Saturday, April 16, 2016

White-knuckled Death Ride

Big Pine Key to Key Largo  (Miles 30-76)

A Ryder truck is coming up behind me, right wheels in the shoulder, and my first instinct is to veer to the right. But there is no veering to the right, not on Seven Mile Bridge, with its low parapet and the ocean roiling below.

I raise my left arm and wave back and forth, anything to get the driver's attention. I can see him behind the windshield, head tilted down, figure he's texting. I shout into the wind.

"Move over!"

"Move over!"


The big square truck misses me by two inches, and the man behind the wheel blithely continues to the north.

"Idiot . . . ^%$& . . . &^#$%#$& . . . *(^%$#^ . . . #@$^% . . . *^%%$#^."

More vehicles roar past, drivers pretending they've been transported to the backstretch of the Indy 500, but then there's a break in the traffic and my heartbeat settles a little.

The bridge turns peaceful and I ride along gazing at the blue sky, the white chop—


An RV is coming up behind me, rolling fast across the concrete. Someone inside that big machine forgot to retract the steps, and they slash toward me ankle-high. I swing to the left, out in front of the RV, and tires screech against the concrete. The RV stops and a big-haired woman leans out the window and cusses me for all she's worth. Cars and trucks stop behind the RV, and drivers honk their annoyance.

I give her a withering look.

"Your steps are out," I say.

She ducks inside—no "thank you" forthcoming—and the RV swings wide around me, continuing its plow to the north. I follow in its wake, checking my mirror from time to time, white-knuckling the handlebars as a semi drives past, feel the wind attempt to push me into the road, and fight to keep the bike on a straight line.

I ride up and over the hump in the middle, see the northern terminus, and pedal for all I'm worth. A pick-up truck pulls out from a line of approaching traffic, barrels toward me in an attempt to pass a handful of cars.

"&^^% . . . &^^% . . . &^^% . . . &^^% . . . I can't believe this &^^%."

The truck veers back in line with feet to spare, and I redouble my efforts, exit the bridge a few minutes later and pull off the shoulder. I laugh and shrug it off. What else can I do? If I let that kind of stuff stick with me, I might as well pack it up and go home. 

Warren and Natalie are locals, originally from Jamaica, and they were quitting early because the fish weren't biting.

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I spend the night in Key Largo, in a hardwood forest, eat spaghetti and garlic for supper. Rains moves in, a drizzle against my tent that soon puts me to sleep.


  1. The insane now out number the sane in this world.

  2. Isn't that the truth, especially down here in southern Florida. Must be something about the hot weather that brings the crazy out in people.

  3. A friend told me about your blog, now I'm hooked! Stay safe and take care.

  4. Thanks for reading, Elle, and thanks also for the best wishes.


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