Sunday, November 18, 2018

I do not burn bridges. I just loosen the bolts a little each day. (Unknown)

I don't want a divorce, just a trial separation

My clipless pedals are not working for me lately. I need a break from them. I found a pair of studded flat mountain bike pedals among our old bike gear, bagged them, and took my road bike a couple of blocks down the street to our local bike shop. The bike mechanic raised his eyebrows, obviously questioning my request. But I was not going to overshare and discuss the matter with him. In minutes I was leaving, my clipless pedals bagged, the flat pedals installed on my road bike.

The foot and ankle contain a quarter of the bones in the body (26). There are 33 joints, and about a hundred muscles, ligaments, and tendons. I've always had foot and ankle issues. They were complicated in middle age by arthritis. Recently I'd been having problems using clipless pedals. Pulling even a little with the pedal system was painful. I was getting ankle cramps during and after rides. In short, problems from the clipless pedals were outweighing benefits.

This weekend we went to Clermont, Florida, for the Horrible Hundred. We were doing our usual Horrible Hundred kilometers, the 70 mile route. And (cue the drum roll) it went wonderfully. No problems on the flats. No problems on the climbs. And during and after the ride, no foot or ankle pain or cramps.

I'm going to see if the "trial separation" from my clipless pedals lets my feet and ankles recover. I'll do some stretching and strengthening exercises, and I'll spend my Tuesdays out on Virginia Key and Key Biscayne practicing pedaling smooth little circles with studded flat pedals.

I like my clipless pedals. Maybe a trial separation is all that is needed. (Watch this space.)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Inaugural Florida Tour de Force Southern Leg (Coral Gables to Key Largo)

Everglades Bicycle Club (EBC) member Ruben Fuentes has touted Florida Tour de Force for some time. When Ruben helped EBC bring a new Tour de Force segment, the Southern Leg, to the Miami area, we just couldn't pass it up. A police escorted group ride with a pace car, from the Denny's in Coral Gables to the Denny's on Key Largo with the trip home by charter bus. And the ride benefits the families of fallen law enforcement officers. Nice.

So the second Saturday in November found us with almost 200 other cyclists at the Denny's in Coral Gables, waiting for our pace car, a black Lamborghini no less, to lead us down the road to the Keys.

The route took us to the Miami-Homestead Speedway for a loop on the track. A nice route via Card Sound Road to Key Largo. Rest stops were at Denny's located along the way. The ride was around 67 miles, a little over a metric century. The pace car, ride leaders, and SAG vehicles contained the riders to simplify keeping the route clear of traffic and safe. Riders who had mechanical problems or fell behind got picked up by the SAG truck and transported to the next group rest stop.

What's the One Big Thing to know about this ride? OK. This ride is not about speed. It's the fun being part of a police escorted group ride. Police motorcycles, lights flashing, leapfrogging ahead to hold traffic at stop lights and intersections. While the cyclists just pedal happily along: Traffic waits for the cyclists! That, people, is worth twice the current cost of the ride.

If you missed this year's ride, don't miss the next one. I know Al and I will be there.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Three Rivers and a Submarine

St. Marys is a tiny historic Georgia coastal town just north of the Florida line. Nearby is Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. On the first Saturday of November, St. Marys has a great little bicycle event called the Three Rivers Ride.

Last year I did the ride on my own. (Al was recovering from some tricep surgery.) This year we both got to do the ride. The route is lovely and coastal rural. It stops by the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Crooked River State Park, and darts along the coastal salt marsh. Route marking is excellent. SAG vehicles roam the route attentively. Ride marshals are also on the route if needed. Rest stops are frequent and nicely stocked. And the after-ride meal is pure coastal small-town wonderful: a bountiful array of slow cookers filled with homemade chilis of every description made by bicycle club volunteers. All staged in a charming downtown riverfront park adjacent to the Cumberland Island ferry dock.

We like this ride so much we plan to do it again next year. Including another stop for even more barbecue at Willie Jewell's restaurant. The Sloppy Pig sandwich (cole slaw topped pulled pork) with a side of Brunswick stew is purely wonderful. And next year we'll take some time to catch the ferry to Cumberland Island, too.