“It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times”.
I concur (but please don’t stop reading quite yet) – so I endeavour to find adventure, no matter how big or small, wherever I can.
Today, my 2nd day in Miami, I’m done with the Miami Beach strip. I have a full morning devoted solely to riding down to Biscayne Bay, just south of Dodge Island and finding the sun and beach and enjoying some horizontal sand time under the palm trees. My squeaky rental bike rested well overnight tied up under the languishing bags in the hotel’s storage locker. When it’s rolled out under the clear blue skies on Friday morning I’m ready to progress, be productive and enjoy some very easy miles.
There has been a lot of training over the first 6 months of the year, then racing the 3rd quarter, now I’m enjoying downtime and relaxing while still being in motion. I get bored sitting still (unless I’m writing of course :)) but that in itself is not a good enough reason to be in motion. The need to move goes deeper.
Mostly I love being engaged with my environment and love absorbing new sights and smells. Being on a bike puts me in direct contact with the elements around me (for better or worse) and that brings a good, strong feeling of being alive.
I like the sound of my tires in motion on the asphalt, still somewhat cool in the morning. It’s comforting, soothing even. More of these moments pass pleasantly, easily, crushed ice in my warm soda. Bringing relief.
There’s no other bikers to speak of, nobody at least wearing a helmet. I head south, back through Brickell, and follow the main road until I get to the intersection heading to the Causeway, and then it’s a Lycra paddling pool. More bikers are gathering like fish under the jetty, waiting for the breadcrumbs to be dropped over the side.
There go a few darting off under the trees towards Alice Wainwright Park, there go a few rolling into the steel drum glare of the causeway, searing hot already. Skyscrapers serve little beyond utility to the modern landscape, but I can add shade and cooling influence to the short list of positives rueing their absence from the end of the downtown core. Am sure there’s another pun hiding in there somewhere.
Anyway, heat like this is bad for democracy. It’s back to survival mode, need fluids, need electrolytes and need food. I guess I’m having a hard time acclimatizing because the real feel is surging towards 40 degrees centigrade, and I’m out on the deck, green paint be damned. I look for cover, there is none? I look for the water, the boats, the people relaxing on the shore, not too many of those either.
Key Biscayne has a storied history of failed missions, runaway slaves and ship-wrecked souls. Today it hosts an amazing public beachfront space – Crandon Park, a very unwelcoming community in the small town of the Key’s namesake, and finally at the end of the Key, Billy Bragg park. I had intended to make it all the way to the lighthouse there, but the traffic in town is gummy and thick, like too much jelly candy left to congeal under the heat lamps.
Fast food better be fast. Otherwise I’m not interested. I buy some stale Pringles at a very unfriendly gas station and U-turn to head back to Crandon Park, waving (sarcastically?) at some supporters for a local mayoral race. I admire their big smiles, their big hair and their big signs all out there under the big hot morning sun.
It’s time to find the water, some shade, some relief for my northern European skin. The park is enormous, hosting an apocalyptic sized parking lot (say that five times fast) and a huge throughway to the beach, which is proper deep, wide and long. My friend teases me that it looks like a desert when I send a pic on WhatsApp and maybe he’s right. The water is warm, the seabed mushy and the fish friendly.
I love my time at the water, and relax to the sound of the wind rustling in the palm trees overhead. I don’t want to leave. I don’t even want to continue writing about it – just relax and relive the moment again.
There’s no question that the beaches on Biscayne are the complete opposite to its northern cousins – like chalk and cheese opposites. The only people in sight are a small film crew working on a project featuring a small child and a balloon. Retake after retake continue as I relax.
I only have the morning to enjoy so after a swim, and some color, I head out and find my way back to the highway, passing the peacocks and the lizards on the way. The lizards are being appreciated by a group in the parking lot, it’s fun to watch the expressions of terror and excitement – something like what I can enjoy in a moment on the bike lane.
Back into the city, I return my bike, get a burrito at Coyo Taco (excellent, if a little pricey) – “it’s fast food but you order your food and you are given a table number and are served you food which was a nice touch”. After eating, I chew on buying a t-shirt, but in and out of yes I say no, and return to the people mover for the short trip back to my hotel. There’s just enough time on my late checkout to shower and re-pack and get going.
I’ll end up at the airport early, but who cares – it’s fun to watch the metal, and the time passes quickly. I eat the last of my pillaged left-overs and board the plane an hour or so after sundown for the short flight home.
Verdict – lots to see off the beaten path even though the Miami Beach area dominates and continues to deliver what its best at. There’s enough to keep a cyclist or city explorer happy for a few days – I suggest to bring my own bike next time and stay another night.
That’s it for now, next up – a quick hiking break on the Yorkshire Moors.