Riders Were Victims Of Hit-&-Run During Florida Brevet

RUSA lost two of its own when Gustavo A. "Gus" Antonini, 66, and his stepson, William Cupples, 42, died February 7 in a hit-and-run bicycle accident near High Springs, Florida.

The deaths marked the first casualties during a sanctioned RUSA brevet in the organization's five-year history.

Antonini and Cupples were participating in a 300K brevet on Antonini's birthday. The pair often rode as partners and were in the bike lane on State Road 45 near High Springs when a 1979 Chevy pickup traveling in the same direction struck them at 8:55 a.m., according to official reports.

The truck's driver, Charles Ray Porter, 46, of Alachua, fled the scene. He was arrested 3.5 miles north of the crash site after losing control of his vehicle and flipping.

Porter was initially booked on two counts of leaving the scene of a traffic accident involving death. Law enforcement officials, who suspected Porter was driving while impaired at the time of the crash, sent a blood alcohol specimen to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for analysis.

An April 10 article in the Gainesville Sun stated that Porter was under the influence of controlled chemical substances according to a toxicology report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

At press time, the crash was still under investigation. Troopers were expected to file formal charges after collecting and evaluating physical evidence and witness statements.

Gustavo A. "Gus" Antonini

Gustavo A. "Gus" Antonini a retired University of Florida professor, was the creator and motivator in Florida Sea Grant's nationally recognized Urban Boating and Waterways Management Program.

In 2003, the program was named the top outreach effort among the nation's 30 Sea Grant programs by Sea Grant Extension leaders across the nation. In 2000, the program earned a Sustainable Florida leadership award representing a best management practice for sustainable development in Florida.

Antonini had recently retired after 30 years with the university but remained active in Sea Grant's waterways management program. He helped form a multi-disciplinary team of geographers, biologists, legal experts, planners and Sea Grant extension faculty that had been working since 1986 to improve recreational boaters' access while reducing the detrimental impacts of boating on the marine environment.

"He was a pioneer and national leader in this area and will be missed greatly by colleagues and friends," according to Mike Spranger, Florida Sea Grant Extension program leader.

Antonini earned an undergraduate degree in geography and geology from Columbia University in 1961; a master's degree in geography and coastal geomorphology from Columbia in 1962; and a doctorate in geography with an emphasis in Latin America from Columbia in 1968.

He was the author of numerous boating publications, including two in a series of historical perspectives of boating and waterway development in the southwest Florida area, "A Historical Geography of Southwest Florida Waterways," Volume I and Volume II. He was working on the third installment in the series at the time of his death. He had envisioned writing more.

He also led the effort to revise NOAA small-craft nautical charts to make them more useful for recreational boaters. Using advanced mapping technology and aerial imagery, his team produced the prototype for Chart 11425 (Florida: Charlotte Harbor to Tampa Bay), which maps the nearshore geography and navigational features of an approximate 150-mile stretch of Florida's southwest coastline.

In addition to being an expert boater, Antonini had in recent years become a passionate cyclist. He had completed the Camino de Santiago, a cross- country ride in Spain, during the summer of 2002, and chronicled his trip through photos and journal entries, which can be viewed at http://plaza.ufl.edu/antonini/.

William Walter "Bill" Cupples

William Walter "Bill" Cupples was a native of Concord, NH, but lived in Jupiter for many years. A U.S. Navy veteran and an instructor of Isshinryu karate, he was also an avid cyclist.

In a letter to American Randonneur, Cupple's wife Kelsey detailed her husband's deep love of cycling.

"Bill always loved biking," she wrote. "When he was just a kid, he biked with his father from Burlington VT to visit his grandmother in Concord, NH. When he was 13 he moved to Florida, eventually settling in Gainesville. He rode a Raleigh back then. He had big plans for renovating that frame to fit his 12-year-old son, Dillon."

When Cupples joined the Navy, his biking experiences went on hold for a while, according to Kelsey.

"But he got back into it when his ship, the USS Texas, went into dry-dock in 1985 in Bremerton, WA," Kelsey said. "He rode to work daily from Port Orchard to Bremerton, usually beating the cars who lined up waiting for traffic lights."

After leaving the Navy in 1986, Cupples again stepped away from cycling to pursue other interests, including motorcycling and Isshinryu karate.

"He enjoyed the discipline and the control necessary for the two sports," Kelsey said.

The Cupples had their first child, Dillon, in January 1992 and their second child, Cami, two years later.

"Bill rode miles on a beat-up cruiser with one or the other of them in a child's seat behind him," Kelsey recalled. "He had both kids on their own bicycle by the time they were three. Cami 'won' her first 'race' at three years old during a preschool 'race for the children' fundraiser, putting in nearly 50 laps. Bill took a lot of pleasure in that fact. He loved teaching the kids how to ride and tinkering with their bikes to speed up their learning curve."

In the late 1990s, Bill's stepfather, Gus, expressed an interest in taking up cycling to help control his weight problem, Kelsey said.

"That was about all the spark Bill needed to plunge headlong back into cycling," she said. "He and Gus spent hours cycling and many more hours planning rides and cycling trips."

It wasn't long before Gus introduced Bill to the brevet cycling circuit, according to Kelsey. "Bill loved the challenge. At first he always said he was there for Gus. The truth was Bill felt loyal to Gus for getting him into it. Once he was in, he wasn't going to turn back from the challenge. Even when Gus couldn't compete, Bill showed up. He wanted to prove to himself that he could do the miles."

After 9/11, Bill added an annual century to commemorate that anniversary.

"It was his private tribute to the men and women who had died that day," Kelsey wrote.

Bill rode to and from work regularly — a twenty-mile trip, Kelsey said. "Although the miles don't really add up to much, the fact that he did it after working a grueling 12-hour shift at a power plant through an area of town where most sane people roll up their windows and drive fast puts a different spin on the picture. Bill loved that aspect too. He would ride out at 5:30 in the morning all decked out in reflectors and clashing colors to be at work before 6:30 so he could shower and change for work. Then, he would put on his biking clothes for the return journey at 7:30 that night. It made him feel good."

Survivors include his wife, Kelsey Walker Cupples of Jupiter; two children, Dillon Charles Cupples and Cami Leigh Cupples, both of Jupiter; his father, William Daniel Cupples of San Marcos, Texas; his mother, Victorina Basauri- Antonini of Gainesville; and a sister, Deborah Cupples of Gainesville.