Hoping to help these guys...

Hoping to help these guys...

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

I've Been Everywhere. Day thirty, Clewiston to Miami.

Okay then, here we go for the final time on this tour! Thanks to a ton of good luck I had left myself only about 95 miles from Clewiston to South Beach: the winds would help a bit and it literally is pan-flat all the way.

This pair put it better though:
Elwood: "There's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses."
Jake: "Hit it!"

Or 'Doing a Ten' as he's known...
And that is very much that!
Ever seen someone riding a bike wearing a big, dumb grin? Well, the residents of Florida got that treat yesterday: at least for the first 80 miles or so. At that point US 27 turned ugly, as did the surroundings. This route into Miami is industrial and the traffic reflected this, big-time: no place for bicycles to be honest.
Hiding-out in Subway until The Heat does one.
US 27, how I love thee!
Wick, left hand down- you'll be in the drink in a minute!
You're gonna need a bigger boat...
Even though I had maps on my phone and GPS and a hand-written cue sheet, there wasn't much choice so I stuck with it and said a few not-so-silent prayers. As I left another set of traffic lights I had gone about 10 yards before a bang from my rear tyre let me know that it was time for a break, hah-hah!
And the wheels come off: US 27, what have I done to thee?
That's about right, hah-hah!
So it was time to dodge across the highway and set about changing the tube for the eighth time in a month. Not a big deal but I was desperate to get to the finish and put all this to bed.
Not the place for a puncture, is it? 
Step forward, number eight. Ouch! 
On this occasion, I will cede right-of-way. Go Casey!
 It was frustrating to see the high-rises of downtown but not actually seeming to get too much closer to them! Eventually I did end-up facing the beautiful sight of Venetian Way, which takes you across Biscayne Bay to South Beach.

Genuinely, I have never enjoyed cycling across a bridge as much: it even had cycle lanes and everything!
Oh yes, at long last...
Get in! Shouted to Iggy as he was tending to his Azaleas...
My grin was back big-time as I pedalled south along the promenade...this was wonderful. The next task was to drag my bike across the sand and find some punter who didn't mind giving-up 10 minutes and being shouted at how to take photos. Not as many willing candidates as you'd imagine...but my big thanks go to a young lady who was in the wrong place etc.! Thanks Ma'am.
Consider that rear wheel dipped!
The Pacific emptied into The Atlantic. Well, a tiny bit of it.
The water felt great and quite a few people wondered just what on earth was this guy about, as he got a bicycle and himself covered in salt water and sand. It'll mean a trip to Colin when I get back hah-hah! 

Change of jersey and we're done here. Quite enjoyed this showboating, if I'm honest!
Here by the sea and sand. Okay, let's find the hotel...
 From that point, I allowed myself a few minutes on the beach just to bask, and then set about finding my hotel. I did wonder if they would take umbrage at the state of me and my transport, but in the event they were sound people, plus I was just in time for their happy hour which features free cocktails. As in free. As in cocktails. Yes, you read that right!
Which is splendid- not too stuffy and really friendly. Did I mention happy hour?
Admin done (gonna miss handwashed clothes), I headed one block across to Ocean Drive, and a plethora of poseurs and tourists like me. Only a lot better-dressed...

Poseurs paradise. I er, didn't quite cut it in my t-shirt & shorts combo, hah-hah!

Keep yer Porsches and Lambos.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported this nonsense. Good on ya'!
Now here comes the first reflections on the tour: I hope that I don't disappear up my own jacksy here and I'll probably add to and revise this in a day or so...but first, here is the Choon Of The Day!

Once this gem gets in your head, that is it!

For someone like me, this tour was only possible because of the messages and nonsense that went back and forth. It makes such a difference knowing that folk are following your (lack of) progress.

A special mention goes to my cycling partner-in-crime/Directeur Sportif, Andy. We were in contact everyday and it was great to be able to bounce ideas or ask advice from someone who knows what I'm capable of, both good and bad, hah-hah!

Cheers Wick!

As you may recall, the wheels came off slightly on day two when I lost 30-odd miles due to insane headwinds. I've never had a beating like that on the bike and I don't particularly want to repeat the experience anytime soon, thanks all the same.

