Monday, December 22, 2014

When you learn, teach. When you get, give. (Maya Angelou)

We belong to a bicycle club, the Everglades Bicycle Club. When we moved to Miami, Al and I loved riding our road bikes, but we had never ridden in a pace line. In fact, we had no idea what skills were needed. We joined EBC and started going to the Saturday EBC rides.

We discovered that people ride with EBC for a lot of different reasons. We all loved riding bicycles. The club was a place where we could meet other people who also liked to ride. The Saturday leader-led groups let people ride at their interest, skill, and fitness level. When you ride with an EBC leader-led group you know you won't be dropped and stranded. (If you are a beginner or someone still learning how to navigate the popular bike routes or to fix minor mechanical problems, that is a very big thing.)

EBC is special because there are good riders who are willing to volunteer to be ride leaders. These are strong riders. They could be spending their time riding with other strong riders. But they are willing to share their abilities and time with the EBC leader-led rides. They teach skills and techniques and help others improve. They keep us together, and safe, and looking like a disciplined peloton instead of a motley rag-tag pack.

And then there is ORANGE! (and now GREEN!) It was amazing how the jerseys changed our ride groups. When we ride together in our club jerseys, we are a team.

And we can't forget to mention the EBC Facebook page. It is special because of the photographs. Great photos of our rides and events that can be shared with our cycling and non-cycling friends. Photo memories that we can download and keep. It is also special because of the people who post about the rides we can join. And because of the people who take the time to post and comment. It keeps things witty, informative, and interesting.

EBC is special because of all the members who volunteer their time and energy making the club run. The leadership group, the event coordinators, and all the other things a club needs to do to be a club.

And we can't forget to mention the members who bring us together socially, for events big and small filled with fun and laughter.

Thank you all.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!
Crossing the Venetian Causeway on a Sunday Ride to Georgio's (Photo by Alex Pruna)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why is it, every time I go the mile, another mile comes up? (Anthony Liccione)

Last December, Al proposed a project. "Here's the deal," he said. "You ride with me one heck of a lot of miles. No whining. No belly aching. No quitting. Do it, and we get a new bikes."

I'm a sucker for bribes.

So we made changes. Over the months we changed our riding schedule to four mornings a week. We changed the length of our rides to metric centuries (62 miles). And we threw in a standard century (100 miles) every so often just to keep things interesting.

We bought new road bikes with a softer ride and electronic shifting. It made a big improvement for me. I have wonky hands, feet, wrists, and ankles. With my old bike I wore wrist and thumb supports under my bike gloves, but I still could not use a water bottle while riding without dropping it. With the new bike I don't need the wrist or thumb supports at all. And I have no problems using regular water bottles while riding. That is huge.

The project wasn't all a success. Distances longer than a century didn't work out. When we tried to push the miles farther, I had an unpleasant cascade of problems. We tried many approaches to it, but unless I could have a solid 12 hours off the bike between rides, the cascade of problems made riding impossible. So I had a brief pity party for the dream of randonneuring and moved on. We had lots of other things we could do instead.

This year we rode a lot. We put about three times as many miles on our bikes as on our car. I no longer have any fear of riding longer distances. I've learned I can do it, day after day after day.

Will Al have another project for next year? You can count on it. It's what he does.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The 2014 Escape to the Keys Ride


The first Friday in December. It's pretty cold in most of the country. Not in South Florida. It's great cycling weather in Miami and the Florida Keys.

Over 200 cyclists gathered at the Miami-Homestead Speedway for the start of the annual Escape to the Keys ride. We were going to ride our bikes to Key West. The ride is put on by the Everglades Bicycle Club. EBC member Rafael Acosta is the Ride Chair. As he has been for many, many years. He and his volunteers have earned a special place in hearts of Miami cyclists for making this such a delightful event. (Thank you!)

Some rides just get better the more times you go on them. Al and I had a great time this year. The weather was perfect. Not too warm. Sunshine. Tailwinds. We rode with the EBC Orange Crush Peloton (AKA the Fuentes Peloton). Lots of good friends.

But what really made it special were the riders who came from other states. Many had never pedaled through the Florida Keys. Hearing them talk about the beauty of the Keys made us feel pretty lucky to live here.

Some of our friends had worked their tail feathers down to nubs training for the ride. It was pretty wonderful to be able to share each success as they went along. Riding that far for the first time. Doing the bridges with a group. Keeping up with the other riders. Alex Pruna captured it superbly with one very special photo: EBC's own Arlene Carriazo on the 7-Mile Bridge, her hands clasped above her head, a big smile on her face.

Will we do the ride next year? Are you kidding? Wouldn't miss it for anything. 

 Allie Geitter (the EBC mascot) giving a rider some encouragement from a SAG car.