Miami Beach, FL to Key Largo, FL
I felt so energized today after having my first, honest to Shell, 0 day. All my previous rest days have been 10, 20 even 30 mile short days, so the day off was a real treat for my poor legs. I had planned on going out on Wednesday and sampling a bit of the famed Miami nightlife but man was I freaking tired ( I guess I really am turning into an old man) so I just walked to the bar around the corner and had myself a few beers. The place was deserted at 8pm with only the bartender, Bobby, and his friend Niko. They were both really cool guys and I sat there for a couple hours talking to them. Niko even shared the pizza he brought in with me because apparently you need tons of calories to sustain yourself cycling everyday. Who’d have known? The next day I slept in till 9am, a whopping 12 hours of peaceful sleep on a comfy bunk bed, and then headed to the beach for the afternoon for some rest and relaxation. I must have eaten like 6 meals that day because every little restaurant I walked past I absolutely without a doubt had to try it. Unlike most of the Abrahamic religions, the One True Turtle looks kindly on bouts of gluttony when the occasion calls for it. As they say, foodliness is next to godliness 🙂
This morning I woke up, feeling fresh and ready to go, at about 6. I quietly got my things together, lest I wake my hungover bunkmates up, and went downstairs to check out and load Forrest up. To my surprise the hostel offered a complimentary breakfast of bagels with cream cheese, oatmeal, coffee and orange juice. Yum, yum, yum I will eat anything and everything, especially if it’s free!!! So with my belly satiated for the moment I rode out into the morning. It was a bit windy but, being in the city, the surrounding houses and buildings did a good job of tempering the gale down to a mild nuisance at best. I had about 5 miles of busy morning city traffic to contend with before my map showed a bike path that stretched for the next 30 miles! Oh, yeah this morning is turning out better and better. But, like those dreams you have where you suddenly find a huge wad of money in your wallet, it was just too good to be true.
There was definitely a bike path and it most certainly ran for the next 30 miles but it was not exactly in the best of conditions. It followed the path of the Miami metro train and was lined with big, beautiful trees. So far so good, right? Well the problem with trees is that they have roots; roots which grew under the asphalt of the bike path and turned it into speed bump laden minefield of slowly building misery. I’m still in the city, mind you, so I still have to cross a street every block as well. Most of the time it was a quiet, rarely used side street but it still meant slowing down or stopping completely and waiting for the signal to cross. The bad part was when I had to cross a busy street; it’s like the drivers in Miami have never seen or heard of a bicycle before. On 3 separate occasions I came to a crossing where I had the white, walking person go ahead signal and, naturally, I attempted to cross. SREEEEECCHHHI!!! A completely oblivious driver making a right turn without even attempting to see if there was anyone in the way almost runs right into me. The third time this happened was way too close for comfort and scared the living shit out of me. I had to do something drastic. So I waited at the next bus stop, loaded Forrest up onto the front, hopped in and for the low, low price of 2 dollars I rode the next 13 miles out of the city in safe, air conditioned comfort. I was at 20 miles already so it was time for my morning break anyways. #noregrets
I got off the bus at the last stop in Florida City and pointed myself towards Key Largo and my campground for the night, a mere 28 miles away. It was overcast and cool, a bit of a sidewind but the weekend traffic into Key Largo helped push me along. My good friend, partner-in-crime and official DJ for the James and his Bike adventures, Arthur “The Hurricane” DeVault, made me a kickass island themed playlist to help get me through the day. I was cruising over the bridge into Key Largo listening to the sweet voice of the Island Jam Man himself, Bob Marley, and man was I killing it. Coming down from the bridge I got a sudden, whipping tail wind, so cranked Forrest into his highest gear and was pushing about 40 MPH! The posted speed limit was 45 and one guy slowly creeped up beside me, looked at me, then down at his speedometer, looked at me again, gave me a huge thumbs up and mouthed “Fuck yeah!”. I was on top of the world!.
During the last 5 miles or so to my campsite the overcast sky suddenly opened up and started dumping a billion gallons of rain on me. I pulled over, took my shirt off and pressed on feeling awesome! It was warm, the rain felt great and I pulled up to the camp office dripping wet with a huge, shit eating grin on my face. Nothing could bring me down. I got myself checked in and asked the front desk lady if there was any place I could go take a swim. She said, “The marina right behind the building but don’t go swimming at night!”
“Why, gators?” I asked.
“No, sweetie, gators are only in freshwater. It’s the crocodiles. They’re nocturnal and they’ll eat you!”
Ummmmmmmmm. Yeah. I’ll remember to not have any late night, skinny dipping adventures while I’m in the Keys.
So that concludes the day. Started awesome. Turned to shit. Then totally awesome again. I’m loving my life right now. Time to relax and enjoy this pint of Jameson! Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!