I will always remember November 10, 2016. It was the day I completed riding a bicycle from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Key West, Florida, but that’s not why. It was the day Leonard Cohen died.
“I came so far for beauty
I left so much behind”
My wife Heather told me when we talked by phone that evening. I had ridden back from Mallory Square to the hotel where I would spend the first night in 84 days that I didn’t have to leave from in the morning and ride a bicycle 40 miles/65 kilometers or so. I’ve felt pretty sad and subdued every since, but that is now changing into a sense of wonder and appreciation for the amazing body of music he left us. I won’t dwell on this further, except to say how lucky I am to have lived during his time among us.
I have now travelled by bike, more or less, the length of the line between the start and end point on this map. The distance, which I will look at more closely once I am back to a desktop computer, is a little over 3,600 miles/5,800 kilometers, but that includes a number of ferry rides and the van ride across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. I plan to publish detailed information about the ride, to include what I believe to be the exact final mileage, in a couple of future blog posts. It’s just too hard to do from an iPhone, even a 6 Plus, which is what I’ve carried with me.
I rode through two Canadian provinces and 14 states along as much of their coastline as I felt I could reasonable do without having to backtrack from places where there was no outlet except for the way I rode in. I compromised in just a few places, mainly to avoid unpaved stretches or roads that looked “iffy” for some reason once I reached them. I can pretty much say with confidence, though, that more than 98% of the time I was riding on the through road in each province and state that was the closest to the shore.
Here’s the ride across Florida- 600 miles/960 kilometers, which I did in 12 days.
Here’s a close-up of the Florida Keys, which from Card Sound bridge to Key West was a 125 mile/200 kilometer stretch. This took two and a half days to complete.
When I reached Key West my sister Sue and her daughter Sarah were there to meet me.
What a lift seeing them provided! They had driven down from Sue’s home north of Tampa/St. Petersburg and will take me back up that way so that I can fly home to Alaska from Tampa next week. When I passed them at the Key West sign, though, I still had a few more miles to go.
I rode on through Key West past the “Southernmost Point” monument (it really isn’t, but I’ll post about that later),
past the end of US Highway 1, which I first saw back in Maine shortly after crossing the border from Canada,
and finally to the seawall at Mallory Square.
My ride was finally over.
The Surly is now reduced to parts and stuffed in the trunk of Sarah’s car. I am headed north for the first time in three months.
can do did this.