We suck at bikepacking – Biking to Key West EP1

We suck at bikepacking – Biking to Key West EP1


We suck at bikepacking – Cycling to Key West
EP1 This, is mile marker 0 off route US-1. It
symbolizes the Southernmost point in the continental US, but clearly the house behind it is further
South. To me, the real reason to visit mile marker 0 is to drive through the Florida Keys.
From downtown Miami, it’s an epic 3 hour drive, starting with skyscrapers and ending
in 7 mile long bridges through the Caribbean—or the Gulf of Mexico depending on which car
window you’re looking out of. The final stop is Key West, and it’s worth
the trip. If you like coconut trees, flip flops, and stiff drinks, you may find no better
place. Of course, relaxation was the last thing on my mind when I agreed to pedal to
Key West from my house in Fort Lauderdale. I’m pretty sure it was Alex’s crazy idea,
and who could blame him? The poor guy has been off his mountain bike since November,
when he dislocated his shoulder. A road bike adventure through the flattest state in the
nation would be a piece of cake. So we threw caution to the wind, did absolutely
no research, and retrofitted our road bikes with racks and luggage. Alex had a lot of
camping experience, and I went through a road biking phase a few years back. I was no stranger
to high mileage. 200 miles in 3 days would be easy. So the goal for day one would be
a campsite 90 miles away in Key Largo. As we set out from my house in high spirits,
we had no idea how humbling of an experience this ride would be. Alex and I fell short
of Key Largo by over 40 miles on day one. Allow me to summarize why that was the case. Reason 1: Roady miles and bike packing miles
are not the same. When you ride for training of for the sake of riding you choose your
favorite route. We were forced to ride through Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Hallandale, all
of Miami, and Homestead, encountering ridiculous amounts of stop lights, traffic, glass, and
general treachery. City miles are slow and frustrating. We were moving at a snails pace,
which leads into… Reason number 2: The worst route ever. I
used Google maps to plan a route and tapped the little bicycle icon. This is great for
finding the closest bikeway, but terrible for finding directions. Rather than have you
ride for a mile on a less than ideal road, Google would rather you get on a ferry. Sometimes
it would want us to take a bikeway for a few miles, make a u turn, and backtrack a mile
to get on another bikeway—this instead of just hopping over one median. For the record
I now know the best route, but I can’t go back in time to Wednesday afternoon, which
brings us to… Reason number 3: A late start. We did some
preparation in the morning and moseyed on down to the coffee shop. We didn’t start
pedaling until around 11, since we wanted to wait until rush hour was over. I don’t
know why it didn’t click that we’d be in South Miami during the second rush hour.
Since my calculations were based on roady miles, I figured we’d be in the keys by
then, but I didn’t account for all the stops, craploads of extra weight, and…. Reason number 4: Mechanical problems. For
the record I did one thing right, and that was buy two really good brand new tires, and
a reasonably sturdy rack with panniers. Alexander’s bike was f*cked. His tires were really old,
and his rack consisted of 9 bungie cords and some backpacks. The only thing on his bike
that worked consistently was the horn. Alex kept getting flats on his rear tire, and it
took forever to take on and off the bike due to the rear rack. Between stops to fix the
rack, multiple flats, and a detour to restock our supplies, we burnt through 2 hours of
daylight, which brings me to… Reason number 5: Bad luck, which I admit is
sort of a cop out for bad planning. Google Maps led us to a really jagged and rough fire
road, which was out of the question considering Alex’s tire issues. So we tried to find
a way around it and found ourselves trapped. I was going to do it, but Alex was actually
the voice of reason. He might have saved both of our lives. During the day, maybe. At night,
it was sketchy. So, 40 miles from Key Largo we decided to
throw in the towel. Luckily, motels in Homestead are about the same price as tent sites in
the keys. We were pretty bummed out, and admittedly doubtful that we would get to Key West on
time. Both of us were on a time constraint, and the next day was looking grimmer and grimmer
by the minute. After 50 miles of arduous urban
pedaling, we needed something to boost our spirits. Our goal for the following day would be to
make it to Key Largo and keep pushing all the way to Marathon by the end of the day.
That was a lofty 80 mile goal for day two. Would we make it? Find out in the next video.
Thanks for riding with me today and I’ll see you next time.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. this is why i have a roadbike, with thicker 28 inch tires, and sidepack racks, wich you can take off, and use it again as a roadbike. it has mudguards, and a steel frame. so it is strong, but also heavy.. check out the "Batavus Improve" for the bike

  2. This is an activity for the anal retentive. Better to just ride your bike and stay in a hotel and eat in restaurants along the way.

