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post #1 of 15 Old Aug 9th, 2011, 7:13 pm Thread Starter
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Tampa to Key West

Have finally found the time to take a trip to Key West on the bike. This is something that I have wanted to do since I bought my last bike. This will be there longest trip that me and my wife have taken. So far we have only gone about 200 miles in a day just riding around the local area. Oh, our (my wifes) 12 year old chihuahua will be making this trip with us, but she likes to ride and goes on all our trips.

The trip total is supposed to be 420 miles each way so I don't think it will be much of a problem with the proper breaks. Maybe sore legs at the end. Will update with pictures and progress once we head out, but that won't be for two weeks. Until then I am going to check the bike over and plan.

This is our first major stepping stone towards working up to next summers trip. The plan for next summer is to ride from Tampa to northern California to visit my wives family.

John


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post #2 of 15 Old Aug 10th, 2011, 6:12 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Tampa to Key West

Well, this trip is being put off for at least one week because I forgot all about a benefit ride that me and my wife are going to. It's for my wife's aunt, so we will be heading up to Ocala on the 20th instead. Hoping to make this trip on the weekend of the 26th now. Which gives me more time to plan, not that it's a super long trip, but we've never done this before. Before this bike I was riding a Triumph Daytona 675. Not the best thing for doing any type of distance.


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post #3 of 15 Old Aug 11th, 2011, 8:36 am
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Re: Tampa to Key West

A couple of things that you should know,
first, half of Miami goes to the keys on Friday night and returns Sunday afternoon, there will be a lot of traffic.

There are several "speed traps" along the way,
when it says 35 or 45mph "key deer habitat" or Panther habitat
and depending upon your route Indian reservation,
believe it.

That is where the majority of those municipalities revenue comes from.

This time of year your biggest hurdle will be the heat, drink a lot of water.

If I were going to make that ride, I'd wait until November
or leave my house around 4 am so I could be there by noon.

The interstate is bo-oring, by far the most scenic route would be I75 (after this it will be all 2 lane) to SR70 to SR31 to SR80 to SR29 all the way down to 41 take that across to 997 which ends on hwy 1,
next take Card sound road, after that there is only one road.

I guarantee you'll see alligators "sunning" themselves on the banks of the canal that runs alongside SR 41.

The infamous "alligator alley" is now a four lane divided very flat and straight interstate (I-75),

you'll find some of the old and real Florida if you follow my suggestions,
An alternative route could be SR 27 to 997,

take pictures and share your "steamy" ride with us.


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post #4 of 15 Old Aug 13th, 2011, 1:39 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Tampa to Key West

Thanks for all the suggestions and advice. I was trying to figure out a better route than just taking I75 all the way down, so I went ahead and created a map using the roads that you suggested. On the way back I have a route planned that will make a big loop up the other side of Florida and keep me off the major roads.

Both my wife and I drink plenty of water as we are pretty active runners and being dehydrated just doesn't work for us. But that is always great advice to have. I'm going to plan on carrying a couple of water bottles plus my camelbak so I don't have to continually buy water. Plus with the Camelbak I can drink 4-5 ounces every 15 minutes or so, just like I'm running to help keep hydrated.

There will be plenty of stops though because my wife will have to use the bathroom pretty often and we will have her 12 year old chihuahua with us also. Luckily it loves to ride.

I am still debating on if I am going to leave Friday or early Saturday. We have reservations at the NAS lodging for Friday and Saturday night, but I also have to work Friday. I'm going to be finishing up a Combative class that day, so I should get of early, it's just a matter of figuring out how early and if it will leave me enough time to still make the ride safely. Worst case, I will cancel the one day and just make it an over nighter.

Feel free to advise me of anything else I should plan on before hand.

Thanks

John


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post #5 of 15 Old Aug 13th, 2011, 9:08 pm
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Re: Tampa to Key West

If you're going to make a loop I'd like to suggest that you ride sr27 through the sugarcane
and around the east side of lake Okeechobee, on the way back (stay away from I 95)
my wife and I will sometimes circumnavigate the lake for a day trip,
be safe.


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post #6 of 15 Old Aug 14th, 2011, 12:58 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Tampa to Key West

Thanks, that's exactly what I was planning on doing. I'm trying to stay off the interstate as much as possible. I have a road atlas and every time I drive or ride somewhere I highlight the route I took. Then I try not to take the same route twice so eventually the goal is to have most of the US highlighted.

John


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post #7 of 15 Old Aug 16th, 2011, 6:55 am
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Re: Tampa to Key West

Looking forward to the pics - Key West is one of the places that's still on my to-do list.


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post #8 of 15 Old Sep 10th, 2011, 10:30 am Thread Starter
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Re: Tampa to Key West

Well we finally got to make our trip from Tampa to Key West last weekend. My wife did not have school Friday or Monday and I was off from work those days because of Labor Day. So we loaded up and left about 0700 Friday morning with her two pound Chihuahua, Momo, and made our way to Key West. To date that was our longest ride at one given time. We only stopped three times on our way down there because I was super excited and wanted to be there already, since I had never gone to Key West before. Now after going once, I will just take one of the boats out of Ft. Myers if I decide to go back. It was a nice ride though and we took 275 south to 75 to SR70 to SR31 to SR80 to SR29 all the way down to 41 and across to 997 till we hit highway 1. We stayed at one of the Navy bases down there that was about 2 blocks off Duval street, so we just parked the bike for the weekend and rented bicycles for our transportation. Definitely the best way to see Key West I think.

