put words together when it comes to me but I have some great people around me that I'm grateful for,” Rodgers wrote on Instagram. “I'm here to inspire others but I am inspired myself over and over by you all. More to come!”

It’s a great story and something that I hope catapults Rodgers’ face and energy closer to the forefront of the sports world. Read it via bicycling.com.

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About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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