Monday, February 18, 2013

Bike Riding in the Abacos

We don't really need complicated gears on our bikes in the Abacos.  What we do need are wider wheels to take on dirt roads and baskets to carry food and drink.  Most of the island is flat. It is perfect biking for people wanting a simple, quick and quiet way to get from one place to another, in most cases.

An essential piece of gear for our bikes is the rear view mirror to help us keep track of cars and for ourselves, helmets.  Both are available in local hardware stores in Marsh Harbour, as are the bikes and the baskets.

Recently, we started to ride on the major highway and Sunday morning is an exceptionally good time to ride.  There are very few cars on the road.  Traffic looks like this.

Liz, Marge, Jimmy, Merle, Mary and Melanie
As a challenge, we decided to take a 30 mile ride from the Esplanade of Bahama Palm Shores to Sandy Point.  Since the start of the New Year, in preparation for the longer trip, we have been riding daily with a group of friends for 7 or 8 miles.

Today was the day for our thirty mile trip.  Three of us took off this morning at 8 am for the big ride.  Our husbands photographed us at the starting point.  It was a surprisingly cool morning and we headed out actually wearing light jackets and sweatshirts, which is unusual.  We more typically wear shorts and a t-shirt.

Merle, Lavonda and me.

 I carried a small can of juice and my camera in my bike basket.  In contrast, my well prepared partners were carrying oranges, bananas, water, and some delicious raisins and nuts that a neighbor packed for us. They kindly shared their stash with me.

One of our bikers, Merle, was wearing a special helmet that her husband Pete had prepared for her.  She was concerned she might not be up to making the whole trip.  Pete duct taped a special hat on the front of her helmet saying, "Sandy Point or Bust". 

He also contributed shirts to encourage us to complete the trip that say " "Work Hard.....No Surrender....No Giving up!"

We took off down the road from the Esplanade and made the 10 miles to Schooner Bay in less than one hour, which pleased us to no end.  We were riding fine.  We stopped at the sign to celebrate and take some photos.

The guard at Schooner Bay kindly agreed to take our photo at the 10 mile point and here we are. 

We soon realized it was time to get serious and get back on those bikes until we hit the 20 mile mark, our next stopping point at the turn off to Hole-in-the Wall.  The next part of the trip was particularly beautiful, because we were headed through Crossing Rocks, an area where the island is least wide.  Birds and butterflies are everywhere, and the marsh is very pretty.  

From there we actually took a little hill before it leveled out and we quietly cycled our way through the Abaco National Forest.  I never tire of looking at the wide variety of palms and trees on either side of the road.,

We pedaled steadily for the next hour, usually one cyclist following the other on the left side of the road.

There were several miles where we cycled through an area where there was a forest fire, just a few days ago.  In parts, some logs were still smoking. Luckily it just rained and the fire is essentially out..

In what seemed like a relatively short period of time, one hour, we made it to the 20 mile mark where we stopped long enough to peel an orange and eat a banana, then get back on our bikes and head on down the road for the 30 mile mark..
After the fire

Before we knew what happened, we were at the 27 mile mark, just outside of Sandy Point, where we were met by our husbands and some friends who cheered us over the line.  We stopped for some photos then headed on into Sandy Point to the beach.  

At that point, we hit the wind head on and really had to push to make it the last few miles.  If we were going to be punished by weather, that was a reasonable time to have it happen.  We were already over the finish line and headed to our stopping point.

On top of having a great trip, we had the pleasure of meeting up with our husbands and friends who threw our bikes on a pick up truck and took us to Nancy's for a delicious lunch.  That was a terrific reward for our efforts and will keep us on the path to new adventures here on the island. 


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Friend Passes Away

A friend passes away silently one morning
just as
the sun touches his window
one last time

The grass wet with dew still
breeze just beginning
clouds accumulating
palm trees sway
boughs bend

Palmettas flash their silver sides
over the insect-infested, bird-filled marshes.

The night heron marches away,
this time not screeching.