No Way So Hey – Day 26

I began the day dowingca quart of sports drink and 1/3rd of a sub sandwich. And then I hit the road at 8 am. 

The directions were easy: Go south. 

Storm debris increased with each passing mile. Some stretches were perfectly clear, probably because crews had finished the clean up. In other areas piles of debris ran down one side of the road. 

The middle Keys got hit hardest and it showed. Debris was strewn among the mangroves along the east side of the road. Roadside piles were bigger and bigger. At a state park a consolidation area was set up. Plant based debris was being ground up into a mulch. Lord knows what will be done with the appliances, furniture, and house parts I saw. South of marathon the mother of all debris piles stretched on and on. Mount Irma. It’s hard to believe a month has passed. I can only imagine what Puerto Rico is dealing with. 

Under normal conditions there would be flowers and breezes. Now junk and smell. 

Any discomfort I might have on this trip pales in comparison to what these people have been going through for the last month and a half.

If I had s place to stay in the middle Keys I’d have gone to the sea turtle rescue place of the dolphin research center. But the only place to stay was in Key West. 

The morning was cool and humid. Then the clouds burned off. It got hot. I drank and drank and drank. I forced myself to eat so that I wouldn’t bonk.

As it turned out stores were open almost all the way to Key West. I stood in one. A young Israeli dude started talking to me about the ride. He was incredulous. Hr called me Forest Gump. Just last night a convenience store clerk did the same. Bike Forrest! Bike!

The ride wasn’t all trashy debris. Many miles were spent in bridges with the Atlantic on my left and the Gukf of Mexico on my right. The water was a pale green. Just beautiful.

I rode on the shoulder of US 1 and never had a problem with cars. One picked up pulling a trailer right hooked me at an intersection but he was no match for The Mule.

(The bike path along US 1 would have been nice but it was blocked by debris so often as to be useless. Near the heart of the storm it was torn to pieces.)

I crossed the seven mile bridge. Seven miles with ocean and gulf. Jesus. What a ride.

At 80 miles the skies turned black, just like yesterday. Temperatures dropped. Ran fell. The storm passed. I rolled into Key West and took the path along the sea wall.

I ended up at the Southernmost point in the 48 states. No more road. 


Former co-worker Melissa is in town. She was an all star on Mrs. Rootchopper’s staff. She steered me to a local Cuban place. I ate all the food. So good. 

And so I rode 101 miles today, 1,953 miles to the end of the road. Time for s few days of rest before a ferry, two more days of biking, and a long train ride home. 

No Way So Hey – Day 25

I stayed up late searching to no avail for lodging in Key Largo. I slept soundly. When I woke, I used the Google and found a cottage in Key Largo for $148.  I booked it. Anybody want the second bed?

After chatting briefly with my two young German roomies, I rolled away from home sweet hostel with my rather sad free breakfast. A few ounces of OJ, a cup of yoghurt, and a chewy granola bar.

I went to the beach. You can see container and cruise ships looming off the coast. They remind me of the existence of worlds I know nothing about.

I cleaned and lined The Mule’s chain for the third time during this tour. And off we went over the ironically named Venetian Causway to play with a shit ton of cars beneath huge buildings. (I know a housing bubble when I see one and this one goes on for miles.)

Riding at rush hour in unfamiliar cities is blood sport. I nearly ended my tour when a moment of inattentiveness almost caused me to ride into the back of a stopped car. It was an Uber picking up a passenger. No signal. Stopped in the middle of the lane. I hate Uber.

If you want to see climate change in action, come to Miami at high tide. The ocean comes up through the storm drains. I am not making this up. It was a foot deep, maybe more, in two intersections that I rode through.

The downtown frolic led me to the M Trail a bike trail that follows the Metro line southeast out of town. Great idea except for the crosswalks every tenth of a mile. Starting The Mule up over and over again was exhausting. Also wayfaring signs are rare. I followed a connecting path into a shopping mall parking lot. Complicating things further was the fact that storm debris obstructed the trail in scores of locations.

Once the Metro rail line ended the path followed a dedicated BusWay along US 1. When I got tired of debris or tree roots I just rode on the BusWay.

