Sharing the experience…

Below is a brief overview provided to me by Sylvain Hout, about a trip down the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and US 1, that he and his companions completed in April 2011.  I met them in Key West at Mallory Square on April 19th and am proud to share their experience with you.  Enjoy, I know I did.
 
We (Danielle & Sylvain and Lucie & Pierre) flew from Montreal to Miami on April 15, 2011 with our pulled apart tandems.  The next day, we put them back together and as a warm up, rode for about 30 miles to downtown Miami.
 
We left the Holiday Inn in Coral Gables the morning of April 17.  Followed Old Cutler Rd, S Dixie Hwy, Old Card Sound and arrived at Alabama Jack’s at 3:30pm.  We took a little water break before continuing on the 905 thru the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge (sorry, no gators).  We hit a bit of light rain that day, just enough to cool us down.  By the time we arrived at the Holiday Inn in Key Largo, we had completed a 64 mile ride. 
 
April 18, we headed down to Marathon (46 miles).  Crossed a few bridges.  One of them, the Dande B. Fascell bridge, was 2.5 miles. Stopped at the Wahoos Bar and Grill for lunch (you’ve got to try the tuna) and paid a little visit to the monument dedicated to the 1935 hurricane.  Roads were very good.  Lots of bike paths, some newer than other.  Stayed at another Holiday Inn and went to the Island Fish Co. for dinner.
 
Final destination, Marathon – Key West, April 19.  Had an excellent breakfast and by 8:45 am were out riding.  We carried lots of water and what should have happened, happened.  Our (Danielle & Sylvain) rear rack broke.  Ended going to the Aargh Maintenance and Service Golf Cart in Marathon.  The employee (a man in his 50s) kindly helped us fix the bracket.  Crossed more bridges; the 7-mile bridge being by far the longest one.  Interesting point is to find yourself riding with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. We rode 57 miles that day.
 
We booked our last stay at the Grand Guest House for two nights where we were greeted by Derek, the Property Manager, who described us with fervour his town, what to do and where to go.  We had dinners at Nine One Five (watch out for James Matthew Chapman and his amazing musical bike) and at the Flaming Buoy Filet Co.  Got our pictures taken at the Southernmost Point and at Mile Marker Zero.  Rode by the Harry S. Truman Little White House, Art Museum and the Shipwreck Treasures Museum as well as enjoying the Sunset Celebration.
 
 
We had a wonderful time.  The weather was just super. Hotels were accommodating and met wonderful people.  We were also lucky to meet Clinton Curry, an avid cyclist, promoting his favorite sport (cycling) with passion in the Keys.  We were looking for Key West cycling jerseys.  Clinton being Clinton, contacted his friend Patrick at “Fixed Gears” and first thing you knew, got jerseys for us. That was cool.
 
We would not hesitate to do this trip again and we encouraged anyone interested in doing the Keys to do it.  Especially if you do not like hilly roads.  There are none in the Keys. 
 
Sylvain Huot
Ottawa, Canada
 
Thank you for sharing the experience of cycling in the Florida Keys.  I hope that future cyclists here will be compelled to do the same.
 
Clinton Curry 
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Vacation ~ Cycling the Florida Keys

Several weeks ago I met Ken Poindexter and Wendy Broughman in Mallory Square while they posed for a picture in front of the “Mary” (replica 1850’s wrecking vessel).  What caught my attention was their recumbent bikes.  We started talking about some of the differences between the recumbent and traditional bikes.  This conversation was most interesting to me as I have considered riding a recumbent myself and do hope to add one to my collection in the future. 

Ken and Wendy in Mallory Square.

As our conversation continued they told me they were visiting from North Carolina for 9 days and had been cycling the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and All American Road!  Everyday they rode between 40 and 50 mile sections enjoying scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.  Only in the Florida Keys can you see both bodies of water at the same time.  We are so very lucky!  One of the highlights of their trip was the 7 Mile Bridge.  They even rode it twice.  Ken and Wendy used the trail as much as possible and particularly enjoyed riding on the old bridges.  The bridges, of course are the original ones built for Henry Flager’s Overseas Railroad in the early 19oo’s. 

It was a  pleasure to meet Ken and Wendy.  I am glad they enjoyed themselves and who knows, maybe next time I’ll be able to join them on their next cycling trip in the Conch Republic.

Saddle Bunch Ride

On Saturday, March 6 2010, staff of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and GLEE sponsored a ride of the Saddle Bunch Keys trail section. 
 

Saddle Bunch Keys

 
ChillWill, manager at Fixed Gears of Key West, inspected all bikes before the group headed out onto the trail.  Before the ride began though I had a years worth of bike issues!  I broke the stem on my rear wheel while inflating the tube, broke a lever while removing the tire and lost the nut to secure the wheel after replacing the tube.  After about ten minutes of searching, ChillWill found the nut while walking barefoot on the grass.  We figured go barefoot so that if we stepped on something metal, it may be my wheel nut.  A huge THANK YOU to ChillWill.
 
 
After a quick introduction from Trail Specialist, Monica Woll we headed out.  While the sun was out, the temperature was still in the 60’s with a North wind around 20mph.  What a cold winter this year in the Florida Keys.

