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Old 05-24-08, 05:47 PM   #1
cyclemission
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How do I ride the FL Keys from Miami?

I am about to order maps from Adventure Cycling and I read in the touring forum today that their map of the Southeast does not contain from Miami to Key West. I have not found a person on here who claims (with joy) to have ridden the Keys. Is it really and truly that bad? Really? So I have a couple questions which may lead to more.
1. If you have actually ridden from Miami to Key West and lived to tell the tail could you please let me know what it was like?
2. Where can I get an actual map, especially from Miami to Key Largo?
3. What is the recent status of the Overseas Heritage Trail? Was it washed out by Katrina? Is is too rough for a road bike.
At the moment I am contemplating riding the train down with my bike and getting off at the terminus in Miami. Riding from the Miami train station to Key Largo, Key Largo to Marathon, Marathon to Key West.
Someone stop me if I'm crazy.
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Old 05-24-08, 08:45 PM   #2
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I rode from Key Largo to Key West. It wasn't too bad. The lower keys have freshly been paved and you could ride about 3 feet to the right of the white line. Be prepared, there are A LOT of cars on the road, so you need to be comfortable riding in traffic. The roads were decent & the ride was fast. If you search, you probably can find post; if not, let me know.

As far as Miami to Key Largo; Rt 1 road scares me. People fly on that road. Plus in November there was heavy road construction with all kinds of delays. Most people reccommend taking card sound road, however, when I drove on that road, there is no should at all; so cars are flying and not really patient. I saw 2 guys riding & they did not appear to be enjoying themselves. Also, as far as your plan of riding, I don't know how strong of a rider you are, but I rode from Key Largo to Key West in a little under 5 hours, so I don't know if the marathon stop is necessary. If you have any other questions, let me know.
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Old 05-25-08, 05:25 AM   #3
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I have ridden through Miami to the Keys on both an eastern and western route ,but from downtown Miami I would definitely recommend staying east of Rt 1.I took Brickell (or lower traffic parallel roads)through Coconut Grove and then connected to Old Cutler Road which is a great road to ride being largely residential with both bike lanes and a bike path most of the way.This will take you all the way to Homestead but before crossing the turnpike and getting on Rt 1 I suggest taking backroads down by the Homestead racetrack then in to Florida City.From there Rt 1 to Card Sound Rd is your best bet.I actually had more problems with mosquito's that cars on this route though there were a few early morning rock/cement trucks near the start.If you just want to avoid this whole stretch altogether you can take Miami public transportation to Florida City and then a commuter bus on to either Key Largo or Marathon.The Keys generally have a wide shoulder most of the way and the Overland trail(bike path) in places).But,as was said traffic can be heavy(but still a pleasant ride if you are use to riding in traffic) and as was not said mosquitos and no see ums can be an issue this time of year particularly around dawn and dusk.
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Old 05-25-08, 07:34 AM   #4
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Thank you, thank you, thank you

Your information is greatly appreciated. It might be a better plan for us to drive to Key Largo and park and ride to Key West. I am a 16 mph rider in hilly central SC. It would probably be possible for me and my gang to ride the 106 miles in one day. It is nice to hear about he last part of the Keys, did you ride the road the entire way or some on the trail? Anyone ride the trail?
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Old 05-25-08, 07:38 AM   #5
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Awesome Information

Wow, ask and ye shall receive! I really appreciate your local insight. If we take the train down then we should look into that route or public trans to Key Largo. I hadn't even thought about the insects (forced protein) and so what do you recommend to combat them in that area?
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Old 05-25-08, 08:38 AM   #6
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Well,you don't say when you are planning this trip for ,but the next three months is the height of the hot,humid,buggy wet(and did I say start of the hurricane) season.From mid day on it can get very hot and humid with heavy thunderstorms developing at any time.The bugs that thrive in these conditions are worst at dawn and dusk around areas of mangrove habitat ,in particular.The best way to cope is to keep moving(and keep covered)so this is probably more an issue if you were camping that riding straight through.

