Monday, October 26, 2009

The True Commuters

I enjoy riding my bike in Miami, I truly do, and as a rider I wear many hats. I am a roadie, a commuter and a trail rider. As a result, it is possible for me to see my great city from the vantage point of my bike saddle.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to shun my auto in lieu of the bike, and by the same token I also get to see the city and its cyclists from the point of view of a driver, and herein lies the paradox. In the morning my drive takes me from West to East - from east comes the true commuters and these guys get it !

Their bikes are simply that ... I ride, a mode of transportation that takes them from their home to their jobs, mostly in the service industry in the establishments out west. This are not tricked out bikes, they are those which you pick up at Walmart for less than a hundred bucks. But they get them to and from work reliably and best of all ... for free.

These commuters will not risk life and limb, because well, it's just not worth it. As a result and in the process, they teach us a lesson... or two.

For starters, the majority of them wear reflective vests, they stop at every intersection, look over their shoulder before crossing every street or driveway, lest they get cut off by a careless driver and slowly make their progress towards their final destination to avoid sweating too much before the start of their shift.

As I return from East to West during my evening commute (on my bike) I come across these fellow riders as they they return home as well - I go west, they go east and we are all commuters.

Despite the fundamental differences between our reasons to commute, I feel fortunate to have other options, but by the same token paradoxically I would almost hope that I had no other option but to commute on my bike.

Now, every time I ride by a Burger King, Mac Donald's or any other fine establishment and I see a bike ....or several chained to the street sign in front - I know that they belong to my fellow commuters and as we pass each other in opposite directions we nod in mutual respect and carry on.

These guys are the real thing, and we owe it to them to continue with our plight so that they, even more than us can benefit from a more bike friendly society.

After all, it makes me feel vindicated when my Taco Bell meal is prepared and served by a rider ...just like me.
Ride on !

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mt. Dora Bicycle Festival

I've been wanting to go to this festival for over 6 years and counting, and there was never quite the right time. So this year we decided to make the commitment and so come October 9th, we hit the road with great enthusiasm.

This event totally exceeded our expectations, there is just something really powerful about descending upon a place where hundreds of fellow riders converge. You feel like you belong and the anticipation of long, enjoyable rides is simply overwhelming.

So we wake up really early and ride the 2 and half miles from our hotel to the center of town and as any fellow rider can attest, there is a very cool feeling about riding in a place where you have never been before. Everything looks and feel different and you simply have no idea of what lies ahead but can't wait to travel the miles on your own power to find out.

We arrive in the middle of town with a few minutes to spare before our ride 50 mile ride to the Yalaha Bakery out in Yalaha, Florida. The scene of hundreds of cyclists on super cool bikes, we are ready to join them and ride out to some place we've never been before.

The rides were simply flawless, clearly marked and easy to follow on beautiful country roads and rolling hills with a couple of challenging hills to tackle, life got better by the mile.

The organizers and volunteers are simply the best, great demeanor and always, always, always willing to help and inform. The residents of Lake and Orange County are the most respectful, patient and courteous motorists I have ever encountered.

There are over 10 rides that cover distances from 100 miles to just a couple of miles, so everyone can find a ride to match their abilities and desires. This festival is simply a must for any bicycle enthusiast and must be done many many many times over.

As for me... I am a fan and will definitely return every year.