Saturday, February 16, 2013

Shalshelet music festival cross-post: bicycle-related content

(This is a cross-post from my music blog, I'm re-posting the bike-related content here for my bikelovejones readers. Enjoy.)

Friday morning, 2/15/13: Miami Beach

I ate a slow breakfast, had some hot tea for my throat, and walked The Adorable One (aka Kiran) before heading out to see the sights. I wasn't planning anything super-strenuous but needed to get out and walk; plus I thought the humid air might do my throat some good.

I walked five blocks and noticed six people passing me all on the exact same make and model of bicycle. And that was how I found Miami's bike-share program. DecoBikes are single-speed rental bikes that can be used anywhere along the Miami Beach harbor area, with multipl stations along the way where you can return them. At 6 bucks an hour I couldn't pass up an opportunity for a bike ride, even on a clunky beach cruiser; so I went for it.

Riding along Collins Avenue (the friendly officer who offered directions on where to go and what to see also advised me to stay on the sidewalk the whole time), I spotted flora and fauna not normally seen back home.

 I heard birdsong I wasn't familiar with, and spied fast-moving birds that looked like very exotic blue-jays flitting between the palm trees.

 Miami Beach is known for amazing Art Deco architecture; the area enjoyed a building boom in the 1920's and early 30's and many reminders of that time still stand. Some are historically-designated buildings today.

I found a beautiful reminder of the importance of memory, especially poignant during this week when I observed my father's yahrtzeit.

 Restoration project of an historic Deco building in South Beach.

 On the way back towards my homestay, I found this innovative take on a charity box, this one specifically designated for agencies helping Miami's homeless citizens. Being a former parking meter and therefore sort of bombproof, it's brilliant.
Along the way I asked a friendly policeman for directions and also if he would mind taking my picture. He happily obliged.
(Yes, Miami, I am wearing brown pants. Dig it.)
I had rented the bike for an hour, so I was mindful of the time and distance. I rode down to around 5th Street and back again up to the rental kiosk at 44th. Not sure how many miles that was, and didn't really care; I was just happy to have had a chance to ride a bike during my trip to Miami. On the way back, traffic was relatively light, so several times I jumped my bike off the sidewalk (these things are pretty sturdy), and took the lane at a brisk pace. Occasionally I busted out a short-track move to get around a parked bus or van and back up onto the sidewalk when needed. These things steer like crap (note the high handle bar) but ride surprisingly smoothly for what they are. I had a good time.
(Note to family and friends: No, I did not wear a helmet. The bike didn't come with one, and I felt comfortable enough to not worry about it for an hour. Please do not scold me when I get home. As of my most recent birthday, I can do whatever I want and the lack of a helmet is not enough to keep me off a rental bicycle.)
Miami police are busy this weekend, directing traffic along Collins Avenue during a large yacht show in the harbor. Somehow, every office I saw seemed to maintain good humor and a smile. I'm sure their work isn't always so mellow, but it was refreshing to see.
Looking at the gigantic boats parked in the water I was saddened at the excess -- I generally have a near-horror of flashy displays of unsustainable wealth -- so I avoided the tours of boats.
Passing a stand selling Budweiser and noting the very long line of folks waiting to buy one, I pondered the possibility that Bud may be what passes for good beer in this town. That would be tragic.
I walked back to the apartment in a light and very warm drizzle, relishing the feeling of the damp falling on my arms and head. Warm rain is delicious. It got heavier as I neared the apartment building, and I saw lots of umbrellas pop open as folks visibly shivered. I smiled. It has been a gloriously mellow day and I am so happy to have gotten in a bicycle ride.

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