FL09: Hollywood FL to Florida City FL

61.2 miles
Total so far this tour:  460.5

More trough breakfast at the Ramada.   Sunday morning around here was much quieter than yesterday, and we retraced the 3 or 4 miles back to A1A, then turn southward again.  Winds changed course, now mildly coming from the south.  Hmm, no hammerheads out here this morning – where did they all go?

Early morning look east
Northern reaches of Miami

A dozen more miles south, and the way got more and more congested with traffic.  We passed into Miami-Dade county and cruised in to north Miami Beach.  It is there where we found the Canyon Ranch resort and my sweetheart Linda for a shared breakfast.

Signs of Miami
Linda and Jack at Canyon Ranch

The resort is fitness/wellness centric.  Linda has stayed here for the past couple of days, taking numerous fitness classes, eating incredibly healthy food, and relaxing in the lap of south Florida luxury.  Everyone seems to be walking around in fashionable skimpy workout togs, so our bike clothes fit right in. We eat outside, then take a tour of the place, through beautiful fitness rooms, spas, dining alcoves, and finally a peek at Linda’s grand room.  An awesome place.

Canyon Ranch Resort
Canyon Ranch Resort

We leave Linda and head down through SoBe (South Beach).  It’s a congested ride, often without shoulder, but fortunately the Sunday traffic is thin, and checking out the Art Deco district is worth the trouble.  At the bottom of the island we realize we’ve missed our ACA map turnoff west.  Rather than backtrack, we decide to wing it over the MacArthur Causeway.   It’s a tight fit with fast traffic, with only a thin bike lane appearing and disappearing often.  We roll by a docked Carnival cruise ship, and it’s all I can do to get out my camera and take a snap while moving.

Jack steals a skyline photo along busy MacArthur Causeway
Careful riding here, but I got a photo too

The looming Miami skyline of towering highrises is quite a sight as we enter the downtown area.  We turn south onto Biscayne Boulevard (US1) and stop regularly, trying to decipher the ACA maps through this concrete jungle.  There is a lot of traffic but we’re careful, as usual.  The ride is actually exciting.  It feels pretty amazing that we’ve made it all the way to Miami.

Downtown Miami
Downtown Miami
Riding with traffic

Our route takes us onto some neighborhood streets that eventually spit us out into the Coconut Grove area, where we find the “Old Cutler Trail”.  We soon learn that this “bike trail” is much better suited for mountain bikes.  The trail itself is mostly paved, but very rutted from underlying root growth, which makes the going slow and jarring.  At many places, old banyan tree trunks nearly obstruct the path, requiring a stop to inch your bike through the opening.  The trail is like a proving ground for bikes.  At least our Surlys got an A.

Neighborhood riding south of Miami
Navigating Old Cutler Trail
Typical spot where a banyan tree blocks the trail

We stopped for a drink and made a decision to ride the remaining distance to our motel in Homestead, foregoing lunch.  After enduring 6 more miles of Cutler Trail, we emerged east of the Homestead Air Force Base.  The roads there are very isolated and go through farms of palm trees.  I loved it.  We could have been riding through Belize.  Alligators, ibises, herons.  It was simply enchanting, hot and humid and quiet for many miles.

Miles of palm farms
Great riding out here
I kept stopping to soak it in
Swampy but quiet out here

Winds picked up a little bit, now maybe 10 mph from the south.  We dutifully followed the ACA maps on orthogonal roads that duck beneath the AFB and eventually headed due west on SW 328th Street to Florida City.  As we approached, there was a noticeable increase in unfriendly car traffic – you know, the kind that thinks they own the road.  Rednecks, sort of on the mean side.  Even Jack took to the sidewalks with me – now that’s unusual.

We crossed US1 and found our Super 8.  A joyless clerk sat enclosed in a glass booth in the tiny lobby, and I had to slide my credit card through a little slot.  What kind of place is Florida City?  We soon found out.

Jack and I headed out on our bikes to find snacks, heading north to Mike’s Grocery.  Out front sat three forlorn souls.  I immediately decided to lock up the bikes.  As I entered the store, one of the guys looks up and mumbles, “Better lock your bikes.”   After only a minute inside, I started feeling uneasy about the bikes, and so I headed out to sit with them while Jack shopped.  My exit was timed with another customer entering, but when I opened and held the door for him, he refused to go through.

While babysitting the bikes, I listened to a couple’s bracingly loud argument out on the street, something about not having enough money to make a phone call.  The guy finally ended up screaming, “I’m too old for this mother fucking shit!!” and stormed off down the road.

We rolled across the street and stopped at another store, this one a little bit more modern looking.  I picked out a few snack items and went up to pay.  This clerk was also housed in what looked like bullet proof glass.  He actually had me place each item up to the glass for barcode scanning.  Outside, I started to saddle up again, but noticed a wheelchair out front beside the newspaper machine.  In it, a poor fellow slumped over and motionless, either passed out or worse.

So… What kind of place is Florida City?  Sullensville. This place is really down and out.  Even Jack, who can brave just about any situation, said, “Let’s stay in our room tonight and lock the door.”

The Super 8 had wifi but no internet connection.  At least there was cable, so we watched pro football (ATL-MIA, and then PIT-CHI) over some Papa John pizza and Coke.