#SD2KW: Wrapping Up Our San Diego to Key West Ride

Tom and I wrapped up our San Diego to Key West bike ride a little over a week ago and have some data, final thoughts, lessons learned and finally one last video we’d like to share. Thanks so much to family, friends, neighbors and followers for the prayers, comments and encouragement along the way.

Tom and Deb

For day-to-day mileage, where we stayed and songs in the videos, click here.

From Tom:

I had expectations that riding Southern Tier was going to be easy peasy after riding the Great Divide a couple of years ago.  I thought riding on asphalt and mostly flat we would average at least 70 miles per day.  Right off the bat coming out of San Diego on our first set of climbs I realized that we might be out of bike shape and touring with traffic all around us was a bit more mentally challenging watching out for drivers.  The first few weeks we also rode at higher elevation which came with cold temperatures when waking up and packing up the tent, etc.  It got lighter in the morning later and darker earlier in the evenings (5pm), which limited our hours of riding as well.

As the days moved on we started feeling good with our riding and only took one day off the entire trip because of a High Wind Advisory.  

As the days ticked off, I think I mentioned to Deb that this is my favorite touring ride compared to the rest.  Not sure why.  Probably because we ate like kings/queens. 🙂

As a whole I am very happy with our trip.  It just sounds amazing in my mind to think I rode my bike from San Diego to Key West.  What a great accomplishment with my honey!

From Deb:

Each time I come home from an extended bike tour there is less friction in the transition to home life. I think it’s because the bike tours have changed me in small ways and many of those changes have stuck with me to some extent. For example, minimizing clothing, reducing food waste, understanding I need less “things” and attempting to keep life simple. I still get edgy on wheels that go more than 12 miles per hour (like automobile travel) but that will wear off soon.

As Tom mentioned above, this ride was an unexpected toughie, not based on the miles and terrain but the cold temps and wind at the beginning. It was a particularly cold season for Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas and I don’t do cold. This was an “Escape the Cold” bike tour remember?

But it all works out! One of my favorite “mommyisms” (and I have a few) is “Life is seldom what I expect but it IS what I make it.” There were so many surprises and variables out of our control and it was a blessing to experience those and make adjustments with Tom. I have the utmost trust and confidence in him and it was a joy to experience the 3,600 mile ride together. We dug in during the tough times, expanded our comfort zones and learned we can still do some hard things. Heck I barely remember the black rats and leaky sleeping pad anymore! Problem solving together was fun. I mean… we were on vacation!

I’m going to miss the extended time for daily reflection and prayer on the bike and all of the self directed learning. I’ll miss meeting new people and learning more about them and their culture. And I’ll miss the looks on the locals’ faces when they ask, “where you ridin’?” and we reply “San Diego to Key West”. Lots of people do it but it sure does get some raised eyebrows when we answer. I can’t think of a better way to experience our great country than slowly and from a bicycle seat. I’ll even miss riding my bike from point to point every single day. It’s not the same when you just “go out for a ride”.

However, I’m so grateful to return home with Tom to our family, friends, neighbors and home and am already asking myself, “what’s next” and “for what purpose”.

May God bless you with peace, abundant joy and a thirst for learning.

Click on the image below to view our San Diego to Key West Recap Video – some of our most memorable moments (sound on for music):

#SD2KW, Day 65, Baha’i Honda to Key West, 38 miles | Finished!

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We have finished our San Diego to Key West bike ride of over 3,600 miles and are celebrating with family. Look for our final recap post in a few days. For now, just one more video of our last day. Oh what a ride it’s been!

Click on the image below to view more pics and vids:

#SD2KW, Day 64, Long Key to Baha’i Honda, 36 Miles | The Seven Mile Bridge

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We had a couple unexpected visitors last night as we slept beachfront sans tent fly under the stars. Raindrops came and went about 3am, however just a sprinkling so we just pulled the fly up.

The other visitor? Black rats. They are, according to the ranger, an invasive species that live in the marshes and are a huge nuisance. No kidding. At one point we peaked out with our headlamps and saw four scampering around on our bikes. One of Tom’s bike bags was chewed through. Finally after moving the bikes and taking almost all the bags off and hanging them, they left us alone. Whew! Black rats. Who knew? 🤷🏼‍♀️

When we awoke we walked to the beach which we had it all to ourselves and spent time watching the sea and shore birds find breakfast. Grateful to take our time, as we just had a short ride today and we had a few miles “in the bank” so to speak, we were soon on the hunt for a cup of coffee as well. Plus our family Uber was making better than expected progress.

