Sunday, March 31, 2013

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

Week one of sprained-hip mending is done. Week two begins. Since I haven't been out on a bike, I don't have much to blog about. But when has that stopped me?

Al's been out every day, scouting out new routes and riding the Rickenbacker Causeway. He comes home and entertains me with anecdotes about playing our "catch-and-release" game with roadies. While many roadies have no issues with the game, there are always one or two that have humorous defensive reactions to being chased down by a senior cyclist on a mountain bike.

I'm also loving his reports of some of the really, really good cyclists he's spotted. There is nothing like watching someone ride exceptionally well. It all appears so effortless. Power and grace.

Here off the bike, I have organized the new gear wardrobe. Moving into our miniature Miami Mansion, storing our sports and bike gear was an issue. Swim wear and gym gear don't take up much space. But bike and touring gear do. So we got one large (8 foot high, 3.5 feet wide) cabinet just for all the gear. Even with all that space, I ended up putting the bike work stand in the laundry closet and the bike touring suitcases above the refrigerator. We put cold weather gear in suitcase-size zippered nylon storage cubes on the highest shelf. These are touring clothes that let us venture into northern areas in chilly weather. We don't use them much, but to venture out of Florida in the spring or fall, we need them. (Winter is not a time to leave Florida. I plan never to see snow again.)

Without riding my bike, I do have an inordinate amount of time on my hands. The pinnacle of my efforts to use this time has been teaching the cat to do power skids on our hardwood floor. (One cat, one paper bag, a small supply of cat treats, and you are on your way...) I always wanted to figure out how to train a cat. As they say, you're never too old to learn something stupid.

The new 8 foot high cabinet holds bike gear.

The touring suitcases are above the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Venetian Causeway

We took a ride over to Miami Beach. The Venetian Causeway is a popular bicycle commuter route that connects Miami Beach to the mainland. It lived up to its popularity as a pleasant route for a bike ride. It is flat. Traffic is light. Bike lanes are adequate. The views are appealing in a cozy old-Miami way.

I liked the fact that the VC pops you into Miami Beach right at the Lincoln Road Mall area. Which for me is H&M shopping. This is a very good thing. I really like H&M's fast-fashion clothes.

A dog enjoying the view from a Venetian Causeway bridge.

It is easy to see why this is a popular route for bicycle rides.
I'm going to be off the bike for a week or so. I did something incredibly stupid and managed to sprain my left hip. Yes, it surprised me, too. You can sprain a hip. More specifically, I did a number on my hip flexor (iliospsoas). Right now, I can pedal quite nicely (thank you very much). Walking, on the other hand, isn't so good...

Friday, March 22, 2013

With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.

As you know, Al and I are retired. We can't technically bike to work. But Bike305 was having a bike to work event just 7 miles south of us. Lots of mayors of local municipalities would be there. There would be breakfast munchies. Sounded good.

We headed south. Road traffic was heavy. Bike path traffic was light. We successfully avoided hitting a series of joggers. In each case we could enjoy the music they were listening to through their ear buds. (So much for using a cute little bicycle bell to let them know we're coming.)

In no time we were at the event. A decent number of people there. And, as promised, lots of mayors. My favorite, though, was the chic Simone Filippini of the Netherlands Consulate.

When groups of riders began to form to head off to work, we hopped on our bikes and pedalled away. We headed north to the Rickenbacker and a brief ride there.

Miami is such an easy city to get around by bicycle. On the other hand, it is a bitch to navigate by car. We waited at an intersection for the signal to change. Every car in all directions as far as the eye could see had just one occupant. And I bet they all bitch about the traffic, not realizing the humor in the fact that they are the traffic. Maybe one day some of them will smarten up, and figure out how they can save time and their sanity by doing at least part of their commute by public transportation or bicycle.

It could happen. With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jiminy Cricket, Go Away...

It's sunny and 80 degrees outside. I want to go biking. But my Jiminy Cricket mental voice is insisting that work is the priority. We are heading into the final to-do lists for the new place. Get them done, and Al and I can bike every day. Get lazy now and this process could drag on, and on, and on. OK, I guess being semi-responsible won't be too painful.

