December 4 - Key Largo, Florida

I didn't need to ride a century today. A tailwind is a terrible thing to waste.

I'm back riding solo, Jim went back to Baltimore today. It's nice to ride with friends, but I also enjoy the serenity of my campsite at the end of the day.

I am at a commercial campground in Key Largo. There is one other tent, and a million RVs. Most of the RVs appear to be here permanently. They have Christmas lights on them. Everyone is Hispanic. I think the old lady who runs this place weilds an iron fist, because it's really quiet. When I registered, I told her I was bicycle touring and I wanted a tent site, and she asked to make sure I had a tent and that I didn't have any pets with me.

I rode through Vice City today. I didn't carjack any exotic sports cars, or beat up any prostitutes, or kill all the Haitians. Other than that it was just like you would think.

In reality, it was a really nice ride. It turns out A1A is a fine way to get through Ft. Lauderdale and Miami on a Saturday morning. Here is a view from the causeway coming into Miami. There were about six huge cruise ships in a row.

Tour2004-18 003 (181K)

I went through the center of downtown on Route 1. Then I tried to stay along the coast. I wound up on Old Cutler Road, which has a bike path beside it most of the way. This is a very swanky area with huge houses and beautiful landscaping. The streets are lined with these crazy trees for miles. I think they are banyan trees.

Tour2004-18 004 (334K)

Eventually, you come to an area where suburban sprawl is in progress. I turned south on 87th Avenue, which had a bike path beside it marked "Route 5". This bike path is brand new, and they haven't filled in where the path meets the curb, so I immediately gave myself a pinch flat. It ruined the tube. While I was fixing this, another bike rider stopped by to see if I needed help and stayed to chat for a bit. He told me the route. 87th Ave until it ends at the state park. Head west from the park on a road beside a canal, with the landfill on your right. Cross to the south side of the canal as soon as you can. When you see the Florida Turnpike, turn south on (unmarked) 107th street, which is the last turn before the turnpike. Work your way south and west staying on the best-paved roads. You go south of the airport, and end up at the racetrack. So south towards the racetrack entrance, and you wind up turning west on Palm St. This takes you right into Florida City. This is a great route.

I was going to stop at Florida City, where there is a hostel, but after I had some tasty Mexican food for lunch, it was only 2:30, and there was a good tailwind, so I decided to push it another 34 miles to Key Largo. I could have taken Rt. 1, which is only 25 miles, but the back road is way better. You go through a mangrove swamp in a Crocodile Pond National Wildlife Refuge. I gather there are crocodiles there but I didn't see any. American Crocodiles are an endangered species, not like alligators, which are everywhere. I rode exactly 100 miles today, and I got in a 5:00. I'm blowing off dinner, because I had a big late lunch. Here's the route.

0418Actual (75K)