This morning we woke up and were shortly after greeted with the sounds of the good ol’ classic “Welcome to Miami” as we were preparing to ride a good 59 miles to that hot melting pot by the sea. We consumed left over deli sandwiches and ice cream for breakfast (our breakfast options have been slim these days) and cleaned up the host before preparing to head out in what was already a rainy day. I presented town facts and did a little renovated jam of Will Smith’s classic (see pic) and also told my crew about my Affordable Housing interview with Ketty (a partnering family turned employee with Gloucester County Habitat).
I rolled out shortly behind Aiden & Raffi with Nora Jane & Jana on a mission to initiate coffee crew (Amanda was unfortunately unable to join us since she was on nav duty). We were coasting along at a nice casual pace and chatting while keeping the guys taillights in eyes view and watching out for a good place for coffee. We knew the options were going to be slim but after about 15 miles we were starting to get weary and desperate. I had seen a gas
station and almost suggested it but we were happily chatting at that point so I didn’t mention it. We wanted to do better than gas station coffee for our first coffee crew! But when 7 miles later we still only saw green trees for as far as the eye could see, we had to pull over to see where we could find some coffee. That’s when we pulled up our map and realized we had gone 7 miles north of US-1....apparently going straight & following the guys was not on the cue sheet and had missed that US-1 turned left to get off the island and were deep into the woods of a crocodile lake wildlife refuge. We called Aiden & Beth (van leader of the day) and informed them and started heading back towards that gas station—that was our turning point!
On the way back it started to down pour and I got a flat—when it rains it pours! The girls were gracious and shared their orange with me as I changed the flat out quick. We got to the shell gas station and we’re stocked for the gas station coffee at that point. We even took a
fun Polaroid! There was an 18 mile stretch that some riders deemed unsafe to ride but we decided to ride it and were therefore bringing up the rear for the ride groups by that point. We did a great job at communicating and calling out and looking out for each other. It was a beautiful thing to experience that on Bike & Build and know how much we care for each other & our safety.
Of course as the 18 stretch continued, I got another flat (back wheel this time!) and it was pouring (Bike & Build!). Luckily there was a guardrail we were able to stand behind to protect us from the fast & wet traffic. The new tube didn’t hold and we were fearful we didn’t have another one but I found one at the bottom of my rain-soaked bag and, eureka!, it worked! We smacked a bit and snap chatted a bit, and were merrily in our way again. I’m so thankful for cheerful, patient teammates! ❤️
We eventually got to lunch at Robert is Here farmers market, just outside the Everglades entrance I was just stranded at just 4 short months ago. Life is
wild & weird! We played with some chickens & goats, talked with some families, ate some fresh boiled peanuts, and got back on the road. We felt bad that we held up sweep for 2.5 hours since they shuttled over the 18 mile stretch and we not only decided to ride that, but also had those 14 extra miles and flats.
The rest of the ride into Miami was flat bike trails where we stopped often for red lights that never changed in our favor (strange bus roads!) and for NJ to pee at CVS (CVS!) only to tear her new shams on the fence. Keeping clothes nice on Bike & Build is no easy feat and near impossible. Though this early on is still devastating. We had a great girls chat full of laughter and tears and I am just so grateful that though were only a few days in, the heart of Bike & Build and these relationships is already starting to emerge!
As we got closer to Miami it started raining more and traffic picked up so the van had to pick us up when we were just 3 miles from the host. A little
disappointing but safety has no quitting time! And when you’re greeted with a warm, dry van and warm leftover sandwiches, you can’t complain. The culture of safety has shifted immensely in Bike & Build and though at times can be a bit frustrating, understanding and accepting the why and keeping focus on perspective and what’s most important has helped ease any frustrations and actually makes me not mind it all that much. The worst has come to pass to this Bike & Build family and we are doing everything we can to try to prevent anything like that to happen. It’s nice to have each other and that perspective and knowing we really care about our team and want everyone to finish well & safe.
At the host, we had a whole house to ourselves, so we enjoyed luxuries such as sharing beds, private showers, legit shampoo, and real towels! It’s the little things in life that you learn to appreciate on Bike & Build. We had dinner, which consisted of a giant vegan casserole, on the floor in the living room and chatted about our days. I laid down for a bit on one of the beds and
was able to chat with some people while I tried to gain energy back to rally for the night.
It was Lilly’s, the Bike & Build home office’s outreach coordinator, last night with us so we walked to the Biltmore Hotel—superrrr fancy hotel—and had a drink in their bar where we felt super out of place with our poka fit fanny packs and lobster shorts. The girls and I walked around and explored the hotel while the guys ran down to Duffy’s tavern to catch the Celtics-Cavs game. We then started walking to meet the guys where we shared some great conversations about religious affiliations and stances on the gay community—and a fresh (& probably the best) mango off the ground. Normally I’m not a fan of mango but I was a fan of this one! Eventually we joined them, where we paid $5.50 for lukewarm mac & cheese and enjoyed sharing some fries and a pitcher of beer while a very intoxicated man loudly proclaimed his impression with us and how he has connections and that we could be on a Netflix/MTV real-world like tv show. We joked about it and it does sound like something that would
be entertaining for all, if not just us.
We then walked back to the host where I discovered that the bed I intended in sharing was already at capacity so I got out the ol’ trusty thermarest that requires you to step on it repeatedly to inflate while trying not to wake others. Grateful to finally get to rest after a long, tiring day, I passed out without much effort.
Sorry for the long blog posts—a day on Bike & Build is like a year and so full of fun, learning, & growth! 😊
Tot: 3.228s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 10; qc: 48; dbt: 0.038s; 3; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb