Category 9. Fun Stuff

Day Eight

There were two surprises today, one good, one not. My former longtime business partner had an excellent rule about surprises: ‘bad news first’, so even though the unfortunate surprise happened just after we finished our ride, I’ll lead with it:

The valet at our hotel, unmindful of the height of our sag-wagon-with-a-Thule-box-on-top, drove into a too-low entryway to the hotel garage, tearing the luggage box off. Far from tragic, of course, but it will prove to be darned inconvenient if we don’t find a way to re-secure the box before we leave Savannah early Monday morning. We’ll see.

The ride gave us the happier surprise...

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Day Seven

As expected, Ken, James and I left Florida’s long string of narrow, resort-oriented barrier islands by ferry first thing this morning and quickly found ourselves in a very different, and radically more rural, world.

Our first task north of Chicopit Bay was to ride around a gigantic series of marshes and small rivers flowing toward Amelia Island and the sea beyond. Thus Ken and I found ourselves heading west at first, into a stiff wind. After a handful of miles, we turned northward and crossed a big bridge – one of many on this journey. I took a picture of Ken with the backdrop of the marshes from the top to give you some sense of their scale:

If anything, the above image gives the misimpression that the marshlands that makeup most of Florida’s northeastern tip, are smaller ...

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Day Six

What, if anything, about today’s 90 mile ride from Daytona to Mayport, Florida, just east of Jacksonville, will I remember years from now?

It’s not likely to be that with the help of another strong tailwind Ken and I rode even faster than we had yesterday, fun though that was. (Before moving on from that bit of information, though, allow me to make the observation that distance bicycle riding is as much about the preservation of energy – husbanding it, managing it carefully, saving it for later – as it is about the exertion of strength...

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Day Five

Last night at dinner, just after I had published the account of Day Four (link below) for which the email system misfired, only sending out notices to a few subscribers, Ken, James and I had a conversation that determined today’s route and set the pattern for future course decisions. The process of choosing routes and daily destinations is deceptively complex; I think we finally got it right.

As background, understand that determinative factors, like weather, exhaustion and closed roads, can and do change daily. Last night, we were weighing whether we can get to Charleston before Ken has to return to New York...

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Day Four

The following picture was taken of Jacques – an old friend and our host last night – just before we both set out on this morning’s ride. Jacques accompanied me on the bike for eight solid miles – pretty darn snappily for a guy who’s a competitive sailor, not a bike rider, before turning back toward his home. It had been great fun to spend time with him. How often do you get a chance to hang out with somebody who was your boss 35 years ago and lives far away? Not often.

At 77.6 miles, today’s ride from Stuart to just north of Melbourne, Florida, was both much shorter – 78 miles versus 117 – and much faster paced than yesterday’s. The riding was happy and unforced, the road – A1A again – straight, safe and flat...

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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 fol...

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Days One and Two

Yesterday morning Tom, Ken and I set out by bicycle from Key West at 7:00 AM, accompanied by James in the sag wagon. Our destination for the day’s ride was a home belonging to Tom and his wife Sera on Key Largo, about 114 miles ENE. The hope was that we would arrive in time for the mid afternoon massages that Sera had arranged for us.

We had walked to and from dinner on Friday night. Key West is an interesting, elegant and distinctly inelegant place. Fabulous restaurants are sandwiched between strip joints, tourist shops and dilapidated homes. Public art – not the sort paid for by some government program, but spontaneous, amateur art – decorates many buildings. Chickens roam the streets, dodging tourists on the sidewalks...

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A Brief Note

The FLA/ME ride begins in Key West on Saturday; James – the sag driver – and I are already on our way there with a van full of bikes and gear. My friend Ken, who as you may recall joined me for the last three days of the cross-country ride five years ago, will meet us in Key West, expecting to join for the first 7-10 days of this journey (and later re-join toward the end of the ride, I hope). On Saturday, we will also be accompanied by Tom, at whose home we will all stay on Saturday night. 

Since we will be staying at friends’ houses on Saturday and Monday nights (and then on occasional nights later in the adventure) I won’t have the time or energy to write blog posts on those evenings; at best, I’ll post a picture or two, and try to capture the sense of those days’ rides a day or two ...

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Anticipatory Pleasures

I have been training like a madman for the first adventure I announced in my last post – the planned bicycle ride that I have been variously calling the FLA/ME ride – since it is expected to take me from Florida’s southern tip to Portland, Maine – and the Prison Breakout Ride, since I hope it will mark the end of my – and our collective – periods of virtual confinement. 

I have become optimistic that the ride will actually happen. I am scheduled to get my second vaccination shot in a couple of days, have found a driver for the sag wagon and, perhaps most important, (after this morning’s hilly 67 miler with a good friend) I judge myself to be fit enough to attempt it. Barring any hitches James (the sag driver) and I will set out from Key West early on the morning of April 24th, p...

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New Adventures?

I am hoping to embark on another great adventure in six or seven weeks, and perhaps a very different one a month after that.

The first plan is to ride my bicycle from Key West, FLA to Portland, ME. The FLAME ride (how could I not so name it?) will only happen if I, any fellow riders and the sag wagon driver have all been vaccinated. I have an appointment for a first shot toward the end of March, so I’m somewhat optimistic on that score. Others, I don’t know about.

It almost goes without saying that because of all the restrictions on how we’ve been living our lives over the last year, this adventure should have the feeling of a prison break.

The ride would be organized much like the 39-day, 3,249-mile ride from Los Angeles, CA to Old Lyme, CT that I did in 2016...

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