Sunday, October 23, 2011

Homestead Speedway Century 2011

Homestead Speedway is south of Miami.  It was built back in the mid-90s after Hurricane Andrew.  NASCAR has events there. 

A few months ago I ran across a listing for the Homestead Speedway Century, a ride sponsored by the Everglades Bicycle Club.  Part of the ride was actually on the Speedway.  Definitely a winner.  "Want to ride your bike around a NASCAR race course?"  I asked Al.  He said he did.

We drove down to South Florida on Saturday.  We diverted to a bike shop in Miami (Bike Tech) for early packet pickup, then headed to Homestead, checked into our motel, and set out to see the area.  The old section of town is small. There are some interesting Mexican restaurants.  But most of the area is typical cookie cutter suburban development.  The back roads, however, have some charm.  We headed off to Publix for fruit, Greek yogurt, and, my food find for this trip, diet Jupiña pineapple soda.

Riding on the Speedway
Sunday was the ride.  We drove over to the ride start at the Speedway.  It had been a long time since we were on a ride with this many other riders.  The place was packed.    We gathered with the others around an entrance into the Speedway and waited for the gates to open.  Right on time they opened the gates.  We slowly rode through the pedestrian tunnel to the outer roadway, then gathered on the track for the mass start.  It was a perfectly lovely dawn when we set out around the track.  Down the straightaway towards the first banked end.  We were riding near guys that were talking about taking the curve high by the wall.  Most of the riders stayed on the flatter inside of the curve.  But going high up by the wall sounded too exciting to pass up.  The pavement began to bank steeper and steeper until it was almost a 45 degree slope down from the wall to the lower part of the curve.   It was amazing!  There we were riding on our skinny tired bikes on a slope I would have sworn only mountain bikes could ride.  Then down to the straightaway and on to the banked curve on the other end of the track.  Again we went high up by the wall.  What a thrill!!  I saw a woman take a picture while riding one handed.  I just couldn't bring myself to be that brave this year. (Maybe next year?)

Quiet Rural Miami Dade Roads

Rest Stop in Hammock of Everglades National Park
Our lap of the Speedway, one of the best things I've ever done on a bike, was over too quickly.  Now we had to get traditional and head out on the roads.  Al and I took the 62 mile metric century route.  The routes stayed together through town, which had bike lanes, then headed into rural Miami Dade.  The turn around for the 62 mile route was the rest stop inside Everglades National Park.  It was a beautiful location for a rest stop: a quiet hammock surrounded by sawgrass almost to the horizon in all directions.  It was a windy day.  The wind was in our face for the ride to the Everglades.  But that meant that for the ride back we had the wind mainly as a tailwind.  Just when the temperature was getting toasty, it got cloudy, a welcome change from the hot sun.

The last 5 miles were smack into the wind, and the wind kicked up substantially.  We envied the bike clubs riding in their pace lines, drafting behind their lead rider.  It wasn't a pretty 5 miles for us, but nobody ever said it had to be pretty.  You just have to make it to the end of the ride.

This is definitely a ride that we will attend every year.