I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Paddle Day 52-139: High Winds and Downpours Biking

Thought I would take a rest day today.  We wanted to take the boat tour to the Lingumvitae State Botanical Park, but the trails through the mangrove tunnels were closed because of the rain causing the sap of the Poisenwood trees to drip down onto people and cause serious skin irritations.  Decided to bike two sections of the expedition in the rain instead.
As I get near the end of the expedition I feel a bit like the horse bolting for the home barn at the end of journey.  A rest day was scheduled for today, but with all the rain, the most fun thing I could think of to do was to get on my bike and cover those two legs of the expedition I had just skipped.

It's funny that the same clothing that works so well in the kayak is great for biking in a downpour: my NRS neoprene shorts and paddling jacket.  But I use my Crocs sandals for footwear since my folding bike doesn't have toe clips or bike shoe clips.  That's handy in the rain as I've been going through puddles on the road so deep that both feet are underwater at the same time!  This El Nino rain is getting to be a little old.  Or is that just me?

Flagler's old railway bridge makes a nice bike path
As I crossed from key to key, the old bridge made a nice bake path sometimes.  At the channel to the next key, I saw the high section of the bridge, and didn't feel like spending the energy to climb up the hill, so took the old low bridge.  I should have thought this one through more carefully before pedaling down it.
Dead End!
As I finally noticed the dead end, I realized how the system works.  If the highway bridge stays low and doesn't allow large boat traffic under it, then the old railroad bridges work fine.  But when there is a passage for boats, the highway bridge soars up, and they have to make a cut in the old bridge for the boats to pass.  Oops!

The Route One bridges didn't have a formal bike lane - just signs for the motorists to "Share the Road with Bicycles".  Not a very comforting thought as high rigs blocked the sky as they whizzed past me.   I was thinking about the bicyclist in Niagara Falls who accidentally went over the guard rail into the river, right above Niagara Falls.  I couldn't remember if it was high wind or a passing vehicle that sent him over.  Fortunately he was swept into a bridge embankment and was able to hold on until a helicopter rescued him.  I wished I was out kayaking in high waves instead.
Big rigs whizzing by
But it was interesting seeing the evidence of the solution to the water problem in the keys.  There is not a lot of ground water here, so development was slow until the water problem was solved.  The Florida Keys Water Authority pumps water from the freshwater Biscayne aquifer near Everglades National Park.  At peak times of consumption (winter tourist season) the water is mixed with up to 4% of brackish water from the Floridian aquifer.  The water is pumped under high pressure through large pipes (36 inch diameter to start) for 130 miles.  The mains go under the bridges, and I saw them when kayaking.  Now while biking I can see what might be relief valves at the tops of the bridges.
Relief valve?
I don't stop to inspect them, as I am too focussed on making it to the top of the bridge without down shifting to a lower gear.

One town I passed through, I was told, is so small it only has a single cop car.  And that one is always parked empty on the side of the road and acts as a decent speeding deterrent for the tourists.

I was glad to arrive in Tavernier and end the bike adventure, and check out a duplicate of Earnest Hemingway's boat at the World Wide Sportsman, along with the Zane Grey bar.  The only thing I go there was a snapshot of the view.

View from Zane Grey's Bar at the World Wide Sportsman.
It looked like a completely different world from my day in the rain on the highway!

Gratitude List:
  1. No one ran me over
  2. No one ran me off the road
  3. The wind didn't blow me off the road
  4. The rain was relatively warm
  5. Chris and I had a great lunch at a little cafe
Date: January 22, 2016                                               Restart Paddle Day: 52    Paddle Day:139
Start location: Grassy Key, FL                                      Launch time: 11:00 AM
End location:  Islamorada                                            Land time: 2:30 PM
Average speed: 11.2 mph                                             Max Speed:  18 mph
Miles: 24.8
Total expedition miles with kayak and bike: 2440        Motor-portage miles: 404
Sailing Miles: 1025                                                      TOTAL Expedition Miles: 3466
Kayak Storage: Knight's Key Resort and Marina
Host: Chris Percival

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