Bicycle Madness in South Beach

“At last, sane biking in Florida,” I said as we happened upon a bike trail hugging the sandy ocean beach just about a block from our no frills North Beach Baltic Hotel, which could definitely have its roots on the famous budget street in Monopoly, which I always managed to acquire along with Mediterranean Avenue in my slum landlord days.  We eagerly started pedaling toward South Beach on the terra cotta path.  In less than a mile our hopes were dashed as the path abruptly betrayed us by turning to sand.  Always diligent Mordi insisted that we missed a turn.  Retracing our steps, we discovered he was right.  The path made a sharp turn to the right, ultimately morphing into a wide sidewalk along Collins Avenue, where four lanes of traffic sped past us in the opposite direction like a school of killer fish. Pedaling onward, I remembered the the southern highways lined with pines that gradually grew thinner and sometimes taller, and cement grey skeletons of Spanish moss, looking like ancient women with matted hair covered in cobwebs.   Collins Avenue was lined with a forest of high-rise apartments, condominiums and hotels dwarfing anything that nature could produce.  Eventually these monstrosities gave way to a herd of polished white yachts showing themselves off on the Intercoastal Waterway, like the Botoxed, nipped and tucked dyed blonde, cleavaged women I would see parading down Collins that same night.

We pedaled forward, dodging uniformed wait staff, security guards, construction workers, waiting at bus stations, all speaking Spanish.  “Excuse me,” I yelled in a desperate tone, swerving to avoid colliding with two white-uniformed women jumping out of the shelter as the doors of a bus opened.  Further on we were challenged by a series of palm tress cemented into the middle of our path at regular intervals, shiny black SUVs with attitude pulling out of hotel driveways, oblivious to Mordi’s flashing red tail-light, and a whole host of others claiming their right to the sidewalks we were desperately trying to navigate.  When Collins became a two-way street as South Beach officially began, we jumped off the curb and lay claim to the right-hand lane; leaving SoBe to our ultimate destination, SoFi, South of Fifth, where the streets end and the water takes over.

A coal-black cloud which was quickly overtaking the sky, followed by a startlingly loud clap of thunder signaled a new set of challenges for the ride back, not the least of which was avoiding the throngs of scantily-clad beach-goers, scattering in every direction as we bicycled down the SoBe boardwalk.  When the rains came, they pelleted us like cold bullets.  In ten minutes it was all over, except for the flooded sidewalks that sent us back into the streets, where I noticed a young boy, with back-pack emerging from a yellow school bus, headed into a monolithic building, somewhere in the vicinity of the Fontainebleu Hotel.  Really?  Schoolchildren live here?  I thought school children only came to Miami Beach to visit their Bubbies and Zadies!  Ultimately, we found the terra-cotta trail that lead to the bike path.  We arrived at The Baltic looking like the losers of the wet t-shirt contest; soaked but smug, and very happy!






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