Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cycling As A Water Sport

The weatherman said there was a 20 percent chance of rain but not until the early afternoon. Radar seemed to back that forecast up, so we rolled the bikes to the elevator. Our Saturday Everglades Bicycle Club group ride was on!

It was a pleasant ride down to the ride start at Miami City Hall. Wandering over to the water's edge for a picture, I thought it looked like rain just northwest of downtown. But, hey, that's miles north of City Hall, and the ride goes south. So, no worries, I got back to the group. And off we pedaled.

There was a bit of confusion a mile or so from City Hall when we had to divert to the sidewalk because a couple of police cars had closed off a half block of road. It's a strip used by cycling groups going both north and south. Manners varied, but the groups managed to move along past the blockage. Soon the slow up was behind us. Off we went again, but this time there was the very beginnings of a drizzle.

Real rain began a couple of miles farther on. Our leader (Sue) pulled the group off the road to partial shelter. The rain was increasing. Sue pulled out her phone and checked radar. She held up the screen so we all could see. It was time to call an end to the ride, turn around, and head back to City Hall.

A block later, with the rain increasing to a deluge and lightning flashing, the lead riders u-turned, headed down a home's driveway, and led the group to the shelter of the home's wide front entrance. It was hilarious. Here were 20-some people and bikes huddled under the wide eaves of a total stranger's ranch home. Rather than becoming upset, the owner acknowledged our presence by graciously turning on his porch lights.

In a while, the rain seemed slower, so it was pedals up and off down the road again. There were the usual problems. Brakes were wet. Paint markers on the road were slippery. But in Miami, run-off is the real issue when it rains this hard. Water covered the road in places with whirlpools forming around drains. A car drove by going the other way, spraying riders with a huge chest-high wash of water. In several places water washed over my shoes as I pedaled down the road. And that was the shallowest area of the road. We left the group at City Hall, heading for Fresh Market Deli for a little shelter from the rain. Their outdoor tables were canopied. Al and I took turns running into the store. (We didn't linger inside long. Air conditioning really sucks when you are dripping wet.)

We felt better in a few minutes. (Chocolate does wonders.) It was still raining when we got on our bikes to ride the last five miles home.

Once again, the lobby staff laughed as we dripped though to the elevators.