This time of year, many snowbirds fly to Miami for the winter, but Addison Zawada decided to ride his bicycle instead. Over four days in November, the Jacksonville local and Red Bull fixed-gear cyclist pedaled 333,238 revolutions to Miami. He somehow convinced 10 cyclists from three states and two continents to join him on his adventure.
The concept was simple enough: load up a truck, grab a few friends, board a bike, and eventually end up 400 miles away in Miami. Zawada said he toyed with the idea of taking the “legendary ride” for a couple of years, but it always fell through. After learning that the the Red Bull Mini Drome would be making a stop in Miami, he decided to put the plan into motion.
“This idea made me nervous and nauseous. I had ridden two centuries [100-mile rides] back-to-back, and even with my prior experience it was incredibly difficult mentally to finish the second day,” Zawada said.
Putting in over 100 miles a day on a bicycle is no small feat for even the most experienced of riders. Riding along with Zawada were fellow cyclists Cody Goodman, Melissa Denike, Nic Hornstein, Cody Drummond, Dazie Holt, Ricky Crompton, Sara Talley and Reinaldo Santiago. Only one of the participants had ever ridden more than 50 miles in a single sitting.
The ride was challenging on both a physical and mental level, Zawada said.
“The first day everything goes great and you feel good,” he said. “The second consists of some discomfort from the bicycle saddle, but nothing too major. The third begins the mental fatigue when your mind begins to hate what you are doing, you stop enjoying the ride for what it is … it’s the hardest of the four days. The final day, the physical fatigue sets in hard as your knees become sore from overuse, and your entire body becomes weak.”
Zawada said having a team mentality helped pull everyone through the low points.
“When you work as a group, it makes it easier, physically and mentally,” he said, adding that joking around and making each other laugh helped pass the time on the road.
Following a long day of cycling, the riders faced challenges in camp as well. Some of the riders experienced sickness as a result of dehydration. Zawada and Crompton had the most experience riding distances, and were able to coach the others regarding the importance of hydration and refueling.
“It’s not so much about what you eat at that point, but that you are consistently eating and drinking 20 ounces of water every hour,” he said.
The group rode an average of 103 miles per day over about seven hours. They camped each night along their scenic Florida coastal route. On the first night, they camped on New Smyrna Beach, and one tent was wiped out by a wave at 4 a.m. Subsequent campsites were selected farther from the scenic Florida coast.
Upon reaching his goal, Zawada wrapped up the 400-mile ride by participating in the Red Bull Mini Drome on November 8. They had one rest day before tackling the qualifiers on the next day. The Mini Drome is a steeply banked oval course measuring 46 by 24 feet. Fixed-gear riders compete to achieve the fastest time in this challenging setting. Even after the four-day odyssey to Miami, Crompton took the top honors at the event.
Zawada said he anticipates taking on future adventures like this one:
“This ride has opened my eyes to many possibilities and inspired me to do many more tour-style rides like this,” he said, adding he plans to follow Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles next fall during his off season from professional racing.