Day 10 2/21/05 89 miles
US 1 is a 3-lane highway here with absolutely no shoulders. We are talking probably 40 miles today, I rode with no shoulder on the side of the road. I was so stressed. I just wanted to get out of this crappy Miami - Dade County. I thought the further south I got, the more relaxed people would become, but Miamians were just anal about stupid stuff. They were honking and yelling at each other, sort of NY scene. I even got yelled at today in Coral Gables.
A couple in a ragged truck started yelling at me. This is after we had been in traffic for over 30 minutes or so. We were just stopping, starting, and stopping.
RW- redneck woman
RM- redneck man
B - billy
RW: "Why don't you go ride in the bike path over there?"
So I turn my bike perpendicular to the truck so they can't move forward as the traffic had picked up again. The lady was on the passenger side and I told her:
B: "I am considered a vehicle"
RM: "You have no right to be riding on this highway!"
B: (speaking to RW) "I have as much right as any vehicle out here,...you just don't give me the space and that right."
RW: "I know, but we want you to be safe...and it's better to ride on the bike path!"
RM: "Dickhead, This is a Highway, US 1, you can't ride a bike on a highway!"
They are both just yelling at me and the guy is honking, the lady is trying to hold him in the car.
B: "Sir, what you are referring to is an Interstate, not a Highway."
RM: "Shut Up!, Dickhead!"
B: "Why am I a Dickhead, sir?"
He keeps honking and they want me to move, so I pull my bike back to let them pass. There is just a row of cars in our lane backed up for miles. As they are pulling off, they continue to yell at me...
He attempts to spit on me, but he stepped on the gas, instead of the brake...and I think he may have spit on his wife.
The whole time during the conversation, I was staring at the lady's wrist. Guess what's on it? This world is amazing.
I rode for another 5 or 10 miles, and had had enough of this city nonsense. I happened to see a strip mall with a Marble Slab creamery and a CVS, not only that, there was a Quiznos. I ate, ate again, and sun tan lotion.
At the mall a hobo asked if I could spare a $1.
As I was walking away
H: "What kind of backpack do you have?"
b: "Why do you want to know?"
"Do you like it?"
"What kind of backpack do you have?"
H: "Eyes" (or something similar to that spelling/pronunciation)
b: "How do you spell it?"
H: "I can't spell or read"
b: "I've never heard of that"
H: "It's the best kind."
b: "What, I know a lot about backpacks, and it's the best kind they make?"
H: "Yeah, I hiked the A.T. with it"
b: "Have you, which part?"
H: "All over."
b: "Which part?"
H: "I was in a correction facility when I was 17"
He finally explained that the correction facility was out of Maryland and they took the kids to North Carolina. They had to build shelters, fires, etc. He thought the A.T. started in N.C.
He had a bike as well as camping gear. He was just sitting on the ground in front of the CVS, smoking.
b: "Why do you have two tents?"
One was a storage bag, he also carried a plastic 10x10 walmart tarp.
b: "You don't need all those tents, you know?"
H: "This is all I have."
b: "Well you don't need much, do you?"
H: "Well, I like to collect junk"
I kept asking him where he has been. He stated all over the country.
b: "Riding your bike?"
H: "No, I just got that for the Keys."
b: "Where have you been too?"
H: "All over the country"
It was amazing,
H: "It was nice meeting you."
Can you believe that I talked more than someone else?
b: "See you, don't bother any one"
H: "I never have."
There was a road running parallel to US 1. The road is only 30 or so feet from US 1. It was a bus lane, it was a 2 lane road, kind of caged in, strictly for buses in it. I thought I could ride that for a while, just to relax after lunch. Come to find out, South Miami - Dade not only has a separate bus lane, but they also have a bike path running next to it. This is a different bike path than the one the rednecks were referring. Their bike path winds and curves in ridiculous directions, and not somewhere where I could ride at 20 + mph.
The problem with the South Dade Bike Trail, you had to stop at the same intersections as the cars did. So instead of a 4 light intersection, there were 6 lights. 4 for the cars running N, S, E, W, one for the Bus and Bike path, and another set of lights so cars would not cross the bus/bike path as they were running N & S. The problem was the Bus path was only 20 or so feet from the road. So cars running south would turn right at their light, then within 15 feet would have to stop to not run into the Bus/Bike path. And at the beginning, there were intersections every couple tenths of a mile. So to wait your turn would be 4 or 5 mins every couple tenths of a mile.
People really didn't recognize that running E & W there would be 2 intersections within 15 feet of each other, they rarely looked up. A cop was using the Bus path and almost got hit going thru his green light. So he pulled the guy over, but this happened constantly. I probably stopped and started and cheated death for 20 or so miles til the Bus/Bike path ran out, and finally a shoulder existed on US 1.
Homestead is the last major town before you enter the Keys. I was thru Homestead around 4.20 and thought I had plenty of time to make it into the Keys. I have been asking people constantly what they know about the Keys; and was getting mixed messages. Some people saying it was desolate until Key Largo. I stopped and asked a gas attendant...
"There's motel and food all thru the Keys...You won't have a problem."
So I pushed on thru Homestead. US 1 becomes a 2 lane highway with a 55 mph speed limit. People are known to die here when attempting to pass. There is a sign reporting only 2 deaths this year...drive safely. There is a shoulder, but it's probably only 3.5 feet wide. The traffic was constant. Tractor trailers, RVs, flying cars. It was 20 miles to Key Largo, and only woods covered the highway, no commercialism in site.
I made it 2 miles in the Keys and stopped. My brain was going nuts. In the shoulder of the road were 4 horizontal light reflectors spaced within 3.5 feet of the shoulder. This was every 30 feet or so and the reflectors were not evenly spaced all the time. So I was dodging reflectors, swerving in and out, as traffic flys by.
I had given up after 2 miles and contemplating whether or not to turn around and go back to Homestead, to try tomorrow with possibly less traffic. After 15 minutes or so of contemplating, a guy in a car pulls up. And I ask him when would be the best time to ride this road to Key Largo. He basically convinced me that it doesn't get better than this.
Well, I pushed on and actually made it to Key Largo before dark. I was able to pick up my speed as I continued.
I'm staying at Kelly's Motel & Dive Resort ($88). I'm writing this as I sit and stare at the water of the Keys. There are sailboats parked, and it makes me think of my ultimate adventure.