We have made it to Key West and the end of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway. It’s an especially happy moment for those who have now ridden the entire route, with its ups and downs (I’m envious; I still need to ride from Providence to New York). It’s also a sad moment because the end of the annual Week A Year rides means we won’t have an obvious reason to gather every year. Hopefully some of us will still ride together.
So, yes, we ended at the oversized buoy marking the southernmost point in the U.S. There’s a line of people all waiting to get their photo taken there, so it feels, well, like a tourist trap. Far cooler, I thought, and more suitable for us was the multi-colored arch of bike wheels the city of Key West created for us in a park a couple of blocks away.
We weren’t the only ones loving it. City officials said non-cyclists were taking photos there all day. It will get even more attention on Saturday, when the two-day, 165-mile Miami-to-Key-West Smart Ride wraps up, and I hope city officials then give it a permanent spot.
Actually, it’s a cool idea to borrow for the East Coast Greenway’s NYC-PHL ride next year.
Now for that must-do southernmost point group photo:
Here’s more from Key West:
The start of the day’s ride was particularly colorful, led by Sherri and Sue (of course).
And a final group shot at the start:
Along the way, we saw a couple of real parrots too: a couple of cyclists coming toward us, each with a parrot perched on their wrist. And what can I saw about all those truly free-range chickens?
How was the cycling? The day’s route put us over water far more than any other day, including the Seven Mile Bridge just after Marathon. Yay Bob for making it across this one and conquering your fears. Cars and trucks rumbling right by our bike lane made it a bit stressful, and then there was that driver who leaned on his horn the whole time he drove by us. Time to learn to share the road.
We were once again on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and grateful for any time it switched from bike shoulder to separate multi-use path. Bonus points for when the path was behind shrubbery that blocked so much of the highway noise. Now if only the paths didn’t flip from the southbound to the northbound side so often (pro tip is to just stay on one side most of the time) and if the transitions from shoulder to path and back again were smoother and well-signposted. One day hopefully more of Henry Flagler’s railroad bridges will be refurbished and open to bicyclists and pedestrians.
We did see some hurricane damage that has yet to be repaired, like this piece of tipped-over concrete and railing. And you know it will be a never-ending cycle.
We ended our ride with the traditional group dinner — and an encore to the 2017 song. This one is to the tune of the Brady Bunch theme song. Never mind that we can’t sing on key. Hum along if you can:
Here’s the story
Of 40 riders
from Calais Maine down to Key West
A broken handlebar
A busted spoke
And too many flat tires
Here’s the story
Of an awesome Greenway
Connecting Jersey, Philly, DC and Raleigh
3,000 miles and many bridges
Just one week a year
After nine years these riders reached their final destination
And they knew that this was much more than a ride
This group is now a family
And that’s the way we became the Greenway bunch.
The Greenway bunch… the Greenway bunch. And that’s the way we became the Greenway bunch.
Now it’s time to pack up and return north, where winter has already set in. What a shock that will be after 80 degrees and humid! I’d just like to once again thank everyone who has supported these East Coast Greenway fundraising rides over the years (here’s the link to this year’s), and I hope you’ll get out and bike/walk/run even just a small section of it. We already know that trails are a popular local amenity, and a project like the East Coast Greenway makes local trails more powerful by connecting them to a bigger network.
My final patch: