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Any Slow Group Bike Rides in the Miami Area?

Jon asks:

I am in the process of interviewing for a position in Miami. I’ve always wanted to move from NJ to somewhere in the Sunbelt. As I’m getting older (I’m now 49), cold is beginning to bother me more. I’ve been trying to locate bicycle clubs in FL, but they all seem to only offer racer paced rides.

I ride long distances 35-67 miles in NJ, but at an avg speed of 11-13mph. Where do I find southern FL clubs that have C and/or D paced rides? Also, even with nice weather, FL does not appear to offer a lot of riding locations. Am I correct? Any information would be appreciated.

I try not cross the south Palm Beach County Line

I may not be able to address your specific questions, because Miami is about 60 miles south of us and I try as much as possible not to go south of the Palm Beach County line. And, I’m pretty much a solo rider, so I don’t hang around the clubs. But, here’s some other info.

You’ll be trading cold for heat and humidity

If you live in New Jersey at this time of year, I’m sure Florida looks really attractive. I DID pass on riding this morning because the wind chill was down in the low 40s and the winds were 16 mph, gusting to 26.

On the other hand, summer’s heat and humidity cause me to shift my riding to the evenings and nights after about May. I’m a decade older than you and the heat kills me as much as the cold does you. Maybe my radiator isn’t working as well as it should, because a hot day will elevate my heart rate 10 to 15 beats per minute.

I’m not a club rider

You and I are about the same speed. My last century was done at about 13 mph. My last ride was into a 14 mph headwind where I worked to maintain 10.5 mph, but then cranked effortlessly at 16-19 mph for the all-too-brief time when the wind was at my tail.

My two kids are morphing into go-fast riders. I don’t know where I went wrong with them. Matt, the oldest, likes to get up at ye-god-o’clock in the morning and push himself with a group that rides the north end of Palm Beach County on weekends. It’s made him a stronger and faster cyclist.

I don’t like dragging myself out of bed early in the morning, and I’d rather ride my own pace, stopping along the way to take pictures and talk with folks I meet. Not knocking folks who like group rides, but they’re not my style.

How comfortable are you in traffic?

When I ride in South Florida, one thought keeps going through my mind: if Darwin was right, and only the strong and fit survive, how many N.J. and N.Y drivers were weeded out before they got down here?

A vehicular cyclist, who isn’t afraid to take the lane when necessary and who rides defensivly, will find riding OK. If you’re uncomfortable riding in urban traffic, you may have problems. There aren’t many traffic-separated bike paths in the area.

One of the most pleasant protected places is the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, a blacktop trail on top of the Lake O dike. It’s not paved the whole way, but I have ridden the whole roughly 117-mile lake, and only about 15 miles of it was on ugly road with broken shoulders. That stretch was under construction and may be fine by now.

Check out Everglades Bike Club

The Everglades Bicycle Club out of Homestead, south of Miami, is a fairly active group. I’ve done their Snowbird Century twice. What they call their Easy Ride is about 26 miles at 14-16 mph, so they may be a little fast for you.

There ARE pretty places to ride in South Florida, you just have to look closely.

And, if you are REALLY a slow rider, you should hook up with my buddy, Charles Keefer, webmaster for slowbikes.org. If he went any slower, he’d have to have one of those beep-beep warning horns on his bike. (He also tends to be a bit slow in updating his site, but that’s understandable. I think it’s in the charter.)

Keep in touch. If you make it down here, I’m sure we can hook you up with some routes, if not clubs.

8 comments to Any Slow Group Bike Rides in the Miami Area?

  • Jon, you make it as far as Miami and we’ll find you some rides. There are a lot of clubs in South Florida and I’m sure we can find you some good folks with which to ride.

    Here is the problem you’re going to have… people who often ride 30 to 60 miles at a time don’t stay in the C/D groups very long. If you can do a 60 mile ride at 12 miles an hour, you can do a 30 mile ride at 18 miles an hour. It doesn’t take long for your base fitness level to rise and bring your speed up as well.

    The few people who do ride 60 miles at a mind numbingly slow 12 miles an hour don’t organize because they are so few in number.

    That said, if you email some bike clubs in South Florida, they will be able to introduce to members who prefer to take it slow. A local triathlon group does long (50-mile), slow (16 miles an hour) rides a couple Sundays a month to help runners adjust to riding.

