Life as a cyclist in Miami is on the ups. There's still the risk of getting run down on a causeway or facing the wrath of irate drivers, but at least a solid network is growing in support of two-wheeled transportation.
The latest of these efforts is FYXD305, a group created in August as a way for cyclists to interact and to serve as an open forum for anything related to bike culture.
"We have a lot of people riding bikes and urban cyclists here in Miami so we're trying to gather all of them and do team rides ride every Wednesday. I wanted to gather people together to ride together because we know each other. We see each other riding the opposite way but we never ride together -- we're always on our way to work or on our way to do something," says Mandy Echevarria, the group's founder.
The team has already been hosting Wednesday night bike rides. These casual 12-20 mile jaunts start at Omni Station and include several "pit/beer stops."
Echevarria was part of a massive urban cycling scene in Puerto Rico, and moved to Miami about a year ago only to discover that there was a serious lack of groups and events for bicycling enthusiasts such as himself. So he decided to launch FYXD305.
"I didn't expect the response to be this big, but since day one on the Wednesday night ride people keep coming and coming," he says.
The fledgling group's first major event, dubbed the Underground Alleycat Race, kicks off on Saturday, October 20. Echevarria modeled this race after the informal alleycat races launched by bike messengers in Toronto. The popular races, which consist of competitions where the participants speed from checkpoint to checkpoint, soon spread to other cities. And now, Echevarria is bringing them to Miami.
For FYXD305's first alleycat race, the ride begins Margaret Pace Park where organizers will pass out manifests 10 minutes before ride time. The route will include six checkpoints, which riders have to visit in order, by any route they choose. Each checkpoint will be manned by a volunteer who'll be tying colored strips of cloth to bikes as they stop by. Jose Marti Park will serve as the finish line.
Prizes for the fastest riders include gift certificates and other bike-related swag. And in good alleycat tradition, there'll be a special honor for he (or she) who comes in "Dead Friggin' Last."
Afterward, riders can partake in an after party with music, BBQ, drinks and bike polo.
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"I didn't expect all this. I love Miami. I love the people here," Echevarria adds.
The Underground Alleycat Race kicks off on Saturday, October 20 at 2 p.m. at Margaret Pace Park. The entry fee is $5. The race is open to the public - but helmets are required. Prospective riders can check out the event on Facebook.