Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lessons from a Bike Ride through the Florida Keys

The bike ride through the Florida keys is complete and it was so much more than I ever expected. Here are a couple of suggestions to remember if you want to do something similar and for me to remind myself when I do this again in the future (because I certainly want to!):
  1. there is a public bus system available from Florida City to Marathon Key (Miami Dade Transit/Monroe Express) and there is another shuttle available from Marathon Key to Key West (Lower Keys Shuttle). So if you need a bus ride for a portion or to retrieve a car on the return, this option is great. It would certainly have been cheaper than renting a car as we did.
  2. Marathon Key and Islamorada have a lot to offer as towns. In between roughing it at the state parks, sweating it out on the bike, and swatting mosquitoes, take some time to enjoy the tiki bars, local artisans, and museums along the route as well. It's a real taste of the Keys. Plus, after all that riding and sweating, you deserve a frosty beer...and it tastes so much sweeter!
Here's a map of the things I saw along the way...amazing! Great stops!

View Florida Keys Bike in a larger map

And here are a few things I learned along the way:
  1. If you look like a hobo, no one will bother you.
  2. Places that look really interesting from a car at 55mph may or may not look as good at 10mph
  3. When the condition of the bike lane begins to rattle the bolts off your bike, give up and ride on the road.
  4. Release your inner child. The excitement, the curiosity, the wonder.
  5. Bandannas double as towels in a pinch (again, hobos really know what they're doing)
  6. I could be like MacGyver given unlimited time. Necessity really does breed creativity.
  7. Chain your bike up everywhere! The 10 pound Mr. T chain scares most people away and it adds to the hobo look.
  8. Marathon Key marks the beginning of the international island time zone. Time to start hitting the tiki bars. Enjoy!
  9. It's nice to have a weight and space restriction, it keeps you from buying random island art and coconuts carved into monkey faces.
  10. Saying goodbye is hard, but leaving is not the end. You can see friends and family even from afar if you try. Only death is final, not goodbye. Miss the ones who have passed, visit the rest.
  11. Things will go wrong on an adventure. They're supposed to, otherwise it wouldn't be an adventure. Relax.
And remember, when you're leaving Key West and driving, slightly hungover, north through the Florida Keys, stop at Baby's Coffee for a little boost. You won't regret it.

1 comment:

Mylinda L. said...

I have so much enjoyed reading about your adventure in the Keys. I'm currently writing a book based in the keys. I've been there 3 times myself, but never seen them through the eyes of someone on a bike. I'm a biker too and loved reading your description of that wacky and casual place lending its very essence of unique and quirky attributes. You are a great writer and I wish you luck in your adventures. I wish when I was younger I could have had the means and guts to do what you have done to see the world. Thanks!