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  1. #1
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    Key West cycling experience = suicide

    So I'm in Key West for the rest of the month with my boss. Apparently, everyone uses bikes to get around here, so that's what we're doing. He's been coming here for 20 years; it's my first time. At first I thought that it was really cool that Key West was such a cycling friendly place and was looking forward to getting a chance to ride while I'm here. So I went over to the bike rental place and I rented a hybrid bike, figuring that a road bike is not very practical for in-town riding. I also bought a helmet.

    "What do you need a helmet for?" my boss asked? Uh... to protect my head, maybe??? I would have thought this was common sense. It turns out I'm the only person here wearing a helmet.

    Things only went downhill from there and after the first day, I was convinced that riding a bike in this town is courting death or serious injury.

    First of all, my boss is just about the worst, most unsafe "cyclist" I have ever had the misfortune of riding with. I could not believe it!!! He was riding very erratically. He was going the wrong way down one-ways, riding against traffic on two-ways, riding on the sidewalks, running red lights and stop signs without even pausing to look, failing to signal his turns. Two nights ago he nearly got run over by a van making a right turn because he neglected to look behind him.

    In fact, he never pays any attention to his surroundings. Cars have to honk at him to get his attenton so that he'll move out of the center of the road. Today he almost got flattened by a semi-truck. "I had the right of way!" he said, as if that justifies not paying attention. Yeah... right, but dead.

    I'd like to say he's the only one doing that... but he's not. Everyone else rides like that, too. There is a bike trail going around the island that I frequently take when running errands and I am always coming across people riding two abreast, usually doing the S-shaped weave that they do when they are off in la-la land, staring at the sky, running into oncoming cyclists or pedestrians.

    I had to yell at a mother and her daughter the other day because they were both riding like complete morons and nearly caused a six-bike pile-up. Seriously, just because you are on a trail doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention! Then there are the people who like to ride at night on unlit roads and paths with no lights or even reflectors. Grr...

    In the whole time I have been here, I have seen two road bikers. At first I thought that was odd, but now I can see why most road bikers wouldn't be interested in riding here. The whole city is set up for people who are clueless about bike riding. In fact, the guy at the bike store that I rented mine at said that road bikers are not very popular around here. I would venture to guess that is maybe because there is too wide a gulf between road bikers, who- by and large- are real cyclists and take it seriously, and the kind of people here who just want to tool around and don't think they should have to follow any traffic rules.

    I'm definitely looking forward to getting back on my road bike in August. Although, on the plus, I have had no encounters with dogs here.

  2. #2
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    Damn, I thought you were going to talk about how crappy Florida drivers are. I have experienced some poorly organized group rides, but I also fear getting run over because of how bad the drivers are down here. I can't wait to get back to the Northeast...

  3. #3
    Growing Older, Not Up
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    So you come back from Key West to complain about how bad the townies ride their bikes? Come on, we need some pics. Show us Louies Backyard, the head in the clouds cyclists, and all the other interesting sites...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by atimido
    Damn, I thought you were going to talk about how crappy Florida drivers are. I have experienced some poorly organized group rides, but I also fear getting run over because of how bad the drivers are down here. I can't wait to get back to the Northeast...
    The drivers are not the greatest, but also not the worst I have seen. I spend half the year in London. Now THEY are bad drivers! Very dangerous to cycle in London.

    Quote Originally Posted by crumjack
    So you come back from Key West to complain about how bad the townies ride their bikes? Come on, we need some pics. Show us Louies Backyard, the head in the clouds cyclists, and all the other interesting sites...
    Still in Key West. Went to Louie's Backyard two days ago, but wasn't impressed. If I can figure out how to make my camera shoot video, I would film my boss trying to get on his bike. Now that's funny!

    The weather has not been too bad. Hot and sunny, but not too much rain. The heat gets to me because I'm a native Minnesotan, but other than stressful cycling, it's been a very enjoyable time.

    Here's the bike trail that I ride along, going around the Gulf side of the island:


    Pretty ocean:


    A storm brewing (taken from Louie's Backyard, actually!):


    Working hard!

