Zero to Five Hundred


It has been seventy days since I last turned a crank while gliding over tarmac. No wind in the hair or sun on my face. A few gym work outs and fantastic intentions to ride my trainer have resulted in exactly two indoor rides for a total of forty five minutes. My legs are thin and my abdomen resembles that of ol’ Kris Kringle himself. And so, delusions of grandeur I have none, and failure is imminent.

Is forty miles each day for eight days straight really so difficult?

The mind can be fooled to believe that anything is possible…

Before The Five Hundred begins.


Festive 500 Day Eight

38 Miles

61 Kilometers

In unceremonious fashion I completed the Festive 500 on the eighth day in only four rides. No Pictures, No Drama just fly from Kingston, Jamaica to Miami, Florida. Then get home by taxi and …

Kit Up, Pump Up and Go!

I left the house at five and returned at seven in time to enjoy a pork and sauerkraut dinner for New Years Eve.


507 KM ridden in just four rides… not bad.

The most difficult aspect of this year’s Festive was finding the energy to post blog worthy pros. Yes, I made my Facebook posts and Strava Posts in a timely manner, but the pictures and the editing were just too much. The mileage can burn the mind to bits.

Maybe next year I can ride to Dallas, or circumvent Florida, or seek out snowy rides in the Georgia Mountains, maybe Ride it in Germany…

Thanks for the miles.

Until next year!


Festive 500 Day Three

79 Miles

127 Kilometers

The sound of driving rain coupled with wind lulled me into postponing my departure from the comfort of a warm bed. Once up, I wasted no time in checking the weather outside. Yes it was raining and raining hard but in Miami it could be over in minutes. I turned on the tube (dating myself) and the weather man showed a rain pattern long and wide yet finite. I will ride south through the weather and estimate enduring only two hours of rain then a dry ride the rest of the way.


Even at Seventy-two degrees rain can turn a ride from fun to uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Staying warm will be important so I pull out the Rapha ¾ bibs, a merino base layer, winter Jersey. Always take care of the extremities. I add my Rapha booties to the pile. Toastie feet are a blessing on any winter ride. Long finger gloves, winter collar and Rapha cap complete the kit and the red accessories accent the grey jersey and black bibs beautifully. I struggled to decide whether I should wear the rain jacket or gilet. The rain jacket might be too much protection and tend to overheat. The gilet will not protect the arms and will only shed so much water.

I stepped outside. The roads were empty.

It was pouring so hard loud laughter rolls from my “belly like a bowl full of jelly”.

Within a mile I was positive the rain jacket was the correct choice. My core was dry and comfortable.  In ten miles I was still comfortable and smiling from ear to ear. No cars, no cyclist, no pedestrians… houses were hidden by the deluge. The suburban landscape appeared wild and untamed…

the world was mine.

I was keeping a decent pace and was amazed at how good I felt. I still wonder at the recuperative powers of the human body. Yesterday, I finished my ride with a decent amount of pain and today I am riding through the rain at tempo. I keep my first break short to keep moving, too keep the juices flowing.


I ride through the palm nurseries and out towards Roberts the weather breaks and the sun begins to peak through the clouds. I open the rain jacket and let it flap, a chance to dry out before I stuff it in my jersey. I ride out into the Killing Fields to get in some extra miles. The sun has made its presence known and has pushed the temperature to 82 degrees. Off goes the rain jacket and into the jersey pocket. The winter jersey is now open…the Euroflag in full flight.

 20131226_155951After Fifty miles I have my first cyclist sighting of the day.





A break at Roberts and I am heading home. The wind has died down a bit so I am in great20131226_162933 shape to break a 100 miles. I am stoked.

The sky darkens and my headlamp has lost power. I don’t know what happened since I had turned it off at the first break. My plan to have a backup headlamp failed when I left this morning with it still on the kitchen table. I point one of the three rear lights forward to ensure I am seen from all directions but it does nothing for the dark road ahead. The cloud cover and the mangroves make for difficult riding and the motorists are out taking chances. I head to Starbucks and call in the cavalry for the second time in two days. I am disappointed that I could not complete today’s route but satisfied with the 79 miles.


