If you’ve ever ridden in Miami Critical Mass, a group bike ride on the last Friday of every month that draws hundreds of riders, it’s highly likely that Robert Noval corked for your benefit. In Critical Mass parlance, “corking” is the term for blocking an intersection from car traffic to allow the mass of cyclists to pass by safely. Noval is an inveterate corker and therefore one of the unsung saints of Critical Mass, which would descend into chaos without people like him sacrificing the flow of their ride to smooth the way for the mass at large.
Miami is a notoriously sprawling metropolis that many long ago wrote off as a cyclist’s nightmare. But the huge popularity of the monthly group bike ride Miami Critical Mass (held the last Friday of every month, including this coming Friday) is an undeniable sign that the local bike scene is coming into its own. Then there’s the the proliferation of bike lanes and sharrows, the success of bike sharing programs like DecoBike, and even the launch of a Miami bike polo club.
If you’re a Miami Critical Mass regular, you’ve probably had the pleasure of seeing a woman riding a dolphin bike through the streets, leaving a trail of smiles in her wake. If not, behold:
This photo originally appeared in our recap of the May 2011 Miami Critical Mass ride
The woman, Regina McFall, works in the theatre arts department at the University of Miami and the dolphin bike is really a normal Trek hybrid with a dolphin’s smiling face affixed to the handlebars and a fluke fitted to the back tire. Naturally, Regina wears the dorsal fin as a helmet.
As the photo suggests, Regina radiates positive energy and, through her creations, she manages to make Miami a sunnier place. So we were very upset to hear, via the Miami Bike Scene, that she recently fell off of her bicycle and broke her wrist. It gets worse, according to the MBS:
Last Thursday night around 10pm at the intersection of Sunset Drive/US1 a female cyclist accidentally jumped a curb and fell of her Trek hybrid bicycle and broke her wrist. A black male in his 20s, no facial hair and wearing an orange & black jacket approached the cyclist and pretended to be coming to her aid, instead the suspect stole her bicycle while she laid helpless on the street. The bike is blue/silver and has a rear rack, RST fork and kickstand. If you see the Trek bicycle pictured below please alert the proper authorities.
We don’t have any updates as of now, but we do wish Regina speedy recuperation and hope she recovers her Trek (which, according to MBS, was not in “dolphin mode” when it was stolen). We also hope this experience doesn’t damage her apparent joie de vivre. Miami would be a lesser place without the smiling dolphin swimming through its streets.
Update: Regina is offering a $100 reward for her bike.
After a crotchety day of continual rain, the bike gods cleared the skies just in time for last night’s 13.6-mile Miami Critical Mass bike ride through East Little Havana, West Flagler, Coral Gables, Coral Way, The Roads, Brickell, and Downtown. As you can see, the faithful Critical Massers who hauled their bikes to Government Center intent on riding come hell or high water were more than a little happy when the Civil War being waged overhead — Blue vs. Gray — ended in a Union victory.
As for us Beached Miami folk, a little rain wasn’t going to stop us from flashing our new gear.
This evening I took part in Miami Critical Mass, an 11.9 mile bike ride starting at Government Center downtown and wending through Allapatah, Wynwood, Little Haiti, and Midtown. I’m not a hard-core cyclist — I borrowed an ungainly Globe hybrid — and I haven’t biked around Miami since my days of terrorizing North Miami Beach with an empty milk carton wedged alongside my BMX’s front wheel.
It was a trip cruising the streets with a hundred-odd fellow riders, passing through neighborhoods I’ve only driven through or, in some cases, never seen (can’t tell you the last time I was alongside the Miami River). For the most part we overrode the rules of traffic, blocking intersections and running red lights as a single, ostensibly indestructible column of whirling legs. The good will of onlookers, conveyed in smiles and waves and cheers and shouted inquiries about what we were up to, felt strange in a city not known for brotherly love. We rode down some gritty streets, the kind of ruinous drags that your average middle-classer encounters only when lost, and yet an innocent warmth prevailed between the riders (a mixed bag) and the spectators (ditto).