After a tour along the Florida Keys on the Overseas Heritage Trail, there was something else to do: connect to the mainland.
It was confusing that when US 1 was extended between Key Largo and Florida City over the past decade, no accommodation was made to operate a bike path for the Greenway along the East Coast.
Cyclists we knew were following the East Coast Greenway would take the less traveled Card Sound route through the north of Key Largo.
Hikers heading north from the Florida Keys have done exactly the opposite. You would follow us 1.
It was less far away and offered the opportunity to stop at a campsite or Resort to finish on the water.
The Overseas Heritage Trail is used by hikers who follow the length of the East Coast on a Route called the Eastern Continental Trail (ECT).
It was popularized more than twenty years ago by one of our friends, Nimblewill Nomad.
For the sake of the guide’s accuracy, Sandy wanted me to drive along the C-111 canal from Key Largo to Everglades national Park.
This is the diagonal that many ect hikers follow to descend from US 1 if they don’t want to climb Krome Avenue through Florida City and Homestead.
She had found an old online pamphlet describing it as the Southern Glades Trail, part of the Dade County Greenway system.
Since it’s such a long way, she didn’t want me to do it alone. That’s why we recruited our friend Bill Detzner, a cyclist from immer who has circumnavigated the world by bicycle. Literally.
Bill is a road cyclist and does not own a mountain bike. They let him borrow Sandys.
The journey began hesitantly when a closed door stood at our planned starting point due to the reconstruction of the locks. The normal passage was blocked.
On a gravel Parking lot covered with broken glass and sand pore, we have proposed an alternative plan.
On and above US 1 on the other hand, we have found a ramp that allows the vehicles to work and maintain the locks and dikes.
The sign said “official use only”, but the ramp led directly to the path. Bill and I felt very “official” that day, so we drove on to the dike.
The trail Kiosk for Southern Glades WEA was just north. We followed a dirt road first on this side of the canal and then on the other side.
The journey took us through two locks before we reached CR 9336, the road to the main entrance of Everglades national Park.
For an experienced long-distance runner like Bill, how difficult could a thin 13-Mile Ride be?
I had just finished the Overseas Heritage Trail the day before, so I felt safe too.
Well, we hadn’t driven very long before the blackflies found us. Although this is the end of November.
There was no stopping for even a glass of water without their incessant attacks.
Worse still, it would not be a quiet ride. If we slowed to less than 14 mph, the biting Devils would land on the back of our arms, legs and neck to avoid the wind.
14 mph was the magic number to avoid the terrible biting animals. Yes, they are small, but they are evil!
On a road bike, on a paved path, 14 miles per hour is a pleasant and comfortable pace. Kicking a heavy mountain bike with wide off-road tires on a bumpy road of dirt and gravel was difficult.
Drive much faster than we had ever thought we would have to go, there was very little conversation.
Which, if you know Bill or me, is rare. I also took a lot less photos at that speed.
Our only breaks occurred when crossing the concrete locks. They offered a little protection.
Stopped and standing in the middle of the canal on the lock, we could take quick drinks from our water bottles before the black flies found us.
When we arrived on the paved road to Everglades national Park, there was a locked door and a narrow space that we could cross after lifting our bikes to the other side.
As we approached the road, we were greeted by a large rattlesnake with a diamond back.
He had been hit by a vehicle and was dead, but was a reminder of the types of creatures that were where we roll. This wind turbine is supposed to house pythons and even worse.
After thirteen miles of a rough, bumpy road and stinging insects, we saluted the smooth roadway on the County Road. Although it was only a narrow bike path.
Our women had gone to Everglades national Park to meet us. I wrote Sandy and she said that she and Ginny were on the Anhinga Trail.
They had our parking passes, while we drove to the entrance of the park, we prepared our sad story about how our women were already inside and had our passports.
We hoped to avoid an entrance fee.
When we got to the door, the ranger called “you must be the guys meeting your wives,” as he waved us through.
The Park was occupied. People come from all over the world to see an alligator up close.
Today they had an added bonus, seeing two crazy guys in bike clothes riding in the parking lot. “Look, Mom, there’s food for alligators!”