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.