#Seventh Annual Le Tour de Breakers 2014
Cycling is an interesting community of strangers. You build relationships over time with short discussions before the ride or in the pace line at tempo. Not unlike civil society, acceptance is largely conditional upon your ability to keep up, pull your weight, and contribute to the common good. On a typical weekend ride few people have the luxury of languishing behind to engage in idle conversation as five hours have already been spent separated from chores, loved ones, familiar obligations and occupational deadlines. So the ties that bind are the long hours laboring in each other’s service with the lion’s share of respect going to those who pull at the front for extended periods of time.
This Sunday a 6:30AM start of the annual Tour de Breakers has been on the training calendar for quite some time. I approached the day with some trepidation as I have not laid down solid base miles since my time off the bike while licking my wounds in November. To make matters worse I just spent a week away from Miami on business with a full schedule in a locale where sub zero temperatures do little to inspire a trip to the gym let alone an outdoor evening ride. So knowing that a huge piece of humble pie will be served up on a platter, I prepare the bike and gear then set the alarm for 5:00 AM.
Arriving at Alex’s house in the dark I was met with jovial greetings from old friends making me feel I had not been absent from this group of riders for almost 15 months. Sixteen of us OMIL’s (Old Men in Lycra) gathered and listened as Alex spelled out the ride route and rules of engagement. We left without incident and in organized fashion heading east towards South Beach. The farther we head east onto the beach the more we became encircled by the runners tempting their fate and fitness against the 13.1 mile route of the ING. With some risk taking and questionable consideration each one of the sixteen riders made it through a relatively dense wall of runners darting through the gaps that inevitably exist in every sporting event.
A quick count verified a group complete and so made haste to the first rest top known as Giorgio’s. The pace was brisk and held no semblance to the target of 18-22mph. I held on but was concerned about my continued endurance at this speed. My concern was validated when the group attacked the bridge, dropped me, and vanished. I was able to keep an even 18mph pace while solo but did not cherish the idea of slogging out the full 80+ miles alone. Arriving at Giorgio’s, I was fully prepared to return home with a 40 mile day in the books.
The group pressed north and meandered the ramps, side roads and residential district that returns us to the mainland heading North on A1A. We kept a steady pace of 20-22 MPH which I was able to hold and so arrived at 7-11 for a quick break and refuel.
Further along A1A we came across a segment of bordered by park, dunes and beach accompanied by some excellent bird watching and constrained by periodic red lights. When you travel at the back of the peloton you are subject to the accordion effect. The few on front take off then everyone thereafter is subject to a small gap created by the delayed reaction of the person in front of them. By the time it reaches the last few riders the effect can be extreme. You bring up your pace to 23-24mph to bridge the gap only to find yourself slowing for the next red light. You mistakenly think to yourself, “Why are they accelerating so quickly”? In fact, the front few are merely riding up to 20mph and holding…. the rest is your fault… for being in the back will always cost you.
As we close on The Breakers we ride along the coast with a full panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean like only South East Florida can deliver. The mood of the group is elated and can be felt as the pace travels upwards to 25mph. “Only 6 miles, Only 5 miles….” becomes my mantra as a guttural roar escapes my control while straining the quads to close the gap and hold on tight. Wheel sucking is survival. We turn onto the long cobbled drive, circle the fountain and pose for pictures. Everyone is happy and looking forward to lunch at a French Bistro downtown called Pistache. As we roll toward the restaurant I feel grateful to those who today pulled my weight and vow to return the favor when my form returns. Beers and wine further elevated our mood and stories of today’s ride and rides past flow like wine.
Old friends become new again and new companions become friends.
This is the power of the bicycle….
the result of the ride.