Last day, 35 miles to go

Wheel full 70px On August 18th when I started this trip in Halifax, Nova Scotia I had absolutely no sense of any connection to a “last day” of what has turned out to be a 3,600 mile/5,700 kilometer 84 day bicycle ride.  Key West, of course, was my destination then as it is today, but it existed back then only as a remote point on a map.  For all that it figured in my consciousness when I set out I could have just as easily been riding to Tierra del Fuego or, for that matter, the moon.

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Wheel full 70px And now I’m here on the cusp of the end.  The connection has been formed, one rotation of my bike’s pedals at a time.  For whatever it is worth, I now have a string of memories that carry me at 10 miles/16 kilometers an hour down the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, past beaches and capes and rocky headlands, through farms and forests and  small towns and great cities, and punctuated by ferry rides, tent and table-top camping, and a variety of motels and other lodging, some nice, some not.  Those memories also include visits with friends and family and phone calls with my wife, as well as a lot of time just being alone with my thoughts.  It has been a great trip, and I can be satisfied that, within the context of my life to date, to the extent that I wanted to do something epic I have done just that.  I have nothing to complain about and no regrets.

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Wheel full 70px So I’m the blue dot, and in a few hours will ride the last one percent of my total mileage on the road.  That distance is a little more than five percent of my Florida miles

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and puts me about two-thirds of the way along the Florida Keys.

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Wheel full 70px My last night on the road was spent at Bahia Honda State Park, where I braved the bugs and raccoons and slept once again on a picnic table-top.

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Wheel full 70px I had ridden almost 68 miles/110 km to get here yesterday from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.  That ride included crossing the Seven Mile Bridge on the Overseas Highway.

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Wheel full 70px The bridge is, in fact, seven miles/11 km from one end to the other.  How about that?  Another amazing thing on a ride that’s been full of amazing things.  And today I’ll be in Key West.

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Two days, 100 miles to go

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Wheel full 70px I’ve been on the Keys for about 15 miles/25 km now.  I have almost exactly 100 miles/160 km to go to reach Key West, and I’ll ride something more than half that in order to make it to Bahia Honda State Park, where I have a campsite reserved for the night.

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Wheel full 70px I started at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and the view from my picnic table-top bed this morning was very nice.

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Wheel full 70px Strava, after a couple of weeks of behaving, was generating garbage yesterday, so no Relive track.  I’ll try again today, but it’s hard to look past the fact that RidewithGPS has generated 82 straight days of reliable ride tracking.  Just sayin’.

Wheel full 70px Tonight’s my last night on the road. I can do this!

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Three days, 150 miles to go

Wheel full 70px After riding yesterday to the very tip of Florida’s Atlantic Coast beaches at the north entrance to Biscayne Bay

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today I will make my way onto the Florida Keys! Here’s a couple of postcards from yesterday’s ride, which somehow managed to include a leaky gas main and a little less than two hours of riding across the Miami metro area at night.

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-oOo-

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Wheel full 70px I’m starting the day in Cutler Bay, a completely unremarkable portion of Miami’s urban sprawl north of the old Homestead Air Force Base, which has been decommissioned and closed.   I’ll head south on minor roads until I run into Card Sound Road, which crosses onto the Keys east of US Highway 1 over the toll bridge shown on the map.   From there I’ll ride to John Pennekamp State Park just outside Key Largo and camp there for the night.

Wheel full 70px Here’s where I am right now in the context of the entire trip

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and of Florida

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and of the Keys.

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Wheel full 70px Margaritaville, here I come!

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Five days, 250 miles to go

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Wheel full 70px When I was a kid growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the late 1950s and 60s, I could think of no place on earth that held the same allure for me as the southern Florida coast.  Place names like Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach were inflated in my mind to the status of tropical oases, with limpid blue water coming ashore onto endless beaches of dazzling white sand.  If you were really cool you got to live on a boat, like the guys on Surfside 6.  Plus, we Chicagoans had a direct connection to the area.

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Wheel full 70px Yeah, turn right on to good old Lake Shore Drive  out there at the end of the US 34-US 66 duplex just past Buckingham Fountain and drive.  The spitting snow and sullen gray shores of Lake Michigan would then, as if by magic and a couple of tanks of gas, be transformed to the balmy breezes and endless sunny horizons of the Atlantic Ocean.  And 41 would have transported you all the way in between.

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Wheel full 70px The reality, as I’ve come to learn, is quite a bit different.  Carl Hiaasen’s take on south Florida these days certainly appears to be the more accurate one, at least based on what I’ve seen during my ride so far.

Wheel full 70px But rather than say I was misinformed, better to hold on to the notion that, if I had only been here a little over 50 years ago, it would have been the way that I then believed it to be.  And so that’s what I’ll do.  See you in the Boom-Boom Room.

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Wheel full 70px Today I’ll ride most of the way through Fort Lauderdale, and tomorrow Miami Beach and Miami.

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Wheel full 70px The threat of drizzle remains in the forecast, but all I felt yesterday was a couple of drops that could have been stray ocean spray, for all I knew.

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Wheel full 70px The new wheel is performing, well… like a bike wheel is supposed to perform.  The bike shop only had black to work with, which allows me to now easily tell which end of the bike is which.

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Oh well, this ride has never been about appearances in any event.

Seven days, 350 miles to go

Wheel full 70px Today there is just a single week of my bike trip left.  Each day will be “the last,” as in “the last Friday of the ride.”  I still haven’t really dealt with that- I’ll keep you posted.

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Wheel full 70px After riding across the southern end of the Kennedy Space Center complex

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I finished up yesterday’s ride on the coast across Indian River from Melbourne.  My nephew Jack met me there and we had a nice evening of pizza and conversation at his friend Julie’s house.

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Wheel full 70px I got a chance to do laundry in a real washing machine as opposed to a motel sink.  This morning I got a  bright and early start back where I stopped the evening before and will ride about 70 miles/~110 km down the coast to Stuart.

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Wheel full 70px As this is written I am in Fort Pierce, with about 50 miles/80 km behind me. It’s been another gorgeous sunny day with a light tailwind. There haven’t been that many glimpses of the ocean, but it is always very easy on the eyes when it comes into view.

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A Week

Wheel full 70px One week from today I will ride my Surly Disc Trucker into Key West, Florida.  A trip that took three radical changes of plans (and, come to think of it, two four day hospital stays) to get under way will be over.

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Wheel full 70px Today’s ride will take me back to and through the Kennedy Space Center and on to Melbourne, where I will spend the night with family.

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Wheel full 70px After that, my daily destination points, barring unforeseen change, are as follows:

Friday, Nov 4 – near Stuart
Saturday, Nov 5 – West Palm Beach
Sunday, Nov 6 – Fort Lauderdale
Monday, Nov 7 – Cutler Bay
Tuesday, Nov 8 – Key Largo
Wednesday, Nov 9 – Marathon/Bahia Honda
Thursday, Nov 10 – Key West

Wheel full 70px So there it is- all laid out and looking mighty finite.  Time to hit the road.

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