Miami is the first place Al and I have lived with convenient bicycle club group rides. When getting to and from a ride takes longer than the ride itself, that is a no go in my book. The Everglades Bicycle Club rides start just south of our new home.
We have ridden with groups of riders at bike events, but we've never done it in a formal way. We just tagged along for a mile or two then went off on our own. Which meant that for all intents and purposes we were clueless
about manners and protocol for this sort of thing. So this morning we rode south four miles to the old Miami City Hall to our first Everglades Bicycle Club group ride. I was as nervous as a little kid heading to the first day at a new school. I didn't know what I would do, but I was certain I would embarrass myself. Al thought this was funny, but he didn't push the point. We all like to think we're at least as good as the next guy. My vice is the fear of showing myself to be far below average in a very public way.
|The group ride start is on Biscayne Bay at the old Miami City Hall.|
There were three groups heading out from the old Miami City Hall. We had talked it over and decided to start with Group 3, the 14-16 mile per hour group. We ride faster than that, but ride speed wasn't what we needed to learn. We figured that the leader of the slow group would be the most tolerant of a couple of ignorant riders in their midst. That turned out to be a good decision. The first guys we met were from Group 2, the 16-18 mile per hour group. These aren't the speedy guys, but the thing was this: They'd been riding together for over 20 years
. Not the group I wanted to be with on my maiden group ride. They seemed like really nice people. I didn't want to screw up their weekly ride by doing something dumb.
The groups were riding the same route to Deering Estate where we all made a rest stop. Our group turned around and returned to City Hall. The other groups continued south to Homestead Bayfront Park. At the rest stop at Deering Estate we came upon a comical scene. A dad was staging a video event with his little girl, who was beyond thrilled that her dad was helping her put the whole thing together. Remember the Peanuts cartoon with Lucy selling advice for a nickle? Here's the stand they had going:
Some ladies out for a stroll through the park went up and asked the kid some questions. The little girl was cute, witty, and way
too smart for her age!
Our group went to Lulu's in Coconut Grove for breakfast before ending the ride. I was feeling pretty good. I had only caused two almost
crashes. Since it was just twice and just an almost
crash, I felt my maiden group ride was a success. By the end of the ride I was pointing out road hazards, signaling slowing and stops, and generally performing fairly adequately. We had guessed right about the group. They were very tolerant of my mistakes, and nobody screamed at me even once. Success!
Our Saturday mornings will be Everglades Bike Club group rides from now on. (Sweet.)