Monday, March 28, 2016

A Three Team Ride

We saw the event posted on the WSSB Facebook page. The West Side Sunset Bandits, Cycling Family Broward, and Dutty Ridas were getting together for an Easter Sunday ride, Miccosukee Golf Course to Robert Is Here and back, with a pot luck tailgate affair afterward. It would be about a 50-mile ride. We checked our calendar. We would home in Miami that weekend. Would we go? Darned right we would. We'd be fools not to: It sounded like a lot of fun.

Al and I hadn't done any rides with Cycling Family Broward or Dutty Ridas. We knew a couple of their members, heard a CFB presentation at a recent EBC club meeting, and we'd seen posts on Facebook. We knew that a lot of these guys are fast. But Saturday is usually their day for fast riding. A Sunday ride was our opportunity to meet some of them for a more casual group ride. Perfect for us.

So Sunday we drove over to the west side of Miami and Miccosukee Golf Course. We pulled into the parking lot in the dark pre-dawn. As the sky lightened, we saw that there were a lot of people getting their bikes ready to ride. We wandered about chatting with friends. It wasn't long before it was light, and the ride could begin.

One note for my non-bikey friends. The West Side Sunset Bandits don't just ride bikes. They are heavily armed with GoPro cameras. When you ride with Alex Pruna and Joe Cruz of WSSB, you can be sure you'll never have to worry about having photos for your Facebook profile picture. And, most importantly, their pictures are good! We gathered for the beginning of the ride and the traditional group photo. Alex Pruna had outdone himself this time. He brought a super tall tripod, one tall enough to get even the guys in the very back into the group photo!

We clipped in and wheeled out. It was a great turn-out for an Easter morning. 50 to 60 riders. Within a block we heard a loud BANG! Someone's tire had blown. That was the one and only mechanical for all of us for the whole day. That, in and of itself, was a message that the cycling gods were smiling on this inaugural three team ride. The tire issue was quickly sorted out, and we were on our way again.

The weather was good. Nice temperature. A bit of wind, but only enough to make sure we'd get a decent workout. The teams rode well together. There were plenty of strong riders, many of whom did the bulk of the pulling for the group. Which let riders like me tuck in the middle of the group and save energy. For the first part of the ride the wind was either a headwind or crosswind depending on the road. I had a strategy and I stuck firmly to it. I found a nice steady strong rider, and I stuck to his wheel. At intersections and such, I'd watch a gap start to open in front of I'd shift to a bit easier gear, spin faster and catch back up to that wheel.

We had a short sociable stop at La Casita, then continued on to Robert Is Here for another short break. Lots of photos, snacks, ice and water refills, chatting with old friends and new acquaintances. Then we all rolled out and headed back to Miccosukee Golf Course. Now, of course, the wind was more often a tailwind, always a good thing.

We navigated through the crowds that are Easter Sunday at the two large churches on our route. Soon we were on the road that circles Miccosukee Golf Course. Then we were back at our cars.

The Cycling Family tent went up, coolers appeared, and food put out. We chatted and nibbled and lounged about, enjoying the day and speaking a bit with people who will, for certain, become future friends. This was the first time the three teams had come together for a ride of this sort. It was definitely fun. I certainly hope it will happen again.
Many photos and videos were posted by people on the ride. Alex Pruna posted many of them. He also put together a video I really like. I'm including it in this post because it captures the ride better than words. Alex, thanks for all you do.