Sometimes it takes you a while to process things. My weekend in the Keys is one such thing. Ending on a sour note, there was one thing that buoyed me through bad, and left my mood elated through the scintillating bits: I had cycled there.
I did it by myself. 90 miles? Yeah, I can do that. My legs didn’t even wobble afterward. I wanted to cry out, “I am a MACHINE!” but that would have been inaccurate. I wasn’t a machine. I was better than a machine. I was the whole universe with 2nd degree sunburns covering my legs, and the cosmos on my tongue.
Dawn through Miami, and urban cycling in the rain, the South Dade Trail bore to me along the bus way, open, untreed, and then the Everglades, unshaded and noon-bright. The Overseas Highway, and its open shoulder, the ocean visible on both sights clear and turquioise, green, blue, aqua, mint, depending on the shifting of the sun, and the distance to sand bars.
I lifted my arms like wings. I rested in fire ants and didn’t feel them. That’s a lie. But I laughed as I brushed them off, breaking their bodies, saying, “Sorry, sorry. You invasive little fuckers. You belong here about as much as I do.”
I counted roadkill. Raccoon. Unidentifiable bird. Pigeon. ‘Possum. I nearly ran down a black snake as it slid across the Metro Path, balked at my approach, and back-wound just in time. “Sorry, sorry,” I called, and nearly pulled my tire from the rim as I skipped the paved trail, and side-scraped the tar trying to hop back on.
It was me and my CamelBak, me and my wits, me and the road and the wheels and my mental map, because I I memorized the route, but had no atlas. After Homestead, there was only one route, anyway. U.S. 1, south.
I’d arrived triumphant, one flat tire, and rescued in the last 5 miles, red-legged with the most important lesson of my life on my lips: reapply.