Category Archives: Florida Keys

Chilly’s Bicycle Shop

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Things have been busy at the shop and I also now have this awesome new sign! 122 Ann Street, Key Weird, Conch Republic. The smallest shop on the island and the largest selection of panniers and racks! Holla at Chily 305-985-2453! I still have so many photos to upload from the 2014 Big Adventure as well as lots of smaller 1,2 and 3 nighters around South Florida and the Keys. If you’re around, pass by the shop!

 

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The Banjo Brothers Market Pannier! I stock these in red and black. Both come with a shoulder strap, carry handles and have an interior zippered pocket. This is a Chilly’s favorite and I use it every day on my commute to the shop. A super sized and super usefulgrocery pannier that can also carry most anything. $50 each! Stop using plastic grocery bags, get some panniers! Full set-up special! A pair of Market panniers, a rear rack and basic installation for $125! Wooo-haaa!

7 Mile Bridge Ride 2015

imageTrying to be seen by drivers while simultaneously trying to hide from the sun! Arrrr!  MM15. At 5:30PM.  Yeah, it was a late start to go from Key Weird MM0 up to Knight’s Key at MM47.

But hey, sometimes late starts are unavoidable in order to take care of responsibilities and yet still go on and do the dam thing like beavers! Woohaaa! My partner also had to bail last minute leaving me alone to wonder if I would still be pedaling by nightfall. Bring it on!  Better than being stuck inside somewhere. I am enjoying my new long sleeve fishing shirt which I use as a cycling shirt down here and whenever I find myself traversing a desert. This one is a Columbia PFG Offshore in a very tropical, bright and appropriate color called Key West! I think this shirt will be going on more adventures.

And while dodging the sun with all sorts of special fishing gear,  I am also trying to be noticed with (3) three very bright rear lights. Super Flashers and Turbo Flashers! Perhaps it was all the morning’s and afternoon’s events seeming to conspire to cancel this trip, but I was feeling more paranoid than usual about being hit and feeling vulnerable in the less safe sections of the ride.

imageMM16.5 Originally a hit and run, the driver, an elderly man, eventually returned to the scene. The person riding the bicycle, Christopher Dyko, was killed. I’ve had a bad feeling on this trip so far. Actually, ever since the 2013 Seven Mile Bridge Ride, where we came upon the aftermath of a van hitting a fellow tourer, I’ve really not fully enjoyed the road shoulder sections of this ride. The person riding a bicycle in that collision was rushed to the hospital and somehow survived with no broken bones, but had massive bruising and abrasions on his body. The van driver admitted to not paying enough attention when he hit the cyclist from behind.

Several miles later, across the street from Boondocks and the 2013 incident, I came across this crash scene. A two car collision on Route 1 that skidded across the shoulder, across the bike path, through a fence and into the mangroves. The problems of distracted driving, drunk driving and driving too fast were very present in my mind for the rest of the ride.
imageThe Key Deer are given special speed limits for the areas where they live and lots of signs and enforcement too.

imageSunset alongside the Old Bahia Honda Bridge was very pretty!  One of the bright sides of the very, very late start. The sun was fully set by the time I got to the southern end of the Seven Mile Bridge and it was fully dark by the time I got to the other end. I was also far more visible in the dark with my (3) three lights than in the daylight. Traffic wasn’t too heavy and I did enjoy the pretty amazing views.

After setting up camp and showering at Knight’s Key Campground I walked over to the massive tiki that is Sunset Grille and Raw Bar for dinner and a few beers.

Packing up before dawn went pretty well. I do wish I coulda had a coffee tho’. I rode up to Route 1 and stopped on the shoulder near the start of the bridge. It was still pretty dark out but there was a little light in the sky.

