1/26/11

Biking in the Everglades


Being down in Florida and looking at the available routes near Pompano Beach/Fort Lauderdale, I noticed that I was pretty close to the Everglades. I looked on the usual sites (mapmyride and bikely), but no one really had routes that went into the Everglades. Upon further investigation (looking at the satellite pictures), I saw that there were service roads that were somewhat close to the suburban area near Sara's parents' Florida apartment. The issue was that it was 13 miles to the Everglades from where we were staying by the ocean. I didn't want to bike 26 miles there and back in addition to doing the ride, so I was able to convince Sara's father to drive me out Atlantic Blvd. to take off 13 miles of pure road biking.

I started out from a church parking lot and worked my way along the toll/exit ramp to a dirt side road. I took that to a gate that said "no motorized vehicles" and assumed that I'd be able to ride there.  Once on the service road, I found nice gravel that paralleled the highway to my left, with a canal, service road and the Everglades to my right.  I road this south, then veered west, then turned north and crossed the highway to pick up the service road.  Then I crossed the highway again going east through the airboat recreation area to the service road that went back to the starting point. The next part of the ride was the most desolate, with the Everglades on each side. I was able to see many cranes, fish and buzzards as I road along.  It was an interesting feeling being out there, as I could see civilization in the distance but was fairly isolated. It reminded me of the feeling I had out West in the desert. The weather was pretty hot. It was 80 degrees, but around 90+ degrees with humidity (I was basically riding next to a swamp). I noticed that I was getting sunburned on my arms. 


 I got back to where I'd started and wanted to continue onward back to the shore/coastline while continuing to stay as off-road as possible.  I had seen during my satellite recon that there was a canal that had a path on it and some service roads.  Unfortunately, the end of that path was near the toll road entrance ramp, so I had to hop a fence to start the trail.  The trail was nice, but kind of more of a jogging/walking trail since it was cement instead of asphalt.  Eventually, it ended and turned into service roads once again.  I had an interesting encounter during which I almost hit a 4-ft iguana that then ran in front of me and jumped into the canal.  I also had a funny little dog jump a 4-foot fence to run after me, but it knew to stop at its house's property line.  Eventually, I ended up biking on grass on state lands near the canal near people's homes, and it was slow going.  At one point I ended up having to go back to Atlantic Blvd., which is a major road.  I went on the road, but it was pretty interesting since people were trying to enter and exit I-95 at some points. I was able to take more side streets after that and got back to the beach.  As I got closer to the beach (about 4 miles out) I began to feel the temperature drop, so I knew I was getting close. 
Notes:
video
  • Florida, no matter how you cut it, is pretty flat biking.
  • In the future, if I could have a car, I'd prefer to park and ride just the Everglades for more mileage without riding on the roads.
  • From the research I had done, it sounds like there are some park trails that would be good for biking. With the non-technical nature of them, a cross bike with bigger tires should be fine.
  • Considering it was 80 degrees and 90% humidity, I can't even imagine riding in Florida during the summer. It would be very uncomfortable.

1/23/11

Riding A1A on New Years Day


Rode the Jamis with 28mm slicks, only CX bike I saw

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to bike in new places.  It seems to give me the ability to actually visit a place more completely since I've seen more of the area while riding around.  A popular place to ride in South Florida is A1A, which goes along the coastline. 
I decided that A1A would be an easy ride to do. Since it's an out-and-back route, there are no turns and it's impossible to get lost.  I didn't know how far I was going to ride since I had forgotten to bring the magnet for my bike computer, but I figured that I'd just ride to a certain time and then turn back. Unfortunately, there was a 25-30 mph wind blowing that day.  I went up the coast and ended up seeing around 300 bikers, some in packs of 50+ riders.  At certain points I ended up riding with some bikers I came across, and I ended up riding with one gentleman on the way up as well as on the way back.  I rode all the way up to South Palm Beach before turning around.  Unfortunately, I had a headwind going almost the entire way back to Sara's parents' apartment.  I finished the ride pretty spent and out for a lot longer than I had expected to be. On the upside, however, I got to see much of the coastline of South Florida.   

