The highly instinctual migratory nature of the Australis Floridiansis Avis Nix, commonly known as the Florida Snowbird, has predictably kicked in as our northern neighbors flock back up to their home nesting grounds in the great white north. You can always tell when Easter has come and gone down here in SW Florida by the huge reduction in vehicular traffic, turning SW Florida into a virtual ghost town. Even with Florida being in the height of the Ebris Collegium Vernus Vacare season, more commonly known as the Spring break season, the reduction in traffic is notable and welcomed, especially if you are a cyclist.
Don’t think I dislike snow birds, I love and look forward to their annual migration every year. I enjoy all the cultural diversity and the down-home friendliness they bring to SW Florida as well as the boost to the local economy. In fact I even call many snow birds friends. But, I have to admit there is one thing I will not miss, and that is the peculiar “distracted vehicular operation” many seem to exhibit.
Now to be fair, SW Florida has many amazing sights and attractions which can naturally cause some distraction to those not used to them, but even taking those into account, I’m still bewildered, and perplexed by the motoring madness that sets in to our winter guests while they are down here. I often wonder if there is something in the water or air which, when mixed with northern biochemistry, alters their driving habits, after all, there is no way they can drive like that all year round….at least I hope not!
I also have to point out that there are a few, ok perhaps more than a few, permanent residents which also are afflicted with a similar condition, but unlike snow birds, these bad apples are just outright boneheads. Case in point, after enjoying a wonderful traffic free 40 miles on my bike today, I turned into my neighborhood to find a car stopped at the entrance gate fiddling with the gate controls. This control panel is easy to use, just look up the persons name, press call, say hi, and voila, the gate opens. Apparently though, this gentleman (and I’m using the term very loosely here) was having some difficulty. I slowed to a crawl choosing not to unclip as the gate would soon open allowing the car and myself into the community, but to my surprise, the driver…strike that…bonehead, decided to throw his car into reverse and leave without ever looking back.
Expecting the gate to open, I was still clipped in basically doing a track stand (for those not familiar with this term, it’s where you are still on your bike, maintaining your balance with basically no forward progress) just a few feet from his now oncoming rear bumper. With no room to maneuver nor any forward progress, I just had enough time to yell, “look out” as I unceremoniously flopped over onto the hard pavement.
He heard me, stopped, looked back to see me on the ground, and then sped off without checking to see if I was ok or offer any apology. As you can see from today’s incident, even with the snow birds gone, we cyclists, as well as pedestrians and other motorists, still have to be alert and watch out for the dreaded resident bonehead…it’s unfortunate they can’t permanently migrate away.
So safe trip to all the snow birds. Be safe and have a wonderful summer. We’ll see you all again next year.
Ride Time: 2:11:30
Stopped Time: 54:41
Distance: 38.71 miles
Average: 17.66 mph
Fastest Speed: 25.45 mph
Ascent: 706 feet
Descent: 754 feet