On the way back we wanted to take the scenic route but both of us needed to do homework and I had to get ready for work the next day so unfortunately we did all highway going home. No where near as much fun or as nice as taking back roads. I am glad that I was able to check this trip off my list though so now I can start trying to plan a trip up to Deals Gap.

Some random pictures of our trip, and yes, Momo loves to ride almost as much as I do I think.




































This last pic was one the way back where we stopped for breakfast called the Hungry Tarpon. It was a great place and I highly recommend it. Sit outside overlooking the water also so you can watch the Tarpon. In one of them it's a bad angle but you can see one of the storms we had to out run. We could see where the end of it was and barely missed the rain. Had to break the speed limit on Hwy 1 though. All in all it was a good trip and I think the only thing I need to do next time is start earlier, take more breaks, and get some highway pegs so I can stretch out. I have the seat on the highest setting and it's way more comfortable than my old Daytona 675 but if I had hwy pegs I'm pretty sure that I would only stop for gas. Oh and comms between my wife and I are next on my list.


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post #9 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2011, 7:59 am
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Re: Tampa to Key West

Nice pictures and report. I like the way your pictures told the story. Black and white seems to frame the Keys well.

You definitely need to take a relaxed approach to time in the Keys as nothing is ever on time or follows the plan. IT is laid back all the time. Halloween is the time to be there for the crazys..... Someday it will happen! A fun place to visit and dive. Only 90 miles from Cuba too.

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post #10 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2011, 9:08 am
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Re: Tampa to Key West

If you want to hit Deal's Gap, watch for the posts this week for the Smokey Mountain Fall Reunion (SMFR for short). It's the Oct 20-22. Many of the guys on this board will be there.

BTW, Great pictures!!! Thanks for sharing!

Rob V.B.
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post #11 of 15 Old Sep 11th, 2011, 8:26 pm
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Re: Tampa to Key West

I'm going to join the rest of the members when I say nice pictures. I liked the different affects--looks like you had a great time. I wish you well and stay safe.

Wade
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post #12 of 15 Old Sep 12th, 2011, 3:23 pm
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Re: Tampa to Key West

I like the black and white picture effects, nice touch.
Key west is cool in it's own way,
now you can say: been there, done that.

Personally I loathe Deals gap (the Dragon)
the guy that owns the campground/bar/restaurant at the bottom
is a marketing genius and has managed to turn it into a "destination"
If you haven't been there, I guess you need to go just so you can say that you have.

While you're there you'll meet many posers and if you're lucky maybe even a few riders from all over the world.

Don't be too surprised if some idiot passes you on the inside while you're going through a blind curve,
just because he "thinks" he is "soo much better of a rider" than you are.
(good riders don't do stupid things to endanger others)
or maybe the guy on the new HD coming at you,
panics going into a curve and crosses the double yellow narrowly missing (or not) your bike.

It's all there, every weekend, be careful.

On a more positive note the 2nd or 3rd week of October is usually
when the leaves are peaking on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Sherohala Skyway.
you won't be far away from either one and they are definitely "worthwhile" rides.


Hans
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post #13 of 15 Old Sep 18th, 2011, 5:38 pm
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Re: Tampa to Key West

John,
Thanks for posting the pics of Key West. I've never been there, no farther down than Key Largo and John Pennekamp State Park. I've always wanted to go to Key West, but the buzzkiller, uh...I mean my wife grew up in Miami and always says there's nothing much to see there. That and "It's so far!" You might guess she doesn't ride.

Hans,
Your description of the Dragon is spot-on! I have ridden it while at Spring Training Camp or Smokey Mountain Fall Reunion, but always on Thursdays. The posers and racers aren't usually there then. They pack the house on Friday - Sunday. That's when 5-0 is out and about in droves too.

Since our group has been doing STCs and SMFRs for a number of years, roads have been discovered in the area that are much less travelled than US129. We can leave after breakfast and not make it back til nearly dinnertime, having ridden 250+ miles on these twisting, turning roads, not once on US129. Come on up for a great weekend of riding and EATING! It's always about the food and the Ironhorse staff hasn't failed us yet.

Lee
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post #14 of 15 Old Sep 19th, 2011, 6:35 pm
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Re: Tampa to Key West

Great read and pics. I read where you was going to be doing some combative training. Are you SERE? My son in law is a SERE instructor,and he sometimes mentions combative training. Thanks Grannyman
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post #15 of 15 Old Nov 27th, 2011, 9:49 am Thread Starter
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Re: Tampa to Key West

Sorry it's been such a long time, I ended up fracturing a toe in combatives class and wasn't able to ride for a while and haven't been on here really. I'm just a radio maintainer in the Air Force. I am lucky enough to be in a Joint Unit and have the ability to go to pretty much any school that I want, within reason. So far in the past three years I have done Army Airborne, Air Assault, and Level 1 & 2 Army Combatives. I'm hoping to go to level 3 & 4 next year, and as soon as I get enough high performance jumps I'm off to jump master school. Trying to knock out everything that I can before I go back to big blue, because I won't have these opportunities depending on where I go. There are only a handful of places that will let me keep doing this stuff. I'm not doing only the fun stuff though, I'm almost finished with my bachelors, and I'm also getting as many IT certs that I can while I'm here. Luckily my unit sends us to get several certs because of the jobs we have to do.

I do get to work with the SERE guys here at MacDill sometimes depending on what we are doing. Great bunch of guys and always like helping us out with any training we need.


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