26 Miles, Not Across the Sea
Being a Recounting of My Cycling Adventure Today
This morning, about 240 people arrived at the Titusville, Florida, Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center parking lot for “Ride it Down,” a community bicycling event. I’ve eagerly looked forward to this day, first because I love riding my bike and second because I get to ride with a bunch of fun cycling people whom I’ve never met before. I rode two years ago, but the event was postponed last year due to you-know-what. This year, it was even better than ever.
We rode north on the splendid paved multi-use trail in groups: first the long-distance riders who planned to ride 20 miles up and 20 back. I chose the second group, 10-10, plus the distance I rode from my house to the Welcome Center, which made my ride for the day 26 miles. The distance from L.A. to Santa Catalina Island. But not across the Pacific (or the Atlantic) Ocean. Instead, a smooth, flat ride through the exotic, dense Florida foliage on either side of the path. This bikeway goes north, then turns west; within a year, a cyclist will be able to ride from Titusville to Tampa, all the way across the entire state. Florida has paid a lot of attention to bikeways, and continues to do so. Go, Florida!
I was riding with a couple who were on the large side, but they were riding strong and true, about 15MPH. That’s usually a good speed for me, especially when I’m riding my Trek Versa cross bike, which I was, rather than my Giant TCR racing bike, when I usually ride closer to 20MPH. We crossed paths with a granny riding a three-wheeler, her tiny little dog running beside her on its leash. One thing you get used to, riding here, is everyone waves or greets each other on the bikeway. But anyway, this early in a long ride I thought it more prudent to ride a little slower to conserve energy for the return. So I dropped back and they went on ahead. We passed the first sag wagon rest stop, then a few miles on they turned off at the second one for hydration.
I had two full water bottles, so kept going. I passed a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream container, lying on the ground, and thought about what that would taste like. Nah.
As I rode out the northern side of the town of Mims, I heard voices behind me as a group of four, two married couples, called out “On your left,” the cyclist’s courtesy warning, always much appreciated. They weren’t really going much faster so I decided to pull up behind them and catch their draft. It’s always amazing to feel how much of an energy-saver drafting is. You almost feel guilty for not having to work so hard. Almost.
Ahead, we could see some long-distance riders already returning. The two women were riding side-by-side, the two husbands behind their wives. Both wore T-shirts touting a 109-mile cycling ride – somewhere. I looked at everyone’s calves and saw they were serious recreational cyclists. We were catching up with another couple of riders who suddenly swerved to the left: we soon saw the reason was because chickens were cavorting on the path.
We heard music and soon reached our designated 20-mile sag wagon stop. A professional deejay was playing some inspirational tunes. You knew this because other riders were dancing on the bike path. I recognized “Got Lucky” by Daft Punk and the guy and I agreed Random Access Memories was their best album. People were getting their picture taken beside the 20-mile sign.
We were all slugging down bottle after bottle of water; it only 9:30 but it was getting hot already. I hung out, talking to other riders, but pretty soon decided to head back, solo. I rode past this billboard, which made me wish Vlad the Putin could do some work on kindness.
Titusville again, up and over the pedestrian bridge and back to the Welcome Center. A band was tuning up. I got my chit for a pulled-pork slider meal from a food truck and set to it. Fortified, I visited the sponsor tents. One was for a group called Space Coast Pilot Club (we live on the Space Coast, across the Indian River from Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center). The organization is devoted to “positive change in communities worldwide.” They were selling bicycle helmets – or so I thought. They were actually giving them away so that every rider had a brain bucket. I made a donation and took away a nice red helmet for my wife.
As I made a last sweep around the parking lot, I snapped some pix of some of the more interesting bicycles, from a high-end Cervelo to a pink beach bike. And there were many, actually more than I expected to see.
Happy with my ride, I chose to take the scenic route home, through the riverside neighborhood where many stately homes and a few mansions stood. I was stunned to see all these birds relaxing on this dock.
Finally home, my next-door neighbor emerged to see if I was going out to do the ride. Of course I told him I’d just returned, and he snapped this pix of me wearing my “Ride It Down” T-shirt.
Now I have two of them.