Today we're doing all the ordering and buying for the new closets. Our place is a small loft condo. The place had one clothes closet, an awkward small one. Since it was a few steps from the family room/kitchen area, we turned that closet into a spacious pantry. There was an alcove area adjacent to the entry that was designed as a living or dining area that we wanted to use for closet space. We didn't want to put up walls to get the big clothes closet and bike gear closet we wanted. Wardrobe-size cabinets seemed like a better solution. 8-foot tall wardrobes, which would fit nicely with our high ceilings. Big wardrobes packed with drawers, shelves, and things to hang stuff on. So we headed out, driving out of downtown Miami and out to the burbs where our cabinet people were located. 7.5 hours later, all the decisions had been made, and the date for installation set. We got home very tuckered out but happy. By Easter we will have closets!

It's spring break. Miami is stuffed to the brim with college students working very, very hard at being cool and having a good time. On the nice side, the Ultra Music Festival was going full blast this past weekend in nearby Bayfront Park. I'm a huge fan of electronic music. However, tickets are expensive, the crowds immense, and the audience way, way, too young for us. Luckily, the music is LOUD. A pleasant stroll downtown let us enjoy the music at a volume we could handle without permanent hearing loss. My only regret was not being able to hear Swedish House Mafia do their final live performance as a group. Their performance, alas, was past our bedtime...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Calle Ocho and Brickell Cranes

I woke up Saturday night with a big-time rheumatoid arthritis flare in my hands and wrists. Not unexpected what with the hassles of moving. Stress often brings on flares, even when all the medication protocols are in place and primo. C'est la vie.

So I've had a few days off the bikes. Still there was lots to do. We hit Home Depot for new lighting for the condo's closets. New fans and entry lighting were ordered last week and are coming in this week. The electrician comes Thursday to install them all.

And then there was Calle Ocho on Sunday. It is a huge street event celebrating Hispanic culture. It's held on SW 8th Street (Calle Ocho). That's just a few blocks from us. Calle Ocho is 24 blocks of music stages, food vendors, and people dancing. The variety of music at the different stages is interesting and fun. The food is delicious. And the crowds are enormous.

Today it was back to moving tasks. This time finding a dentist for us and a vet for the cat. Check. Did that and have appointments for Wednesday. Not being on the bikes gave me a new appreciation, too, for Brickell's growth. Just a couple of blocks east of us, CitiCentre, a 1 billion dollar residential/commercial center is being built. As expected, that area is non-stop building activity with legions of cement trucks, bulldozers, and hard-hat types covering the area like locusts. Taking a 180 from all this activity, what you see is a half dozen cranes from a half dozen other construction sites. They say Miami wants to be known as the Manhattan of the South. Looks like they are serious about it, too.

I'm happy with all the building. It makes biking challenging in some places, but those buildings are bringing more folks with more bikes. And more folks who are moving here because you can walk to everything you need. But just as the buildings are going up everywhere, there is progress on improvements to sidewalks, bike routes, and such. It's all slouching forward with the adolescent awkwardness of most urban progress. It will be interesting to watch.

Friday, March 8, 2013

No Blood, No Foul

We skipped our bike ride yesterday to put together IKEA furniture. The new desk and storage pieces are now assembled and look wonderful. We completed the work with only a few moments of loud voices and bad language. My manicure was ruined, but our relationship survived the strain.

No blood. (I count that as a good day.)

Today we hit the gym, then headed out on our mountain bikes. Our destination was again the Rickenbacker. Today, though, we were rewarding ourselves. Our only serious thinking would be deciding where to have lunch. It was a glorious day. The waters of Biscayne Bay were crowded with sailboats, compliments of Miami Sail Week. We were happy and feeling very frisky. A roadie passed us on the way, and we chased him down and dogged his tail for a good while. We let him go (we have a liberal catch and release program for roadies), and I stopped to take a couple of pictures.

