Cycling Stories

A Bike Older than Me

July 12, 2020


A Bike Older than Me

The sun was bright, and the wind was calm on a busy Friday morning, as I whizzed down the bus lane on US-1. 

About an hour later, I found myself sitting on a concrete parking barrier on Hobo Beach, looking out across Biscayne Bay. I finished my Gatorade and climbed back onto the painful saddle I’d promised myself for a month I would upgrade. This was my longest bike ride this past month since I left New York City to my family home in Miami to escape the COVID-19 plague.

For the most part, it has been nice being home, which feels like a taboo thing to think, considering officials expect more than 100,000 people to die from Coronavirus in the United States. 

I am an actor who graduated from Southern Methodist University a year ago and packed my bags for the Big Apple. I found small success there, working mainly gigs as an actor and restaurant server. When the pandemic started, I felt like I was living in a powder keg, so I bought a one-way flight home, left my apartment in its current state, and flew out of Newark the next morning at 6 am.

I slept about two hours that night, for an energy boost. 

I put on my mask, which at that time was only a bandana I’d loosely wrapped around my face, in anticipation of a busy airport. 

When I got there with my girlfriend and our cat, Goose, we were shocked to see a scarily deserted, dingy, dark terminal. We were sitting in our seats, utterly exhausted from a mixture of subway, bus, and Uber travel, and the cat demanded to be let out of the bag to check out where he’d been dragged. When we landed in Miami, we could finally remove the bandanas from our faces and let the much-anticipated sunlight hydrate us from the gloomy and cold weather we were accustomed to.

The next day I noticed something sitting on our back patio that I hadn’t seen since the summer camp days of ninth grade. There, they sat, a couple of ten-speed bikes years older than me. 

I used to ride these bikes all the time before I got my driver’s license, a symbol of high status to any high-schooler. The gears had gotten pretty sticky from lack of use since they sat gathering dust in our shed until my dad dragged them out for an alternative exercise style after pulling a muscle while running.

Now is the time to use them. 

My girlfriend and I left Goose catnapping and went on a sunset ride around the neighborhood to get out of the house.

After hitting a large bump, I had to stop, flip the bike over, and pedal backward to get the chain back on.

Even after a rocky start, I was determined to go on a long bike ride, so I got up early the next day, grabbed some WD-40 and a rag, and flipped the bike over again. I got it in perfect riding condition, and as we kicked up rocks on the trail next to Miami’s famous canals, I realized that running was overrated. 

Even months later, when I was hopelessly bored and in desperate need of an activity to occupy my time, I strapped on my helmet and threw a water bottle in a drawstring bag. I raced down Old Cutler Road, unfortunately getting eviscerated by the vampiric insects lining the stagnant water on the road’s sides. 

I came back with a little bit of redness on the back of my neck, and enough bites to be recognized as a chickenpox victim. 

Even after chain trouble and light bloodsucking, I was hooked on biking. I made the ultimate decision to go on a ride over 30 miles. While it may not have been Guinness World Record-worthy, it was certainly a big feat considering I’d only recently become interested in biking. I also had the bitter luck of being an unemployed 22-year-old, living with my parents, and desperately in need of something to do. 

I spent the next week over-preparing myself, continually looking at the weather to determine which day would deliver pristine conditions for my ride. I obsessed over the chance of precipitation and other factors that could slow me down. I eventually picked the best day and had my bag packed with enough bug spray to take down Vincent D’Onofrio in Men in Black. 

That Friday, I woke up late, took my time, and got on the road 15 minutes later than planned. I had my trip mapped out, and knew it well enough to feel sufficiently prepared. I rode along neighborhood roads until I got to a bus lane, where I kicked up my speed with a little bit of a headwind, making me work for it. I stopped at the beach to check out the view and then hopped back onto my saddle, making sure it was acceptably uncomfortable. After getting stuck a few times along my escapade, I set a course to head back home. 

By the time I arrived, I’d traveled 32.2 miles at an average speed of 12 MPH, which I was proud of! Considering my stop at the beach and many pauses for adjusting my bag and the seat, I felt my long-distance biking journey was off to a great start. 

Quarantine has been incredibly difficult. Even as an incredibly active person who prides themselves on being always busy, it hasn’t been easy to feel productive or outgoing. I have been dreading the alone time.  

But finding the 26-year-old bikes my parents bought when they moved to Miami has been a godsend. 

Sam Black is an actor who's originally from Miami but moved to New York to become an actor, where he lived until the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, he's moved back to Miami and become reinterested in cycling. He can't wait to enjoy movies, good friends, and good food in due time again.
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