We stopped for coffee after packing up, then split a grouper sammies for lunch. Post lunch we teed up for The Seven Mile Bridge.

We were enjoying quite the tail wind fiesta, the scenery and cruising right along about 15-16 mph (even on our mountain bike tires 🤣) on the two lane bridge that actually IS seven miles long when all of a sudden we noticed a bright red semi truck hauling a tanker trailer was approaching. In our lane. 😳

Was he really passing a Mustang on a two lane bridge at 55 miles an hour in a no passing zone? We were riding on a wide shoulder but didn’t know how far he was coming our way or how his rate of speed, the surface wind and the fact that he was approaching close in front of us instead of behind us would affect the handling of our bicycles. Or worse, did he even see us?

I held onto my handlebars as tightly as possible while Tom loudly asked him where he got his CDL. Tom also noticed the driver wasn’t looking at us and instead in his side mirror to ensure he had clearance to pass the Mustang. The truck zoomed close by as we hugged the side of bridge wall. The incident lasted less than 15 seconds but I’ll never forget it. Aside from that, Seven Mile Bridge was a piece of cake and we are looking forward to crossing it again on Monday. In a car.😊

Way back in Marathon, Texas we told ourselves we’d take a pic in Marathon, Florida in the Keys. It seemed so far off but today we passed that milestone.

From Marathon to Marathon, and more, with just 50 miles left to the Southernmost Point.

Baha’i Honda State Park was our camping destination. When we checked in, the Ranger put us in “overflow” camping (on the rocks, no shade, next to the highway and to expect “visitors”, meaning black rats AND raccoons) but it actually worked out so perfectly.

We had a beautiful view of the cove after sunset and hung out at a picnic table in the shade at the beach for almost three hours where we ate a Snack Shak dinner, popcorn and rehashed the last couple months.

When the sun finally set we hustled back to the “hill” and set up our tent.

Our family Uber (Anne, Gordon and John) came within 100 yards of passing us tonight, they on US1 and us camping on “the hill” by the highway. We were FaceTiming each other from our tent using our headlamps as a beacon in hopes they would see us and honk. Not sure if we connected but we loved the thought. We cannot WAIT to see them tomorrow.

Loose ends: If you look closely at the pic of Tom riding on Seven Mile Bridge above you’ll notice something is missing. Yep he made an accidental donation of his Bentonville Brewery hat to Miami Dade County as we cycled through Miami. Looks like we will need to go back, Dan and Christie! 🍻

Tom also has the trip record for best Wordle solve at two guesses and I have a streak of 65 days going. Gin scores are 8-5; Greg, Tom is going to need more lessons.

My sleeping pad has a hole in it and needs to be blown up throughout the night and Tom’s back bike tire has had a nail rolling around inside of it since Tallahassee.

Finally I’m going to need a new crown since my 40 year old one finally popped off on the first day we saw the Gulf of Mexico. I saved it for a souvey. These are just quirky things that one thinks about while riding for hours on a bicycle.

Just 36 miles to the Southernmost Point tomorrow. We’re going to take in every mile. Thank you for the prayers, encouragement and follows.

Click on the image below to view more pics and vids:

#SD2KW, Day 63, Florida City to Long Key, 62 Miles | Blue

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Blue skies. Blue water. Who knew there were so many shades of beautiful blues?

We cycled past Key Largo early in the day and with plenty of time to ride to Long Key we took our time to marvel at the water, the sky, and the kamikazi lizards scampering across the bike trail.

Every once in a while one of these would lumber across like he owned the trail.

It was another near perfect day of cycling but the icing on the cake was the sweet tent site Tom found at Long Key State Park where the sites are walk-in only and beach front. Past hurricanes have shut down the regular camping area so it’s quiet with only four beach front camping sites.

We got all checked in and then cycled back a mile to get a bite to eat and a bevvie or two. There must be something about big chairs in Florida. I don’t quite understand it but we most always stop and take pics.

After dinner, there were solar showers to enjoy and then into the tent. Some of our family members (the Key West Roadies) are already on their way to pick us up. Just two short days of riding left.

Good night from Long Key.

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#SD2KW, Day 62, Hollywood to Florida City, 54 Miles | Miami: Magnificent Mayem

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We were delighted to see a stellar sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean before we started our ride. What a way to start the day. 🌅

Miami was on our to-do list today. As such, we scheduled a shorter ride and allowed almost a whole day to get through her.