All the stops and starts made it impossible for me to get into s flow. It took over 4 hours to go 30 miles. And there was no food anywhere other than gas stations. I was dragging tail.

When the trail ended I joined US 1. For 1/4 mile there was no shoulder. I dreaded the thought of riding this for over 100 miles. Soon the roadway widened and I had a shoulder that was nearly as wide as the travel lane.

I was no making a beeline for Key Largo through the Everglades. There was a chain link fence separating me from the creatures from the ‘Glades.

Of course there was quite a lot of debris on the shoulder. At one spot there were big shards of glass as much as 1/4 inch thick. I got through that only to encounter, and I am not making this up, dozens of pigs feet. They looked rather recently cleaved from their owners.

Up to this point it was hot and humid with a headwind. Then the sky turned black. He died from a lightning strike then a gator tore him to pieces.

The black sky brought a ten degree drop in temperatures then a cooling rain. Well done weather gods.

Wetlands gave way to waterways and finally Key Largo. I made it to the Florida Keys, Bert. Whadda ya know about that!

The final bit of business was finding the cottage I rented. It is at the south end of Key Largo. On the way I passed a collection point for storm debris. This is only part of it.

The pile out of frame to the left had tree debris and household items all mixed together.

Then I found my home for the night.

I did another 70.5 miles for a tour total of 1,852 miles.

I bought a bunch of sandwiches at a Subway and some water. After Islamorada, the next Key south, there is nothing but destruction for 70+ miles. I thought I would have to be self dependent but the clerk at the place I am staying said that gas stations are open on the road to Key West.

The plan is to arrive in Key West after 100 miles of pedaling and crash in a hostel.

No Way So Hey – Day 24

Renee and I stayed up past midnight telling stories about all the defective people on our lives. Just kidding. We did stay up late though aided by her kids Rob and Julia. Julia has the darkest brown eyes. Like my son’s.

After a big breakfast prepared by mother and daughter, I was sent on my way. I forgot to take their picture. I am a shitty friend.

The ride out of West Palm Beach and back to the shore was reasonably easy except for this one dump truck that nearly ran me over. I caught up to it and explained to the driver as calmly as a mindful person could that he was a fucking asshole. I am grateful that his window was open so that he could hear every syllable.

I reached the Indian River and encountered some road flooding. I rode through it because I am so waterlogged after a week of rain that I don’t give a dam (water pun).

Next I climbed over the bridge to Mar-a-Lago. The most impressive thing about the place was the American flag. It was yuge. I couldn’t find the entrance so I took a picture of its rectum.

Then it was down the coast on Scenic A1A. The traffic was not bad at all. There was some more flooding and obvious hurricane damage to trees but nothing too extreme.

Down the  coast then across the intracostal waterway to the mainland then back to the coast. Over and over. The houses and resorts were more bigly than Mar-a-Lago from what I could see. And the condo complexes were bigger with each passing mile. When they were on my right, away from the beach, they caused a wind reversal that blasted me with headwinds.

I was earning the miles today.

During my final crossing of the intracostal waterway an iguana ran across the road in front of me. He was two or three feet long. Then another one ran across. Eek.

My route took me to a non-wooden boardwalk in Hollywood Beach. I slalomed through the tourists. Eventually I was back on A1A which was now a big highway all the way to Miami Beach. It was ten miles of vehicular cycling on a two wheeled tank.

Not much fun, especially when a black BMW missed side swiping me by inches. I caught up to it at a light. The driver was texting, I yelled at her to put her phone down. She looked away, took a right on red, and nearly hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk. La di dah. Life’s a beach.

As I reached South Beach people looked like they weren’t from Indianapolis. Men dressed like women. (Martha, did you see that! Oh my!) Women dressed as men. Dudes driving Maseratis and Lamborghinis. What a change from the rural poor of South Carolina.

I made it to my hostel a block from the ocean on South Beach. Nice place. Very clean. Could use much better bike parking.

I went to dinner. The street was closed to cars and lined with restaurants. Hosts and hostesses tried to entice you to eat st their restaurant. I told one I told one of them that the scene reminded me of Melbourne, Australia.

