Who said no one in Key Biscayne likes bicycles? They were wrong. On Saturday, March 9thover sixty people gathered at Ultrabikex to go on either a five or ten mile ride. We were thinking a great turnout would be thirty, so needless to say
weI was overwhelmed. And when I am overwhelmed I get flustered and I have a hard time doing things “right.”
The community ride was put together by Bike Key Biscayne, an organization I helped create. I was very involved and pushed for these rides to happen. In truth, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. When the idea came up, I said, “sure, how hard can it be? Let’s do one a month until it gets too hot!” Turns out there are a lot of details to take care of even for a simple ride like this. However, thanks to our wonderful group we secured Sabadell Bank as a sponsor, we had Ultrabikex who gave us a location to start and a place for refreshments, and we had the Key Biscayne Police Department who supported us.
As it also turns out, Joe (aka dear hubby) was out of town that day so I would have to “work” the ride with my boys around. This doesn’t usually add up to a good equation but I had no choice. My fellow volunteers and I had done the homework and I truly believe that when things are meant to be … they just are. And Saturday was one of those days.
I told Dreamer (age 7) and Fearless (age 5) that it was an important day and I enlisted them as junior marshals. Such was their commitment that for once in our lives, not only were we on time, we were actually early enough to eat some pancakes before setting up. That was about the only thing I managed to do “correctly.”
Fortunately, two of the first people who arrived were my dear friends who took over “kid care”. Unfortunately, soon after I was mobbed. People came in all at once, I heard outside the store was full of bikes and the one sign-up sheet we had was impatiently making its way across the room.
Instead of waiting for it, I figured it was more important for people to have a good experience and I gave up on trying to maintain a tally.
My second job was to lead the five-mile ride. Fearless decided to go in a bike carrier with his friend instead of riding his bicycle. Though at first I was disappointed, it did make my life easier having my wildcard safely going for a spin. Dreamer could hold his own, but Fearless on his bike can be …. well … fearless. We would ride together with the ten-mile group until the midpoint where we would turn around and they would keep going over the Bear Cut Bridge and into Virginia Key Beach. Things were pretty smooth getting there, except that at times I had to speed as fast as I could to make sure people would turn one way or another. Dreamer would ride behind me yelling “mami … wait for me.” I tried to explain I couldn’t and he should just follow the group. He didn’t quite understand but resigned himself and stopped trying to keep up.
We regrouped at the halfway point. The Mayor gave a small speech, we thanked our sponsors and I realized I had not saved the phone number of the police officer I was supposed to call so he could help us cross a busy street on my phone.
This was another big deal. One of the promises we made was that we would try to make the ride as safe as possible for children and families, and having the police help us cross a busy intersection was part of that commitment. I told the five mile group to go ahead and that I would catch up. I desperately searched my emails to no avail. By now, not only had I lost the phone number I also lost the five mile group. I caught up to some of them including both of my boys, and went back and forth and back and forth trying to find stragglers and direct them back to Ultrabikex. It was a great workout, but I was a terrible guide.
Yet, despite my having botched both of my responsibilities, the rides were pretty smooth. From most accounts people had a good time, and they enjoyed a ride with their family on a beautiful Saturday morning. Our goal was for people to remember how fun riding a bicycle can be, and I think they remembered.
As for me, I have been saying “no” more often when it comes to advocacy commitments because I simply don’t have the time. So it felt great to be able to get this ride accomplished. And now that we know the kinks, we can make it even better so that April 13, when the next Key Biscayne Community Bike Ride takes place, there will be no doubt that many of us residents not only like bicycles, we ride them too.