Layton, FL to Key West, FL
Total Miles: 1581
This day is dedicated to my good friend, John F. Burress. Sugarloaf Queens for life 🙂
This morning started at the crack of 7. I wasn’t in any particular hurry as I didn’t really have to be in Key West until 5 so I was just going to take my sweet time getting ready. Unfortunately for me, the world had other plans. As soon as I climbed out of my tent I was immediately swarmed by these tiny, biting, gnat-like insects that freaking bite. They’re called no-see-ums (I know. How clever) and getting bit by one isn’t all that bad, just like a tiny little pin prick. Getting bit by hundreds of them, on the other hand, is the worst. It’s like death by a thousand paper cuts but worse because it’s from bugs. I tried to ignore it but eventually I got so fed up with it that I doused myself in insect repellant, like doused. It helped, but only a little, and I got everything loaded up onto Forrest in record time. The day was cool, sunny and beautiful so even this minor nuisance wasn’t enough to ruin my day.
I cruised out of the campground, no worse for wear, and got my day started. The wind was actually blowing in my favor for a change and it made the first 20 miles blow by so quick! I popped into a gas station and, to my dismay, there were no pickles for sale! What the shit kind of establishment are they running here?! They had a subway, though, so I got a foot long cold cut combo with extra, extra, extra pickles. I think the woman making my sandwich thought I was high or something when I kept saying, “Can you put a bit more?” It was basically a pickle sandwich with a sprinkling of meat and cheese. So. Freaking. Good.
I was really looking forward to the next 20 miles as I would be passing over the famed 7-Mile Bridge. It’s exactly like the name says, a bridge between 2 keys that is 7 miles long. It was incredible! Chrystal clear blue water on both sides, a nice gentle tailwind and a generous bike lane made for some primo riding for James and his Bike. I was cruising along the whole bridge at a cool 21 MPH and it was over entirely too soon. After that exhilarating ride I felt so pumped. Like the music seemed to be just right, my legs were on auto-pilot and I felt like I had enough energy to blast to the moon and back. Fucking Rocket Sauce. The keys have been so incredibly beautiful, it almost makes me want to just park my bike and just live here. But no, we still have a long, long way to go.
I killed the final 24 miles and rode into Key West towards my first stop: the southern most point of the continental United States. It was such an incredible feeling for me, like for the past month whenever someone has asked me where I’m headed I’d say Key West. And now, after all of those sweat, blood and tear soaked hours sitting in my saddle I’m finally here and finishing the first leg of my journey. I was Shellshocked (thanks, Dad!). It’s hard for me to put into words how I felt, it was all so surreal, like I’d just been focusing on this one moment the last month and now it’s here and my new focus shifted about 3000 miles northwest. I was happy and sad and relieved and nervous and just everything all mixed into one. And it felt amazing. I met a guy at the photo spot by the name of Chris Citto. He was kind enough to take my photo for me and we got to talking a bit about my trip a bit. He was really keen on trying to interrupt the line of tourists taking photos in front of the giant concrete sign that said, “Southern Most Tip of the United States” so that I could cut in but I was happy with the one he got. Thanks, brother!!!!
So tomorrow I will be taking the ferry to Fort Meyers and continuing on towards the Washington/Canada border. It’s all uphill from here! Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!