Joining the ‘snowbirds’ in Florida
“No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet, but no bicycle shall be equipped with, nor shall any person use upon a bicycle, any siren or whistle”…….
This extract from the Miami highway code is a clear warning to this unwary British cyclist, who is about to descend onto the land where Beckham is king of soccer, and where “It is illegal for men to be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown”.
I booked my passage with Virgin Atlantic about three weeks ago, not only because it operates a direct flight to Miami, but it will also carry my bike free of charge (the only restriction being weight: it must be under 23 kgs). VA are definitely the most cyclist-friendly airline crossing the pond. They not only transport your bike free, but you can also have another 23 kgs of check-in baggage as part of your allowance.
At the time of booking the flight, I happened to be back in touch with my American friend, Bob, whom I had met in New Zealand, on a world trip with his wife, Cristine and 10 year old daughter, Anna.
Anna, Bob and Cristine had introduced themselves as the ABC family, and I was to share a few very pleasant days in their company as we made our way down South Island.
Hearing of my plans, Bob jumped at the chance of joining me for two weeks in Florida. He booked his flight from California and arranged for his bike to be shipped overland. He ordered maps from the American Cycling Association and did his research on the recommended circuit of the peninsula.
But then……(the best laid schemes o’ mice and men) little more than a week from departure, a prolonged dry winter in California suddenly changed, and the snows began with a vengeance. Bob and his family live at an elevation of 6000 feet near Lake Tahoe, and when the snows come at that height, it is serious business. Quite rightly, Bob had to reassess the situation. Flying down to Florida meant leaving Cristine and Anna to their own devices, coping with the routines of daily life midst the worsening weather conditions. So Bob has had to abandon his plans. He was profusely apologetic……..but he didn’t need to be. Though I will sorely miss his company, I did point out to him that it now leaves me in very familiar territory………riding solo and unsupported.
So, in a nutshell, my plan is to do a circular route of some 800 miles, carrying my little tent, and staying at the simplest and cheapest campsites I can find. I have been warned by many to beware not only of the traffic (which can be very heavy in the south), but also of the crocodiles, which can lurk motionless by the roadside. If you appear to be a tasty morsel at the time, they can achieve bursts of speed in excess of 30 mph. That’s when the 100″ gear will come in very handy!