Sunday, November 10, 2013

The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces. (Will Rogers)

We spend weekdays working to become decent flat-lander bike riders.

We remember our first rides in Florida a gazillion years ago. We drove a long way to enjoy riding our road bikes in a place that wasn't all climbs and descents. It was so much fun, but after 30 or 40 miles our hamstrings whimpered and cried for us to rest, rest, rest. (And we weren't riding that fast either.)

We watch the Florida riders with awe. They have no idea how hard it is to do what they do with such ease. To ride fast on basically flat roads requires stronger glutes, hamstrings, and hip stabilizer muscles than we have developed up to now. Without them being stronger, you push your knees way more than is sensible. This week we had big wind. We did loops on the Rickenbacker, working to get those muscles stronger. The weekend? That's for group rides. Days where we can see if our work is paying off.

Saturday morning we looked at the weather forecast and breathed a sigh of relief. It was going to be a windy ride, but not as bad as the ones during the week. We joined the Everglades Bicycle Club 18+ mph group ride. We were delighted to find that we could stay with the group. It will be weeks more of training before I can get out front and pull. But our confidence level increased: perhaps by the end of this bike season (next April-May) we'll be riding comfortably with this group.

McArthur Engineering Building
We had a treat on Saturday. At the ride start we learned that a fellow rider and Everglades Bicycle Club board member, Greg Neville, was going to do an architectural tour near the end of the ride for anyone interested in seeing Matheson Hammock Park and several buildings on the University of Miami campus. A group of riders joined him for the tour. We pedaled to Matheson Hammock Park. A bicycle path runs through the park, past several structures built by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) during the Great Depression of the 30s. The first building we visited was a simple coral stone park shelter at the edge of a small lake. Next we went to see the nearby Red Fish Grill, a simple, elegant coral stone building facing a large salt water pond on an inlet with an truly amazing view of Biscayne Bay and Miami. From there we pedaled through open meadows past salt water mangroves to the site of the remains of a coral stone structure, now roofless and overgrown by vines and trees. Several riders told of playing in this area as children and later riding here with their own children. Lucky, these people who grew up here...

Our next stop was the campus of the University of Miami. We were there to see Miami Modern (MiMo). Our first stops were the music practice building and an adjacent structure. Built with inexpensive materials and minimalist design, but visually pleasant and quite functional. On to the Oscar E. Dooly Memorial Building. Then on to the delightful McArthur Engineering Building. Lovely buildings on a beautiful campus.

Sunday was a ride to Hollywood. It was just four of us (five for part of the ride back), but, as always, the ride to Hollywood is interesting and fun.

Another week in Miami. Working to ride faster, but the effort made pleasant by interesting biking companions.