1/19/11

2010 YearEnd Totals

This year wasn't as bright as some others, but there were a few shining moments. The best ride of the year would have to be the 18 hours of Scouts Honor, where my team got first place and I was able to ride consistent laps without many back problems. The surprising runner-up for best ride was the 9 hours of Cranky Monkey race. I ended up doing it with a broken finger. I'd gotten the injury during a volleyball game. Because of the broken finger and my move into the city with Sara, I didn't have much structured training from mid-May to late-July. The worst ride of the year would have to be the Greenbriar marathon race, where my back was hurting so badly that I basically stopped and didn't go out for a final lap when I could have.

The Moots--2,286 miles
She is now a year older and feels a lot more at home, as she lives in our apartment with us (in the bathroom hallway). I had some fit issues on this bike that I finally figured out by getting some new handlebars. She's feeling a lot nicer to ride now. I enjoyed some interesting rides in Cape May, NJ and I finally did the 4-ridge ride climb I'd been meaning to do in Lewisburg (Sara's hometown). I threw in some OMG Frederick rides as well.

 
The Fixie--1,004 miles
The Atala is still going strong, primarily for bike commuting. Sometimes her wheels come out of true because of potholes.
Jamis CX Super Nova --814 miles
This is the do-all bike, so some of the mileage was from commuting to work, some was from dirt road rides, and still more was from cyclocross. I would say that the highlight for this bike was doing Iron Cross this year.
 

Gary Fisher Hi Fi Pro--300-ish
Had some good races on the GF this year. She was actually riding pretty well, but yet again, she broke. This happened in late summer. The Hi Fi highlight of the year was riding in Arizona and Vegas.

Voodoo Diabla--450
This year, the Voodoo had an identity criss. She went from a rigid single-speeder to a front suspension single-speeder to a 3x9 hardtail suspension bike, and finally ended up as a 1x10 hardtail. Since the GF broke, I had to use the Voodoo as my main mountain bike. In doing so, I set the bike up with full gears and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to ride Liberty Furnace, and Southern Traverse reasonably well without a full-suspension. Once I took off the gearing to put it back on the Gary Fisher when I sold it, I ended up making the bike a 10-speed in back, which works reasonably well with the low 36-tooth cog. Probably the highlight of the year with this bike was, as I said previously, Scouts Honor. It might have even been a better bike for the race than the GF could have been.
 
Tandem--300
Sara and I were able to get some miles on the bike, and I think there would've been more miles on it if I'd have lived in the city the entire year. We were able to squeeze in rides about once a week before work. Hopefully in the next year, we can get in some more riding, but that is looking doubtful given the amount of schoolwork that Sara is doing. The big news for the tandem this year was that I raced cross on it with Matt. I will say that it was a hoot riding DCCX and then Tacchino on the tandem. Riding a tandem on a cyclocross course actually makes the course pretty technical, as it's tough to simply get the beast around the corners. Hopefully next year (if Matt's on board), I will try to race most of the series with him.
Supposedly, 2011 should be a big yearSara is still in school, so I have plenty of time to ride; we do have 7-8 weddings this year to attend, so that may present some conflicts.

2010 YearEnd Totals

This year wasn't as bright as some others, but there were a few shining moments. The best ride of the year would have to be the 18 hours of Scouts Honor, where my team got first place and I was able to ride consistent laps without many back problems. The surprising runner-up for best ride was the 9 hours of Cranky Monkey race. I ended up doing it with a broken finger. I'd gotten the injury during a volleyball game. Because of the broken finger and my move into the city withSara, I didn't have much structured training from mid-May to late-July. The worst ride of the yearwould have to be the Greenbriar marathon race, where my back was hurting so badly that I basically stopped and didn't go out for a final lap when I could have.

 
The Moots--2,286 miles
 
She is now a year older and feels a lot more at home, as she lives in our apartment with us (in the bathroom hallway). I had some fit issues on this bike that I finally figured out by getting some new handlebars. She's feeling a lot nicer to ride now. I enjoyed some interesting rides in Cape May, NJ and I finally did the 4-ridge ride climb I'd been meaning to do in Lewisburg (Sara's hometown). I threw in some OMG Frederick rides as well.

