Distance: 55.3 miles
Duration: 4 hrs 44 mins
Average speed: 11.7 mph
I started the day by being startled awake by Fred’s pounding on the door at 6AM. There he was, in my doorway, with his (Kathy’s) bike in hand, telling me about how he found his tire flat this morning. Gradually my wits began to assemble into a useful pattern, and we quickly got the flat repaired. Fred went back to his room to finish getting ready and I did the same. We were on the road by 7:15, headed for Seven Mile Bridge, a mile or so south. In spite of overnight thunderstorms, the sky was clear.
Even before we got to the bridge, it was obvious that we were not going to enjoy the relatively still early morning air of the previous day. In fact, with the exception of maybe 15 minutes, we rode into a stiff head or side wind, which is why our average speed was so low today. In addition, I was being particularly gentle with my rear wheel in hopes of avoiding yet another broken spoke. There were no rapid accelerations or exaggerated rocking of the bike when I stood to give my rear end a break. Whether for this reason or just plain luck, the wheel held up and there were no additional incidents today, thank heaven.
Both of us got to see our first Key Deer! There were two of the little guys standing in the open just as we crossed onto the island set aside for their preservation.
When we finally reached our hotel, some 17 miles north of Key West, we checked in so that we would be able to leave our baggage behind while we completed the ride to our destination. Riding into the wind was hard enough without the extra weight and wind resistance of the panniers, though, to tell the truth, neither of us felt a huge difference without them.
When we got into Key West we stopped for a photo...
… then we headed toward the airport, which is where we thought the car rental company was. Turns out they are on the other side of the island, so we continued down US1 to get a photo at mile marker zero:
That done, I programmed the address of the car rental place into the GPS and off we went. For once, it took us exactly where we wanted to go, without any extra side trips. As we made our way through downtown, neither of us saw anything that we particularly wanted to check out later. Even in the summer heat, the downtown streets were packed with over- and under- dressed tourists. We loaded the bikes in the rental car and headed back to our hotel on Sugarloaf Key.
Fred owns a lot on Sugarloaf key, on which he may or may not ever build a house. He has therefore visited the Key several times, stayed at our current hotel, and eaten at a nearby restaurant called Mangrove Mama’s. After cleaning up and changing into civilian clothes, we headed to the latter for lunch. Fred had a fried grouper sandwich, that he declared to be “the best sandwich I have ever eaten.” I had a salad topped with perfectly seared slabs of yellowfin tuna, which might just have been “the best salad I have ever eaten.” It was really, really good.
So, the Tour de Seth, aka the Pirate Tour, comes to a conclusion. It met all my expectations, including lots of laughter and my hope to have just enough adventure/adversity to make it unique and memorable without anyone getting hurt. (I do have some mysterious scratches on the outside of my right leg that Fred believes will result in some righteous scars, but I am guessing there will be no trace of them in a few months.)
We rode 590.5 miles and spent 41.92 hours in the saddle over the course of nine days. Including last year’s Tour de Fred, we have now covered approximately 1,800 miles of our goal to ride from one side of the US to the other (and then some). Our current plan is to continue next year with the Mountain Goat Tour of the Rockies, riding half of the 1,600 miles between Colorado Springs and San Francisco. We’ll finish that section in 2011, then do the final, middle section (Colorado Springs to Little Rock) in 2012. The whole thing will be something like 4,600 miles when we are done.
I had a vivid fantasy as we started across the bridge into Key West this afternoon: It is 2012 and Fred and I wheel up to the Comfort Inn at the airport in Little Rock. We enter the lobby and find Cathy, the wonderful clerk who helped us get this thing started by bending the rules to accept our shipped bikes, standing at the desk to welcome us at the end of the long road. Stranger things have happened.
Fred Says: I was imagining ahead of time, back in Colorado, all the wonderful bridges we’d cross and all the clear water. Surprise! 7 mile bridge was a bear! The water was white capped and often murky. But at many points, the water was wonderfully clear, and I saw another bigger shark cruising the shallows. It was at least 5 or 6 ft long. Seemed to be another bull shark. I’ve been to Key West a bunch, even recently, and it’s lost its soul. Just crazy crowded touristas, me included, so I had no desire to stay and go to Jimmy Buffet’s bar. Even Jimmy Buffet in his prime, way back when, would NEVER have gone to a bar like that. There are no dives left. At $2 million a commercial building, who can afford a dive? I did get to visit my property with 200 ft of water on the corner of two canals. It’s a real jungle with Australian pines and Jamaican poison pepper trees. I did get jabbed, cut, and bit, but it’s a pirate’s tour …. arrghhh. But all the anticipation, planning, preparing, training, and riding is now over. It was great, tough, and manly (personly?). It was a great adventure. And probably the best thing is, it continues. We’re already talking about next year and the Colorado mountains.