Good Biker

I am going on my 15th month of Base Training.

Consistency has been difficult with sickness and injuries plaguing my return to the bike. Returning Sciatica pain is my current obstacle to progression. This time it took five days to overcome and consisted of 2-3 waves of excruciating pain per day lasting 60-90 minutes long.  Ibuprofen doesn’t touch the pain and doctors won’t prescribe the good stuff. You just have to curl up into the prone position with a pillow between the legs and deal with it. Sciatica has introduced a whole new level of suffering for me. After the painfest, it has taken me a few weeks of light training to return to workable condition and have the confidence to start base training again.

So April I begin all over again.

Yesterday’s ride started slow while a steady headwind kept the effort higher than the MPH would indicate. On a time schedule, I turned around after an hour and headed home. Construction detours lead me onto traffic heavy South Bayshore Drive. Before long a fellow rider rolled up behind me dressed in Discovery Channel kit from the late 90’s. Apparently annoyed at my pace, he veered erratically left in a small gap between cars and started passing a bus on the left while its left turn signals were blinking then ran a red light. I caught up with him at the next red light where he was impatiently waiting for the obstructing traffic to clear. The light turned green while I rolled by blurting out, “not the brightest bulb in the box,  are yah”.

The Discovery rider, apparently pissed, rode by at a brisk paceand without thinking, I gave chase. “What are you doing?” I asked myself in disbelief. “You are not the guy rider you were in 2012, let him go – this is BASE TRAINING”. Before I could quit I caught his wheel.

He poked his head up from his effort to forget me and noticed I was on him. He then commences to attempt to ride me off his wheel. To my surprise, he cannot and so he begins playing track style cat and mouse. Dart to the left, sprint, Zig right, Zag left. I remained the tenacious cat exhausting his prey. Disgusted he could not drop me, he slows thinking he will jump on my wheel when I pass. His move fully anticipated, my mind and drive train were prepared for a full on sprint. With Cars to the left, the road narrowed to fit only one bike. I knew the idiot had pigeon holed himself. Out of the saddle, I launched myself passed him and into the narrow gap between car and sidewalk. A red light would soon shorten the affair. Discovery rider had once again decided to pass cars on the left into oncoming traffic and travelled through the intersection at speed without concern for the red light nor the cars swerving to avoid collision.

For a moment I watched him as his image waned. I wanted to chase and wondered wantonly if I should have ditched the red light myself. Then a SUV pulls up alongside with his window down…

“You’re a Good Biker “, he exclaims.

Return of the Commute

Sick of my own whining I revert to my time honored solution for laying down mid-week miles. Yes, I have returned to commuting. Easier said than done, working the preparation and logistics into a routine takes some forethought and yields a few mistakes. Albeit, the same mistakes I made and mended the last time I started down this path which were the same… 

Yeah you get the picture, stop something long enough and your routine is no longer a routine.

The solution is in the doing.

Commuting by bike changes the rhythm of my day. I awake and leave the house a little earlier and cannot help feeling like it is Saturday morning. The ride itself never fails to make me feel connected to nature, really experience the weather and become part of the landscape unfolding before me. Although some motorists may temporarily derail the euphoric mood with their poor behavior I always return to center and feel more positive as the work day begins.

Cleaning up in a sink has its challenges but all can be overcome with good preparation. Monday I bring my Rapha Soignuer Bag to the office containing Tuesday’s office attire, a wash cloth and small towel, the return ride’s kit and the essential toiletries. Well appointed luggage is the trademark of an organized gentleman.

Repeating this process for Wed/Thurs delivers two days of excuse free riding and leaves only Wednesday for that post commute drive debate. That is three days of riding sandwiched by two days in the gym completing a work week’s worth of workouts.

The solution is always found in the doing.

Get on a Bike and Ride!

Graffitti Redux

A few weeks ago I was walking past a Wynwood pop-up shop inside the Intercontinental here in Miami on my way to the gym where my personal trainer holds court. I stepped in and had a conversation with the girl behind the counter and then offered her a challenge.

“If you can name the artists on my blog post Sunday Spin I will give you $10 per artist”, I provoked.

With eyes wide open my challenge was accepted and to my surprise I found myself dolling out sixty greenbacks before returning home. Claudia had fun and was most grateful as she was working unpaid for the day. Apparently it is not company policy to pay new employees for holidays. Ah Really? Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen, a clear and egregious violation of labor laws, and more than a little blasphemy on Martin Luther King’s day.

I have felt a little unsettled since posting Sunday Spin as I have been unsuccesful in identifying the artists on my own and so It is with relief and pleasure that I present again the photos I took of the six artists Claudia identified. You will find additional links (double click on the artist name) to more information about the artist should you be so inclined to learn more.

Ron English



Eduardo Kobra



Joshua Santos Rivera works under pseudonym Bik Ismo



Interesni Kazki a pseudonym for Alesksei Borysov, Vladimir Manzhos



Mathew Curran



Retna and El Mac



This is the kind of stuff you miss while driving your car….

Get on a Bike and Ride!


Le Tour de Breakers – 7th Annual

#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 months20140202_063056-1. 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.

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Old friends become new again and new companions become friends.


This is the power of the bicycle….

                                                         the result of the ride.