Tacos and a beer cost more than my lodging at the HI hostel. And the hostel will give me breakfast.

I did not go to the beach, I am beached out.

So it was an 81.5 mile day. I’ve ridden 1,781.5 miles so far.

Tomorrow is on to Key Largo. The real adventure begins. The road to Key West is open but I may have to ride through in one day. 108 miles. It’s like a marathon. The first half is 20 miles. The second half is a brutal 10K.

Pedal, pedal.

No Way So Hey – Day 23

I awoke at 1 am in my cozy room at the Knights Inn of Vero Beach. I was STARVING.  So I ate the PB&J that Jackie had made me two days ago. And I drank a bike bottle of water. Then I passed out.

I awoke to daylight. What a strange sight after days of rain and clouds. I put on my WABA socks because it is WABA socks Wednesday. 

I left a little late and was furthered delayed because I couldn’t bring myself to pass up the IHOP two blocks into my 83 mile route. 

Finally on the road at 9,  I had only bicycling and manatees on my mind. The first order of business was to climb a bridge over the Indian River to the barrier island to the east. A hill and a headwind are no way to start the day.

I have had a headcold for a few days. Today the cold started to get better. I noticed that I was unusually thirsty. So I pedaled and drank while riding along the dunes. Unlike previous rides this week, I was not sandblasted. Don’t know why; don’t much care. The surf was raging once again. 

Each time I crossed an inket or stream I checked for manatees and sea turtles. I saw none. I had to content myself with egrets and pelicans.  There was some flooding on the road as well.  I dodged crabs and little lizards as they skittered across the roadway.

I left the barrier island at Fort Pierce only to return a mile later.

From time to time I left the ride to ride on the bike trail along side. 

The houses along this island were posh, some were overdone. Many new houses were being built. They were advertised as hurricane proof and their concrete framing looked like it.

The sun and my fading cold were dehydrating me so I stopped every 20 miles to drink a 32 ounce soda. Hey, they were only a buck. 

Renee, an old friend from my college days, told me to look for manatees at power plants. I rode by this nuclear plant which also maintained a sea turtle sanctuary. Alas, no cool aquatic creatures were visible. 

A dirt road into a pelican sanctuary was closed.  It looked intriguing but the flooding of been seeing for days made it a bad bet to scout out.

Once again I returned to the mainland for a short distance before returning again to the barrier islands. This time at Hobe Sound. The road was lined with banyan trees. Wow!

I left the route to follow the Google’s directions to my friend Renee’s house.  17 miles of biking in Florida’s rush hour traffic made me feel like I was in LA. It was not a lot of fun but I did happen to go by the new spring training facility of the Washington Nationals baseball team. 

Renee took my picture on approach to her house. I look much thinner than three weeks ago. Better eat more. 

So after chatting up a storm (we hadn’t seen each other in over 37 years) Renne drove me and her daughter Julia to BayBay’s for fried chicken and waffles. Can you say calorie bomb?

Before crashing for the night I made arrangements for lodging at the Hostels  International hostel in Miami Beach tomorrow and for my train ride home. 

An 83 mile day which brings me up to 1,700 miles.

No Way So Hey – Day 22

Karrie had filled th kitchen with a ludicrous amount of food and drink. I did my best then headed out for points south.

Karrie, the electro-Prius, and The Mule

Tosn and Karrie urged me to check out the alligators at a local park so that was my first stop. There were all kinds of herons and egrets flying this way and that as I wended my way around the little man made lakes. Then I saw a head in the water. A few minutes later I saw another. As I gazed at it, the back of the gator came out of the water.  I can only imagine how the Spaniards who first came here to Florida reacted. 

I next made a momentary attempt to go see the manatees on Merrit Island. It would have been a ten mile ride into a 25 mile per hour headwind. I resolved to through a Baby Ruth in the tub at the hotel tonight as a simulation.

I was already late getting underway because Karrie and I talked a blue streak over breakfast. These innkeepers like their guests to tell stories. It’s why they run an inn.

