Monday, October 23, 2017

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop. (Lewis Carroll)

Hundreds of posts ago I began this blog so that I could share our bicycle travels with family and friends. It succeeded far beyond my expectations.

The blog opened up an interesting world. It introduced me to a group of funny, warm, generous, and adventurous people. People from all over the US. People from countries around the world.

Today there are many platforms that permit me to continue connecting to this larger world. So I am turning my focus to other projects. This post will be the last post for Florida by Bicycle.

Al and I will still be traveling with our bicycles. We will continue to make posts on social media as we travel, and we will continue to stay in touch with everyone, including the many wonderful new friends we have met through the blog. I never expected more than a handful of people to read the blog. I was totally amazed (and, I must admit, delighted) by the volume of traffic that viewed Florida by Bicycle.

Thank you all for dropping by. It's been a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I am a deeply superficial person. (Andy Warhol)

This is my second week of solo bike rides. My goal has been to lose my completely irrational fear of being hopelessly lost in Miami.

Last week I realized something odd. While I am reasonably comfortable riding around unfamiliar cities and towns on trips, I was having a total emotional meltdown about getting lost at home in Miami. I'm fine in downtown Miami and areas with high rises and mid rise buildings. But the residential neighborhoods, well, they just all looked the same to me. I totally mixed up which neighborhood was which. Which made me feel like a total idiot.

So I made a plan (1) to desensitize myself to being lost here and (2) to up my confidence in using my on-bike navigation toys on rides in Miami. I may have poor directional abilities, but I do know how to develop coping skills.

So, each time I'm out on my bike, either on a solo ride or coming home from a group ride, I purposely head off my usual route just to get myself totally and completely lost. Then I fire up navigation and find my way home.

I love my Garmin with its tidy little GPS system. But my Garmin doesn't talk to me. And the map is hard to read in a lot of situations. So I decided to rely more on the navigation gadgets on my phone. Best of all, the phone navigation has the advantage of audible cues. Phones are intrusive and annoying. But they have their good points, like reading the route cues to you. And then there is the cellphone camera. (Best toy ever.)

Snack stops are picture taking opportunities. Take fifty pictures; delete forty-seven; keep three. It's not exactly art photography. Just totally frivolous fun.

I can't get too worried about getting lost in Miami when getting home is easy and a photo opportunity may be waiting around the next turn...

Monday, October 9, 2017

I love those Keith Richards solo records, but it's not the Rolling Stones. (Nikki Sixx)

Riding a bicycle is fun. Al and I have been riding together for lot of years now. First it was mountain and off-road biking. Later we spent time being touring cyclists. Finally we got around to road cycling.

We used to live in rural areas. There were other cyclists in each of the counties that we lived in during those years, but they were too far away to be regular riding companions. We biked by ourselves, just the two of us. It wasn't until moving to Miami a few years ago that we were introduced to group riding.

This week I rolled my bike to the elevator, through the lobby, and out to the street by myself.  Al is off his bike for a bit.

I was embarking on a kind of ride that I had not done in a couple of decades: a longish solo ride.

Since we live in Miami, there are groups I can and will be riding with. But I enjoy the flexibility of solo riding, and I want to keep my four days a week riding routine. My sense of direction is horrible, so I ride fully loaded with GPS devices. I may get myself lost, but I'll get home.

Sunday I took my first long, meandering solo ramble. I went out for a spin around (and around) the Rickenbacker Causeway and Key Biscayne. I meandered through the city to the Venetian Causeway, pedaled over to Miami Beach to wander the streets there. Then back to the mainland to explore some interesting neighborhoods. Fifty quiet (and admittedly low-energy) miles. But interesting miles. I took photographs. I stopped and talked to people. I got home hot, sweaty, and delightfully relaxed.

I'm going to enjoy solo riding. It is definitely less interesting than riding with Al. But like that Rolling Stones song goes, you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The best things in life are silly. (Scott Adams)

Back at the beginning of summer, I began taking pictures of some of the fountains we spotted while riding our bikes. The series even got a fanciful name: The Search for the Fountain of Youth.

It turned out there are a lot of fountains out there. Way more than I remembered seeing before starting this series of photos.

I decided I wanted them all in one place, like a little gallery. One blog post just for the ones from this summer. So here (tah-dah!) is the 2017 series, presented in reverse order from the last one taken at end of August, then going backwards to the beginning of May.

