If you’re looking for a city where you can cruise on two wheels, you’ve come to the right place. The Miami bike scene has evolved immensely over the years, slowly but surely pedaling its way towards becoming one of the nations’ most bike-friendly cities. While a quarter of the population may not ride bikes to work just yet (blame it on the heat), a critical mass invites cyclists to ride in a collective the last Friday of every month. The 14-mile journey that Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union partake in promotes urban cycling and is a damn good happy hour alternative once a month. Having grown up in Key Biscayne, I’ve been riding my way through the Rickenbacker Trail for 20 years—getting lost, finding hidden roads and following nature as my primary tour guide. Through all the injuries, the falls, the flips, and the discoveries, it’s been through biking that I’ve learned the most intimate things about my environment and myself. Here are five great places to start your own cycling journey in Miami:
Oleta State Park
Ten miles of intermediate bike trails will challenge the most adventurous of riders. Treacherous labyrinths entertain and burn calories for hours on end—and the trickier the trail, the more vivacious the surroundings become. One word of caution: Routes aren’t clearly set and one can mistakenly go into the black expert zone and flip over a bridge (it may or may not have happened to me).
Rickenbacker Trail – Virginia Key, Crandon Park, Bill Baggs State Park
Bring a bike with you to Virginia Key: there are no rentals available at the first stop on the eight-mile long Rickenbacker Trail. Off-the-beaten-path mountain trails are novice-friendly and picturesque to keep both your eyes and feet amused. Then, head through Crandon Park and end up at Bill Baggs State Park, where you can topsy-turvey around the lighthouse and maybe even spot a manatee coasting along the seashore trail.
Amelia Earhart Park
Where you’re going, you don’t need roads—or at least not paved roads. Amelia Earhart Park spans eight miles of unpaved roads for all levels of riders. Be sure to bring your hot wheels and GoPro—and perhaps most important, a helmet, since they won’t let you ride here without one.
South Beach Boardwalk – Deco Bikes
It’s not a real Miami experience without renting a Deco Bike and pedaling along the South Pointe Park’s paved walkway, which has 360-degree views of the ocean. Early morning riders will get a nice worm with donation yoga every morning at 7 a.m. on Third and Ocean Drive. Sunset wheeling is just as sweet.
You can cruise through the Everglades on a 15-mile paved road that sometimes features alligators as pedestrians. For a bird’s-eye view of the ecological surroundings and wildlife, stop and steal a view from the observation tower. A well kept-secret, Shark Valley is typically uninhabited, so it’s great for families and group rides. Just bring water, sunscreen and good energy.