My wife and I went on one of our monthly treks to see our new home state, the lovely pancake flat and sandy Florida. This past weekend included Sanibel Island near Fort Myers and the summer homes of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. (Quick: What invention first made Edison a rich man? The phonograph? The light bulb? Nope, it was the Universal Stock Printer in 1871. Wall St. investors loved its synchronized printing of the same info. at the same time. He made the equivalent of $500,000 on it.)
Sanibel Island was a disappointment, only because we didn’t get to see its main attractions, a preserve that has a five mile bike path through it and the lighthouse, which was closed for repairs. We were hoping to see our first crocodile or alligator or whatever they have down here that we didn’t in Virginia. But the road was closed for construction and not expected to re-open until Oct. 1. It was apparently a federal project that the greeter at the Chamber of Commerce visitors center derided as evidence that the federal government is slow. Never mind that his little community was making big bucks off the preserve. He couldn’t resist the opportunity to bash the feds, something a lot of Floridians like to do.
We had taken our bikes with us, so we just rode along the bike path for a little while until we decided that all there was to see other than the beach were condos. So we left for the mansion tours. (Actually, they weren’t mansions at all. Certainly nice homes but they looked like outhouses compared to the John and Mable Ringling estate in Sarasota.) I should say that what we saw of the beach was nice as far as beaches go. But alas, it had a lot of sand and water, making it a dubious pleasure at best.
After dinner in another very forgettable tourist stop, Punta Gorda, we headed home over Interstate 75. All of sudden, Karla, who is driving, says “My God, the bikes!” I thought she had just seen a motorcyclist go down. “The bikes fell off the car,” she said. I looked back but couldn’t see them. I imagined them a steel pretzel and hoped that no one ran over them causing drivers to lose control. No, we were dragging them along the highway at 70 mph.
We have one of those bike racks that attached to the trunk of the car. I use it usually once a year for our annual trip to the North Carolina beach (also with way too much sand and water). For years I tied the bikes down with a half dozen bungee cords and then tied the rack’s straps around the bikes as an added precaution. This time I used only two bungee cords, and after our Sanibel Island ride I didn’t tie the straps around them. However, when we went to dinner, I tied a lock around the bikes and the rack, figuring that most bike thefts are ones of opportunity and the lock would complicate things a little.
That lock is what kept the bikes dangling off our trunk as if we were two just married cyclists headed for our honeymoon. Now, how much damage can one do to a bike using it as a road sweeper at the barely sub-sonic speed Karla drives? Well, damn little, as it turns out. These were our mountain bikes, both heavyweight Mongooses that are at least 15 years old. Both have a few scratches on them but I could not find any new damage to the frames. When I got home, they both rode fine. In fact, the only visible damage was to my saddle, which apparently served as the sled that dragged along the ground.
Chalk one up for dumb (really dumb) luck.