Cycling in South Florida: It is Another World Here

It’s another world down here.

Don’t count on The Eye to slow them down. That requires the driver to actually be able to see you through their cataracts and Coke-bottle thick glasses, assuming that their eye level actually makes it above the dashboard. At least once a month, we run a story about some XX or XXX year-old driver who ends up in a store front / swimming pool / gaggle of people waiting for the bus / etc. when they get their gas and brake mixed up.

South Florida ain’t the south. It’s more like New Jersey or New York. If you believe in Darwinism and the survival of the fittest, you have to wonder how bad the drivers were who were weeded out on the way TO Florida when you see the ones who made it.

In addition to The Eye, I find a loud air horn helps. That and a healthy dose of paranoia.

If Only My Bike Had a Windshield

This isn’t directly bike related, but it is road spray related.

Back about 25 years ago, a reporter and I did a newspaper story on the train that ran from Miami to Chicago. (I think it was the Silver Meteor, but that’s not important.)

In those days, the toilets flushed directly out on the track. If you looked into the bowl, you could clearly see the ties rolling on by. I’ve walked many a mile of railroad track as a kid, but I had never seen any evidence of where the “debris” ended up.

On the second evening of the trip, I found out.

I wanted a nice scenic of the train going around a curve with the setting sun glinting off the shiny cars. I stepped into the vestibule between two cars at the rear of the train that was running at about 80 mph and opened a window.

Just as I had hoped, about that time, the train went around a gentle curve, the warm, evening light glinted off the side of the cars…. Then, a curious brown cloud blossomed about six cars ahead.

I pulled my head back in, but not before the cloud enveloped me.

When I took my glasses off and looked at myself in the mirror, I looked like a reverse raccoon. I was uniformly sepia-toned except for the white marks where my glasses were.

Mystery solved.

Semi-biking content: supposedly you don’t have to worry about that these days. Shortly after my experience, some fishermen under a bridge near Jacksonville, FL, got a similar shower. They made a stink about it, so to speak, and trains now have holding tanks, I believe.

Now, all we have to worry about is the infamous blue ice from airplanes.

FRS Radios for Bikes and Snakes on the Trail

After a year of riding mostly solo, I hooked up with a friend from work who is about where I was a year ago after not riding for 20 years.

We each ride at our own pace and just stop or double back when the other person gets way behind.

A buddy bought a couple of FRS radios for a ski trip and suggested that they’d be good for biking. After one ride, I paid $60 for a pair of refurbed Uniden radios.

They clip nicely to the top of the strap of a Camelbak, close enough that you can hear them clearly and just touch the mike button to talk. I added a boom mike/earphone attachment so I don’t even have to take my hand off the bar to talk.

They make the trip much more enjoyable. We can be half a mile apart and still talk like we were side-by-side. Makes a long ride through the boonies more pleasant. At night, the lead rider can call out obstacles.

I remember one exchange:

Me: Snake on the shoulder.

Her, 20 seconds later: You could have told me that it was ALIVE!

Jeez, always a complaint.