Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ON YOUR LEFT!!! MS 150 Breakaway to Key Largo

A few months ago Jose, my barber, showed me his new bike. It was a sleek road bike with a carbon fiber frame that was white, black and neon green. Just beautiful.  He asked me to lift it and all 13lbs of carbon fiber, steel and aluminum caused my heart to melt. Since then I've had some serious bike envy.  That bike inspired me to ride in South Florida's premier bike event: the MS 150 Breakaway to Key Largo. The event was last weekend.

Prior to the ride, I collected a few intrepid bikers to ride the ride with me.  All of us had what in the bike world would be considered "beaters".  Older bikes, hybrids and road bikes that are clearly "recreational" bikes.  I began to see the pecking order of the biking world.

Like any community defined by the machines they use, the pecking order is clear: expensive new bikes at the top, everyone else below.  Concordantly, the nicer and more expensive the bike...the bigger the ego (dare I say: asshole) who rides it. Let's get one thing clear, the MS is a RIDE, not a race. Which is open to ALL cyclists regardless of bike or ability. You pay your entry fee, you raise $400 for a good cause and you ride.  No Lycra, no carbon fiber frame or Shimano Dura Ace components required.

So our intrepid little band started the ride and happily pedaled away at the leisurely pace of 15 to 18mph.  We thought we were towards the back of the ride as the faster cyclists, teams and groups were to the front. We were wrong. As we laughed and sang our way along 80 miles of Florida roads through suburbs, farm fields and mangrove, groups of "elite" riders would pass us(wait weren't we in the back?) and literally scream "ON YOUR LEFT!!!" in my ear.

Next year pink bicycle lady "on your left" will be me!

What kind of jerk yells at someone putting along on a country road which is deserted and closed off for the "ride". Go around...there's nobody here but you and me and an empty road.  One person yelled at me while I was resting on the side of the road not even moving. ON YOUR LEFT she screeched from her $3000 10lb pink Quintana Roo road bike, followed by a peloton of 20 bikers wearing acres of matching Lycra spandex shorts. (Rest assured very few people can pull that look off very well.)

So we finished our ride and as we walked away a "biker prince" said to my friend in a halfway rude, halfway pick up line kinda way "you rode 80 miles on THAT?"  Yes we replied, surprisingly her bike was the most "road" of all the bikes we had. She had tricked it out with some cool leather handle grips. We still couldn't figure out if he was just not good at conversing or a jerk.
So despite the "elite" riders, the RIDE (not a race) was amazing. The chance to see parts of my community from the best vantage point possible, on a bike.  America's winter garden in South Dade, Everglades, Mangrove swamps, waterways just pedaling away for a good cause.  It was fun, it was healthy and it felt good to push ourselves beyond what we thought we were capable of.

The MS 150 Breakaway to Key Largo was awesome fun.  Yeah it hurt physically. Yeah, my ego took some serious bruising not having some sleek road machine. Like showing up to the Indy 500 in an AMC Rambler.  Ouch, each time some jerk yelled ON YOUR LEFT! not as a safety warning but as a victory cry. I was glad to help our for a worthy cause. I was glad to challenge myself to something extraordinary and survive. Next year, I will be the one screaming ON YOUR LEFT!