Cycling in Kingston at 4:00am
A 4:00 am bike ride averaging 22 mph? Every Tuesday and Thursday? You must be mad!
That was first reaction when others told me that the best ride in Kingston was the 40 mile ride from Liguanea to Harbour View, back to the bottom of South Camp, then past Harbour View, down to Port Royal, and then back into Liguanea.
It seemed insane to my mind, as it violated one of my basic rules, which was to never ride in the dark. When other cyclists invited me to come out I always thought to myself -- no freaking way.
Now, several months and one dislocated collar-bone later I decided to give the ride a try. The decision was made after riding one morning with my father along Windward Road at about 6am. It was still dark, and there were trucks on the road flying by at what must have been 70mph and more only 2 feet or so away. The potholes remaining from 2005's hurricanes lent added to the obstacle course. It was quite disconcerting, to say the least.
Across the dual carriage-way, I noticed the 4:00 am group. There were maybe 20 cyclists riding slowly at the end of their ride, supported by a car and a pickup truck behind them lighting their way. They looked perfectly safe, and relaxed while talking to each other.
I started to consider that maybe I was the insane one.
So, I took a big swallow and decided to take the plunge.
After a sleepless night, I got up at 3:30am, and was the first person to arrive at the meeting spot -- which was by itself a little worrying. Was I in the wrong place, on the wrong day at the wrong time?
Thankfully, no. The other guys turned up and the ride was nothing short of spectacular -- the best ride I've been in since being back in Jamaica.
Fortunately, I could keep up without too much trouble (it wasn't as hard as the hardest rides I've been on in Florida,) and the experienced cyclists and support vehicles made it enjoyable and safe enough to not have to worry about being hit every time I heard a rumble. We got back in just as it was getting light at 6:15 am.
Next to the Kingston to Negril ride I took in 2004, it was the hardest ride I've been on in Jamaica.
Last weekend I did a first -- a bonafide, off-road Mountain Bike (MTB) ride from Bowden in St. Thomas out to the Morant Point lighthouse and back. I am no MTB'er, and this was the first ride I have ever taken on a real dirt road for more than a few minutes.
It was very different than riding a road-bike, and even different from riding an MTB on the road, requiring different skills and muscles than I've used before. We took the sweetest of breaks at Rocky Point fisherman's beach, and had lunches of steamed snapper or fried chicken, with rice and peas. All that was washed down with a cold Red Stripe.
Now this is why I returned to Jamaica.
(News of a 26 inch record snowfall in New York made it feel that much sweeter.)