Saturday, April 25, 2020

You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. (Jack London)

I spent a couple decades of my adult life living in rural areas. I'm talking places where cattle outnumber people. It gave me a handy skill set for cycling in urban Miami during the covid-19 lockdown.

Rural living is quiet because there is flat out nothing to do but things you think up on your own. As a cyclist, I joked that we had an abundance of scenic roads and double track to ride. Our problem was there were just no destinations. 

But the skill set rural life taught was more than just how to be self sufficient on long bicycle rides in the middle of nowhere. It's a mindset. Figuring out what you want. Figuring out how to get what you want. Figuring out how to amuse yourself.

So while I may have a lot of issues to deal with these days, cycling isn't one of them. Here in Miami I've got places to go and nifty things to see. And no cell phone dead zones. And physical distancing? Heck. People you can tell to back off. Cattle, snakes, and weird wild critters? Not so much.

Life is good. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy. (Ambrose Bierce)

Everyone is getting a bit (ahem) irritable.

The covid-19 lockdown has left me without my running away from home on a bicycle trips. For my mental health, I need to give my solo rides a touch of novelty and adventure. (Nothing big, just a little touch will do.)

I ride 4 days a week. I ride with my husband Al as much as possible. He's a lot faster than me, and, while I really love that he willingly rides slow with me, it would be ridiculously selfish of me to expect him to do it all the time.

On solo rides I use GPS on my Garmin and/or phone to create novel routes. Where to ride? Well, remember I'm trying to have a little replacement therapy for my running away from home on my bicycle trips. I'm happiest when I'm chasing down a series of destinations. I started a list for Miami.
  • Miami has 148 parks, gardens, recreation areas, and playgrounds. Sure they are closed right now, but they work as targets. I pick a few and create a route that strings them together. (And not all parks are surrounded by walls and gates. Just saying.)
  • Miami has a lot of communities. So I create a route that goes through a bunch of them. Extra points for getting a photo of a sign marking the community. An alternative is picking a community or two to explore.
  • I pick a historic site or two. The farther from home, the better.
  • Architecture makes a great theme for a route. MiMo, for example, in the Upper East Side neighborhood (the area south of Miami Shores and east of Little Haiti.) I'm a big fan of brutalist architecture, and rides that highlight examples are particular fun for me.
  • As you can see, I doubt I'll soon run short of themes for  future rides.
It's simple and easy. It keeps me distracted from the things I can't do until this virus thing is in our collective rear view mirror.

Bike rides aren't just exercise time. Bike rides are mental health adjustment time.


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.' (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Al and I go for bike rides four days a week. It used to be a convenient routine that kept us in shape. These days it's a mental health necessity. We're out of the condo. (Yeah!) We're soaking up some sunshine. (Yeah!) We're stretching our muscles. (Yeah!) We're seeing in the real world people. (Yeah!)

I headed out on our Easter Sunday ride feeling irritable, disjointed, and down-in-the-dumps. I was missing my friends. I was missing the stops for coffee on bike rides. I was missing seeing people without masks.

Then I chanced upon a family out on their bikes. Mom. Dad. A boy about 10 years old. And a little girl about 5 years old on a pink princess bike. The little girl had decorated her bike. And I mean decorated it. Flowers. Lots of ribbons and bows. Pinwheels. Her little bike basket was filled with Easter basket cellophane grass and big candy eggs. Something that might have been a pink stuffed bunny was tied to the back of her bike seat. I mean, the little princess bike absolutely twinkled. It was magical.

Seeing that little girl made me smile. My mood picked up. Things weren't so bad after all.

Happier times wait ahead.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Until you walk a mile in another man's moccasins you can't imagine the smell. (Robert Byrne)

Technology has been the silver lining in the pandemic's stay-at-home thing. It's let me spend my time with people who live far from my home in Miami.

I have two friends that I've known since the 80s when we worked together. About a dozen years ago we discovered our mutual interest in bicycles, and we began chatting online regularly. We are three women in our 70s. I live in a highrise in Miami. One friend lives on a farm in south Georgia, and the other lives in a town in rural north Florida. We all love solo rides. We all love to travel on our bikes.

Because they live in rural areas, it's a lot easier for them to physically distance themselves on their bike rides. Still, they have had to negotiate some compromises with their families.

  • Pavement riding only so someone can drive out for them and their bike if there is a serious problem.
  • They have to leave a route and expected return time at home (because there are areas where cell phones are iffy should there be a problem.)
  • And no overnight trips. (No particular reason, it seems. Apparently it just drives family crazy to have grandma wild camping somewhere during the pandemic. My friends think it is annoying and silly but quaint and sweet, nonetheless.)

They think my rides are pretty unhampered by the pandemic. I try to explain the problems with urban riding, but they think my issues with scooters and finding toilet facilities are highly amusing.

We share photos of stuff from our rides. They have scenic landscapes and wonderful old homes. I  share photos of Miami stuff. Skyline city views. Peacocks. Public art. Biscayne Bay. The reaction of these friends to things I usually dismiss as mundane and commonplace affected me in a way I hadn't expected.

To my surprise, I discovered my world was littered with little treasures. I realized I could be a bicycle tourist right here at home. No travel required. Just a change in viewpoint.

One of the many peacocks I pass on rides around Miami.

A bit of public art in a tiny park between a traffic circle and a parking lot.