I actually did this ride over a 4th of July weekend and was camping.Was chased by early morning mosquitos along Card Sound Road,experienced 100+ mid day temps(but there are lots of places to stop and cool off),no-see-ums camping at Long Key SP that were everywhere(except in my tent where I mostly stayed),a wind sprout that developed off the lower keys and preceeded a ferocious thunderstorm ,and did I mention the holiday traffic.But still a great trip and I had lots of fun and I actually hear the same positive comments from everyone who has actually done this route.

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Old 05-26-08, 07:22 AM   #7
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Right now I am thinking of doing the ride in January or February. I may have a couple of guys with me, I may go it alone. I have a good deal of things yet to be planned but you have helped a great deal. So far, I want to camp but my friends would like to stay in a hotel or b and b. I am beginning to suspect that I may have the heart of a Touring Cyclist and so I am thinking along those lines as well. I will know more by the middle of the summer when most of my fat should be gone! Thanks again.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:48 PM   #8
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I live in Upstate SC (Greenville). We have a couple more hills than you in Columbia, but my longest ride before my Key Largo to Key West was 45 miles (a pretty good climb up to Saluda, NC). I had no problem with the 105 miles.

When we were kids, we use to go camp in the keys for Spring Break. To me it is an absolutely beautiful place to camp - however, the ground is mainly coral and hard as cement to sleep on. My two favorite stops was Bahia Honda & Key Sugarloaf.
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Old 05-30-08, 02:28 PM   #9
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My family has a place in Marathon (middle of the Keys). I've always thought it would be nice to do a ride down the chain but to be honest the traffic on US-1 makes it a no go for me. The shoulder is pretty wide in most places and there are sections of MUP through parts of the islands but since the entire chain is made of coral there is a lot of rock & trash debris on both. Factor in the horrible driving habits of 95% of most Floridians, add a beer or two and stick a 25' boat behind them and the risk/reward just isn't there for me. If you are comfortable in heavy fast traffic though it would be a awesome ride. The scenery is wonderful and December-Feb is the most pleasant time of year to be down there weather wise. I was just down there last weekend and the heat and humidity was unbearable by 8 am; I wound up having to walk the second half of my run.

If you are going to camp I highly recommend Bahia Honda State Park. It's a little more than halfway down and the sites are spectacular. Make reservations early though (like now if you can) as it is by far the most popular state park in FL for camping. Long Key S.P. is also very nice and almost right in the middle of the chain. There is also a private campground on Big Pine Key called the Big Pine Fishing Lodge. We camped there once after one of the storms flooded the house and it was very nice. They have a pool, hot showers, a small store and the Key Deer will walk right up to you. There are also plenty of small local hotels along the way if you decide to go with that option. You really don't get into B&B territory until you get to Key West.

There are plenty of other (often quirky) attractions along the way but a guidebook or website can help you pick those out better than I can. Let me know if you need any other tips.
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Old 06-02-08, 03:42 AM   #10
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Wow, that is informative! I can just see the truck load of good ol' boys weaving down the road approaching me from behind. It is certainly enough to give one pause. My sister lives in Sarasota near 41 and I have experienced the bizarre and dangerous FL driver in his native surroundings. Yes, this is a fearful and wonderful thought. My last question in response would be if it might be safer to ride in the early morning daylight hours? Here you can ride almost anywhere at 0600 and you have the road to yourself.
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Old 06-02-08, 06:46 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by cyclemission View Post
Wow, that is informative! I can just see the truck load of good ol' boys weaving down the road approaching me from behind. It is certainly enough to give one pause. My sister lives in Sarasota near 41 and I have experienced the bizarre and dangerous FL driver in his native surroundings. Yes, this is a fearful and wonderful thought. My last question in response would be if it might be safer to ride in the early morning daylight hours? Here you can ride almost anywhere at 0600 and you have the road to yourself.
For the most part this would be good idea (leaving first thing in the morning). In my opinion the roads in the North Keys were not as good as the South Keys. But keep in mind, most of the people being jerks are locals (I had 3 people yell at me during my ride) and most of those work construction (or some sort of home repair) which means they are on the road between 7 & 8 a.m. The better part of that idea, is hopefully they are not as drunk as they will be after they finish working.

