We arrived a bit early. It gave us a chance to sign in and to socialize some with people we knew. There was a woman we last rode with on a ride in Everglades National Park, a bunch of people we ride with on the Saturday EBC rides, and some people we see on our rides on the Rickenbacker-Key Biscayne-Virginia Key route. A great turn-out, easily 150 riders. Greg Neville (Everglades Bicycle Club president) and Juan Alban (EBC vice president) welcomed the riders and made some short announcements. Then the start flag was waved by this year's honorary starter. We were off.
Soon a nice double paceline developed. Al and I were positioned toward the front. We were expecting a easy Sunday pace, but the group was obviously feeling more enthusiastic. We were soon cruising along at a pleasant 20-21 mph. The morning haze was soon the beginnings of a nice sunny day. The wind was light. Pedal, pedal, pedal.
As we moved into the heart of agricultural Redland our group's leaders notched up the speed. Soon the group was rolling along at 22-24 mph. Gaps formed, and I watched my speedometer climb up to 26-27 when we worked to catch back up. Fields of green beans and squash blew by as a pleasant blur. At around halfway through the route, the group negotiated a turn to the left. I saw a rider hit a bump and slide out. Everyone slowed, a couple riders stopped to check on the rider, who appeared understandably shaken but otherwise OK and ready to rejoin the line of riders. The next few miles were slower, back to that pleasant 20-21 mph. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Then the speed ramped up again. Robert is Here, our mid-ride break, was just ahead. The group surged enthusiastically down the road.
Suddenly I had that peculiar experience of having my power cord disconnected abruptly. In the fun of the fast ride I had forgotten the basics. I hadn't taken in enough fluids or food. The riders in front of me were accelerating, and there was no way I could match even their modest acceleration. I watched my speedometer as I pedaled, finding a speed I could maintain. Al saw my problem and got in front of me so I could grab on to his wheel for the last couple miles to Robert Is Here.
When we got to the break, I quickly devoured a banana and jelly beans and slurped down a half bottle of fluid. Happiness. Soon I was feeling a whole lot better. We wandered about talking to other riders during the break. Word had passed around that there would be two speed groups for the ride home: a fast group and a less fast group. Sweet!! Fast was fabulous, but I was ready for a little social riding! We headed back, happy to chat and take in the scenery.
Soon we were back at Larry and Penny Thompson Park, the ride's end. We stopped and ate a granola bar then headed to the area where riders' cars were parked. We spotted our friend Jon, a randonneur. We needed to add miles for the day so our plan was to ride back to Robert Is Here for a couple of shakes. Would he join us? He would.
So we pedaled back, following part of the day's route and meandering some as well, arriving soon at the roadside market for our milkshakes. (Yum.) Then Jon headed off toward Florida City and his route home while we headed back to our car at Larry and Penny Thompson Park.
When we arrived at the park, our car sat alone in the parking lot. We popped the bikes into the bike rack and headed home, happy and ready for a nap.