Trail Specialist Monica Woll on the right

I ride the Saddle Bunch section of the trail regularly from Key West.  Sometimes as quality time with my family and other times with my Sunday morning road cyclist group.  No matter which group, it always includes a stop at Baby’s Coffee.  Love the coffee and the homemade breads.
 
While riding the trail, we picked up garbage, discussed trail events, did some nature watching and checked out one of the kayak put in points along the trail.  Once the temperature gets back in the 80’s it will be kayak time!  I did spot this Little Blue Heron wading in the shallows, searching for fish and crustaceans.  Little Blue Herons are one of my favorite birds in the region.

Little Blue Heron

 
 

One of the Saddle Bunch bridges

I am sure all of the participants enjoyed the day and I believe I speak for most when I say, we look forward to the next event!

 

 

 

 

Lower Florida Keys Shuttle Service

The Key West Department of Transportation  has solved  a problem that has perplexed their customers along the Lower Keys Shuttle Route (Key West, Fl to Marathon, Fl).  Effective immediately, folding portable bicycles WILL be allowed on the shuttle.  These compact bikes can be folded and carried alongside  a rider without taking up precious space on the sometimes busy shuttle.

                                                                                                           

That means anyone relying on a bike to get around after riding into town on the shuttle will be able to bring their alternative transportation on board. Especially appreciated during alternative transporatation month in the Florida Keys.  In the past, riders have vied for the two spots available on the racks in front of the bus.  Due to the inability to accomodate more than two bikes it was decided that no bikes were to be allowed on the shuttle.  This new solution means that anyone willing to share their leg space with their folding bike will be able to bring it along. 

Now that this current option has been made available for shuttle riders, make sure to shop around town at the local bike shops, as well as West Marine .  These foldable bikes are very popular with boaters and they have some in the window.   I know I have seen tons of them around town and have even considered purchasing one myself.  Hopefully, it won’t to be long before another system is available that allows full size bikes on the shuttles. 

As an update to this post, I found this really cool foldable bike at the Birkenstock of Key West store on Duval Street.  Not sure of the price, sure it is quite easy to transport though.

STRIDA foldable bike at Birkenstock of Key West

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

DEP TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING REGARDING THE

FLORIDA KEYS OVERSEAS HERITAGE TRAIL

Attendees will be updated on the developing trail

SUGARLOAF KEY– The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Greenways & Trails (OGT) will host a public meeting on Thursday, February 18, 2010 to share information regarding the development of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) and area historic bridges that are also managed by OGT. Topics to be discussed during the public meeting will include general operations, construction projects, volunteer opportunities, public outreach, recreational activities and the recent federal “All-American Road” designation for neighboring U. S. Highway 1 and corridor.

The FKOHT is a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian facility currently under design and construction by OGT. When completed, the trail will provide a scenic corridor extending from Key Largo to Key West that will serve not only as a highway, but as a recreational greenway for hiking, running, bicycling, in-line skating, sightseeing, fishing and kayaking.

For more information, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt

The public meeting will take place:

  6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sugarloaf School – Cafeteria
255 Crane Boulevard
Sugarloaf Key, FL

 CONTACT: Cristina Lindley, (305) 293-7658 or (305) 853-3571        

Marguerite Jordan, (850) 245-2112 or (850) 528-8206 (cell) 

Cross Country from LA to Key West, Fl.

Last week on Tuesday, December 1, I met Matthew Warrick on one of the bike paths in Key West, Fl.  He had just finished a two month cycling adventure covering over 3600 miles!  Matthew was one of Three Riders, biking coast to coast to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  See the following link for donation information.  Matthew had only been in town for several hours when we began talking about the trip.  Some details are as follows.  Matthew and his fellow riders rode six days a week, averaging 15mph, while encountering twenty or so different cyclists on their own journeys. 

Matthew Warrick with bike and Clinton Curry in Key West, Fl.

The bike that Matthew rode weighed in at fifty pounds when you add the gear carried in the panniers.  As you can tell from the picture, Matthew packed as few bags as possible.  When asked if he would do the ride again, Matthew replied “yes, especially on a trip overseas”.

On a side note, Matthew was the first person I have interviewed since starting this site.  I am looking forward to meeting many more cyclists who make their down the only “All American Road” in Florida, the 106.5 miles of US 1 in the Florida Keys.  Until next time, ride safe.

 

Florida Keys Scenic Highway

A celebration is in order, as the section of US 1 in the Florida Keys has been selected a scenic highway– the first and only such designation in the State of Florida.  I cannot tell you how many times I have driven this beautiful stretch of road, though I will tell you that I have enjoyed the drive everytime.  Imagine if you would- a 106.5 mile section of  US 1 traversing 42 bridges; the longest of which is 7 miles, the shortest is the Harris Gap at only 37 feet.  On one side of the road the Atlantic Ocean, on the other, the Gulf of Mexico.  Surrounded by wildlife and breath-taking views, travel on this highway is certainly an experience a visitor to the Florida Keys should not miss! 

I have cycled the entire distance once, last year as a participant in the SMARTRIDE.  A 165 mile bike ride from Miami, Fl. to Key West, Fl., which generates both awareness and money for multiple AIDS Awareness programs in South Florida.  For those who may be interested, the SMARTRIDE is coming up in January 2010 and participants are still able to signup. 

For more details about the Florida Keys Scenic Highway go to http://www.scenichighwayflkeys.com/.  Til next time, ride safe and drink lots of water!