One other thing to take into account is the direction of the traffic. I rode down on a Sunday & it seemed most of the cars I saw were headed the other direction (north after a weekend). You will see some comments regarding the bike path; it is best to avoid it because basically its a windy tourist trail with roots growing through the path; joggers, single speeds, LOTS of gravel. There are a couple frontage roads (that use to be route 1) that are pretty good; that you can fly down with lots of room. If you Google earth it (and use the satelitte feature) you can see where those are.
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Old 06-08-08, 06:39 PM   #12
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Done?

If not let me know we can take in pne of our rides
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Old 08-03-08, 02:26 PM   #13
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Hey, I lived in Homestead until last month, now just up the road, I commuted from there to Miami every week on a bike. I can give you an easy commute from Miami to Homestead/Florida City. Really no big deal about 2hr if you ride 16 mph. Then take a break, load up on fluids.

The ride to Key Largo is no longer that bad the road has almost completely been redone, the curb is large and by the time you arrive it will be done. EARLY AM is the key to this stretch of raodway and it is only about 25 miles by the way. Then from there, unless you have a fear of road traffic, a group is best but ride the road and curb, it is not that bad at all. The worst thing to be aware of is the car pulling a boat, the boat swing has sent me flying more than once. The ride is going to be mosquito free and cool in January/Feb. Even when passing the Everglades in Florida City.

More details and/or alt routes let me know I know the area very well, I may even join you guys if you have room for one more.

Serge
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Old 08-05-08, 02:52 PM   #14
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Riding the Keys

Just my 2 cents worth...
I addition to all the other info... Keep your eyes peeled when you ride. Conditions can vary greatly from one day/week/month to the next depending on when road crews last cleaned up the shoulders. I have seen EVERYTHING imaginable tossed off on the shoulders.
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Old 10-22-08, 07:19 PM   #15
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Hello From Miami

Have you completed the ride? Let me know if not and I can guide you trough the back roads of Miami to key largo, from there thereis only one way south
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Old 10-27-08, 07:13 AM   #16
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It would be great to have that information. If you prefer mapmyride.com then just post the link here. Any info is good. I really appreciate it.
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Old 11-02-08, 12:07 PM   #17
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Not sure when you are planing to go but we have an organize ride to Key West in early December !!! We usually get over thirty riders.
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Old 11-03-08, 08:17 PM   #18
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When and where?

Where do you guys start, stay and eat? Do you SAG people. I would love to hear more. If I have the time I would love to get away and ride with you.
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Old 11-10-08, 06:14 PM   #19
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You can check details in the Everglades Bicycle Club web site.

I think the ride is the second week of December, usually we start at the Fruit and Spice Park. I have not checked for this year but might be different. We get some help at a couple of intersections from the FHP, do have a tent along the way with food etc and we do sag people. The first day you will ride about 100 miles and sleep at Islamorada then on to Key West the next day, another seventy. Return is by car and you need to arrange it.

Fun ride and good people. I haven't checked the website lately but there should be having details. If not you the people that run the club have their numbers listed and are always glad to help.
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Old 11-17-08, 03:31 AM   #20
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I'll check with the Everglades Bicycle Club and find out the details. Thanks
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Old 11-17-08, 04:18 AM   #21
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Hello, I am going to be in Miami from 12/2-12/7 for a business trip. Really, only one day is for business and the rest is for - hopefully - some kick ass riding adventures as I've decided to bring my touring bicycle.... Anyone on here from miami? Does anyone have some good google map routes? I'm comfortable in LA traffic but have never been to Miami so I'm not familiar with the drivers or bike routes. Any help would be appreciated. thanks.
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Old 12-18-08, 07:30 AM   #22
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Too tall sorry for the late response, if I'd read this earlier I would have helped. Hope your trip went well!
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