A Motorcycle Ride to
Since 10 years after moving
Saturday, April 22, 2006
I wake up at 7:00am after only 4 hours of sleep. I’m very tired and there were rain showers over night and the sky is cloudy. Should I call it off and sleep some more? No – this opportunity is too good to pass up.
drive to the dealership in
the locals, I dress in my motorcycle cloths which I bought in
This is the first time in 5 years since I’m riding a motorcycle – the last time was with the BMW in September 2001 to Morocco – and the first time I’m riding a Harley Davidson. It takes only a few minutes though to get used to this bike, very easy to ride with less weight and lower center of gravity than some of the other heavy Harleys.
Within minutes I’m on the Interstate I95 and doing 60 mph. Which is fine, were it not for the extremely loud wind noise in my ears. Without a full face helmet or other protection the wind noise becomes almost untolerable at speeds of 50mph or higher. But I can’t ride any slower in the busy 5 lane traffic without risking being run over from behind…
20 minutes I get to the end of I95 in
I also walk in the nearby pharmacy to buy earplugs – an old trick I learned back then when riding on the Autobahn. The earplugs muffle the wind noise down to a comfortable level and with my clothing I am now ready for highway speeds. Except the next hour or so is very slow going with lots of traffic lights and too much traffic. The heat is on, both from the sun and from the hot air blowing off the engine under my seat. Now I definitely wish I could go faster and let the wind cool me down a little bit.
I get through the South of Miami and back on the Turnpike for the last few
miles down to
change into my shorts, sandals and fresh T-Shirt. After eating at the food
court I need some rest to compensate for the lack of sleep of the previous
night. The weather is great and I sleep on a shady park-bench outside the food
court. I call my friend Frank in
South of Florida City the highway soon gets out to the water and on to the Keys. There is some backup due to road work and lane closures, which gives me a chance to practice slow rolling alongside backed up cars. The first sights of open ocean besides the road also invite for a quick stop and self-timed picture.
minutes after this short stop I reach
“Key Lime Pie in
This stop is as refreshing for the body as for the soul. When looking out to the water the thoughts of the busy work week just evaporate in the joy of the moment. I wish I could stay here a bit longer – but I also want to keep going to catch the rest of the long road at the best time of the day, the late afternoon.
I stop and ask a fisherman on the side of the road whether he will take a picture of me. After several drive-by attempts on my part the stars finally align and he pushes the button at the right moment.
Almost felt like in driving school to turn the Harley around so many times while watching out for the relatively sparse traffic. While it is inconvenient and takes perhaps 10 minutes, I know that those pictures will be priceless when looking at them later…
Shortly thereafter I reach the socalled 7-mile bridge. I take several pictures operating the camera with one gloved hand while riding with the other one. At one point a rider in local outfit passes me doing about 65mph.
To the right is the old road, connecting a miniature island with the rest of the key chain. As I approach and drive by I take a picture similar to those I have taken on my bicycle rides.
On this trip only the camera is looking back:
one of the next keys is the Bahia Honda State Park, a popular destination for
people who want to camp right along the water, ideal for snorcheling, kayaking,
fishing, jetskis etc. Right behind it is the Bahia Honda channel with another
old bridge that still shows remnants of an old railway line which connected
The sun is getting lower now as it is already around 7:00pm. Going to Key West the road turns evermore to the West so you ride into the setting sun going down – and then into the rising sun coming back the next morning J The weather is great, the colors are spectacular, the road is free of traffic, everything is working out well which puts a big smile on my face. This trip is turning out to be as good as I had hoped it would be, hence my mood is terrific.
