Weighty Matters

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Free Wheeling

on September 15, 2013

Maybe I’m fresh in the honeymoon period with my new bike, but I couldn’t wait to go out for a ride this morning. I slept in a little, then needed to drink my morning protein shake, and then, to be fair to Nat and Pyxi, needed to get them out for a nice walk first. Once those things were accomplished, I strapped on my helmet, grabbed my phone and ID, and pedaled off. (I always take identification, just in case. I probably should also take my health insurance card, also just in case, but that seems like challenging fate or setting myself up for disaster.)

When I shared with some friends about buying a bike, one asked if I’d ridden the Old Seven Mile Bridge yet. Since I only got the bike yesterday I hadn’t yet had the chance, but the idea staying in my mind. That was today’s destination. Before you get totally wowed, no, I was not biking over seven miles of bridge. That would be the “new” Seven Mile Bridge, which was built in the early 1980s. It was built alongside the structure now known as Old Seven. Old Seven is more than 100 years old. It was built by entrepreneur/visionary/business magnate Henry Flagler. His original thought was to connect a railroad down the Keys. There’s a lot of history in that tale. Suffice it to say that the railway did not survive, but his visionary practices opened up the Florida Keys to the rest of the world. (Old Seven was a star of the movie True Lies. That whole chase scene near the movie’s end was filmed on this bridge.)

The old bridge is in a deplorable state of disrepair and everyone is in constant discussion on how to save it, what needs to be done, how many tens of millions of dollars it will cost and, above all, who is going to pay for it. I hope above all that these questions get answered and Old Seven is saved because I think it’s a Florida Keys treasure. It’s great for walking, biking, viewing sunsets and the water with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. For safety’s sake, the Dept. of Transportation closed it to vehicular traffic several years ago. We are concerned that they will close it to bikes and people soon, which will be a horrible shame.

Okay, that’s enough of the history, on to the bike ride. I live about a mile and a three quarters from Old Seven and there’s a bike/pedestrian path along the Overseas Highway. This is a good thing because people, mostly tourists, drive crazy in the Keys. I wouldn’t want to be on the actual road. I’m happy to say that already this morning, I’m a little steadier as my bike riding skills return. (Check the update note I tacked on to yesterday’s post about my close encounter with a hedge last night.) I felt more in control of my steering. That said, when I approach another cyclist moving in either direction, I’m quite happy to be the one to yield.

Once I reached the bridge, I knew I had approximately 2.2 miles to reach Pigeon Key, which is as far as one can go from this side. I haven’t done this ride in 20 years. I so enjoyed the warm stretching of my legs as I pedaled and the kiss of breeze on my skin. It was mostly overcast this morning, so I didn’t have the sun beating down on me, but it was warm and I worked up a sweat. Feeling strong and confident, I decided I’d go the distance, and go it I did!

When I reached the end, I stopped and chugged some water before turning around. That’s when the ride became more challenging. It requires significantly more effort to bike ride into the wind, which was blowing about 10 knots per hour in my face. There was a time when I would have internally whined about this, but this morning, I absolutely relished having to work harder, knowing that my body was up for the challenge. I’m pretty sure I broke out in a smile a time or two when I felt my cardio rate rise and my muscles respond!

When I made it back to the parking lot at the bridge’s beginning, I all but cried out, “Wheeeee!” as I allowed myself to coast for a dozen yards. In the grand scheme of biking, this success wasn’t exactly like finishing a segment of the Tour de France, but I was darned happy!

On the way home, I stopped at a little convenience store to pick up some milk and ran into a couple of serious cyclists. I could tell by their bikes and the way they were outfitted that they were putting in some mileage. It kind of surprised me when the man looked at me and said, “Nice bike.” “Thanks. It’s brand new,” I replied. “You picked a good one. I used to sell them,” he continued and then asked if his wife could take a picture of him posed with the bike that he could send his friends. I agreed and asked if they’d take a picture of me in return. We chatted for a few minutes and I found out that they were biking down to Key West (another 47 miles from where we were stopped) and that their journey had begun in Jacksonville! Holy wow. It takes me eight hours to drive to J’ville! I told you they were serious. I congratulated them on being so close to their destination and then sort of laughed. “It isn’t much in comparison, but this weekend is the first I’ve ridden a bike in about 20 years,” I told them and then explained about my weight loss and how getting a bike is another step in reclaiming my physical health and fitness.

The guy then said something really terrific. “Just keep riding and you’ll get there. You don’t have to go fast, you just have to keep pedaling.” I love hearing that. I don’t have to do this fast, I just have to keep doing it. That’s my new bike riding mantra.

Here’s the picture that the couple snapped of me. The shirt’s about two sizes too big, but loose and comfy felt good on the ride.

Bike

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6 responses to “Free Wheeling

  1. Hope says:

    Great bike!

    I did that same route when we stayed with you and I went jogging. I think our experiences were oddly similar. I felt great all the way out to pigeon key, then turned around and was like “oh crap, I still need to get back.”

    I think I even stopped at the same convenience store for rehydration!

  2. BarbN says:

    you look great, so happy, and that is a COOL bike! sounds like it was a great ride.

  3. Oh, my, love your accomplishment, your smile, your t-shirt,
    Here where we live is Silver Strand about sixteen miles long, straight and flat, ocean on one side, bay on the other. My husband bikes it several times a week on days he isn’t running on the beach and gets lapped by the SEALs. Anyway, the first few years he biked the strand, I had to listen to repeated tales of whether the wind was in the face or at the back. He hasn’t mentioned wind for years, so I have to believe either the wind has died down or it’s not anymore worthy of comment.
    Bike on!

  4. Skye says:

    Oh wow, I LOVE your bike! That is so cool looking! You look happy and comfortable. I’m so glad you are enjoying your bike and biking.

  5. Cathy M says:

    That’s a wonderful picture of a truly happy woman. Congratulations on expanding your horizon and your achievements.

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