Bicycling for Fun 

News from aka Gary MadHatter Haas
There is something about getting out on my bicycle that kicks my endorphins into high gear. I think it is mostly to do with the sense of freedom, of being disconnected from agendas and leaving the day up to whimsy.
OK, maybe not entirely to whimsy. My routes, or circuits often require me to plan ahead so that I am not stuck many miles from home when the weather changes or darkness falls. Even wind direction and speed is often taken into account. Yet those things I’ve back-up plans for. Wherever I pedal, more than a few miles, I am wearing a backpack with tools for modest repairs, a rain poncho, extra batteries for both pairs of lights. You get the picture. Still, when I head out, the day is usually mine!
I’m also not fond of retracing my route. I prefer a circuit where I will leave my home in one direction, and return from the other direction so that the view always changes. A short ride will take me north to Cocoa Village along the river, then inland to Fiske Boulevard, then south to Avenue Viera (OK, World Of Beer), then home to Lake Pointe Suntree. A long ride will take me north or south, then over one of the causeways, then up/down the beaches, finally back over another causeway and then the run for the barn to home. A REALLY long ride, done only once, took me from Suntree, through Cocoa Village, over to Cocoa Beach, then up to Port Canaveral, then back south all the way to Wabasso (south of Sebastian Inlet), over to US1, up to Captain Hiram’s, then home (Stopped at Squid Lips). I’m in no shape to do that today but will try it again eventually.
My approach is different than the racers that frequently blow past me. Frankly, I don’t know how they are even aware of much of the environment that they are rolling through doing the speeds they do, other than the road ahead. I’m sure speeds of 25 to 30 mph is common for them. For myself, I’m riding a hybrid (half mountain bike and half beach cruiser) and I average about 12 mph. I’m determined not to miss anything, to enjoy all that my environment will communicate to me as I roll past. I appreciate the fresh air, smells, sights, and exercise, though I’m not severely straining myself most of the way. Sometimes I will kick it into high gear. And bridges are always a challenge for a while. But I consider exercise to be a fringe benefit.
My usual habit is to roll about ten to twelve miles then take a break, usually at a bar, for medicinal purposes, you understand. If the weather is fair and obstacles are few I can cover fifty miles or more in a day without overly straining myself.
In recent years I have managed to compromise these events slightly but consider the results well worth it. Group bicycle rides are fun to plan and execute. While independence is sacrificed the added enjoyment of bicycling with friends more than makes up for it, especially at the stops! Essentially it becomes a party on wheels, the un-motorized kind. While not a pub crawl in the truest sense the common ground is that there is a party at each stop, you know most of the group already there, and the group remixes at each stop so that you get more chances to make new friends.
To combine both formats, independent bicycling plus a group ride, is the best format of all. This means riding from my home to the start of the group ride, doing the group ride, then continuing on, on my own, eventually returning home. This requires some planning and a long day.
What’s next, I hear you ask? I’m in the market for a riverine kayak. The plan is to do in a kayak down the Indian river what I do on a bicycle. And yes, it is just a matter of time before that becomes a group adventure too.
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