Miami is a magnificent city. Neither of us had been there during the day and approaching the city on a bicycle and then riding through gives one an up close view however it’s not for the faint-hearted. The city is clean, modern, diverse and very busy.

Bike lanes are scant, the sidewalks are full of pedestrians and although legally bikes are permitted to use the full right lane, we weren’t about to test that city ordinance. First we tackled the city of Miami Beach then crossed the causeway to take on the big mama. She is gorgeous, but again it’s traffic mayhem for cyclists. Lots of honking, not at us but cars at each other. And scooters galore!

In fact coming off the causeway we saw a cyclist down (a roadie) being attended to by EMTs. It looked like he tried to come down too fast, hit a curb and did a face plant. Ouch!

Having put those cities in our rear view mirrors we celebrated with sammiches for lunch.

Our post lunch ride was stop and go almost all afternoon even though much of it was on a “bike trail.” Those are supposed to be air quotes. 🤣 Someday it will be magnificent but it’s just not ready for prime time yet. Still, in most aspects it kept us away from traffic; it was just hard to get any momentum going.

The highlight of the day was meeting our buddy Finn at our Florida City campsite. He’d just finished his open water diving certification in Key Largo and took an extra day to meet us. His timing could not have been better (and it’s difficult to coordinate rendezs on bike tours).

Bar B Que, bevvies and some bantering back and forth made the evening go too quickly. See you in Indy, Finn!

Tomorrow we officially say hello to the Florida Keys… on bicycles. 🚴🏼‍♂️🚴🏼‍♀️

Click on the image below to view more pics and vids:

#SD2KW, Day 61, Juno Beach to Hollywood, 67 Miles | All About A1A

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Today was all about navigating through several beach cities on A1A. And let’s just say it’s getting harder and harder for Tom to find gas station foil-wrapped cheeseburger sammiches in cities like West Palm Beach.🤣

Tom amazes me going though these towns safely guiding us through traffic, calling road hazards, staying on route, etc. It’s totally different riding here in south Florida along the coast. It’s gorgeous but overwhelming to the senses.

Tonight we landed in Hollywood, at a beachfront Marriott property (thanks again Anne) and right on the boardwalk. There’s so many shenanigators and always something to see (but not take a picture of). 😳

Tomorrow we ride through Miami and beyond that, the Keys and maybe a little quieter vibe. In all things… giving thanks. 1 Thes 5:18 ❤️

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#SD2KW, Day 60, Vero Beach to Juno Beach, 77 Miles | Mother Mother Ocean

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Today’s nearly constant companion was the Atlantic Ocean. We hugged her coastline most all day and when weaned away we found ourselves crossing bridges and causeways over the Indian and St. Lucie Rivers.

We have truly come full circle from the below freezing temps at high elevation in the Sonoran desert over 3,000 miles ago to the warm world of water here in Florida.

At times it was hard to stay on the bike. As the day went on it got sunnier and she kept coaxing us away from the road to the beach.

As we have less than a week of riding we’ve started rehashing our journey and thinking about our next one. We know one thing, we’re going to look at replacing the mountain bike tires on our Cutthroats with some thinner tires (still tubeless) for over-the-road bike travel. Rolling mountain bike tires over 3,400 miles of nearly all pavement has probably been a little harder than it could have been on thinner tires. 🤣

Post ride we rinsed bike shorts, charged devices and showered. Since Tom already did his brewery recon we headed strait to Storm House Brewing where we met locals Elise and Jessica.

They were fun to chat with and made us giggle when before we placed our food order they asked us, “So are you going out tonight?” 🤣🤣🤣 We looked at each other and then at these cute young ladies (one in her 30’s and one in her 40’s) and said we ARE out and after we eat we’re going to bed. Just call us grandma and gramps. #oldgeezers

The ACA route has taken us riding on interstates, through four state capitals and too many tiny towns to count. Some of the roads have been in poor condition and through what many would call rough neighborhoods and other roads have led us down pristine paved paths amongst the enormously wealthy. Today was one of those days.

We knew we were “on to something” by taking note of the driveway materials, the impeccable landscaping and the fact the homes were not visible from the street and most were beach front. Jupiter Island is considered one of the most prestigious places to live in the United States. We didn’t know this at the time but at some point along the nine mile route on the island we passed Tiger Woods’ house.

Tent spots are hard to find these days so it looks like we won’t be breaking out the tent for a couple more nights. Not mad about the indoor flushers at night and fluffy towels. And it won’t be long before we are surrounded by Mother Ocean and tenting again.

