Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Florida... it's still there.

I took a quick trip down to Orlando to check some things out.

First, I had to check on my mom. She's still alive. Check.

Next, I had to check on her house. It needed a little bit of work and I was able to take on a few of the more minor issues. I trimmed and cleaned out the front year and put down about 15 bags of mulch. I also replaced a shower head, fixed a loose board on the fence, changed some lightbulbs that were too high up for mom to reach safely, replaced the front door knob and lock, patched some cement, replaced some tension wires that support the giant screen over the pool and generally made critical comments on various parts of the house. I AM good at critical comments.

I also had to check out the road riding. My mom lives in the western part of Orlando, somewhat near Universal Studios. I lived in the same area in the early 90's, a time when I first start riding bikes for fitness, and not just freestyle. Anyway, I was new to  road riding, and the roads in the area were awesome. Flat admittedly, but smooth, and pretty empty. I'd ride through farmland and orange groves and sometimes the smell of the orange blossoms would be amazing. Well, fast forward through about 15yrs of seemingly unrestricted sprawl and over development and those same rural roads are now 4 to 6 lanes wide with no shoulder for cyclists. Some of the roads just plain sucked and I had to ride on the sidewalk. It's a good thing that there has been so much growth, with the housing market in the tank, there's no shortage of new homes being built to further drive prices down, and the area really needs more cul-de-sac communities with no alternative transportation options so that the residents can get to the nearest strip mall (not far). Yep, there are strip malls with tanning salons. It really seems like an alternate reality and I might even say dystopia.

Within 1hr of my arrival,
my mother locked her keys in the car
with it still running...
Another problem with the riding in the area is that there's been a new 3-foot rule passed, requiring drivers to pass with 3 feet between the car and the biker. In concept, that's great, but on some of the road that retained their rural appeal, the roads are so narrow that there's not enough room for two lanes of traffic and a cyclist with 3ft to spare. Fortunately, these roads had speed limits of 30-35mph, so I wasn't impeding traffic too much, but it's certainly not relaxing to have an impatient line of traffic building up behind you. I never realized how narrow these roads were...

Anyway, I did get two good 20-mile rides in, which was still much better than that same amount of time on the rollers or trainer. Although, I could have done without the glass shards (which I could have avoided if I had felt safe on the road).

That was about it.... check in on mom, do some stuff around the house, get a little bit of riding in, and next thing I knew, it was time to go home. I did get to catch up a bit with some of my FL friends, and it's always good to see Ric and Kevin. Maybe next time I'll see some of my other homies (yes, at 42, I still call my friends "homies").

I'm actually writing this IN the Orlando airport (MCO). Due to the cloudy weather in Boston, my flight has been delayed and I'd be pulling my hair out if it weren't for my wireless hotspot... Thanks Droid!

From the Orlando Sentinel...

Don't tell Luna or Gary, but I was playing Sierra to get some doggie kisses...

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