Features 04 Smart Ride
Advertisement

Features 04 Smart Ride


As they began to assemble in the school’s gymnasium, I asked Keith, “How are you babe?” He replied, “I am a popsicle!” His teeth were chattering as he stood there in his SMART Ride team’s riding clothes looking for the warm towels that were being given out. That was the appearance of the majority of the cyclists coming into the gym from the dreary, rainy and biting cold of Key West. Yes, Key West! Despite the nasty conditions, these 229 cyclists and 160 dedicated crew members endured throughout the weekend, the SMART Ride 6 was, for most, an amazing and spiritual experience.

 

Features 04 Smart Ride



As they began to assemble in the school’s gymnasium, I asked Keith, “How are you babe?” He replied, “I am a popsicle!” His teeth were chattering as he stood there in his SMART Ride team’s riding clothes looking for the warm towels that were being given out. That was the appearance of the majority of the cyclists coming into the gym from the dreary, rainy and biting cold of Key West. Yes, Key West! Despite the nasty conditions, these 229 cyclists and 160 dedicated crew members endured throughout the weekend, the SMART Ride 6 was, for most, an amazing and spiritual experience.

 

The SMART Ride 6 was a two-day, 165-mile bicycle ride from Miami to Key West that began at the Morningstar Renewal Center in Pinecrest on Friday, January 8, 2010 with an early morning Ride Out to Duck Key, where riders stayed overnight. Then on Saturday, January 9th, the early morning Ride Out began and ended in Key West with Closing Ceremonies taking place in a school gymnasium instead of the AIDS Memorial Pier at White Street due to the inclement weather.

 

smartride1

Near the end of the ride all participants, riders, crew, sponsors and friends were asked to go outside to welcome and cheer on the last rider. She appreciated the welcome and then huddled inside with her newfound friends. Ride Director spoke to the crowd. He reminded us of the names of the Ride’s benefiting agencies and offered thanks to the many people who made this event happen. The faces on each one of the riders were the same as the “Rider less Bicycle” was escorted from the back of the gym to the stage. Tears streamed down most of our faces reminding us of the personal reasons we became involved. It was because of this effort the SMART Ride’s fund will assist men, women and children of all ages that are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS to receive direct services such as medical, medicine, pre-natal care, dental, case management, housing, food and emergency assistance. This year’s benefiting agencies include AIDS Help, Inc., Broward House, Hug Me, The Center for Positive Connections and Metropolitan Charities, Inc.

 

smartride2Countless stories have been told about the ride and the cyclist’s experiences. We heard about the anxious, flanking traffic, the many flat tires, the tumbles due to jagged pavement, the many bruises and leg cramps and sleepless nights. But we also heard riders describe their exuberance and sense of achievement from riding atop a tall bridge at a 45° incline and making it over only to ride downhill.

 

smartride3After the ceremonial events ended, the Ride Director then announced “riders dismissed!” then, the fun began! Parties were held at local bars on Saturday night, supporters invited many to privately held parties and Saturday night quickly became a blur to most! Fun was had by all, believe me! Those staying the weekend in Key West quickly got accustomed to the island mentality of relaxing and chilling out. Although the temperatures remained a chilly 40 degrees, one could watch as tourists bundled in coats and jackets strolled down Duval Street on Sunday morning looking for that perfect cup of coffee.

 

smartride4As the day progressed, preparations were being made at La Te Da for a celebratory T-Dance. Crowds packed the small hotel with riders, well-wishers, and happy locals smiling as each recounted their own tales of adventure and accomplishment.

 

Leaving the island of Key West, I think most everyone involved with the SMART Ride 6 felt a sense of pride and achievement for an incredible weekend. I am certain we will continue to hear about the adversities, the jubilation, the sleepless nights and the exuberance felt riding down Truman Avenue.

Here are some thoughts of some of the riders:

 

smartride5* “I want to thank you all for making this an amazing experience, even better than my first one last year. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. I have love for you all!” – Jayson Gehri

 

* “So proud of everyone. So much love and respect for all of you.” – Evan Linette

 

* “I still have goose bumps on my body and a smile on my face!” – Don Brust

 

* “ONE AMAZING FEELING. I am honored to have teamed up with the BEST LOOKING TEAM. … I am so ready to do this again next year. I have learned so much from all of you and this event. And for this, I am gratefully a better person.” – Al Morris

 

* “THIS IS MY BRIDGE! I RODE IT LIKE THE BITCH SHE IS AND NOW SHE’S MINE!” – Lori Tanner

 

And, to the riders … “It is one thing for us to solicit money, but what you gave is your blood, sweat and tears and that is priceless. Without the riders we would not have been able to raise the funds we did.” – Laurie Whittaker, co-owner of Sidelines Sports Bar and one of the SMART Ride’s major sponsors.

 

Jennifer Morales is a freelance writer and the director of marketing for Sidelines Sports Bar in Wilton Manors, FL. She can be reached at Jennifer@SidelinesSports.com

 

 

 

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here