Biking around the world!
Ok, maybe not around 'the world' (lol), but it definitely did feel like it.
All week long I was getting messages about the upcoming MIAMI CRITICAL MASS bike ride that was going on come Friday evening, a huge 16.8 mile cycle route all around the south hotspots of Miami. Critical Mass is a bicycling event typically held on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world. Google it to learn more. It's a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it.
Now apologies, but I write a lot (lol). So if you want to just read about the ride (skip down to THE RIDE).
So all week I kept pondering and pondering if I could and should do it. Would I be too tired from work? Would I be able to get there in time since I couldn't leave work early? Could I really ride 16.8 miles straight after not being on my bike in ages? And can I really do it in this heat?!? Finally, Thursday, I just said, "you know what!?! I'm doing it. Screw my doubts." So I RSVPed and started making plans.
Thursday after I got home completely exhausted. Already I was starting to regret my decision because all I wanted to do was, go to bed! But I had to prepare. So I sucked it up and started packing my bike bag (spare inner tube, emergency tire repair, first aid kid, heart monitor, water, hair bands, sunglasses, helmet, a snack, etc). Then I went to the store for a good ride shirt (thin and lightweight). Luckily Old Navy was close by with exactly what I needed, but boy, my body felt like pure lead. Somehow I got out the store and drove home. My night still wasn't over. I also needed to prep my bike and pack it in my car, but I decided I was way too exhausted. So I set my alarm for 6 am regretting the fact that I would lose an hour of sleep over this the next morning.
Next thing I know it's 7am. What in the world happened to my alarm? My cell phone died in the middle of the night. Up I was, flying out of bed and into some clothes. I grabbed my bike and hiked it to the nearest gas station to air prep my tires and pressure. Then I did a quick safety ride to check my gears, brakes and chain. All seemed ok. So I packed my bike in my car and ran upstairs to get ready for work.
All day at work, I'm nervous. Is my body ready? Will my body have energy? Can I do 17 miles? What if I die half way and then get lost not knowing how to bike back to the original location? Should I still go? 3pm comes and I am in the throes of that afternoon lull. You know what I'm talking about. My body just has NO energy. I look in my lunchbag and there, like a shining beaker in the night, was a 5-Hour-Energy. Thank goodness! I had packed it days ago but had never needed it. Contrary to what I usually do, I drank the whole bottle. 15 minutes later, it made all the difference in the world. B Vitamins activated (lol)! With new energy, I decide for sure - Yes, I'm going.
So 5pm comes, I leave work and fly back home. Luckily I hit no traffic. Inside, I quickly change, grab my bike bag, pack my water bottle with water AND ice (so it can melt for cool water by the time I was on the ride), and I fly out the door.
I drive directly into the full onslaught of Miami traffic. Ugh! "Should I turn back?" I think as the regret is starting again, but I push through it. Ages later, I arrive into Downtown Miami finally. Since this is my first Miami Critical Mass, took me a while to figure out the parking but I did it! Out the car I went with bike, helmet and all else needed in tow. Now I just had to find the spot.
On my bike riding into downtown Miami, I cycle leisurely over to Government Center. Thankfully, it's easy to find. This is where all the Miami trains meet. My first time seeing this crazy hub, which once a month becomes the point of origin for all Miami Critical Masses. Miami-Dade workers and tons of other personnel, all getting off their shifts, are everywhere. They are now the audience to this mass genesis of cyclers arriving into the square, of which I am one. I arrived early and there were about 50 people.
A half hour later, there's 200, minutes after that, there's still more cyclists arriving. Fat bikes, skinny bikes, big bikes, tall bikes, high grade bunks, junk yard bikes, race bikes, dirt bikes, pretty bikes, simple bikes... unicycles, bicycles, tricycles. IT WAS CRAZY!
I met a couple of cool people. One of which was this guy with his own hand made bike. Awesome. His name was Rob (below). He said he built it himself for more power. If you can't see he has two chains. One traditional attached with the backwheel, and one he mounted onto his handle bars which he would either rest it down like a speed racer or pull it up and pump it for more power in a vertical motion similar to churning butter. Trust me, impressivo.
Another was Kevin (above). He's a traveling Grip and Lighting Tech for a theatre company. He chills in MIA for half the year and then travels with the company the other half. How cool is that?
After chit chatting for awhile, finally it's time to go. I moved quickly to stick with the front group. As we lined up I looked behind me and was SHOCKED beyond words. There must have been at least 400 to 500 cyclists. And then, we were off...!
First hurdle... one of downtown Miami's intracoastal bridges. A great starter challenge.
The bridge created a bit of a stall at first, but then we got into a rhythm.
So to make a long story short. I made it! And it was an unbelievably INDCREDIBLE ride. First, the route was incredible! 16.8 miles through all the hotspots in South Miami. I was most excited about the West Little Havana stop along the famous "Calle Ocho" (where I took most of my pics below).
I was on my own on the ride so I couldn't get a lot of pictures of me. But, no biggie. I have lots of other pics. The vibe was so friendly and diverse among the mass. It was fantastic.
Besides English, in the bike mass and along the streets from all the spectators, I heard 5 different languages. Creole, German, Dutch, Chinese and lots of Spanish (Miami, of course). I was called "la morena" multiple times along the route...(lol).
What we passed along the way? Scores of palm trees, a couple of active Cuban protests, salsa dancing on the street, street side cafes and restaurants, lots of celebrity Bentleys and Rolls Royces, and tons of passersby that saw the event as a spectacle. They were getting out of their cars and coming out of their houses cheering us on and taking pictures. Honestly they really didn't have a choice but to just stand and watch us. I mean, the mass SHUT DOWN all car and pedestrian traffic. We were that huge...(lol)! Throughout the residential areas, little kids were running alongside us trying to keep up, asking all excited, "where you going? can we come?" It was cute.
The ride lasted an hour and fifteen minutes at a pretty high pace, and I swear I could have ridden another two. And I was worried I wasn't going to be able to keep up!?! Isn't that funny?
Finally, we were hitting the last lap. It was night time by then and we were turning the curves back into downtown Miami.
In the end, I'm glad I made the decision to go and stuck through it to the end. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of riding at about 16-20 miles per hour. The route map said 16.8 miles, but I'm guessing it was actually more around 19, 20. With my heart rate monitor, I burned 758 calories, consequently having an absolute blast. Now, that's numbers for success.
One day I truly do hope to bike around the world. I've bike toured all around New York City (60 miles was my top one), and now I can add Miami to the list. This is just the reminder I needed to get me going towards that goal again. You have to always keep your dreams and goals at heart, otherwise they'll soon be forgotten.
Hope everyone had a such a great weekend, and don't forget to check out your local CRITICAL MASS. I bet you'd love it.
(Me. 25 lbs down. Ready to ride. Terrible pic, but it wasn't a photo shoot, right? :D)
...for reading. Leave me a note... I love that!
"If at first you don't succeed... try, try again."
With man, this is possible. With GOD, ALL things are possible.