I stop one last time to take a self-timed picture of myself on the road:
I drive all the way down to
The next hour or so is spent searching for a hotel room. I stop at a half dozen places and call at least a dozen more – everywhere it’s sold out and noone knows a place with vacancy, except a $500/night suite at the Marriott. I also get tipped off to a motel which supposedly still has rooms, but just as I get there, they rent out the last available room to the guy in front of me! Reminds me of the situation in June 2004 in fishing town Ely in North-East Minnesota, where I couldn’t find a place to stay for a long time either and ended up in a privately rented room. Just when I seemingly run out of options they have an idea in the motel: How about renting out the motorhome of one of their employees (who is currently on vacation)? Fine by me, as long as I can take a much needed shower. I’m thinking: That’s a first; so I will spend a night in an RV camper mobil!
after a shower and fresh cloths I ride my Harley the 2-3 miles downtown to join
the fun on
is served at the Hard Rock Café on
“joining the club” at least temporarily, looking at the many other bikers
parking their Harleys curbside will never quite feel the same any more! I also
take a walk along the marina and ride the free ferry over to the sunset key and
Back at the motel nearly everything is perfect, except perhaps for the heat in the RV against which the miniature AC is hardly a match. I fall asleep with vivid memories of the first 200 miles of this trip…
Sunday, April 23, 2006
I get up at 6:45am. I want to hit the road in the early morning as soon as the sun rises to escape traffic and the midday heat. It is still cool when I am ready to leave a few minutes past 7:00am.
At the Big Pine Key with the native deer habitat the road turns a bit to the South-East and for a little while the sun is shining from the side. This means my shadow is riding right next to me:
Back at the Bahia Honda Channel I stop for a short walk to the beginning of the old bridge, which always makes for a nice photo op.
Memories of previous trips abound, including one where my ex-wife was pregnant with our son Philip some nine years ago, as well as with daughter Sarvenaz and son Philip just one year ago:
Back to the ride this year. Another bridge invites to stop and take pictures right from the top – overlooking the water and some nearby luxury yachts.
some hours of riding I get hungry, as I skipped breakfast to get the most of
the early morning riding time. Back at the Marriott in
the way back I detour slightly to the card sound road which adds a very scenic
section with less traffic all the way back to
I won’t stop for several hours of riding on the Turnpike, now somewhat more comfortable with higher speeds and due to the few hundred miles with the bike. I don’t take any more pictures for a while except at one of the many stops when refueling and buying some water.
though I am now back in
Earlier I had stopped to buy some sunscreen for my face, as it is getting really hot and I can already feel the facial skin burning. I find some shade and again take a 1 hr long rest break. The ear plugs stay in, which allows me to rest better, were it not for the ants crawling all around and tickling/biting the legs…
And what is this? Check out the view I had of the Harley – with alligator! A Harleygator J
A total of three alligators swim past the boat ramp next to the parking spot. I always marvel at the many different sights and impressions a long day on the bike can bring.
getting up again I ride a bit further North to Port Mayaca. There is a tall
bridge over the St. Lucie canal which provides a water way from the Atlantic
Turning East here and following the St. Lucie canal the scenery changes a bit. You find a more rural Florida with lush vegetation and trees, and also some cattle farms.
remember this stretch of the road vividly from a 200 km bicycle ride from
I park at Hobe Sound and take time for a short stop on the beach.
The person taking this picture remarks: ‘Aren’t you over-dressed for the beach?’ Really? Oh thanks for telling me, I would have never noticed…
so many memories from this area, just recently after a Kayak trip along the
Intracoastal or many previous bicycle rides. The following stretch along
up & down those bridges is among the best parts of the motorcycle day. It
reminds me a little bit of riding in the alps. You can accelerate all-out on
the way up, with little risk as you can break phenomenally well going uphill.
On the passes in the alps you additionally get all the turns in the road and
then the view on top - it’s so much fun! The third dimension is definitely
missing in flat
I’m back near home in very familiar territory, mosty from weekend bike rides
along A1A. At one spot near the Breakers hotel in
some more city street traffic I reach my apartment home back in
I definitely enjoyed this ride to the max. I return the bike the next morning and drive from the dealership straight to the office. I added about 640 miles to the fairly new Night Rod, and had fun all the way. I plan to do this again, but next time in the winter when it’s a bit cooler. Until then I’ll be happy to watch others pass by or park their Harley curbside, which will remind me of this particular weekend ride…