Mixsonian Larry


Perfect day for a bike ride

I enjoyed riding my bike, particularly in the late fall or winter when it had cooled off.  I remember one such day, bright and sunny, no wind, the air so crisp it just perks you up, 75 degrees, a perfect day for a bike ride. The University was one of my favorite places to ride around, just a mile down the road from where I lived on Old Archer Road, I could get there in a few minutes and would just ride around the campus, stopping here or there to look at something, or some event going on.  On that particular day I came up to the Plaza of the Americas in the center of campus where I found a fairly large group of people on bicycles.  As I get closer, I find that they had gathered for a mile bike race around the campus.  I pull up and stop at the edge of the group of thirty to forty bicyclists, a speaker with a megaphone making announcements, the race would begin in five minutes.  Then, one minute, then a count down from 10, a person with a flag dropping her arm and the bicyclists set off.  How cool was this, I thought and join in the group as they set off.  Having arrived at the last minute, I was at the back of the group, not seriously racing, but more just going for the ride.  Well, I naturally ride at a fairly good pace, so I soon began passing slower riders. As the course wandered from the Plaza, down Stadium Road, I moved up in the group and could see a dozen riders further up in the front of the group.  I hadn’t been peddling all that hard, but seeing the riders a hundred feet in front, I began to peddle a bit harder. Down Fraternity Drive we go, I fifty feet behind the front riders who are starting to spread out, with the faster riders moving to the front.  At the bottom of Fraternity Drive they slow to make a right hand turn onto Museum Road where I catch up to the slower riders.  As we proceed on Museum Road, past Lake Alice, I pass the slower rider of the front group, then several more but the lead riders started to pull away, I peddled harder.  I begin to gain on them when the lead drivers slow to make a right hand turn onto Hull Road and I reach the slower of the riders at the turn.   Hull Road ends with a gentle turn onto Mowry Road, the lead riders not slowing down, taking the turn at full speed, I follow passing the rider at the back of the group, three remaining in front of me.  Mowry Road ends at Shands Medical Center where I once worked, we turn onto Center Drive, through the back parking lot of the medical center to Newell Drive and we come to the hill.  As hills go it wasn’t all that much, there were bigger hills in Gainesville, but we had been ridding hard and the rider in front of me begins to slow down, I stand up in the peddles and push on past him,  I’m now in third.   At the top of the hill I can see Century Tower rising up in front of us, it is a straight shot to the Plaza where we started which I assumed where the race ended but I wasn’t sure, like I just showed up, I wasn’t sure it was even a race.   We top the hill and pass the half underground Florida State Museum building (now Dickinson Hall) and push on with me still the third rider.  As we pass Century Tower the front rider pulled away and was twenty feet ahead, I followed the second rider by some ten feet, I felt that I could have passed him but I wasn’t all that serious about racing, I just was out for a bike ride.  We enter the Plaza finding a fair size group of people gathered around the finish line, the lead rider crosses, the crowd cheers, a few moments later the second rider crosses with me close behind, some more cheers go up.  I slowly melt away on my bike as people gathered around the other two riders and as other riders begin to cross the line.  I pull my bike over to the side of the group and got off to rest as I watch the group.  I see that the official registered riders in the group all had numbers pinned to their shirts, I of course did not.  There were two people yelling out, “Who was the third place rider?  Did anyone get his number?”   Rested up I got back on my bike and returned home.

Updated: 01-15-2023

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