Three other people had hitched rides up and were riding back to Key West on their go-fast bikes.  We chatted for a bit and all set off together when it was time to take off.
imageTheir peleton of 3,  a single and a group of two, quickly left me in the predawn dust as they raced straight to Key West. There are many ways to enjoy this bridge closure with a bicycle!
imageMy trusty tree friend on the Old Seven Mile Bridge.
imageA perfect sunrise on an empty Seven Mile Bridge. Wow! It is always so dang quiet and peaceful when there’s no one else around. I could clearly hear the waves hitting the pilings and hear the wind that was pushing them. Even the birds were singling and squaking. And I could hear it all peacefully with no traffic to ruin the moment.

imageThe crash scene from yesterday. I decided to also ride straight back and avoid as much traffic as possible, hoping to be in Key West by the time the backed-up traffic was let go after the run was over and packed up.
imageI had a stowaway the entire time! Wow these Arkel Dolphins have room for camping gear and a paquita!! Arkel, available at Chilly’s Bicycle Shop! I have no shame and I do have a full set of Doolphins and a full set of the new Orcas in stock now!

Another trip up the keys by bicycle, and the third year of the tradition of biking up the night before and camping at Knight’s Key. We don’t need cars for this bicycle ride! More blurry photos and shoddy writing from years past:

2014 Seven Mile Bridge Ride

2013 Seven Mile Bridge Ride

In 2012 the Seven Mile Bridge Run was cancelled due to severe thunderstorms throwing hail and lightening  at anyone daring go outside. I chose to make coffee and enjoy the storm from my outdoor patio!

2011 Seven Mile Bridge Ride

7 Mile Bridge Ride 4/4-4/5 2014

IMG_4239All packed and ready to go! We’re ready for a quick escape from the sandbar. A one night mini tour with two oceans! (We don’t let facts get in the way of a good story down here!)

IMG_0209Kerry flatted out near a tiny patch of shade and wisely took advantage of it.

IMG_0211This is nice! This section of the trail is completely separated from the road and really quiet. A delight to ride. There’s even a bakery on it!

IMG_0212The Good Food Conspiracy is always a great stop. Great service, great food and a good time to take a break if riding to Knight’s Key. They have prepared food as well as lots of healthy snacks for camp or while riding.

IMG_4243Our campsite. No shade for the weary. But there is a tree very close by. Swimming a little further. And a bar and grill a bit past that. All in all, not a scary survival situation!

IMG_0216Pre dawn on the edge of the Seven Mile Bridge. Traffic is still flowing and thousands of runners are gathering and preparing for the big run.

IMG_0226Sunrise just past the hump and noooooo traffic! This is the only way to really enjoy this bridge. I can hear the waves below, birds above and the wind all around me.

IMG_0230My friend on the Old Seven Mile Bridge.

IMG_0231We  stopped at the Big Pine Flea Market for breakfast. Not just donuts. We ordered some breakfast sandwiches and coffee from another vender as well. We really need to figure out a good, easy and super lightweight coffee solution for short trips like this one.

IMG_0232See, I told you we ordered something besides donuts!

IMG_0238Welcome to Paradise, don’t burn! No, seriously. Cover yourself up, the sun ain’t no joke down here. I’ve been using fishing shirts for riding; they are made to block the sun and dry quickly. They also, to the average Florida driver, make you look a little less like some bicycle freak on the road and a bit more like a fisherman! No matter what, covering up is a really good idea.

IMG_0239This section of the Overseas Heritage Trail is how it should be. Businesses embracing a safe and separated path. Nice views. No endless procession of cars. This is a little slice of paradise right here!

Another great year, and the second year of the tradition of biking up the night before and camping at Knight’s Key. We don’t need cars for this bicycle ride!

2013 Seven Mile Bridge Ride

In 2012 the Seven Mile Bridge Run was cancelled due to severe thunderstorms and I choose not to ride that year!

2011 Seven Mile Bridge Ride

Seven Mile Bridge Ride 2013

IMG_3025These newer sections of the path are really, really nice. The 15 mile ride to Baby’s is much nicer with the additional path and no road shoulder riding. The pounding sun is great for charging up some batteries with solar panels for use tonight.