  3. Yup! It looks like you made many of the mistakes so many other first-time bicycle tourists make when trying to bike tour for the first time. But you had fun… right?

  4. It reassures me greatly to know that there is at least one form of biking where I am probably better than Seth.

  5. Nice video. I'm surprised you didn't know about the M path and South Dade Trail. It looks like you found Old Cutler trail which I like better but is less direct than M-Path/South Dade to Homestead and Florida City. When in doubt stop at a bike shop and ask for advice, they all could have helped you out. Yup Homestead has some of the best rates in Dade County. I stayed in various ones for the first 6 weeks I moved to S Florida always Getting ready to watch the next video .

  6. Neat tip for Google Maps is to always use pedestrian instead of bicycle, it's normally quicker.

  7. Key Largo, Montigo oh I wanna take you to the Kokomo we can take fast then we'll take it slowly that's wear you wanna go the Kokomo

  8. Renting a motel room on night 1 of a 3-day bikepacking trip? Total fail. You passed up plenty of good sites for stealth camping between deciding to rent a room and actually arriving at the motel.

    50 miles on the first day of a bikepacking trip is quite commendable, especially considering your setbacks, all of which were due to bad planning.

  9. Either incredibly naïve or set up was on purpose for the sake of drama. Either way pretty lucky you didn’t get smoked by a car.

  10. My friends and I did a trip from Tampa to Key West a few years back and loved it! My only complaint would be in regards to the keys. EXPENSIVE camping! Hard to stealth camp. Great video brotha.

  11. Google bike directions used to be so absurd. It put me on a freeway instead of using a proper bike lane that was easily accessible.

  12. I went on a 45 mile bike packing trip on a full suspension carbon downhill bike, you can expect how that went

  13. Ima say this isn’t google’s fault, because over in th Netherlands it’s perfect and has none of the problems that you mentioned. It’s the simple fact that there aren’t that many bikepaths in the US and the ones that do exist don’t fit on each other and weren’t made with much thought of the bigger picture. Over here in the Netherlands we have actually have ‘snelfiets-routes’ that are basically just highways between major cities and surrounding towns for bicycles. They’re simply put amazing. This has kinda become a rant on why the Netherland’s bike culture is awesome, so I’ll stop (though, it really is awesome).

  14. man, you 'suck'. 🙂 bicycle and (bicycle touring) are suppose to be LOW tech. I am also a cyclist, when I buy car, I prefer 'stick', when I got my N+1 bicycle, I will spend very little money on vintage, steel bicycle. You need to throw you GOOGLE out of the window, and use a old traditional MAP.

  15. 90mils was a little too much for day one big mistake 80 or 75 would be great also you should have stop and eat real food so you ran out of energy Evey fast I doubt you drink enough water too

  16. Did you get pulled over by the local highway police many times or not at all being as some of the roads took look pretty sketchy that you rode on

  17. There is no way I would be even thinking of that ride without Lycra…Should've taken a look at some 28mm tyres and made a route on Strava buddy!

  18. I rode a skateboard from Miami to Jacksonville and I can tell you, it gets super rough through the titusville and mims areas during the day and skirting the coast throught ft Lauderdale. Even with sea level air and towns every 30 miles, it gets insane with the drivers and trying not to get hit

  19. Something I would totally do, go on a crazy adventure with out doing any research because it sounds fun so you just do it. Awesome story.

  20. Me and my dad did a 350+ mile bike trip, it’s called the GAP trail on a gravel path in 7 days, I hope you can check this trail out.

  21. As a road biker for the last 30yrs (my mtn is more a side hobby, I aint legit like some Seth), expect an urban cross country with traffic to average 40mi a day maybe 50mi if you've got some good clean, flat sections.

  22. You should never use Google maps to plan a cycling route for bikepacking. There are many other much better apps for that, like Komoot! 🙂

  23. I am so happy living in the Netherlands when i see this! So dangerous. We even have bike highways (snelfietsroutes) even with roundabouts and own traffic lights 🙂

  24. Ha, started this video and saw your rout through Miami and thought no way. Cool video man, rode all these routs too. Got an e-bike shop on Oakland Park Blvd. Stop by sometime.

  25. Very ambitious trip
    South Florida is not a good place for bicycles..I think Broward county has the most pedestrian deaths in the US because of terrible city planning.

  26. Seth you need a new road bike. A good but cheap one would be the Spicialized allez e5 2020 and its has carbon fork and some okay gears

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