Sunday
March 11, 2001
Councilman-teacher finds
solace in the saddle:
Blair
wishes colleagues would ride
bikes, too

By AUTUMN C. GIUSTI
STAFF WRITER
autumn.giusti@news-jrnl.com

ORANGE CITY - Gary Blair doesn't wear a leather jacket.

Nor does he have a fluffy beard or a ponytail.

Instead, he sports a red ski jacket and slacks. His face is clean-shaven, and he's a lot
taller and leaner than your typical Hell's Angel.

But appearances aside, Blair is an avid biker - as well as a city councilman and middle
school teacher.

And while he has never owned a Harley-Davidson, he does ride a zippy, dual-sport
Kawasaki motorcycle.

The 47-year-old has been riding motorcycles since he was 14, following in the tracks
of his older brother Ken. And he has no intentions of quitting.

"I'm going to hopefully ride until the day I die," he said.

And why not? It's cost efficient, easy to park and just fun, he says.

"It just kind of breaks the day up and makes you feel good," he said. "The nice thing is
I can zip through the woods and get on the highway and still maintain interstate
speeds."

He rides to his Orange City council meetings, his job as a teacher at Heritage Middle
School and just about everywhere he can.

When Blair isn't ripping down the roads on his bikes, he drives a full-sized pickup.

But he tries to limit its use for trips to the grocery store and rainy days.

Fellow council members seem to respect Blair's wheels.

"Him being able to ride a bike, which I consider challenging, is great," said
Councilwoman Michelle Polgar, who was once Blair's student at DeLand Middle
School. "I think it's a great freedom."

In fact, Blair wishes all his councilmembers could enjoy that freedom.

"I feel the council would get along a lot better if they all rode," he joked. "As long as
they leave their colors at the door."

After long council meetings, he likes to clear his head with a 45-minute spin up to
DeLeon Springs and then back through Lake Helen.

"It's one of the most relaxing and therapeutic things I do," he said.

And needless to say, his mode of transportation goes over well with his students.

"They love it," he said. "Probably a day doesn't go by when they all don't make a
comment about it. I've got a couple of students who race motorcycles, so it makes for
a common bond."

While Blair doesn't partake in all Bike Week festivities, he journeys to Daytona Beach at
least once during the event.

"The whole feeling of riding down Main Street during Bike Week is just incredible," he
said. "You can feel the rumble in your gut - it just gives you goose bumps."

Although Blair believes bikers should have the right to choose whether to wear a
helmet, he wears one of his own. But that wasn't always his practice. The state began
requiring helmets when he was 15, but he didn't obey that rule until the day an officer
in his home town of Boca Raton slapped the teen-ager with a ticket for the offense.
Angry, Blair ripped up the citation and scattered its pieces. But when the officer
threatened to ticket him for littering, Blair gave up.

With his early biking days behind him, he now looks to his dream of buying a BMW
motorcycle and taking it on a cross-country trek.

"They're just finely engineered, quiet and smooth (bikes)," he said.

But in the meantime, Blair is just enjoying the ride.

"It's a good sport," he said. "People who don't ride would have a different appreciation
for it if they did."
The News-Journal
Serving:
Deltona, DeBary,
Orange City,
Enterprise and
Osteen
Volusian Neighbors
Gary "Zeke" Blair
Class of 1971