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#SD2KW, Day 59, Titusville to Vero Beach, 71 Miles | Gloom and Vroom

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It might have been one of the gloomiest days on our bike tour but the easiest 70 miler we’ve ridden. I mean we’re almost to Havana!

It’s Sunday and although last week the abrupt two hour time difference threw our brains a curve ball, this week we were on it and cruised right into Blessed Sacrament Church for 8:30 Mass (seated near the back row of course). #WhatCatholicsDo

What we witnessed next was the most raucous battle between a bald eagle and osprey you can imagine over a stolen fish while a blue heron took a front perch, squawking and and “egging” them on. I tried to get pics and vids and a few are included in the vid but it didn’t nearly capture the dog fight, errr I mean the bird fight between the two. Nature is the best when we take the time to watch and listen.

Yes it was gloomy today but still a righteous day to be on a bicycle especially with our friend the wind tapping us on the back shoulder instead of slapping us in the face.🤣 #vroom

We’re grateful to be making steady and safe southbound progress down A1A but admittedly, it’s getting harder to stop and take pics instead of just relishing in the last week of our ride. And mostly because the pics we take never do the experience justice. So just do your best and use your imagination. 💭

Click on the link below to view more pics and vids:

#SD2KW, Day 58, Port Orange to Titusville, 54 Miles | Things That…

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From Tom:

Things that make me smile: As we were cycling on US 1 today between Daytona and New Smyrna, I got to thinking about our family vacations as a kid. Our family always went to Daytona Beach for vacation in August for ten days or so. Mom and Dad piled us into the Ford Station Wagon, Mom and Dad in front, my two sisters in the middle and my brother and I in the flip-up seats in back. We stayed in the same motel every year; La Hacienda. My Dad who had just picked up golf decided to play on a course in New Smyrna Beach and asked us to play. I am guessing I was maybe 9 years old.

We got up early in the dark and drove on US 1 to New Smyrna, the same road I was riding on today. Who would have thought some 50 years later I would be cycling here today? I am sure Dad was up in heaven smiling down on us today. And yes that was the beginning of my love to play golf.

Things that make me chuckle: Deb and I were coming off a trail near Gainesville a couple days ago and rolling into a gas station to grab a snack. We saw a man with his bike in the back of his pickup and he had an air hose in hand. He reached over the edge to pump up the tire and kaboom goes the tire!

I’m sure he was looking forward to riding his bike on the trail. I watched him throw the hose down, jump in his truck and immediately drive to the liquor store down the street. Nothing better than having a well deserved ice cold beer after a good ride, but sometimes that ice cold one will help with the frustration of not being able to have that ride. Lesson learned, do not use an air hose to pump up your bike tires that is designed for your car tires.

Things that make me grateful: With rain coming in this evening we were looking for a motel 50 or more miles down the road. I found what looked like a great place just south of Titusville and called to check on availability for one night. The young lady laughed at me since it’s spring break and there was a launch tonight. She said they were booked solid. She said everything is booked in this area.

I found another motel in the area with subpar google reviews but gave them a call anyway. A grumpy man answered with a gravelly voice “what?”. He said he has plenty of room. “There’s no one here since it is only March. Who would come here. It’ll cost ya $139 a night. No reservation needed.” Yes, we have stayed in some places during our trip that you just need a shower and bed. But tonight we were in need of a good bed, shower, and laundry. So our daughter set us up with a Marriott property near the Kennedy Space Center and it was perfect, but we kinda wish we were here last night to see the launch.

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#SD2KW, Day 57, St. Augustine to Port Orange, 58 Miles | Good Vibes

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When we took off this morning we felt like we were starting a whole new ride. And we were! We got an early start to beat the spring break traffic and our efforts paid off.

Just before Palm Coast we met a local named Brian who took us on a quick trail ride out to an inter coastal. It was SO nice to be off road.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and we were hungry as heck. Our friend Cathy C. gave us an excellent suggestion for lunch along Flagler Beach and lemme tell ya, Cathy was spot on. Flounder sammich and beach vibes. 💯

We didn’t plan it but this word behind us says it all. And I constantly want to check the map… because the let’s just say the old horse is smelling the barn. 😂

Just before Daytona Beach a local flagged us down and asked if he could take our pic. He also advised us there was a St. Patrick’s Day festival happening in Daytona. It took all our power not to stop and participate.

We scored a bare bones campsite in Port Orange and giggled at our neibs light source (a table lamp) God bless their big hearts they are out here enjoying the great outdoors just like us!

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