Monday, May 18, 2009
Ford Fiesta: Super Sombrero Man Tows Car With Bike!
The last thing you’d expect to see at this season’s last Miami Bike Day would be a two-axle, motorized vehicle within the barricade boundaries, wouldn’t ya? But that’s exactly where the Ford Fiesta was yesterday when Brad got it into his mind he’d tow this car with me in it, on a bike, with a rope attached to his body.
Now, I’m learning a thing or two about my team driver: when he sets his mind on something, he’s unstoppable! You know – Don Quixote fought windmills and Fitzcarraldo transported a boat across land in the Amazon rain forest. Towing a Ford Fiesta with a rope on a bike? Eh, piece of cake.
Brad had already gotten verbal approval from one of the Miami Bike Day organizers and while while we didn't have any trouble convincing security to let us through, it was a bit challenging to get around downtown what with all the blocked one-way roads. After driving around in circles from Lummus Park to Biscayne Boulevard, we finally got into Flagler Street and parked in front of Cacique Restaurant just across from the Cultural Center.
Brad warmed up with a 15-minute bike ride, during which time I had breakfast -- a pastelito at the ventanita. As soon as I bit into the flaky beef pastry I purchased at the window, a few Miami Bike Day participants and some downtown resident crackheads started approaching me. Could it be the car? Or the fact that I was wearing a sombrero? Nah, it was the car!
When Brad returned, we drove two blocks east to the courthouse, where Bike Miami participants -- some of them on rollerblades, skateboards and two feet -- gathered on the steps for a rally, raffle and live music. At one point, everyone was dancing to La Bamba.
Car parked and further police clearance secured, Brad proceeded to do a series of yoga poses in order to prepare for the iron man, superhuman sombrero strength challenge ahead. “It’s all about the sombrero,” he said. “The power is in the sombrero. I’ll be lucky if we can make it five feet.”
Five feet? Excuse me! After some initial fumbling while gathering momentum, Brad actually towed the car all the way down this historic street for six blocks from the courthouse to Biscayne Boulevard – one whopping half mile!
We had helpers along the way – numerous random strangers who pulled the rope, one of whom also taught Brad how to create a harness for his body, which was kind of kinky. Who in Miami knows how to tie a body harness? We certainly aren't rock climbing central and this guy did not look like your average dominatrix. Seriously though, we were all really concerned that Brad would end up with an injury and that the "fiesta" would turn into a visit to the ER at Jackson.
Anyway, I digress … one of Brad’s friends actually had sailor’s knowledge in the art of knot tying, which was extremely helpful when we had to secure the rope to the car. The Ford Fiesta has a special towing key underneath the spare tire that you attach to the front grill. Easy peasy! But please, please don’t try this at home! And if you do, make sure you know your knots ... and body harnesses.
My job? I was part of the photography and steering committee. Even though my leg is technically still broken, I took my boot cast off for the event and made sure I kept us on a straight line down Flagler. I really didn’t have to do much with my foot at all, since the car was in neutral the whole time. This was the first time I had my hands on the steering wheel and it felt good!
We went past all the landmarks on Flagler, "zero street," which divides the city by north and south and is named after the railroad tycoon who helped put this city on the map. Here are just a few: the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, Macy’s (formerly Burdines), the Seybold and Alfred Dupont buildings and the Olympia Theater. Fellow cyclists cheered us on as we enjoyed some live tunes by trumpeter Renoir Rodriguez, who was playing in front of the classic Cuban department store, La Epoca, housed in the former art deco Walgreens building.
Good grief, if only Dr. Paul George had been there! I mean, come on! Don’t quote me on this, but I think this is the only time in Miami history that some freak has pulled a car down Flagler on a bike with an equally cuckoo person in tow behind the wheel. This is the kind of stunt Carl Fisher, father of Miami Beach and the Indy 500, would’ve been proud of, slow-speed notwithstanding. (Actually, I’m pretty sure Brad clocked some decent speed in towing … is there a Guinness record for that?)
Honestly, having a hot-blooded guy sweat and schlep, towing me down Flagler, was something that even Manola would’ve never dreamed of in a million years, even if you can still pay for a rickshaw ride in Coconut Grove. The only thing missing was a group of eunuchs fanning me with peacock feathers and serving me juicy grapes, but as is, my Ford Fiesta was nothing short of a luxury sedan! And best yet -- some acrobatics stunt guy was cracking a whip (jokingly, of course) as cyclists went by. "Faster, faster," he'd say. Then, thwack! on the pavement. When I passed him, I told him that Brad was my bitch. (Man tied up in ropes and another cracking a whip! What kind of family-oriented event is this?)
Afterward, the inexhaustible Brad dropped me off at La Epoca where I could enjoy Renoir's music while he continued biking the downtown route. I hobbled over to a beauty supply store and purchased some nail polish to match the Ford Fiesta, during which time I bumped into Mario, a mutual friend of ours.
I'm really looking forward to pedaling in a Miami Bike Day event next year. Being able to bike in Miami without worrying about getting mauled by a motorist must be a treat indeed.
Special thanks to Soul of Miami, other friends and twitter followers who showed up to cheer us on and help us with the logistics and videotaping of this adventure. Brad and I could not have done it without you! Also, thanks to the City of Miami and Bike Miami for indulging this craziness. We love you, Miami!
As always, some stills for your viewing pleasure:
Brad is putting together one of his fabulous videos with all the footage we collected yesterday. But in the meantime, please enjoy:
Live stream from my phone on the dashboard mount. I forgot to turn off the camera after three minutes, so don't bother with the rest of the footage:
Brad has also set up his own blog. Please stop by for his own account of our Ford Fiesta adventures and more!
Next up! Champagne car wash in Miami and some traveling on Memorial Day weekend.