IMG_3031Bucci Esperanza, my touring bicycle has 26×1.5 kevlar slicks. There is lots of road debris along this highway. The arm protectors are a must as well. It may only be April, but the sun here is intense.

IMG_3030The Good Food Conspiracy on Big Pine Key is always a great stop. But at about he 30 mile mark of 47 total, its a really, great stop and time for smoothies and foods. And shade. And ice water. This place has everything! It even has an awesome back area that some people never notice.

IMG_3034We set up camp at Knights Key and walked over to the Sunset Grille and Raw Bar, the giant tiki you see at the foot of the Seven Mile Bridge. Drinks and yums. Yeah, life is good!

IMG_3037There were over  dozen riders racing back to the island on the empty predawn bridge.


A short video of the Old Seven Mile Bridge tree, Kerry and Steve who joined us for the ride back. The peloton sped ahead with no intention of stopping for breakfast or photos!

IMG_3043We stopped for breakfast at the Big Pine Restaurant. There were also six guys there riding the Keys as part of an annual tour they do somewhere across the United States.

BoondocksscreenshotThe guys left before us as we slowly finished up eggs, gravy and other health food. Unfortunately we came upon them in front of Boondocks soon after one member of their party had been rear ended by a van at full speed. The driver admitted to veering and not paying attention and was ticketed. The rider suffered no broken bones, but was severely bruised and scratched up.

IMG_3045The Bat Tower! I have wanted to see this dang thing for over 10 years, from the land or sea, but never got around to it! The Bat Tower!

The tower was built in 1829 by a local fishing lodge owner to help control the rampant mosquito population. Current, cutting edge scientific research was used in the construction. The bats were released into the structure. And they flew away never to be seen again

Another great year, and the beginning of the tradition of biking up the night before and camping at Knight’s Key. We don’t need cars for this bicycle ride!

In 2012 the Seven Mile Bridge Run was cancelled due to severe thunderstorms and I choose not to ride that year!

2011 Seven Mile Bridge Ride

Seven Mile Bridge Ride April 9, 2011

DSC03622Good morning from the Seven Mile Bridge! A few friends and I caught rides up to the north end of the bridge where thousands of runners and spectators were gathered for the annual Seven Mile Bridge Run. For several hours, busy Rt. 1 will be shut down at both ends of the bridge, leaving a wake of less traffic in all points south for several hours. We started across just as the road was closed and shared the bridge with only a few cars and trucks setting up aid stations for the run.
 
 
DSC03627I’ve driven by this plaque at 50mph hundreds of times. Never so much been able to read it…til now!

The Old Seven Mile Bridge had a swing section that was destroyed by a propane explosion triggered from a stream of events starting with an tracker trailer carrying overheight cargo striking and damaging the bridge structure. The bridge keeper, Peter Fancher, was killed; a week away from retiring.

 
 

DSC03629Pat (Fixed Gears), Christa, myself and the Seven Mile Hump! The sky was quickly ever-changing as the Sun rose towards the horizon. And Quiet. No sound 0f cars and trucks, just the wind and lapping waves.

 
 

DSC03633The tree!
 
 
DSC03635I’ve watched this little feller eek out a life on the old bridge for years now.

 

DSC03637The views were flabbergasting!!!

 
 
DSC03639Sunrise! Absolutely beautiful morning and NO TRAFFIC!!!!!

 
 
DSC03646Stellar! Did I mention the sounds of birds, waves and wind? The lack of trucks and cars whizzing by at 60mph?

 
 
DSC03648Yeah, that was pretty awesome. And this closed bridge will stop all southbound traffic while we continue on to Key West. What a day!
 
 

DSC03651More bicycles than cars on the Bahia Honda Bridge!
 
 

DSC03649Lovely riding conditions this morning in the keys.
 
 

DSC03653Thanks for a great morning y’all!
 
 

DSC03654I didn’t flat out, put picked up some road debris. I wish my timing trying to salsa was this good.