Disclaimer: This 2022 133-Mile North Key Largo to Key West Tour recap contains affiliate links…

 

 

Not Quite Miami to Key West

In December 2019, our Dawn Patrol cycling friends participated in Bicycle Shows’ ride from Miami to Key West. Bill and I regretted skipping out on the fun and vowed to join next time around. The organized event hasn’t been brought back post-Covid, but that didn’t stop one of our friends who has since moved to Coral Springs from recreating the ride.

Logistically, riding from Key Largo to Key West made more sense than from Miami to Key West; however, that cut the mileage from about 160 to 113 miles. For those of us eager to ride farther, we had the option to leave early the first day and ride north 16 miles before picking up our friends on our return trip back by the hotel. The extra 32 miles gave us 133 miles total on the two days.

 

To Rent or BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike)

Bill and I played around with several options ranging from driving to Florida with our bikes on the back of our SUV, taking the Auto Train, shipping our bikes, or renting from Key Largo Bikes, the outfitter we’d hired for crew support. We ended up renting bikes, but bringing our own pedals and bags. Initially, we’d planned to bring our own saddles, but decided at the last minute to hope for the best and stick with with the saddles already on the bikes, a decision I quickly regretted a few miles into the first day.

Bill’s Cannondale rental getting the pedals swapped out…

 

My Jamis rental patiently hanging out in the hotel room…

 

Pick a Lane

The ride from Key Largo to Key West is pretty much a straight shot down Route 1. Much of the route had a parallel bike path – Overseas Heritage Trail – which wasn’t heavily used, but I quickly learned that I preferred staying on the varying width bike lane directly beside traffic. On the path, we had to slow and look both ways, often around bushes, at every cross road; however, in the bike lane we had the right of way at those intersections.

 

Elevation and Speed

During an average 40-mile ride in our part of Virginia we easily climb 2,000 feet and during the Reston Century we climbed 5,705 feet. I was curious how the lack of elevation change would affect my speed while riding on the pancake flat and close to sea level route. Ends up, we climbed more than I expected and actually gained 1,086 feet over the course of two days and 133 miles.

My speed was 14.8 MPH the first day and 17.8 MPH the second day, but I attribute the wide speed range to headwind versus tailwind, and sunny and hot versus cloudy and cool. The variable weather probably had a greater effect on my speed than the course elevation.

 

Day 1 – 14.8 MPH

  • • headwind
  • • sunny
  • • hot and humid

I’m not going to lie, this day was tough! The combination of being tired from work, not being acclimated to the heat and humidity, plus being dehydrated from flying to Florida the day before made for a very tough day.

 

Day 2 – 17.8 MPH

  • • tailwind
  • • cloud coverage
  • • morning drizzle

What a difference slightly cooler temps, getting a good night’s sleep, and being properly hydrated made. I felt strong, not overheated, and the miles clicked by effortlessly.

 

Day 1 Ride Overview
  • • Ride With GPS Name: 102 Key West from Key Largo Marriott
  • • Ride with GPS: Link to turn-by-turn navigation cue sheet
  • • Location: Monroe County, Florida
  • • Start/Finish: Key Largo to Marathon
  • • Course Type: Straight Line
  • • Course Surface: Paved
  • • Distance: 78.44 miles
  • • Time: 5:17:51
  • • Average Speed: 14.8 MPH
  • • Maximum Speed: 22.6 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 630 feet
  • • Elevation Range: -52 to 61 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 73° to 80°

 

Day 2 Ride Overview
  • • Ride With GPS Name: 102 Key West from Key Largo Marriott
  • • Ride with GPS: Link to turn-by-turn navigation cue sheet
  • • Location: Monroe County, Florida
  • • Start/Finish: Marathon to Key West
  • • Course Type: Straight Line
  • • Course Surface: Paved
  • • Distance: 55.39 miles
  • • Time: 3:07:29
  • • Average Speed: 17.8 MPH
  • • Maximum Speed: 30.3 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 456 feet
  • • Elevation Range: -24 to 53 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 75° to 78°
  • • Course Map:

 

Fun Pictures From Along the Way – Day 1

Unless otherwise noted, the following pictures were taken with my iPhone (affiliate link) while stopped along the course or by Bill who also had his GoPro Hero 7 (affiliate link) rolling video.

For those of us planning to pad our mileage with the 32-mile roundtrip ride north and back before picking up the rest of the crew, we were to meet in the parking garage at 7 AM. I hate having others wait for me, but I had to make a last minute emergency potty stop and was one of the last ones to arrive. By the time we all gathered and rolled out of the garage it was close to 7:15.

With 32 miles under our belts, we got back to the hotel just after 9:30 and met the rest of our group. We quickly gathered our bags from our rooms and loaded them in our support crew leader Patrick’s truck to be taken to our next hotel.

With the entire gang together, we stopped at the mile 100 sign for an official group picture…

 

Rolling south and stopped at an intersection waiting to cross to a more shaded side road…

 

The stops on this ride were longer, but less frequent than our normal rides. There were several times along the way that I wanted to stop for a picture, but didn’t want to fall behind the group – I was struggling enough to keep up already.