This leaves me with like 36 miles left to complete the Festive 500. Tomorrow I leave for Jamaica and will not return until 12/31…the last day of the festive.

I find it difficult to leave things unfinished.


Festive 500 – Day Two

88.7 miles

143 Kilometers

Today I woke an hour later than yesterday and I am sure tomorrow will be later still a pattern that repeats itself each year of the Festive 500. I am sore from yesterday’s ride and so I move around the condo slowly.  I sit down with my coffee and listen while the wind outside roars so loud it sounds like heavy rain. I slowly peel back the vertical blinds to reveal the trees bent over and their palms pointed straight south west like invisible strings are pulling at their tips. Yesterday’s strategy to collect as many miles as possible has now proven sound as wind like this can weigh heavy on a riders mind, body and spirit.

The legs are heavy and my mind is already focused on the return trip. A strong tailwind makes light work but I am cautious and so keep the pace easy. I must reserve my energy for the return. It wasn’t long into the ride I when my arse begins telling the story of yesterday’s ride. I shift down into a higher gear and raise myself from the saddle to provide relief. The sharp pain shoots up as the material separates from the skin conveying the presence of raw skin; a product of too many miles, too soon. I was not prepared for yesterdays 116 mile ride.  My 2013 training has been riddled with fits and starts separated by illness and injury. I am not even prepared for today.

I take my rest and grab a coffee. My mood is somber and I stew on the miles ahead. I sit down next to St Nicholas out for a relaxing ride on his Harley after completing his whirlwind journey across the globe bring cheer to deserving  girls and boys. I ask him for a new set of wheels and he tells me I must wait until next year.


I smile and follow a family riding shiny new bicycles in single file formation from Dad to the tiniest tot in order from tall to small. I could not help from interjecting myself into their moment and asked, “Did everyone get a new bicycle for Christmas”? They all replied with a resounding “YEESSS” and flashed big smiles. They were kind enough to pose for me and politely repeated “Merry Christmas” with enthusiasm as the shutter clicked.


As I prepared to mount and continue my ride I asked a weary cyclist, “Are you heading south?” “No”, he replied as he stared into the distance. “Going north”, he finished after a long pause. He had that far away look in his eye. “How is the headwind?” I ask. To which he slowly shakes his head, looks down and says, ”I just gear down and spin until I run out of road.”

Sage advice.

So I continue my ride through the palm trees, past Roberts and into the Homestead “Killing Fields”.


Here the farmland although picturesque with its patterns of deeply furrowed bare earth and long green lines of vegetation provides no obstruction to the wind. Here the wind consumes you like some invisible beast, surrounding and forcing you to submit to its overwhelming and relentless power. You cannot simply power against it. It will ruin you if you do. Instead, like a long climb, you gear down, find that steady pace and ride it out.


I come out of the fields towards Robert’s and see the American flag completely unfurled in my direction. Inspiration to a patriot, yes but to a cyclist, it foretells of a long wearisome ride home.


It’s Christmas day and Robert’s is packed. Families from neighboring towns and tourists escaping the Northern winter climes enjoy the fresh fruit, smoothies, vintage trucks and jovial mood. The usual hoards of cyclists are absent. I am alone in a crowd.


I drink coconut water for its heralded hydrating power but I abhor its flavor. There is no other way to describe it. It tastes like ass.


The return trip home bears no pleasure. My feet hurt, the left foot metatarsal is particularly painfull and I must concentrate on pulling up to provide relief. My triceps are tired and ache from bearing my weight as my abs and back have wearied from the task. The perennial region screams at me and I am forced to ride out of the saddle every 100 yards to reduce its effect on my mind.  I am not complaining mind you. This is not the first time nor will it be the last that I subject myself to this sort of self inflicted torture.

I am a cyclist.

My legs still strong turn the crank until I run out of road and I am home.