Key Biscayne
Hollywood (Diplomat Resort)
Palatka (Putnam County, St. Johns River Park)
Brickell (Miami, traffic circle fountain)
Coral Gables
Sewalls Point (gated community entrance)
Miami (Metrorail station)
Mt. Airy, North Carolina
Brickell (Miami traffic circle)
Key Biscayne (gated community entrance)
Miami (Metrorail station)
Bonita Springs
Key Biscayne (Village Green Park)

I'm thinking this could be a regular summar thing. Silly and fun.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

When nothing is going right, go left. (Anonymous)

We couldn't ride our bikes all week. It rained. When it wasn't raining, we had workmen at our place. Yeah, we had the gym, yoga, and stuff like that. But, darn it, we need our bike rides to keep grumpiness and insanity at bay.

I'm working on something new. Al is helping me with pacing. While I have tenacity, I lack focus when I'm riding. I should just wear a jersey that says Easily Distracted

Using my power meter info, I simply have to stay in my target power zone. Which is easy for those who don't daydream, or get interested in a conversation, or see a charming garden, or, well, you get the idea. As I said, easily distracted. But Al is patient and I have tenacity, so we are making progress.

Learning to be good with pacing is a very useful skill. When it is just Al, pacing is the skill that will get me to the end of the ride regardless of the length of the ride, the terrain, or the weather conditions. (It becomes even more useful when, in a few weeks, we start doing more long day-after-day rides again.) When the ride is with friends, pacing lets me adjust my pace to make certain everyone on the ride stays together. Stronger riders do this for me all the time. I need to learn the skill so I can pay back the courtesy when the opportunity arises. 

Today the rain chances were low. Time for a bike ride. I might even show a little is focus.

(Don't snicker. It could happen.)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Believe you can and you're halfway there. (Theodore Roosevelt)

Today (August 8) is, on average, the hottest day of the summer in Miami. Doing anything physical outside in the heat and humidity saps your energy and leaves you seeking a quiet spot for a nap.

Some people hide in air conditioning. Some jump in their swimming pool. We're like most of our bikey friends. We just go out and ride our bikes. But Al and I have some hot weather adaptations that make riding in heat and humidity more enjoyable for us.

  1. We don't hesitate to slow down a bit. Instead of using speed as a guide, we use effort. Use your power meter if you have one. It makes it easy to be consistent on rides regardless of conditions.
  2. Our Miami riding friends taught us a wonderful hot weather treat: buying a bag of ice part-way through a long ride. While ice won't last long in the heat, filling water bottles with ice mid-ride is truly wonderful. I have no idea if it actually cools down the core of your body, but, trust me, it sure feels like it does. Talk about cheap thrills.
  3. We take breaks in the shade. Someone once told me that being in full sun feels 15 degrees hotter than standing in the shade. I believe it. Breaks in the shade can be the difference between a successful hot weather ride and the ugly experience of bonking from the heat.
  4. We monitor the amount of fluids we are drinking. We don't skimp. Our "summer mix" for our water bottles starts with powdered Gatorade, adds water, a dash of salt, and coffee. The coffee is mainly for flavor, but the caffeine is always nice, too. Also, we carry electrolyte tablets so we can fill up bottles with plain water when Gatorade isn't available.
  5. Last, but not least, we laugh a lot. About anything and everything. Trust me, it helps. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these. (Paul Harvey)

I figured out at an early age that excitement and thrills, like ice cream and cake, are fun in small doses. Large doses were unpleasant.

I spend a lot of time online. It keeps me in touch with family and friends in far away places. Usually I enjoy it. However, this summer I've discovered myself suffering from an overload of drama caused by the constant and unending churning of news and politics. It's everywhere. Even a "safe" group that normally does nothing more dramatic than share their favorite dessert recipes and adorable pictures of the family children and pets, can, out of the blue, start a thread about the political soap opera of the day. There is simply no safe haven.

Al and I are trying to make some changes to our little home. Nothing exciting, but changes which involve shopping, workmen, noise, and messes. We are trying to make these changes while continuing our regular and very pleasant little life. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. We've done this before. Many times before. In many homes, in other places. We understand the ebb and flow of the disruption to our lives that it causes.

So four times a week we roll our bicycles to the elevator, wave to the lobby staff as we leave our building, and pedal off for a long bike ride. It's good to have one constant in life that satisfies and leaves you feeling happy and content.