 
The Fixie--1,004 miles
 
The Atala is still going strong, primarily for bike commuting. Sometimes her wheels come out of true because of potholes.
 
Jamis CX Super Nova --814 miles
 
This is the do-all bike, so some of the mileage was from commuting to work, some was from dirt road rides, and still more was from cyclocross. I would say that the highlight for this bike was doing Iron Cross this year.
 

Gary Fisher Hi Fi Pro--300-ish
 
Had some good races on the GF this year. She was actually riding pretty well, but yet again, she broke. This happened in late summer. The Hi Fi highlight of the year was riding in Arizona and Vegas.

 
Voodoo Diabla--450
 
This year, the Voodoo had an identity criss. She went to a rigid single-speeder to a front suspension single-speeder to a 3x9 hardtail suspension bike, and finally ended up as a 1x10 hardtail. Since the GF broke, I had to use the Voodoo as my main mountain bike. In doing so, I set the bike up with full gears and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to ride Liberty Furnace Southern Traverse reasonably well without a full-suspension. Once I took off the gearing to put it back on the Gary Fisher when I sold it, I ended up making the bike a 10-speed in back, which works reasonably well with the low 36-tooth cog. Probably the highlight of the year with this bike was, as I said previously, Scouts Honor. It might have even been a better bike for the race than the GF could have been.
 
Tandem--300
 
Sara and I were able to get some miles on the bike, and I think there would've been more miles on it if I'd have lived in the city the entire year. We were able to squeeze in rides about once a week before work. Hopefully in the next year, we can get in some more riding, but that is looking doubtful given the amount of schoolwork that Sara is doing. The big news for the tandem this yearwas that I raced cross on it with Matt. I will say that it was a hoot riding DCCX and then Tacchino on the tandem. Riding a tandem on a cyclocross course actually makes the course pretty technical, as it's tough to simply get the beast around the corners. Hopefully next year (if Matt's on board), I will try to race most of the series with him.
 
Supposedly, 2011 should be a big yearSara is still in school, so I have plenty of time to ride; we do have 7-8 weddings this year to attend, so that may present some conflicts.
 

1/16/11

A Mountain Biker is Born

 
This Christmas, I continued the tradition of giving my nephew a bicycle-related item. Previously, I had given him his first bicycle with 12-inch wheels and training wheels. Next, I got him a trailer bike. Then I bought him a sixteen-inch BMX bike, but Cole was having trouble with balance and continued to need his training wheels a lot. I got him a scooter, which I hoped would help him learn to balance. Eventually, when he went back to his bike, he was able to ride within two tries. Cole has been growing fast, and he needed a new bike this year and so Sara and I planned to get him one for Christmas. I decided to go with a 24-inch wheel mountain bike. I realized it would be big for him now, but he is going to be tall someday, as his dad is 6 ft. 4 in. Also, it should last him a while. Of course, Cole was happy with the present (which we gave to him on Christmas Eve Day), and Sara and I told him that it would be for Christmas and his birthday (in January). Young boys do not know how much things cost.
 
I took Cole out for a ride, and it ended up being a long one. We got to go off-road for a bit and around the Lake of the Woods development, where my parents live. We had to do the obligatory roll down the hill (without the bikes) that almost made Uncle Darren puke and also stop by the playground so that Cole could race me on the jungle gym apparatus.
 
I ended up biking again with Cole when we visited my sister on Christmas Day. He had been waiting for me to arrive for another bike ride. I took him to Ida Lee Park in Leesburg, and this time we actually went on some hills, and Cole got to understand that gears are good. He also got to understand that what goes up must come down, and he enjoyed riding the downhills. On one of the steep hills, I knew Cole wasn't going to make it up, so I had him go in front of me and jumped off my bike. As I cheered for him to pedal, I lightly pushed him up, but he still did most of the work. As usual, he seemed pretty tired both days. I hope to take Cole on some real mountain bike trails in the future.