Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Biking on the SW Florida Gulf Coast

An Everglades Bicycle Club friend had told us about riding on Florida's Gulf coast. She asked if we wanted to join her for a couple days of riding there. We did. The weather was changing from the warmth of spring to the soft, humid heat of summer. Winter residents had returned to their homes in the North. Roads had less traffic. Restaurants were manageable again.

Our friend was familiar with the area. She had created two routes for us to ride. This was the real treat for us. The area is rich with bike lanes and paths. But it has numerous large gated communities which can make route planning difficult. She knew which roads to follow. Excellent.

Our first ride (about 77 miles) took us to Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Beaches were busy with people, many stooped searching for the seashells for which the islands are famous. Birders prowled the area with binoculars and cameras. We visited an access point for the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, a must do on another trip to this area. The islands are a treasure.

On our second ride (about 46 miles) we meandered to Fifth Avenue in downtown Naples for a bite at a sidewalk cafe. It was an exceptional ride with lovely intown and beach parks, lushly landscaped residential neighborhoods, wonderful quiet parkways, and glimpses of canals lined with large power boats and sailboats. Beautiful homes were everywhere.

We must not fail to mention that we spotted a rider in a bright orange Everglades Bicycle Club retro jersey in Naples.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Life is a long lesson in humility. (James M. Barrie)

The qualities you strive to achieve in life shift suddenly in unexpected ways as you grow older.

Most of our neighbors in our Miami highrise are considerably younger than Al and I. We like that. They are interesting and upbeat, attractive and active. Best of all, seeing ourselves through their eyes can be instructive and amusing.

This week we decided to do a century ride all by ourselves. Well, mostly by ourselves. We used our regular Sunday group ride to Hollywood to do a quarter of the miles with a group. Then we headed north by ourselves, following A1A. Wandering through John Lloyd State Park. Gawking at the cruise ships docked at Port Everglades. Eventually we hit the road construction obstacle course that is the Fort Lauderdale airport area. Our plan had been to head north up the coast along the beaches. We spotted route 818, Griffin Road. Hmmm. Why fight the crowds and traffic along the beaches when we could head west into the quiet and quaint suburbs of Broward? It would be a lovely ride out to Southwest Ranches. Off we pedaled west. We stayed in the bike lane of 818, leaving the bike path and sleepy Orange Road to the family bike groups. When we turned around at our halfway point, we had a pleasant tailwind all the way home.

As we rode the last miles we were feeling fabulous. We'd ridden over a hundred miles, and we felt like we could go farther. We wheeled toward the entrance to our building. One of our neighbors was there. She spotted us, gave us a huge smile, and asked us where we'd ridden. We told her. "Wow. That's awesome," she chirped.
Photo by Brian Coomes

And then it came. The unexpected signal that we'd somehow slipped into fresh territory.  We were wearing our Everglades Bicycle Club retro cycling jerseys. "Just look at you. You guys are just so cute!"

Cute. So much for feeling awesome. Matching jerseys on a couple our age does scream cute.

Humbled, we laughed and rolled the bikes to the elevator.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I intend to live forever. So far, so good. (Steven Wright)

It's April. Month four of our cycling project. If we were taking an imaginary cross country journey by bicycle, we would have arrived in San Diego, turned around, and be pedaling through west Texas on our way back to Miami.

The good news. Our project is working. The constant long bike rides and time in the gym are having an effect. Core muscles are getting stronger. Legs are feeling better. We've got more energy left at the end of rides.

But, of course, there is a disclosure statement. We're still not fast guys, nor does anything like that appear likely in the future. Riding a lot does not roll back the odometer or grant you any additional athletic talents. (Anybody surprised? I didn't think so.)

During the past few weeks I've visited the doctors, been tested for everything but rabies, and had x-rays taken of various moving parts. The verdict seems to be that things are going fine, and the cycling project can continue.

Happy dance time.