Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Frank Stark Ride in Boca Raton

Frank Stark was a Boca Raton Bicycle Club member. Forced to retire from his career as an airline pilot because of heart disease, he had by-pass heart surgery. Then he began celebrating his birthdays by riding one mile for every year of his age. Each year a few more friends from the BRBC joined him. Soon there were hundreds of riders. After Frank Stark's death, the club continued the ride, as the Frank Stark Ride.

The ride start was nicely organized.
We arrived at the ride start in Boca an hour early. We chatted briefly with an Everglades Bicycle Club friend and a few other riders. South Florida is very big on both bicycle clubs and riding groups or teams. Pace line riding is a big thing. The Frank Stark Ride organized it's starts by pace line speed. First the 26+ mph teams. Then the 22+. Then the 20+. Then the 18+ mph teams. Then the 15+. Then everybody else.

Riding along the beach.
Since (as usual) Al and I were riding as a team of two, we slipped among the 18+ mph teams. It worked out nicely. The route was on A1A along the beach and past miles and miles of mansions of the rich (and sometimes famous or infamous) north from Boca Raton to Palm Beach and then back. Another South Florida tidbit. There is always a wind from the east to southeast during the warm weather months. Today it was southeasterly, a tail wind for the first leg of the ride, and a headwind on the ride back. Our one bit of luck: clouds. The sun peeked out with regularity, but there was some really nice cloud cover. It's a lot easier to deal with riding in heat and humidity without bright sunshine.

One of the life guard huts along the beach.

The first half of the ride with that tailwind made everyone feel like champs. Then we turned around and headed back...into that head wind. Our Saturday group rides gave Al and me a new system for taking turns in the lead. We just formed a pace line of 2. Using our newly learned signals, we could switch places smoothly. It was a big improvement for our riding, and it kept us moving at a good speed with each of us having enough time to recover between turns at leading.

The Frank Stark Ride won my heart with by doing a couple of things really right:

  • The organization of the start was the best of any one-day ride we've been on.
  • They handed out individual wet, ice cold paper towels at rest stops and at the finish. Wiping off the sweat with those icy towels really hit the spot.
  • They had a Good Humor ice cream truck at the finish with free ice cream for riders.

Free ice cream for riders!
I'll be back next year for more ice cream...

Oh, yes. There was a bet that I wouldn't post a post-ride picture of myself--sweaty and sans makeup. Ante up, guys. I'll be expecting you to pay up. Really.