  5. #5
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    Absolutely stunning scenery!
    ...and Key West doesn't look too bad either. ;-)

    But to your original point, I make it a point NOT to ride with most of my 'Commuter on a Hybrid' friends, because I cannot keep my mouth shut about their dangerous riding and always come off as the a-hole.

  6. #6
    Fat'r + Slow'r than TMB
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    Yes Key West and all the islands are the suxxors as far as biking goes. I take my single speed to the keys and tool around a little but you will get run over if you press your luck.
    Just fast enough to know I am slow.

  7. #7
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    I've been to Key West once. Louie's Backyard was nice and the Key Lime pie I bought was delicious. I forget the name of the factory, but it's a Brazilian family and an old time Brazilian recipe. My wife took one bite and said "brazilian style" without even knowing the history or family ... but she is Brazilian so of course she knows the taste.

    Otherwise, I was pretty disappointed overall. The hotel we stayed at was nice, but a lot of the houses were run down and it was a bunch of drunks stumbling through the streets. The beaches we have here in Fort Lauderdale are much much nicer (Key West isn't exactly known for their beaches). It was just more ghetto and trashy that I pictured and a lot of Floridians warned me that it's changed a lot over the past 10 years.

    The way people drive there ... or anywhere in Florida for that matter suck.

  8. #8
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    I considered asking some of these "cyclists" if they drive the same way they ride their bikes... but then I realised the answer was probably yes!

    If I have the option, I always prefer to ride alone than with my boss. When he complained that I was hanging too far back (about a block or two), I said I didn't like riding close to him because he was erratic and unpredictable and didn't pay attention to his surroundings, including other cyclists. Every time we approached an intersection, he would weave all over the place before finally deciding which way to go. I suggested he use hand signals, and although he complains all the time about cyclists in London not indicating their turns, for some reason he thinks everyone here is a mind reader and he should not have to signal. I told him I would never want to ride in a group with somebody like him. He said he didn't believe I ever road in a group because how would I keep up when I hung so far back. Uh, not the same thing, but even so, at least people I ride with signal their turns most of the time.

    There is nothing more irritating than riding with a grumpy old man who thinks he knows everything about riding a bike just because he's ridden like a moron in Key West for the last twenty years. When I kindly suggested that he shift his bike into an easier gear to save wear and tear on his joints and keep his legs from getting tired so quickly, he said, in that know-it-all, matter-of-fact way, that it was always best to be on the hardest gear because then the wheels turn faster with each stroke of the pedal. I kind of wanted to do this:

  9. #9
    Sleep Expert
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    It sounds as if everyone there has a child's mentality when it comes to riding bikes. Maybe you can somehow work to get the people educated. The DMV, news, mayor's office might be a good place to start.
    Nice pics, especially the last one!
    My carbon footprint has cleats

  10. #10
    waterproof*
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    maybe it's just a case of tourist / vacation-itis.

    go to key west, get drunk, play on the beach etc...
    * posted by Creakybot 2013 all rights reserved.
    * not actually waterproof.

  11. #11
    Loves to Suffer
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    People in places like Key West have a carefree attitude towards pretty much everything. They are in no hurry to get anywhere and don't worry about things like riding a bike properly or cracking their heads open when falling or getting hit by a truck.

    Then again, maybe the other riders are checking you out and therefore riding erratically/into trees, ect?

  12. #12
    Growing Older, Not Up
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    Thanks for the pics!

    Sounds like Key West is a giant MUT. Its always interesting to explain to non-cycling people how riding on the road is safer than riding on the "bike path."

  13. #13
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    I yelled at my boss again today for riding against traffic on a busy street. Okay, I give him kudos for not riding on the sidewalk and running over pedestrians, but seriously! His response: "It's safer to ride against traffic. I like being able to see what's coming at me." I tried to explain why this was incorrect and was met with "I've been riding a bike for longer than you've been alive. Are you trying to suggest you know more about bike riding than I do?" Uh... yeah, I am. I may not know as much as a lot of people on this forum do, but I sure as hell know more than he does!

    Sounds like Key West is a giant MUT.
    That is an accurate description, I would say.

    Then again, maybe the other riders are checking you out and therefore riding erratically/into trees, ect?
    I dismounted to cross a busy road yesterday. There was no intersection, so I kind of had to time it right and just run across. A middle-aged construction worker type man saw me and he said "That was beautiful. You can do that again." It took me several minutes before I realised what he had been referring to and it wasn't my bike!