Anyway, it was then that I realised that my 'Billy Big Time' notion of 135 miles a day was arrogant at worst, and daft at best. Without luggage and with other riders then sure, but otherwise...
Anyway, I was lucky to have a couple of days spare because the night before I flew out I rang British Airways and asked how much it would be to change the date of my return flight. Initially I was told £172. I rang again and pleaded miserably and the bloke said he'd change it for £100. Sold!

So I was able to absorb those missing miles and adjust a few of the other stupid mileages that I had planned: all this meant planning on-the-hoof, which was a bit exhilarating (read: worrying) but it kept me on my toes, hah-hah!

The route planning wasn't always top-notch either: some of that was unavoidable because I needed 'direct' instead of 'scenic' or cycle-friendly. In truth, out all the thousands of vehicles that passed me, I only had perhaps three encounters that I would class as 'too close for comfort'. 

I was impressed with how truck drivers (HGVs in the UK) would almost always do their best, especially when they saw how you were trying to keep right over. And of course if they set the good example, it made it more likely that the vehicles behind them would follow suit. Almost without exception, they all got an acknowledgement from me too. Cheers!

The US is a brilliant country to cycle in: it's got the weather, scenery and wildlife. You just have to choose the right roads. Talk about stating the bleedin' obvious, right?

The other aspect that you might take from the blogs is the difficulty in eating 'well': I know that this is a First World Problem, but it still is an issue. In large part, this was due to my motels being sited at the junctions of Interstate Highways or on out-of-town strips where the same old options always prevail.

When we rode across in 2011, I seem to remember there being more family-oriented/sit-down restaurants like Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesdays and the like. Are these not as popular anymore or was I just unlucky? Again, if you have more time you can explore downtown and perhaps give local restaurants a turn, but I just didn't have that luxury. Self-inflicted, I know.

Of course I can't leave the subject of food without mentioning McDonalds, hah-hah! I did visit one almost every day, if only to stock-up on their excellent Oatmeal & Fruit pots. WADA will probably ban them now or require TUEs...

What definitely has not changed in the five years is just how open and friendly the natives are. There wasn't a day that went by without a short and incredulous conversation with someone: you're doing what? Wow! Plus there were the dozens of beeps and shouts of encouragement from other road users which I mentioned...they made a big difference too. I will reciprocate in future, I promise.

Rehydration is vital. Note ample '5-a-day' intake too, hah-hah!
Alright then, it's time for me to stroll and find a lazy lunch- I'll raise a glass to you. Cheers!

I've enjoyed keeping the blog going everyday, even though there were a couple of occasions where I literally fell asleep while updating it: I imagine that a few of the less-inspired entries had you doing similar, hah-hah!

If you have enjoyed it too and feel inclined, please see if you can spare a couple of quid or whatever to help Bloodwise and Combat Stress. Here are those links if you are able to donate:

- To donate to Bloodwise, please click 'here'!

- Please click 'on this bit' to support Combat Stress.

I know that the two charities and the people that they help appreciate all your help.

ps if you are kind enough to donate, and select 'anonymous', I can't 'see' who you are, unlike on Just Giving. So apologies if you were thinking that the miserable tw*t hasn't even e-mailed me to say thanks, hah-hah!
Until we meet again...

You can save yourself time by going straight to 8 mins 30secs in!

In memory of Mike...a real gentle man.
Update: as of November 21st, the combined totals are north of £7000, which is fantastic and down to you. Both the charities really appreciate these funds and know how much others will benefit...good on you!

Definitely, hah-hah!


  1. Hats off, chapeau, well done sir, etc, etc. An inspiration to us all, and the evenings will be a duller place without the daily update. Jonesy

    1. Guv- it was nothing, really hah-hah! Big thanks to you for the encouragement as it really does make the difference. Cheers! Smoke before Christmas then?

  2. Fantastic, Simon. It was hard enough 5 years ago, but to do it on your own, to the same pace, carrying your own gear, finding your own food and accommodation, with no-one to shelter behind or buddy with ... incredible. You are an inspiration, both for what you've done and how you've gone about it, and I've thoroughly enjoyed following you over the last month. All the very best and look forward to connecting again sometime soon. Steve B

    1. Steve/Sir Clive,
      It has been an adventure alright...just missing Ohio Bob baby, yeah! Glad that you/anyone at all enjoyed the blog...as you know all too well, it does get a bit 'samey' after a while so thanks for sticking it out!
      Take it easy, Sir...cheers mate!