4/11/2023 – Miami International Airport to Key Largo

Miles: 63.41 Elevation Gain: 568 ft

First day of my 49 day ride up the Atlantic Coast, and you’ll never believe this: there were some major MAJOR malfunctions right out of the chute!

My flight arrived a few minutes late, then when I went to assemble my bike, my really cool Topeak Mini Morph Pump would not push air into the tires. The result was one tire losing so much air that it lost it’s seal and went flat. My tires are tubeless, so it takes a big initial puff of air to seal the tire to the wheel. When the one tire lost it’s seal, that just was not going to happen with my tiny malfunctioning pump.

I was dead in the water, sitting at the airport with no way to air up the tire that had its seal and no way to get any air into the other tire. So I emptied the sealant out of the one tire that lost its seal and put an inner tube in it, like most people do. I was able to get about 25 PSI into both tires, which is definitely not enough pressure to do anything more than load my 57+ lbs of gear onto the bike and push it to the MIA Mover rail system that was taking me to meet Ed at the rental car center.

Once in the center, I took the panniers off one side of the bike so Ed could get to the valve stems, and he used his identical Topeka pump to fill my tires up to 60 PSI. Just a few minutes later, we were cycling out from the rental car center to navigate to the Adventure Cycling route. We scoped out a bike shop that was just a bit out of the way, so I could get my one tire converted back to tubeless and buy a new pump. After going a couple of miles out of our way, we arrived the bike shop and learned that it was so low tech, they didn’t even know about tubeless bike tires, and their single pump choice was a completely absurd floor pump. I coughed up $12.95 for another spare tube (outrageous!!!), and we headed for the door of the bike shop, and that’s when I noticed that I was missing one of my front panniers. What the heck!

In the course of riding to the bike shop, which was just 3-4 miles from the rental center, we hadn’t done anything that would have caused my pannier to fall off, and if it had fallen off, both of us would have noticed. Ed remembered me setting a pannier on a planter, back at the rental car center. I remembered that when we left there, there was nothing left laying around. So that’s when we found a McDonalds for Ed to take a break in and keep his eye on both bikes, while I caught an Uber back to the rental car center to hopefully find my pannier sitting on a planter.

I was having a crisis, in case you hadn’t noticed, and my Uber driver, Gloria, knew it. She went off the clock at the rental care center, while I went inside looking for my pannier, which I fortunately found—nicely camouflaged in a planter. Then she drove me back to the McDonalds, in exchange for a very generous tip. I was so appreciative!!!

Back on the road, we cycled on three different bike paths that covered almost 47 miles of our route to Key Largo. One was built under the raised Miami Metro Rail line, a second was a road built just for bus traffic that paralleled US Highway 1, and the third paralleled Highway 1 through Key Largo. Regarding the middle bike path—the road just for buses—there were signs posted on it saying, “No Bikes, Roller Skates or Skate Boards”. Confession: We ignored those signs. There actually was a bike path adjacent to the bus road, but it was torn up in so many places that we gave up on it, and the bus drivers and two police officers we passed didn’t seem to mind.

And here’s where I must digress, because I forgot to talk about the weather. There was non stop rain all day long, and the previous day, Miami got more rain in one day than they have ever had on that date. A lot of roads were flooded and there was water pooled up everywhere. Okay, so do you have the visual of us two drenched cyclists getting pounded by rain, splashed and spayed by cars and careening through puddles for an entire day?

Now add to that the wind. For most of the day, we had a bit of a tail wind, but on one 3-4 mile section of road approaching Key Largo, we changed directions, and the wind didn’t, putting is in a 23 MPH head and cross wind. Several times, I felt like I was going to be blown off the road, which was very scary. But we survived it all and will live to see another day.

Our lodging for this evening was all arranged with a lovely Warm Shower’s host, Jacquelyn Bello, who was going to let us camp in her back yard, take a shower and use her bathroom. But when you’re having a day of malfunctions, why stop? Jaqueline flaked out on us, leaving us with no lodging for the night. There are three nearby campgrounds, but being soaked to the bones, as we were, we decided to get a hotel room so we could get a warm shower and dry our clothes, bikes and gear.

And this was all on day one of my 49 day bike ride up the Atlantic Coast. I’m afraid of what tomorrow will bring. Do you think I should be more optimistic?

Here’s something I’m optimistic about. My goal to raise $5000 for the Bike the US for MS non profit. You can support me by donating here:

3 thoughts on “4/11/2023 – Miami International Airport to Key Largo

  1. I am so happy that you were able to find your pannier. I know the way you pack that you needed everything that was in there. Hopefully the bad weather will be done, and the rest of the trip will be nice and sunny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know!! I didn’t even take a moment to figure out if it was my cooking/food pannier or my hygiene pannier. Either way, I was going to be sunk. You just can’t come up with all those little ultra light bits and pieces very easily.

      Things are getting better! Hallelujah! In. Behalf of Ed, don’t wish for too much sun for the next few days. We were just discussing his strategy for sleeping, when it is 80 degrees at midnight in a day or so. That will be misery.


  2. Oh my gosh that is terrible that lady flaked on you guys like that. Sounds like a terrible day. The rest of the trip has got to go better!! You’re just getting through the hard stuff first.


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