I dealt with a 25 mile per hour wind from the east northeast. It was pushing me forward and sideways. I rolled down the West Bank of the Indian River along what is rather sadly called the Space Coast, Judt a few miles to the east history was made at Cape Canaveral. I wanted to go check it out but that headwind would have killed me. And I know it would have looked like Chernobyl. I did get a glimpse of a large, tall building that I guess was the Apollo assembly building.

Suffice it to say the Space Coast is hurting these days. 

US 1 had either a wide bike lane on its shoulder or a bike path along side it. Traffic was not so bad. 

After 35 miles I stopped near Rockledge to recharge with fast food. The unlimited refills of drinks were the essential part of the meal. 

Then I climbed a bridge over the Indian River to the barrier island opposite Melbourne. The headwind was intense. I put my head down, shifted into my granny gear, and hoped a gust wouldn’t blow me sideways into the jersey barrier or over it into the river below. Even the downslope was hard! It reminded me of riding across the 14th Street Brifhr during storms. Don’t stop because you’ll never be able to start again.

Now I fast a crosswind with seawater and sand in it for nearly 30 miles. The rain stopped then it started. Then it stopped. I wore a floppy hat under my helmet. The left side of the floppy brim was pinned against my face by the helmet straps. This way I could keep sand out of my left eye. It worked perfectly but must have looked deranged. 

Typical side path. Designed for use by seniors in golf carts.
Posh mansion on the ocean with howling winds.

There’s a dirt road through a pelican refuge near Wabasso Beach. It was closed due to flooding.

My maps told me there were no hotels n the islands so I rode back over the river to US 1. 

Drivers were now noticeably less tolerant of my slow moving mule. And for the last five miles into Vero Beach there was neither a shoulder nor a side path. Mirrors are the best!

I pulled into the Knights Inn just before the skies opened up. My room is only slightly bigger than a tent but it’s fine by me. 

I had dinner at Ay! Jalisco II, a Mexican place down the street. The food was excellent. Just what my aching body wanted. Crosswinds will wear your sorry ass out!

So I covered 89 miles which means I’m 1,617 miles into the trip and only 70 – 80 miles from Renne’s house in West Palm Beach. I got this. 

Tomorrow night I make arrangements for lodging in Miami Beach and book my train ticket home. 

After riding to Key West, taking a ferry to Fort Myers on the west coast of Florida and riding across the state back to Fort Lauderdale.

No Way So Hey – Day 21

Although I am on a solo bike tour, I am constantly reminded that I am not alone. I am constantly helped by trail angels, people who help bike tourists, often for no compensation. I heard of June Curry of Alton Virginia who gave cold water and cookies to bike tourists slogging up Afton Mountain in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. She did this for decades until the calendar took her from the mountain. 

I was helped last night and this morning by Jackie and Ed, aunt and uncle of my college friend Wendy. I arrived at their home in a monsoon soaked to the bone. The fed me, watered (and beered and wined me) and cleaned my clothes. All the time the storm raged outside. I’ve been to Thailand in monsoon season. Florida has Siam beat by billions of gallons.

Ed and Jackie, Awesome Trail Angels

I left their home stuffed with a delicious breakfast and carrying food for the road. Miraculously it was not raining. I took bike trails back to the Florida Atlantic Coast and met a constant gale from the ocean. 

The Lehigh Trail near Flagler Beach

For ten miles I was sandblasted until I traded sand in my eye and the view of raging surf for a sheltered parallel route.  Along the seat I spotted an Indian burial mound. (I’m no anthropologist; there was a roadside sign.)

I have been fighting a cold for three days. It left my throats and moved to my belly. I stopped for early lunch exhausted after only 30 miles. I ate and drank a vanilla shake to no effect. Riding away I came to realize that both my front and back brake pads were dragging on my wheel rims. 

I freed them with my hands. When I reapplied the brakes they wouldn’t work. I stopped using my best Fred Flinstone food dragging. 

I rode through Daytona Beach, a place filled will sunburnt scraggy street people. So depressing. 

