Monday, April 25, 2016

Pedaling In Suburbia

Al and I are urbanites: We think a skyline of highrise buildings is a picture perfect landscape. We live an area of highrise buildings. We don't much like using our car for anything but travel. We don't know much about metro Miami's suburbia.

The weekend approached. Al checked who was riding where and when. WSSB (the West Side Sunset Bandits) were riding Saturday out of the Miccosukee Golf Course. Sunday they were heading up to Weston, a relatively new (mid 90s) suburb in Broward County. Both were just half-hour car rides from our home. Suburbia. Delightful.

Saturday at La Casita 
So Saturday we joined WSSB at Miccosukee Golf Course, chatted and prepped bikes, took some pictures, then wheeled down the road in a nice double paceline. We were out for a sweet little 40-mile ride. We were headed to La Casita, a convenience store with great charm, cold water and ice, and good snacks. The weather was perfect, a peasant mix of clouds and sun, with only a hint of the sticky humidity of summer. This was a popular route, but it was my personal favorite because of how WSSB uses the stretch past the Miami-Executive Airport on the way back to Miccosukee Golf Course. I think of it as a speed zone because it is longer than the sprint zones I've done with other groups.

As we approached it, I kept my eye on Al, because everybody needs a rabbit to chase, and I have used Al as my rabbit for many, many years. I never really expect to catch him. The fun is all about the chase.

With one eye on my power meter and one on him, I gave it my all. Pedal, pedal, pedal! I was having a grand time when I suddenly realized I was hovering right at my power red line, that number that warns me to back it off and recover some. I dropped into a safer effort zone, let riders flow past me, recovered some, then punched it again for as long as I could. Of course, I didn't catch Al until the group slowed for turns, intersections, and a stoplight or two. But catching him really wasn't the point. Back at our cars, we chatted and laughed as we packed up our bikes, then headed home.

Sunday in Weston
Sunday we again met WSSB. We parked our cars in a far corner of a large Publix grocery store parking lot. Alex Pruna took the first of the day's many pictures. Joe Cruz talked about the ride and the route. Soon we were clipping in and wheeling out to the road.

I must say here that the roads in Weston bring tears of happiness to a cyclist's eyes. Smooth pavement. Wide roads. Bike lanes everywhere it seemed. Beautiful landscaped parkways. It was glorious. We were off on a very excellent 50-mile ride.

Our first destination (and halfway point) was Vista View Park in Weston, a park with an actual large hill for us to climb. Not to mention we had a speed zone heading to the park. And another long speed zone on the way back to our cars. Fun! I tried chasing Al in the first speed zone, but (phooey!) I didn't have the juice. One of the guys (Alex) rolled by and offered me an assist. I gratefully hopped on his wheel. At the next speed zone I watched Al fade into the distance. I stayed with a group that was doing something I could handle.

One thing I really enjoy about WSSB is the mix of men and women riders. They ride well together. The stronger riders watch out for us other guys, but they let us push ourselves until we ask for some help. Nobody gets left behind. There are always people who form a slower group if needed. I especially like the women. They are focused when they ride, funny when they talk, and fierce in their determination to ride well.

And then, when all the pedaling was done, libations and food at a tailgate picnic. Good riding, good friends, good times.
Sunday in Weston