Cutting through the wind, more than 200 cyclists whizzed past the Miccosukee Golf Club in West Kendall last Sunday morning, as police escorted them along a three hour bike ride heading south from the course.
Pro Cycling Miami, a local nonprofit organization, hosted the 50-mile bike ride in memory of Miguel Aviles, a 47-year-old cyclist who was recently killed by a truck driver when he fell onto the road about one mile from U.S. 27 and Interstate 75 while riding with a group of nearly 300 bicyclists.
Aviles, who was born in Cuba and lived in Kendall, rode his specialized dark gray road bike on an almost daily basis and had made friends with the community of cyclists near his home.
“I wanted to take the initiative of doing this event for Miguel. This is in memory of him,” said Johan Ismail, 44, president of Pro Cycling Miami.
Among the bicyclists was Rigoberto Ramirez, 47, a close friend of Aviles, who was riding about 15 cyclists behind him when the accident occurred about halfway through their ride.
“Without police escorts I’m not riding in anymore races because motorists only respect officers,” said Ramirez, who remembers having breakfast with Aviles before heading out on that ride.
“That was a very sad day for me,” he said.
Riding at a steady pace of about 20 miles per hour, the massive group of athletes stopped near a gas station in Homestead, a frequent favorite riding spot of Aviles, where they honored the cyclist with a minute of silence.
For Manuel “Manolete” Ruiz, 45, the thing that hurts the most is not receiving his daily phone call from his friend.
“We would talk throughout the day at least 10 to 12 times,” said Ruiz, who would have lunch on Thursdays in Hialeah with Aviles.
“I think of him every day. I’ll reach out for my phone to call him and then realize he’s not here with us any longer.”
A small group of Aviles’s closest acquaintances will gather at Key Biscayne to scatter their loved one’s ashes as they say a final goodbye.
“He was a good person and he got along with everyone,” said Ruiz.