Down the road in New Smyrna Beach I found a bike shop, Fox Firestone Bicycles ( The mechanic was at lunch so Debbie sent me to her co-owner and husband, Andy at the ATV and Moyorcycle shop next door. Andy pronounced my front cable dead. I went back to the shop and left my bike to get a cold sports drink at the gas station across the street. 

Debbie and I spent some time talking to George, a septuagenarian bicyclist who was hit by a car going 50 miles per hour 17 years ago. He looked younger than me. Wow. 

While we chatted I fixed the rear brake. The same problem happened during my 2005 bike tour from D.C. to Indiana. I didn’t have the tools or competence to fix the front cable.

Harrison, the mechanic arrived and replaced the cable in five minutes. The old one was rusted along 80 percent of its length. He also tweaked my repair to the rear cable. When I left my brakes worked better than when God tour started. Fox Firestone dropped everything to help out a stranger on a bike tour. Trail angels. 

Harrison fixing The Mule

While all this was going on Debbie researched places to stay. 30 miles south she found The Wayward Travellers Inn (

Fox Firestone Bicycles people are trail angels.

I headed south passing up an opportunity to see manatees near Cape Canaveral because the 8 1/2 mile access road banned bikes and a bridge was shown as out on The Google. 

 So I rode to Mims Fla and called the Inn. It’s a beautifully renovated old home. It only has two guest rooms but they are well appointed with antiques and large inviting beds. The owners, Roan and Karrie, are totally cool folks from Utah who chatted my ear off upon arrival. 

Roan gave me a ride in their electric Prius to and from a nearby restaurant where I stuffed myself with food and beer. 

After the Inn-provided breakfast, I will hit the road in search of gators and, perhaps, manatees. 

Another 79 mile day despite the travails and delays. The tour is now 1,528 miles long.

No Way So Hey – Day 20

I’m sitting in the living room of Ed and Jackie, my friend Wendy’s uncle and aunt. It is raining impossibly hard outside. So I’m pretty fortunate and grateful for both the hospitality and the shelter.

It stopped raining at 9 pm last night. I checked out local eating establishments that the Google showed me. The sports bar next door was filled with cigarette smoke and very noisy. Do I went to a Denny’s which was mediocre even by Denny’s standards. It was food and I was famished. On the way back to the hotel I bought desert: a bag of Doritos and a pint of Labatt Blue.

It didn’t do much to help my sore throat. My mood laid waste by the dismal day of riding in the rain, however, was much improved.

After a hohum HoJo motel breakfast I took off in the rain. I made it to the Castillo de San Marcos, the ancient Spanish fort that guarded St. Augustine from enemies. The Spanish built it, the French tried to attach it, the English took it over. When the English lost the Revolutionary War, it was returned to the Spanish. Then the US bought Florida (and the Castillo) for $5 million. Lots of history. 

I toured the Fort, a National Monument, for free on my lifetime National Park pass. I felt like I was back in Helsingnor, Denmark.  After about 30 minutes I rode off and took a tour of old St Augustine. A few blocks of very stylish old buildings are intermixed with more modern buildings built to fit in. 

After my history fix I rode south on Route A1A. I came to St. Augustine lighthouse. For $12.50 you can climb to the top and get a panoramic view of clouds and rain. I decided to take a pass. This was supposed to be a rest day after all.

​For an hour or do the rain stopped as I made my way along the coast. The wind changed directions from time to time. It was howling and the ocean was raging. Siding, shingles, and other building parts had blown off the buildings, many under repair from hurricane Irma. When I went past unprotected dunes, I was blasted by sand. Ouch.

And the rain brought flooding. Roadside drainage channels were overwhelmed but the road was, for the most part, clear. Today’s addition to roadkill was snakes and frogs. Eew.

I turned east to go to Ed and Jackie’s place. The rain kept people inside do I didn’t get a true appreciation for legendarily nasty Florida road riding.

About 1 1/2 miles from my destination the monsoon hit again. I couldn’t see any road signs. Not fun. In ten minutes I pulled into my hosts’ home. It had all but stopped raining.

As I wrote this, another wave of intense rain came through. The house is surrounded my a narrow moat. Unreal!

Another 35.5 miles in the books. 1449 down, about 480 to go.