Autumn Colors

The Polar Vortex has made its second coming and is wrapping the country in a freezing blanket of sub zero temperatures and snow. Miami finds itself somewhere in the fifties causing some of our vibrant colors to finally fade to green. Riding this time of year is quite pleasant as groups seem to calm down a bit working together to get through the miles void of the sprints that cause inflammation in the bronchial tubes when performed in temps below sixty degrees.


I do miss the colors of autumn in the Northeast. The smell of leaf decay and the glow of sunlight filtered through the leaves of deciduous trees in an array of vivid and muted colors combined with the sound of the wind through the trees calms the mind and fills the senses. Miami however delivers a display of colors during autumn from flowering trees and shrubs that border on the sublime.

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Get on a bike and ride!

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 Four Thru Seven

0 Miles

0 Kilometers

I was happy on Thursday when I posted my mileage on day three to find I was 46th out of 1600 riders posting mileage. I knew it would be short lived as a planned vacation takes me away from home and bicycle. I hardly sleep a wink as I think, fret, dream about how I could get mileage in on Jamaica. The sleeplessness continues as I dream about next year and how I can do 100 miles a day for eight days. How will I keep it going?, Logistics?



STOP this insanity!

It is so bizarre how one can become so obsessed. It is time to let it go.

I travel to Jamaica where we enjoy five days of Travel, rest and relaxation. The Island roads are covered with bicyclists and bicycles. They are used more for transportation than recreation and come in many forms.


There was no riding for me.


Not until I return.


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.



Festive 500 – Day One

116 Miles

187 Kilometers

After tossing and turning all night I pull myself out of bed before the alarm could wake Renate. She remained sleeping as I prepared coffee and headed out on the veranda to check the winter weather. In the darkness a dedicated few were awake pursuing their daily habits of walking the dog, running or strolling in the park below.  I can count no more than four.

It is the morning of Christmas Eve. There is no reason to rise from your bed so early. It is a day to relax, share time and stories with friends and family. A day for foie gras, oysters, lobsters and wine carefully paired with each. Not so for we, the noble few, these crazy gentleman riders.

The weather is perfect. I cannot help but notice that there is absolutely no wind. Not a rustle of the palm or shutter of a leaf, Nothing….


Excited at the prospect of a windless ride I wondered how far I could go. Last night I took care to prepare my bike, clothes and nutrition and so without the pressure of time I enjoy the coffee and stare into the east as the sun prepares to make its appearance.


A lone airplane passes overhead making its descent to MIA.

It’s time to Kit up, Pump up and Go!

I begin my ride as I almost always do by riding through Overtown. Most cyclists will circumvent this impoverished community for fear of their safety. I ride through it as a reminder of the truth. There is poverty, homelessness  hopelessness and starvation in America.It is closer to us than we are willing to admit. The homeless rise from their temporary shelters and seek to find new refuge for the day.

 As I ride over the channel the sun makes its appearance. It is so bright it mutes the color of the surrounding buildings and even the sky.


 Obstacles to progress comes in many forms.

A wayward bicyclist travelling in the wrong lane.

Never bridge a city bus on the right; it will only bring you grief. The graphics on its rear panel seems to mock me as I wait for it to slowly lurch forward.


And the ever present garbage can in the bike lane.


Through coconut grove


Past Plymouth church and on to Starbucks for a cup of coffee and a rice cake.


The weekly group ride would never stop this soon but today I have many miles to lay down and I am doing it solo. Here I begin to imagine the possibility of riding to Key Largo. It is a torture on a windy day as it is a long road exposed to the wind off the water. You just don’t ride it solo.

But today, today is a windless day.

I ride past Black Point and through the palm tree nurseries careful to check out the channels. The water is clear blue green with not a ripple on the surface, no evidence of wind. In fact you can see the details of the seaweed, the fish swimming effortlessly, the sandy bottom.


I must take advantage of this day.

After a quick break in Florida City I mount the Mooney and head further south. When you ride Card Sound Road it appears you are on a false flat. You look towards the horizon and perspective fools you into thinking, seeing a slight incline. It is in fact flat. Seawater on either side, there is no mistake; you are riding at sea level. The flattest. The only challenge is fitness, friction, relative wind and will.

Did I say it is a long road? Yeah, the view doesn’t change, the grade, the effort… all the same. Eventually the toll booth comes into view and I know I will be rewarded soon.


Card Sound Bridge is not an easy climb but it is short.


 Spectacular views




I arrive at Circle K in Key Largo. After 69 miles, I can feel it in my legs. A couple of peppermint chocolates lighten my mood and make me think of Renate. I post a picture on FB and text her, “at Key Largo, likely 5 more hours to home”.



I start to dream of the possibility of completing 135 miles for the first time and on the first day of the Festive. Card Sound road had other plans. A small headwind kicked up as the weatherman predicted and Card Sound Road is pointing directly into it.

I get to the Florida peninsula in one piece, but my pace has fallen off. There is only forty more miles to home and only twenty to Starbucks. Once again I travel back through the palm nursery where the man with the hammer strikes his fateful blow. I am bonking, like an engine with no compression my legs just can’t do the work. I stop at Black Point and give home a ring. We agree to meet at Starbucks. It takes almost forty minutes to ride 5 miles.



These legs are cooked.


Sitting at Sarbucks waiting for calvary I still can’t help to think…

I can still make it.