 

Our crew leader Patrick not only had our luggage on his truck, but had snacks (like this fresh pineapple), water, Gatorade, Tylenol, spare bikes, etc. at the ready for us…

 

Bill showing off his new Virginia Tech kit…

 

And leading the way…

 

Stopped at Robbie’s Marina to see the pelicans and tarpon…

Photo credit: Mary

 

Enjoying lunch provided by Patrick…

 

Afternoon quick rest stop…

 

Patrick our support crew leader…

 

Finding some shade on the Overseas Heritage Trail, the trail running parallel to Route 1…

 

Posing with our ride leader Chris (front left) and happy to have day 1 under our belts…

Photo credit: Dave

 

Fun Pictures From Along the Way – Day 2

We had agreed to be ready to roll at 8:30 AM so imagine our surprise when the sky opened to heavy rain just before 8. We texted back and forth and the majority voted to ride in the rain; however, by the time we rolled out at 8:40 AM the rain had stopped. It drizzled a little shortly after we started our ride, followed by a couple of hours of very welcomed cloud coverage.

About six miles into our ride we regrouped so we could cross Seven Mile Bridge together. In order to stay as safe as possible, we agreed to no passing and no stopping until we got to the other side.

Photo credit: Dave

The newer bridge which we rode across is the one on the left…

Photo credit: Byways, circa 2008

Photo credit: Dave

Seven Mile Bridge was everything I expected… seven miles of holding a death grip on my handlebars while riding along at 20-25 MPH on a 6-foot wide shoulder with nothing but a white line between me and 55 MPH traffic on one side and a 4-foot high concrete Jersey barrier separating me and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side. Staring straight ahead, I dared not take in the scenery and prayed that we’d all make it across safely.

 

Posing happily south of the bridge…

 

Stopped for pictures at the park on the south side of Seven Mile Bridge…

 

Pretty pumped at my average speed thus far knowing that it would most likely drop as the day went on…

 

I got my first ever flat three miles south of Seven Mile Bridge when my front wheel squarely hit a large white rock which I didn’t see until it was too late. Within seconds of hitting the rock I could hear a loud hissing sound so I pulled over while letting the group know I had a flat. I was grateful when my hubby and guy friends jumped right in to fix it. Six guys in total ended up helping or supervising…

 

Smitty, our day 2 ride leader, pumping up my new tube…

 

Chuck, our ride organizer and trip planner, on the right…

 

Posing with my friend Mary in front of the tackiest Jeep ever…

 

Patrick had lunch waiting for us at Baby’s Coffee…

 

We saw the first of many roosters at Baby’s…

 

Group picture in front of Baby’s truck…

 

Scenic views…

 

Stopping to quickly catch our breath…

 

Somehow our group got separated with mixed messages and half of us went to the Southernmost Point first while the others rode to Mile Marker 0. Those of us at the Southernmost Point took turns standing in line for our group picture in front of the iconic buoy.

 

And finally it was our turn…

 

There’s only one way to celebrate a ride like this!

 

Because of the mixup, we had a smaller group gather at Mile 0…

 

Since this was a self-organized ride, there was no swag, no shirts, no finisher’s medal, etc., so we stopped at Eaton Bikes a few blocks from Mile 0 to buy commemorative jerseys. Available in red or blue (each with a different design), Bill and I both chose blue.

Jersey front…

 

Jersey back…

 

Once back at the hotel, Patrick dropped off our luggage and picked up our rental bikes…

 

And we celebrated our 2-day 133-mile ride with well earned drinks by the pool…

 

Garmin Stats

Day 1 – Key Largo to Marathon

Post-ride Garmin (affiliate link) picture…

 

Garmin map and graphs…

 

Day 2 – Marathon to Key West

Post-ride Garmin (affiliate link) picture…

When we pulled into the Southernmost Point, my Garmin showed 17.8 MPH; however, by the time I took the picture 30 minutes later, the MPH speed had dropped to 17.7. Strava shows my average speed at 17.8 MPH so that’s what I’m sticking with!

 

Garmin map and graphs…

 

Dawn Patrol’s Key West Ride 2022 Trailer

Once home and everyone in our group had downloaded their pictures and video to our shared Google Drive, Bill made a video of our two-day adventure…

 

Final Thoughts on the Ride

As soon as Bill and I finished the ride we both said that it was a one and done ride. We’d crossed it off of our bucket list and were ready to start dreaming about another adventure. Now that we’ve been home a week, we keep talking about doing the same ride again. It will be interesting to see if the Miami to Key West ride comes back as a sponsored event, and if not, whether or not our group will want to do our own version again. Patrick at Key Largo Bikes did a great job supporting us, but we couldn’t have done it without the diligent planning by our friend Chuck.

 

Questions:
  • • Do you prefer organized rides/tours or just heading out and seeing where your bike takes you?
  • • Would riding across Seven Mile Bridge freak you out? ~ I was very apprehensive before the crossing it and thankful once it was behind me.
  • • Do you stop and relax occasionally to fuel or take pictures, or barrel on through when on a long run or ride?

 

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a small commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.