We toured about Key Biscayne, checking out each and every restaurant. Several were interesting, but we weren't totally pleased so we pedaled on. Finally we ran out of island. We were at the very end of the island, where the road enters Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Remembering that there were two restaurants inside the park, we pedaled in. The park comprises a third of the island, and has a nifty lighthouse (the oldest structure in the greater Miami area). We ended up at the restaurant by the lighthouse, appropriately named the Lighthouse Cafe. It is an open-air patio on stilts, shaded from the sun, away from but overlooking the park's wonderful beach. The crowd at this restaurant is always a delight. We listened to conversations in at least 5 different languages as locals and tourists mingled over espresso, smoothies, and sandwiches.

We headed home at a more sedate pace. Until the last raised bridge of the causeway. Coming to the top, we did a giddy-up-go maneuver, then flattened into a low aero crouch. It was fun breaking the speed limit on the descent. Even a Miami-Dade cop laughed when we roared passed him (OK, so I encouraged him by doing a little smile-and-finger-wave as we swooped by...)

On the last stretch home, Al was following me down the road. He got a bit steamed when I braked suddenly without any signal to him. Long-term relationships are all about compromise and accommodation. I let him chew me out while I positioned myself behind him for the rest of the ride home. He had almost crashed into me, and he was simply being a tad more emotional than usual. Nobody crashed, and this would smooth over quickly.

No blood, no foul.
The Cape Florida lighthouse is a popular with tourist.

A sailboat passes between Cape Florida State Park and Stiltsville, a group of  houses on stilts out in Biscayne Bay.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Do I Love the Rickenbacker Causeway? Oh, Yeah...

Today we headed out on the Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne. We needed to banish the bad causeway experience of yesterday on the MacArthur. The Rickenbacker is my flavor of urban biking happiness. Yummy.

Today we used our mountain bikes, content to watch the roadies fly by us. The Rickenbacker will be our prime road bike training route. (Al needs his hamster wheel route.)

The weather this morning was wonderful. Mid 70s, breezy but not oppressively windy. The capping touch was a cafecito and tiny cookies on Key Biscayne. Cafecito, the perfect bike fuel.
Cafecito (Cuban sweetened espresso)

On the Rickenbacker Causeway

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The MacArthur Causeway Adventure

We headed out on today's morning ride. I said, "Hey, let's bike over to Miami Beach. I want to check out the new H&M there." Al suggested we take the southern causeway, the MacArthur. It's a six lane causeway linking downtown Miami with South Beach (which is on a barrier island) via Biscayne Bay.

The good part: the views of Port of Miami and the big cruise ships are a lot of fun. The bad part: Construction made parts of the ride suicidal. I'm talking white knuckle riding. And I've ridden some wicked stretches of highway on some of our tours.

The amusing part was that the traffic gurus had made a classic amusement ride pattern. Easy, smooth, happy cycling stretches...that dumped you into fast moving traffic with no (repeat NO) shoulder. Then suddenly you went back into a section with a narrow shoulder...but it was drizzled with thick, uneven splotches and bands of lumpy concrete. Our mountain bikes were right at home in this stuff...and in the construction zone we rode through to get to a bike path off the causeway.

Summary of the ride: not many miles, lots of adrenalin moments, beautiful views of boats and cruise ships and the Miami skyline.

I never did get to H&M. Maybe tomorrow. But via a different causeway!
When it was good, it was very nice!

The views of the Port of Miami are great, too.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Small Home Living: Bike Clothes Laundry Puzzle

It took us a few weeks to decide on the solution to our bike clothes laundry puzzle. We had lots of possible solutions. But the solution had to be tidy.

Washing bike clothes after riding is a necessity. The clothes go into the washing machine after the ride. But I never use the dryer on our bike clothes. (I have yet to find a setting that works for them without shortening their lifespan.) Hang dry is the standing answer. But in 602 square feet and an open space floor plan, hanging laundry is visually pretty unappealing. The only room that made sense was the bathroom.

If you are tall, our solution might not work. We wanted an easy to install solution that could be left in place. Our solution was putting another shower curtain rod inside the shower area.

Works like a charm.