Monday, April 25, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

This Time, Let's Head South To Fort Pierce, Jensen Beach

Time to squeeze every last mile out of this gorgeous late April weather here in Florida because soon the summer monsoons will be here and dry 80s weather will be a distant memory. So it was a 74-miler down to Fort Pierce and Jensen Beach with a route following the Intracoastal down to Fort Pierce (Old Dixie Highway), then A1A to Jensen Beach before crossing the Indian River and taking Indian River Drive back to Fort Pierce and then A1A back to Vero.

Fort Pierce is a rednecky fisherman town (it's not called Okeechobee-on-the-Atlantic for nothing) and they take their fishing seriously here.

I dig pelicans down here.

So, it's cool that the city or someone installed a bike tool set at the oceanfront park.

Thing is, this being Florida, the tools rust pretty easily.

The A1A stretch from Fort Pierce to Jensen Beach is known for its nature and twin nuclear power units.

After taking the Jensen Beach bridge from A1A to Indian River Drive, it was time to head north and bike the return 37 miles back to Vero. Along Indian River Drive, there's a guy who enjoys painting this to keep up with current events.

And thank you John and Brenda who pulled me along Indian River Drive to Fort Pierce.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

As Moses Said, It's All About The Journey

It was century day. My brain sizes up my state of mind and if things are off kilter it orders up a 100-miler and I'm obliged to comply.

The winds were out of the west. and a bit out of the north. Yes! Dry air. And with wind direction out of the north slightly, it meant riding north first to get the headwinds over in the first half of the ride and then tailwinds for the second 50-mile chunk.

Around mile 16 north of Vero Beach on A1A I met this fella -- Adrian Morales, who I was shocked to be told by him that he was a 17-year-old junior in Central High School. He and his pal were pedaling 30 miles north from Vero and then 30 miles back.

He was cycling a BMC with electronic shifters and he told me he finished second in his age group in a crit in downtown Stuart.

Then it was off to Melbourne. It was there where the inevitable anti-bicycle shithead screamer yells at me to get off the road and learn the rules of the road and punctuates it with his middle finger. It was pathetic crap. He stopped to allow me to catch up and then screamed some more.

It was the usual suspect, a guy in his 40s with thinning hair with scraps of baldness with a goatee and behind the wheel of a pick-up truck. And what I didn't see was the 10-year-old kid in the front seat, who had to witness his anger management flunkie dad go off on a bicyclist.

I did pop over the cool swing bridge at Tropical Trail over the Banana River. Take a look when it was in use today.

Over at the main street in downtown Melbourne, there was a mob packing a street art fair. I did squeeze through to get a photo of my old house where I rented an apartment some 15 years ago when I worked at the Florida Today newspaper for two anonymous years.

Then it was back to Vero and I bought some snacks and water at a 7/11 in Melbourne Beach to fuel up for the final 35 miles of the ride. At the 7/11 I met the Rev. Scott Alexander, who is a Unitarian minister in Vero Beach and ultra bicycle rider who has staged four cross-country bike rides to raise money for food banks and to fight hunger.

The Rev.Scott raises money to donate to Harvest Food and the Outreach Center of Vero Beach. You can read about him here in the Vero News.

He rides a nice Trek Madone with a straight mountain bike handlebar and has his cleats in sandals. Bicyclists come in all forms and with all types of goals.

Back home after the 102-miler, it was time to feed Pugsy and get some rest.

Keep on pedaling.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

There's Only One One Stop

Oh sure, it’s a convenience store. I guess. There’s the prerequisite cheap beer and Florida Lottery rolls.

But in a world of corporate 7/11 and Cumberland Farms convenience stores, this is where this darling little store goes off the tracks.

Head shop gear in all colors in a glass case near the cash register.

Cowboy boots and cowboy hats -- and leather work boots too.

And a literal window in the wall off to the side where you place an order and a cook named Carmen fashions the tastiest fish tacos ($2.50) and chicken burritos ($3).

Beer. Not just the cheap stuff. There’s tasty and flavorful craft bottles to go with the Buds.

And for those public phone lovers, there’s a telephone bolted to the wall outside the front door. Thirty five cents is the price to dial a call.

#     #     #

The place is called One Stop Shop and it’s turned into my favorite convenience store in Florida. It anchors the south end of a small shopping plaza along U.S. in a small community called Wabasso about six miles or so of Vero Beach in Indian River County.

The owner is a friendly guy named Mark in cutoff shorts and a buzzcut on the side. He told me he bought the place four years ago for its check-cashing operation and the Mexican restaurant built into the store came with the deal.

