Day Three

Yesterday’s ride took Ken, James and me 117 miles from downtown Miami to the southern tip of Hutchinson Island in Stuart, Florida. For the most part, we were on Route A1A, the north/south residential road that leads through the barrier islands that line South Florida’s eastern coast and that parallels the more commercial, mainland-based Route One. Before I describe the ride, a few comments about Route One:

As shown below, Day One’s ride began at the Route One Mile Zero marker on Key West.

If we had so chosen, virtually the entire journey to Portland, Maine could have been on that road; I could’ve told an observer at the start that we were just going to go up the road a piece (meaning: about 2,000 miles), then a couple of blocks to the right.

We aren’t slavishly following Route One, though. In many places, it’s too busy for cycling safety and too commercial to be beautiful. What’s more, it doesn’t lead to Tom and Sera’s house on Key Largo or to Jacques’ house, where we are now, on Hutchinson Island, to Savannah, which I’m looking forward to seeing for the first time or to my friend Elizabeth’s home in Charleston.

In short, we are often taking different roads for safety, beauty, interest and friendships. Even so, Route One could be described as this adventure’s truest path, the road that we’ll see at least occasionally, and sometimes travel on for considerable distances, all the way to Maine. To me, there’s something slightly comforting about that; for one thing, Route One’s innumerable service establishments mean that if we’re on or near it, revivifying snacks and drinks are sure to be nearby. For another, its historic status and continuity of broadly commercial character speak to an underlying unity all along the otherwise culturally diverse way.

Yesterday, the road we mostly followed had none of Route One’s commercial character. A1A between Miami and Stuart passes by and through some of this land’s wealthiest and most visually appealing communities. The first new and delightful sight to me was Fort Lauderdale’s waterfront: the road was wide and safe, there were newish apartment buildings and hotels to our left, and to our right a broad promenade with lots of happy-looking people; beyond them, a strip of grass and trees, then an amazing beach; the ocean beyond could as well have been the Med, viewed from Nice.

Later, we rode by the in your face waterfront personal palaces of Palm Beach and the entrances to Mar-a-Lago and The Breakers, then past the more understated but no less elegant, immaculately gardened homes of Jupiter Island. All along the way, the Atlantic was just to our right (or under the bridges we crossed), sparkling. We arrived at my friend Jacques’ beautiful home on Hutchinson Island, cooled off, cleaned up, then were taken on a tour of the harbor in our host’s boat, concluding a daylong tour of what surely must be one of the prettiest and most prosperous 117 mile stretches in America.

Did I mention that the ride was 117 miles, and that we faced a direct headwind (though less harsh than the one we had faced on Day One)? Notwithstanding the day’s visual delights, five hours into the ride I was exhausted and getting cranky; we then stopped for a slice of pizza – in my case two slices – and a Coke. The new food in the system performed a near-instant miracle, giving me the strength to not only finish, but do so with some elan.

It was a great, exhausting day. We’re planning a shorter ride for today, and hoping for a better wind.

MH. Johnston

P.S. The day’s stats:

3 comments to Day Three

  • Anonymous  says:

    Great postings and color. Keep rolling!

  • Anonymous  says:

    Ride safe my friend. And keep the commentary coming.

  • Dennis Paine  says:

    Wonderful posts. Thank you, Mark.

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