Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 3, 2009: Boca Raton to South Miami

Today was supposed to be a shorter, easier day. With respect to pedaling effort, I suppose it might have been, but it was not shorter, either in distance traveled or duration. In fact, I did not reach my parents house (where I am spending the night) until around 3:30 this afternoon, in spite of a 6:53 AM start. Part of that was because of a visit with a friend in Hollywood, but mostly it was the result of more spoke problems! 

Here is how it went…
When we came down for breakfast this morning at 6, it was raining steadily. From the satellite imagery on the Weather Channel, it looked pretty localized, and sure enough, by 6:45 it was barely raining at all. It started raining lightly again shortly after we got underway. During the first hour or so there were periods of real rain, but nothing torrential. In fact, as we rode down A1A, I was very much enjoying the comfortable temperatures, the still air, and the absence of traffic. A1A was like a ghost town! I felt great, my tush was enjoying the new saddle I had installed the night before, and we were moving at that perfect, all-day pace that seems almost effortless. At one point I even had a momentary sense of bicycling-nirvana, in spite of, or maybe because of, the rain.

We stopped for a rest just before crossing over the bridge into Fort Lauderdale. Back on the bikes we turned onto Eisenhower immediately after the bridge. Jill and Marc had suggested that as an east-of-US1 alternative to bypass the Hollywood-Ft Lauderdale Airport mess. Unfortunately, we were turned back by a guard who informed us that we could not go into the port under any circumstances. Fred and I decided that we would just try going straight down US-1. It turns out that there is no shoulder and the traffic pattern is such that you have to be willing to bicycle assertively, but we have honed those skills and did not really have much anxiety about proceeding.

A bit before reaching the airport entrance area I heard the all too familiar twang of a spoke breaking and saw the tell-tale loss of true in Fred’s rear wheel. We pulled over as soon as there was a safe place to do so, I twisted the broken spoke around its neighbor to keep it out of the way, made sure that the brake calipers were wide open, and confirmed that the wheel would revolve satisfactorily to ride the bike to a better place to work on it. It was exactly the same kind of break as mine from a couple of days ago.
Pretty soon we came to a shaded picnic table, where we got to use the Stein cassette removal tool and the FiberFix spoke yet again. 

While I was working on the bike, Fred went to ask a guy he saw nearby about a local bike shop. Turns out that there was one in Hollywood a mile or two from where we were. I wouldn’t have even bothered with the fix if we had known that, but there was no point un-doing what was already done.

Shortly thereafter, we were in Lee’s Bike Shop on Federal Highway in Hollywood, having the temporary spoke replaced with a real one of the proper size. This place was BUSY! I counted five mechanics who were all working one job after another. Luckily, someone was able to take care of us right away. They were very interested in the kevlar spoke.

After about 30 minutes, we were again on the road. We were right around the corner from the law office of a good friend that Fred also knew from our State Hospital days in the mid-70’s. We looked around, but could not find the office, so we decided to stop by the house, which was on our way back to A1A anyway. Larry wasn’t home, of course, but his wife Janet (a very special friend, as well) was, and we spent a very nice half-hour with her before resuming our ride.

We were only a few blocks away when I heard the now familiar sound of spokes breaking on my rear wheel! What the heck! (The actual words I used were somewhat more graphic.) I stopped and found two broken spokes – one from each side of the wheel, plus one of the spare spokes that should have been locked onto the chain stay was also mangled. It looks like the spare spoke came loose and drifted into the wheel, taking out two of the good ones. Back to Lee’s Bike Shop, where we got a special quantity discount!

The rest of the ride went pretty much according to plan. In spite of a bunch of signs saying that the Venetian Causeway was out, it wasn’t. We rode across without encountering any obstacles at all. We made our way through downtown and finally to Old Cutler Road. It was after two at this point and I was very hungry. Fred had not had enough to eat either, but mostly he was thirsty. There really was no place to stop, so we rode on, splitting up toward the end toward our respective destinations for the night. I assume that Fred made it, but he didn’t answer when I called earlier tonight. The plan is to go out later tomorrow for our 50 miler to Key Largo. We will be meeting at a designated corner at 9 AM.

Day’s Statistics
Start: 6:58 AM
Finish: 3:30 PM
Distance: 70.5 miles
Riding Time: 5 hrs 30 min
Avg Speed: 12.8

Fred at Matheson Hammock
Fred at Matheson Hammock later in the day


  1. Do you think the spoke problem could be related to the extra weight with loaded panniers? JLT

  2. I doubt it. I had about 16 pounds divided between the two front panniers, and about 10 pounds (computer, tools, etc) in the one rear bag. I only weigh 160 myself, so that is not much weight on these 32 spoke wheels. In retrospect, I should have stuck with the rear wheel that has been on the bike for the past 18 months instead of using this backup wheel. The hub on the former is not quite as smooth, which is what caused me to make the switch at the last minute. Even so, I think the wheel would have been fine after the first fix if we hadn't had the accident with the spare spoke coming loose and breaking two more. That left the rim out of round and set me up for the rest of the problems. Live and learn.

  3. Why does it take a Dutch delegation to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to get a bike lane installed in Miami?Wheels Miami