    You may also find you ride faster in Florida. I lose two to three miles an hour when I ride in an area with hills. Maybe you’ll gain two or three miles an hour when you get to the flats.

    —Matt

  • kls

    Jon,

    My kid knows not of which he speaks.

    I can and have often ridden 60 miles at a mind-expanding 12 mph. Even in my best year, I have NOT done a 30-mile ride at 18 mph, nor do I expect to.

    More speed would mean shorter saddle time, which would be nice on a long trip, but I don’t set that as my goal.

  • Lurch1

    Matt:

    Now I know why there are speed limit signs on the Palm Beach Bike Trail. What’s the rush? 12 mph isn’t “mind numblingly slow,” it’s “normal,” at least to those of us who cycle to enjoy a little scenery and get a bit of exercise at the same time.

    If I’m in a hurry, I get in a car and hit I-95.

  • Dad, you’re old and you keep adding weight and wind resistance to your bike. Every time you break the 16mph barrier, you add ten pounds.

    Try this: ride a bike as it comes off the showroom floor. You’ll be pulling the pack at 25 miles an hour, I swear.

    Lurch, I’m not sure how much exercise you are getting at 12mph. At that speed, do you even hit your aerobic threshold? A 12mph bike ride burns the same number of calories as light effort downhill skiing. You’d get more exercise walking briskly across a Wal-Mart parking lot.

    —Matt

  • kls

    I loaned my stripped-down old to someone this afternoon and took it for a test ride to make sure it was working.

    First observation: wow, this thing is really light.

    Second and third observations: wow, I was really stretched out on this bike. I’m surprised that I was able to ride it as long as I did. It was really uncomfortable.

    This bike is really twitchy compared to the Surly LHT, which is really happy going straight down the road.

    I did NOT find myself being pulled down the road at 25 mph.

  • kls

    Lurch,

    Don’t mind The Kid. He doesn’t realize that at some point you hit the age when you can reach your aerobic threshold just by checking your watch.

    Actually winding it throws you over the threshold.

  • Charles Keefer

    Ken, thanks for mentioning slowbikes.org earlier. I’ll update it as soon as retirement slows down to a normal five day week.

    Matt, it doesn’t take long for your base fitness level to rise unless your base fitness level has been falling for the last 40 years. Over time, it gets in the habit of going the wrong way.

    I am thrilled that you can do 30 miles at 18 miles an hour. Had I tried that, however, your dad would have inherited a Cannondale tourer long before he bought the Surly.

    And, I’m sorry, but riding a bicycle at 10 miles an hour is better for you than briskly walking across a Wal-Mart parking lot. In order to walk safely across a Wal-Mart parking lot, you have to avoid the waddlers, the walkers with walkers, the illegals in 15-year-old brown Toyotas with neither driving skills nor insurance, and the moms beating their children in front of the security cameras. I find a crouching scuttle from parking island to parking island with time in between to observe the traffic flow safer than a brisk walk.

    cmk

  • john Riley

    If the OP does make it down to Miami, I’d recommend Key Biscayne as a starting point for rec cycling in the Miami area. You can park at Alice Wainwright park, or the science museum, if those spaces are gone. From there you can get out to the KB causeway and ride on the shoulder. From Virginia Key on out, there are lots of options. The hammerheads tend to stay on the main road, but there are trails through Crandon Park, and though Bill Baggs Cape FL State Park at the end of the key. Don’t skip the State Park. IMO it is the cherry on this sundae.

    Side trips in Crandon Park include the old zoo, now called CP gardens or some such. A local can show you the ropes. (Not that I am officially volunteering, but if Ken comes down for the fun, I’ll lead a tour.)

    You might see packs of 50-75 racers here on the weekends. I’ve been known to pull to the side and bow respectfully as they pass (otherwise they pass _very closely_). Seems like after they go past the former La Carretta the first time, the pack kinda thins out. ;-)

    Anyway, I am a 12 mph cyclist (10, 30 or 60 miles; makes no difference to MY pace.)

    If you consider yourself urbanized, and your primary language is English, I’d suggest considering living in Miami Beach. Coconut Grove might work too. MB is rideable in a transportation sense; to the store, etc.

    If you are more for the big house further out, you are on your own, and be prepared for hideous traffic.