Key West to Marathon

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We’re feeling the love. Our first day riding to Alaska, our first miles from the tropical paradise of Key West, and the love is all around us—I can feel the vibrations running up my legs and into my chest. So thank you. To whoever might be reading this today or in the future, thank you. We are really doing it. One revolution at a time. We decided to move the everyday route journal away from Keys to Freeze. I’m going to be posting consistently as internet and energy to my website and curating the best work to appear at more reasonable intervals.

I woke at six to sprinklers drenching Rachel’s belongings in fine mists of reclaimed Florida rainwater. What a bummer for her. Megan and George, who had been sleeping outside in the carport, thought that the sussuring of the sprinklers was a heavy mist. Funny funny.

It took an inordinate amount of time to pack. Two full hours. There’s a bunch of moving parts that have to pull together in order to wake up, pack up, load all of my shit onto my bike, clean the host, put on my clothes, wipe cycling cream all over my taint and testicles, and attempt to take a poop after eating pounds of meat the night before.

We gave Jimmy and Lance a goodbye card and two bottles of moonshine as our thank you for putting us up for the past three nights. I state here that I cannot imagine a more relaxing, perfect beginning to our 9,000 mile journey north. The hospitality that Jimmy and Lance showed us was amazing. I can only hope that we’re able to mirror their generosity on those we meet on the road.

The clock bonged eight. We all took celebratory shots of the apple cinnamon moonshine. It tasted like cider. 140 proof apple cider.

Then we were off.

The southernmost point of America is a large cement buoy on the corner of South St. It looks like a big black tooth. There are bands of yellow and red and some text that reads ‘Southernmost Point of America.’ Or something like that. Brady’s filming a documentary and this is a milestone moment for Keys to Freeze. We take pictures, we do videos, we hobnob with tourists … some grandma wearing a scandalous bikini ponders a shot Brady is taking from a grapefruit colored ledge.

That whole to-do takes an hour. I’m worried my patience might wear thin with this whole filming thing that we’re supposed to be doing. I like the camera, don’t like all the setup and taking down. I imagine Brady will say the same thing if asked.

Leaving Key West is easy. There’s only one road out, and it’s a highway. We crush a bike lane, cruising along a wondrous ten feet from the roaring traffic. Vroom! Vroom vroom! We ride in a pack of six, happy to be together on a mission that we all believe in. Yay. Brady and I have a long talk about visualizing dreams and executing them. Yay again.

Womp womp. Keys to Freeze Dick of the Day – a motorcyclist at a highway crosswalk. Let’s call him, Bandy. Bandy is upset with us as we wait to see if he’s fulfilling his legal duties as vehicle driver and stopping for the pedestrians attempting to navigate across the busy road. He stops, flips up his visor, and screams ‘Either you go or, don’t fucking go!’ Wise words. I always wonder about people who flip out over the littlest inconveniences. Maybe he just doesn’t like cyclists. Maybe we’re actually upsetting Bandy. Poor Bandy.

Lunch is outside of Winn Dixie. Collectively we eat a summerhouse sausage and a pound of cheese. Better get used to it I suppose.

There’s a big accident on the Seven Mile Bridge. A fatality, and we don’t know the details. All there is to do is sit ourselves down at the foot of the bridge in the sand and surf and wait. Traffic is backed up for miles and miles. We talk about camping there for the night. If that’s what the road wants us to do then we will, sandflies be damned. I consider this phrase – the mercy of the road – and realize that there will come a number of days when we are helpless to its throes. Whatever we have planned can crumble and blow away with as much as a breath. A lessen better learned now than later.

I also tell myself that biking is dangerous.

When traffic begins rolling northbound again we go with it, beginning an intense thirty minutes. A juggling act of focusing on the road – the traffic, the shoulder and the shit of a thousand cars littering our shoulder – and the beauty of the blue around us. I sweat and stand on my bike, pumping my legs. Tyler laughs. I yell back what’s so funny, and he tells me that he can see my butt.

My bike bibs have tremendous shear. There is nothing left to the imagination. I might as well be going bare-assed for the upper keys.

When we arrive in Marathon there’s the troublesome recognition that we have nowhere to sleep. A parks & rec worker tells us that cops take great glee in ticketing trespassers. So we go looking. Churches, RV Parks, campgrounds, fire stations … no dice. We end up camping behind the Disabled American Veterans chapter 122 that night. And so our adventure continued … but that might be another story for another night.

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