Wondering what is fueling all those landscape workers cutting those spacious lawns in Vero Beach?

It’s the homemade Mexican food churned out by Carmen, who starts cranking out the tacos and breakfast burritos at 6 a.m. when the store opens. Two weeks ago when I biked to One Stop two burly dudes were ordering four fish tacos apiece. On Thursday morning, five landscaper guys were carrying styrofoam boxes of the burritos and tacos. The joint is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday but closed Sundays.   

Wabasso looks like a poor town and not a place where people are buying $10.99 sixes of Sierra Nevada sixes of pale ale. But Mark keeps a healthy inventory of craft beer in the frig.

“I’m a home brewer,” he says.

It’s a mixed bag of items on the shelves. Work boots next to cowboy boots. Lotto tickets next to head shop gear.

Mark knows everyone who walks in.

But there was a time when he had to shoo away what he said were 15 drunks who sat in front of the store and catcalled women who were heading to the post office.

So he told them one-by-one to leave the joint and now there’s only one guy left.

“And he’s harmless,” Mark tells me.

#     #     #

Mark took a peak outside and saw my Surly Pugsley fattie locked next to a post.

“Must be a good workout biking that thing,” he says.

I explain the fattie can handle everything from snow to sand and that I rode it to Vero Beach to Wabasso’s beach out at the ocean.

Mark half-joked that he would buy one at Sam’s Club and ride it on the sidewalk back to his home two miles north of his store.

Mark said he's not much for brown ales, stouts and porters that I enjoy so he planned to bring in his dark beers for me to drink.

So, let's just say I will be back to One Stop.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Life By Bicycle By Photos

I don't do pace lines.

Not that I don't like road cycling.

But I like looking at nature and all her glory than some dude's butt in spandex or a narrow road tire.

Plus, I like to stop whenever I want to gaze at a sky or cloud or ocean.

And maybe to snap off a few photos.

Here, I'm racing a storm around sunset north of Vero Beach as a bike on the hard-packed dirt road known as Jungle Trail along the Intracoastal.

Then, there's the sunrises. I'll often bike south on A1A toward Fort Pierce and the big orange ball is usually peaking over the eastern horizon of the Atlantic Ocean.

It has an official name. But I call the bridge that spans the Intracoastal in Vero Beach simple the State Road 60 bridge. Go in the opposite direction and you can take it clear across the state to Clearwater Beach and the Gulf of Mexico. The views looking west after sunset are lovely.


I like taking the Surly Pugsley out for night-time rides. The lights get motorists' attention so that they don't run me over.

One of the most amazing roads in Florida is a 16-mile stretch along the mainland Intracoastal called Indian River Drive in St. Lucie County between Jensen Beach and Fort Pierce. I never do it justice in a photo -- it's always a lot prettier than this.

And then, there are the signs -- there are some good ones around Florida. Like this one for the J&S Fish Camp on Lake Okeechobee.

Lake Okeechobee is Florida's third coast -- I do an annual bike-around Lake O ride just to keep me sharp at least one day out of the year.

One of the great inlets in Florida is Sebastian. The water is a stunning tone of green and the bridge gives you perspective.

One of the best places to bike to is Dodgertown, maybe a mile or so from my house in Vero.

Old people, pavements, a stormy sky -- and of course a human-powered device. That's Florida.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Thanks Teddy -- Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge Is A Serene Gem

Now that I am back in Florida I'm looking at nature with fresh eyes here.

This morning I pedaled the Surly Pugsley out to A1A and then connected with the Jungle Trail, a hard-packed dirt and sand road that was perfect for the Pugsley's ultra-fattie tires.

It's a road I have showcased before. But this time I pedaled north beyond the east-west Wabasso Road and took it to Pelican Island National Wildlife -- a gem of a have that was our country's first official designated wildlife refuge as part of the wildlife refuge system on March 14, 1903.

It's a magical place, with easy dirt and grassy trails and a habitat for more than 30 species of birds.

It has grown to 5,400 acres, has no visitors center and there are no day use fees.

Just quiet, serene nature.

You have Teddy Roosevelt to thank -- he was the man who made it happen as an official wildlife refuge.

I'll show you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Let's Roll With The Fattie

Pedal4Life Helps Recovering Drug Addicts By Getting Them Pedaling

One of the truly great guys in the bicycle world is my pal Ira David Levy, a Chicago-based bicycle man and TV producer who created the Pedal America TV show.

Ira has now created a bicycle program to help drug addicts in recovery and I hope you'll take two minutes to watch what the program is all about.

It's called Pedal4Life and I hope you will help.