Author Topic: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale  (Read 2163 times)

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Offline dwrz

Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« on: November 23, 2012, 10:14:58 pm »
This would be my first touring trip-- I'm looking for any advice/insight.

My spring break (I'm a grad student) is February 22 to March 3, more or less.

I live in NYC, and I figure that the NY area will not be ideal for touring during that time of year.

Florida is relatively cheap to get to (I'm thinking JetBlue), and since it is warmer I will not have to worry about carrying winter gear. Travelling light is ideal since my bike can only fit Ortlieb FrontRollers on the rear rack. In case any major mechanical failures arise, I'm still within the US (mobile phone signal) and hopefully not too far from a solution.

I'm thinking of picking a soft case to pack the bike in, and to store the soft case with Bags To Go (http://bagstogo.net/index.php).

Right now I am leaning on sleeping out (bivy sack + light sleeping bag), but I still have to research how feasible that is. I go outdoors pretty often, most of the gear is ready. Military service, so I'm not unfamiliar with more austere conditions. Again, not sure if that is feasible at all on the route.

I still need to pick out some cycle gear (better saddle and shorts, some repair tools/replacement parts).

I'm thinking about 60 miles a day. Still have to check out the route in detail. Three days to Key West, maybe a day there, then two days from Marco Island back to Ft Lauderdale. Sleeping out would allow some flexibility in the mileage, staying in would probably involve fixed destinations.

Any advice or insight? I'm grateful for any help.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 10:17:41 pm by dwrz »

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2012, 07:36:38 am »
A light duty, $15.00, 10 by 12 poly tarp with poles and or rope strung between trees, and a few plastic stakes from Walmart will do for shelter. I've used the same for transcontinental bike tours and it is just fine. You might want some mosquito coils and skin-so-soft as repellents. A winter bag and a $7.00 closed cell foam pad from WM will suffice. A patch kit and pump with a wrench for the wheels and some alan wrenches should be enough. If you break down the bike and put it together, get what's necessary. I went 4500 miles without replacing parts. Do that before you leave. Motels in the Keys in winter are expensive. Expensive is relative to what you have. To me it is completely prohibitive, and that's another subject.

A widening of US 1 past the Last Chance Saloon might let you cut some miles off your trip by passing up Card Sound Road, but check it out for sure first. The last time I did the Keys there was a lot of road construction starting not far from Key Largo.Once through Miami, it is bike path all the way almost to the Last Chance, starting with the under Metro Rail path to sidewalks to bus-only lanes with plenty of space running near US 1. In the Keys it is easy, safe, flat sailing. The 7 mile bridge has a rise but not much of one. There may be some shoulderless extents of roadway. Designated bike path goes for a long way. Watch for the signs. There can be strong, cold, northwinds that time of year, and heavy rain. There are plenty of sidewalks that make for slower but safer carefree cycling. In some areas the sidewalks are the worst but it's no big problem.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2012, 07:39:43 am by Westinghouse »

Offline dwrz

Re: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2012, 11:03:38 pm »
Appreciate the insight, Westinghouse! It is reassuring to hear the journey is feasible.

I have a few questions:
1. From your experience, I take it that camping is a feasible option? Even in Key West itself?
2. Do you think a winter bag is really necessary? Average lows seem to be around 18C/65F.
3. Is cooking on an alcohol stove feasible? Are there markets one can buy food from?

Thanks again,
David

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 02:22:50 am »
Camping inside KW itself? I haven't done that. There might be some place to set up. You can find places just outside the town.I like to stay clean which can be difficult to do on long winter tours. Beach showers are available, but what if there's a cold snap?
 
Average temps are good. There are also cold snaps that can get into the 50s F. It happens. Probably a winter bag would be more than you would need. It might never be necessary. It might be something more useful than you thought. Google for highest and lowest average winter temperatures there and you'll see what I mean. Actually, a real winter bag you would use in the northern US is definitely not necessary. A 40 degree bag will be sufficient. The average low in February is 57 F. The lowest in KW was 41 F.  Fifty is chilly. Probably a $25.00 Walmart bag is all you will need.

http://goflorida.about.com/od/floridaweathe1/qt/Marathon-Weather.htm


The alcohol stove idea is good. There are food stores and reasonably priced restaurants all over the place. The Keys are highly tourist oriented. You'll be there around the apex of the season.   Rooms and camping spaces then come at high prices. Food in stores and restaurants is about the same as anywhere. Of course, upscale restaurants can be pricey and that's true everywhere.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2012, 05:33:59 am by Westinghouse »

Offline JMilyko

Re: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2012, 10:43:54 am »
A widening of US 1 past the Last Chance Saloon might let you cut some miles off your trip by passing up Card Sound Road, but check it out for sure first.

FYI: Based on recent cyclist feedback, we are changing the Atlantic Coast route through here from Card Sound Rd. to US 1.

.Jennifer.
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Jennifer H. Milyko
Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2012, 03:33:53 pm »
Camping is feasible which I define as an onernight sleep site. Is is officially allowed? I'm not sure. People do it. I camped every time I did the Keys which has been six times so far. I have cycled the keys six times. I camped every night. I do not build fires. For me it is simply set up, sleep, wake up, pack up, go and find the nearest restaurant.

Offline wbst31

Re: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2012, 03:51:23 pm »
FYI That time frame is the high season here in Florida, you might want to check if camping sites are available on your route as the snowbirds are here.
 
And have you considered doing the "Florida Connector" route from Ft. Myers to Key West?

Bill Becker
Fort Myers, FL

Offline dwrz

Re: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2012, 06:25:31 pm »
Thank you for all the input!

Again, it is reassuring to hear that the route is more or less feasible, and that it has been camped before.

I am in my exam season now, but I will take a better look at the route and camping options over the next couple of weeks.

I will also look at the Florida Connector route and purchase the map. My only immediate concern is that it seems longer than the route from Marco Island to Ft. Lauderdale, which raises some concerns about fitting it into the schedule. But it may not be an issue.

Any advice on sights worth seeing in the area?

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Ft Lauderdale to Key West & Marco Island to Ft Lauderdale
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2012, 02:48:16 pm »
Pennecamp state park is underwater. Key west is historical. It is small and compact. Ernest Hemingway's house. Harry Truman's house. You can google it. I had a great uncle from the civil war who met his future wife there. He later became a governor of Pennsylvania. KW was a customs station during the CW.  It was occupied by union forces. Henry Flagler had a railroad built through the keys. A hurricane killed many of the people working and building that railroad. The fishing should be good. It had a reputation of being a sort of homosexual gathering area. I don't know if that is still true. There are large cruise ships operating out of that place. You can go bonefishing. There is free camping in the woods. Just don't advertise your presence. Keep it secret. Don't build a campfire. There is a southern most point marker. They have guided tours of the city in small trains. There's the Hog's Breath Saloon if it's still there. There are plenty of gorgeous women there in winter. There are many places to knock back some beers and relax. There's a historical sailboat there, or there was. They were refurbishing it. There's a naval base, air base, whatever.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2012, 05:32:23 am by Westinghouse »