Up before dawn again. We are getting a routine inside the tent. I deflate and stuff first and T follows. With the tent in the pannier and both bikes loaded dawn’s light was still in the distance. Jeff was making us pancakes and coffee and I couldn’t help but recall the Chappelle episode where they play basketball with Prince. I had an old boss at the bookstore that would refer to these time periods as being blissfully ignorant of the day ahead.

The coast is so flat it’s like a cosmic flip of a switch at sunrise. Where darkness had dictated a certain numbness to the world suddenly it’s all trumpets and brackish first light. Getting back to the coast our route was a mere 4 miles and followed expectations. The coastal road north of Hollywood Beach was not the basic training I needed for the battle of that road south.

We passed over the moat and stormed the castle anyways.

Horns blared upon the crowd of morning traffickers. At 7 am, 7 lanes at maximum capacity stretched into any future with 4,000-pound puppet automobiles and their barely human Geppetto’s stomping gas pedals and scrolling death screens, raging from the green glow of ecstasy to the burning red of inconvenience. The signage said, “bike lane ends” and I heard Turbo gasp. I read the next one at a scream to make sure she heard me, “Bikes may use full lane!” Scooters of all sizes thread through this weave with no respect for the pattern or the stitch. People hurled obscenities while a steady corridor of fast food filled strip malls loomed over both sides of us creating a tunnel view of modern America. We ducked into a McDonald’s and grabbed another cup of coffee to see if things lightened up. We were 20 miles from downtown Miami.

 

They did not, and eventually we joined the race. We discovered that if we got behind a city bus, while we had plenty of starting and stopping, people were used to getting over for them and felt less of a need to honk. The cars still rule this fiefdom and they let us know by passing way too close and seriously invalidating any 3’ law about space. At least we were start stop and not full speed, until we were.

Short stretches of road usually made up of at least one bridge existed between what google defines as a busy area. This was the first death rattle raising my hackles. Speed limits are posted as some sort of cruel joke here. The cops sit and drink coffee with expressions that say, “we can’t pull over the entire world.” The inmates are running the asylum and we were averaging 7 mph. A brutal grind into the city.

A bike path led us over the Venetian Islands giving us a quick if not momentary reprieve. We hit a Publix and stocked up on lunch, determined to pause at some point and enjoy a view and a sammy. Actual downtown Miami was not so bad. The roads were wide and mostly empty. We had lunch on a nice bench and watched the people go by. The scene is a fashionable one here and huge boobs, tiny waists and voluptuous butts all wrapped in yoga clothes or summer prints seem to be it for women while the men like shortened board shorts, no shirt bench press upper bodies with abs that show, and skinny legs with boat shoes all wrapped in a rather severe tan that is just cresting into wrinkles.

We finally found the M path that I had been promising T for months, only it wasn’t there. In its place was heavy construction, detours, some quiet roads that ran parallel and one super busy highway with no place to hide. That was short, thank goodness, but T was swearing she would never go on another trip with me again. I had failed her. The path finally appeared and we were on the M. It was super twisty, filled with glass where it hadn’t crumbled away, and crossed busy intersections constantly. Every intersection was DANGEROUS to the extreme. Even where the crosswalks worked the drivers were taking rights at full speed and nearly hitting us as we entered. On the other side cars would pull into the crosswalk blocking our path and forcing us to try to get around them. Often this resulted in stopping and pushing a fully loaded bike over a full curb while the driver blocking the accessible curb ramp either stared at their phone or directly at us with a basic fuck you expression. Unbelievable. I would not wish this section of the route on anyone and will hopefully never do it again. I think I would cut inland and take the canal roads towards the Everglades instead.

The further south we got the better it was. T had told me she just needed some time alone and for me to quit asking if she was ok. I watched from a distance and thought about how much I love her and that if I only knew better I would never have put her in this situation. Sorry, hunnybunny.

The way finally opened back up just south of Pinecrest, I think. While there was still plenty of broken glass on the path there was also a completely separate road from US1 just for buses that it ran alongside. The buses were very few and far between and when we like we could just pedal down the empty road at our leisure while electric android sheep bleated somewhere else, off in another distant version of reality.

We made it to the Hoosville Hostel just after 5. The place is great and the staff is super friendly. We showered off the bad vibes and relaxed a bit before heading right next door for taco Tuesday at the Tacazo Taqueria. This place was wonderful. We sat outside on a beautiful warm night. The slight breeze wafting fresh made chips and pineapple swirling around us. We split the dinner plate and appetized on chis and guac. The two hot sauces in unmarked squeezers were terrific and I tried all the little hug flavors that I could. The night was almost perfect after such a grueling day. We took a stroll around the Hoosville and saw the holiday decorations and the rock pool.

This truly is a great overnight spot for travelers. I feltlike Leonardo DiCaprio during the best parts of that movie The Beach. Tracy was laughing again and that just melts my heart to hear. All was right again when we hit the bed early and slept well.

Jeffrey McElfresh
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