As a spin instructor and an avid outdoor cyclist I can’t help but love being on a bike. It’s a great workout indoors providing a great sweat and burning hundreds of calories, and living in South Florida we have year round access to being able to cycle outside in nature. Cycling is not only a great workout, but is environmentally friendly and a great source of transportation providing better scenery than when in a car. For those of us who live in Coconut Grove we know it is a great place to bike just to get from here to there, to run errands, and to get to Pilates in the Grove. But we also have access to over 50 miles of dirt, paved, or gravel bike paths throughout Miami-Dade County. Visit Miami-Dade County’s Bike305 website to find interactive maps that you can use to explore these paths, as well as links to cycling groups and an extensive calendar of cycling events. If you’re thinking of using your bike not only for leisure but also as a main source of transportation, Mapquest can also provide you with a biking route option that uses more back roads than main roads. You’ll feel better about decreasing environmental pollutions and you’ll join the bicycle commuting movement that has increased by over 50% nationwide in the last 20 years!
If you don’t own a bike and are looking to get one, choosing the right one is vital. There are many different materials to choose from; Carbon fiber, aluminum, and titanium, all with different weights and purposes. Rather than shopping online I would recommend getting professionally fit/measured to ensure a comfortable ride and prevent injuries and so they can assist you in choosing the right model. There are many local bike stores (including Revolution in the Grove; Danny is the owner and very knowledgeable), but one of my favorites is BikeWerx in Coral Gables. Aside from selling bike accessories such as helmets, shorts, shoes etc, they also sell lightly used bikes for a fraction of the cost. Their inventory varies week to week but they are worth calling!
Once you’ve purchased a bike you’ll also need a helmet, gloves, and a tire pump (and/or bike repair kit), and for road bikers I recommend padded bike shorts if you’re going long distances. Make sure you learn your hand signals since you’ll be sharing the road with motorists and pedestrians. Extend your left hand straight out to the left when turning left, fingers pointing up with elbow bent at a 90-degree angle when turning right, and fingertips pointing down with elbow at 90 degrees when slowing down or stopping. Remember stop signs and traffic signals are also a must for cyclists to follow! Even if you’re not a cyclist it is important to be able to recognize these signals when you’re driving your car, as we know how many bicyclists there are around Miami!
Even if you haven’t ridden a bike since you were a kid, or you have a bike but it’s dusty and stuffed in your garage, the Fall / Winter seasons in Miami are the perfect times to start riding again. Whether you want to start cruising the back roads of the North Grove, join Critical Mass on the last Friday of every month (http://www.themiamibikescene.com/p/miami-critical-mass-guidelines.html), or are ready to attempt the difficult but very rewarding Key Biscayne bridge, it is a refreshing option to see the area in which you live in a fun and healthy way. Happy cycling!
-Jackie Brodie-Craig OT