August 18, Saturday (Marathon to Key West):
I had set my alarm for 7 a.m. to get 8 hours of sleep. As with many plans, that isn’t exactly the way things actually happened. I woke up at 5:00 when I actually got up and did the exercises I have been doing every morning that Lauren Elkind, my therapist, had prescribed a couple of months before we left. Apparently those exercises together with the riding worked because leg/back problems that had been plaguing me for more than a year have almost – almost being the key word – disappeared.
I was of course very aware that today’s ride was to be the last of this journey. It was only going to be 51 miles, it was obviously going to be flat and rain looked unlikely. I also knew that heat and humidity were going to be part of the ride. The unknowns were wind and road conditions.
I knew that yesterday had gone well and hoped to be able to push really hard for part of today’s ride since I had nothing to save myself for. Again, plans didn’t exactly determine what actually happened.
The first couple of miles were slow because getting out of town had me on a trail that didn’t allow fast riding. It had curves, a sometimes uneven surface and numerous intersections that required either slowing down or actually stopping. I was around 13.5 mph or so. That was slow enough that I didn’t expect to ever get my average up to where I wanted it.
But then the road conditions improved. I was on Hwy. 1 with a decent shoulder and mostly good surfaces. My speed picked up. Considerably. It felt good. I was on the flats and going along at 23 mph, a sensation I hope for but don’t often experiemce. There were even times when it kicked up to 27+ mph. And I wasn’t sprinting or pushing particularly hard. There must have been some tail wind helping but it wasn’t extreme.
There were some minor climbs because of the numerous bridges, many of which had to climb to let vessels go under. The climb totaled 584 feet. Not much but not pancake flat, either.
Speaking of bridges. I was on one that seemed to last forever. Although it had an acceptable shoulder, there is something about bridges without dividers from the cars that make me uncomfortable. Maybe because the thought of being pushed into water that was probably more than 60 feet below keeps running through my mind. So the forever made me uncomfortable; I wanted to get to the end but it didn’t seem to want to appear. I later found out that that wasn’t far from the truth. The bridge is 7 miles long. While that is quite a distance in a car, think of how far it is on a bike. Even at 20 mph that takes 20+ minutes. Well, the 20+ minutes passed, though it seemed much longer than that, and I did make it across the bridge
At 20 miles my average speed was 20 mph and it had been at 20.5 not long before that. I don’t think I have ever done that before.
I wish I could keep that up, but I couldn’t. For one thing the road changed and that was slower. Then when it improved, I just didn’t have it in me to keep up the 20 mph. I looked at my computer and saw that it was 95 degrees and realized that the heat was taking something out of me. After getting ice from Johnny at a stop, I started using the cold water not just to drink but to pour on myself to try to get some relief from the heat.
Before I had to slow down because of being in Key West my speed had dropped to 18.5 mph. Some of that was because of riding on bike trails rather than on the highway and they were slower but much was because I just didn’t have that a lot of push left.
I say I had hoped to push really hard for a stretch but that didn’t happen. I wanted to wait until I was fairly close to the end but by the time I was, the route wouldn’t permit that kind of riding.
Another plan that didn’t come to fruition is that I had expected to dip a tire into the Atlantic. That didn’t happen because the recommendation I got for a southern finishing spot was Edward Knight Pier. That took me out over the Atlantic but there was no beach that would let me walk to the ocean. However, the end was fitting because this ride didn’t start at the ocean but at Quebec City.
Johnny was waiting for me to show up but I think I got there a bit faster than he expected. The photos of the end are his work.
I admit to missing having Sandi and Alejandra be there to greet me at the end as they were for the first 2 rides. And it would have been nice to have had Patty there since she shared 2 weeks of this adventure with me. However, all 3 of them immediately gave me their congratulations and best wishes. Thank you to all of you. Both for those kind words and for your help and support in making this ride possible.
Without Sandi’s support and encouragement I wouldn’t have left home. She has also been a great fund raiser, both this year and for the previous 2 rides. Thank you Sandi.
Ale has been a constant in all 3 of these rides. She has been the driver and indispensable helper. Somehow she has returned twice even while knowing how much time she would be spending alone with me and she would have done this entire ride except that she had to return for her 11 – recently turned 12 – year old daughter. She put up with me. For many weeks. Her confidence in me, together with Sandi’s, helped keep me going. Thank you Alejandra.
Patty’s help was also a necessary ingredient to this ride. She replaced Ale as the driver and without having had any preparation she provided all of the help I needed. Her obvious concern for my well being was and is appreciated. Even if she did frequently tell me that I am crazy. She would have finished the ride with me but she had family obligations with a 16 year olds daughter, a husband and a dog who all missed and needed her. Thank you for loaning her to me for 2 weeks. Thank you Patty.
Johnny has joined me to finish this trip and he will even drive the truck and bikes home for me while I fly out of Orlando to meet another obligation at home. Although I had never even spoken to him before, I can say that Johnny is one of the most courteous and enthusiastic people I have met. Thank you to you too, Johnny. And thank you for the congratulations at the end of the ride.
I will share some more appreciation in another post when I also discuss why I did this. Hopefully it wasn’t because I am crazy or sick as some have suggested. Although one or both of those may have contributed.
Finished! Now I just have to let that sink in. Which is why I haven’t yet discussed how I feel now that I am finished. Though I will say that I have had some hand cramps since I have been off my bike. All of that sweating has to have drained a lot of electrolytes from my body.