    Maybe you can somehow work to get the people educated. The DMV, news, mayor's office might be a good place to start.
    Funny, but I was told by someone that the city actually encourages people to ride on sidewalks so as not to block traffic. Go figure...

  14. #14
    Devoid of all flim-flam
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    When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

  15. #15
    So. Calif.
    Reputation: tom_h's Avatar
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    After all these testy exchanges between you & your boss, do you ... ummm .... expect to still have a job when you return?
    :-)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_h
    After all these testy exchanges between you & your boss, do you ... ummm .... expect to still have a job when you return?
    :-)
    Oh, yes. We have a very good relationship. We are always bickering. I think he enjoys it. We're quite good friends. I'm sure most people at a regular job would not get away with half the things that I do.

  17. #17
    Radical
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    May I suggest you take out a big & fat life-insurance policy on your boss? Might make riding behind him a bit more pleasant....Muhahahahahaha!!

  18. #18
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    Reputation: Slim Again, Soon's Avatar
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    London ... Key West ... I want your job.

    I like that storm pix.

  19. #19
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    May I suggest you take out a big & fat life-insurance policy on your boss? Might make riding behind him a bit more pleasant....Muhahahahahaha!!
    There's an idea! But sometimes he does cause homicidal urges to rise up in me and that might look suspicious...


    London ... Key West ... I want your job.

    I like that storm pix.
    I got lots of awesome storm pix.

    Yeah, I get to go to all kinds of cool places... pretty much every state west of the Mississippi this summer, France, Spain, Norway, and others. It's cool to get to see all these places, but I am away from home for weeks and months at a time. So not only do I miss my boyfriend and my friends, but I also don't get to ride my bike much at all these days. I'm missing out on almost half of the cycling season this year, which is a major bummer. Believe me, the novelty of traveling wears off very quickly!

    Here's more of the storm pix:





  20. #20
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    So we rode the five or six miles over to the next island for supper and I said, "Hey, [boss], your rear tire needs more air." It was looking pretty flat. His response: "Oh, it's not going flat. It just does that because I'm three times heavier than you." So obviously your tire is not inflated to the proper pressure...

    Then during supper, he complained that his legs were hurting him. He has his chain on the biggest gear in front and the smallest gear in back. I could tell a long time ago that it was too hard for him by the way he has to put his back into every stroke. So I downshifted it so that the chain would be in the middle of the cassette and told him to try that because it would save on his leg muscles and joints. When we get back to the house, he complains that I must be wrong about that because he felt like he was pedaling and pedaling and not going anywhere and that if you want to go faster, you have to have it on the gears that make the tires spin the most.

    Why? Why is he so stupid???

  21. #21
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    Any chance you're the next one in the company hierarchy? Your time to be the new boss might come sooner than you think.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocco
    Any chance you're the next one in the company hierarchy? Your time to be the new boss might come sooner than you think.
    Nah, it's just me and him. I'm his personal assistant... which is why I get away with talking back.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cross Chained
    I yelled at my boss again today for riding against traffic on a busy street. Okay, I give him kudos for not riding on the sidewalk and running over pedestrians, but seriously! His response: "It's safer to ride against traffic. I like being able to see what's coming at me." I tried to explain why this was incorrect and was met with "I've been riding a bike for longer than you've been alive. Are you trying to suggest you know more about bike riding than I do?" Uh... yeah, I am. I may not know as much as a lot of people on this forum do, but I sure as hell know more than he does!

    ....

    take a look at this thread: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=538219

    Sometimes it's tough to be pleasant and talk about stuff like this, maybe this will help.

  24. #24
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cross Chained
    ...but I also don't get to ride my bike much at all these days. I'm missing out on almost half of the cycling season this year...
    Why don't you get a bike with S&S couplings or something like a Ritchey Break-Away?? If I were traveling for many days at a time and going to cycling-friendly locales (OK, Ghey West excluded), I would invest in one of those. In fact, I will someday have a custom Ti frame with S&S couplings. See my sig if you need any clarification. If I were to get on with a foreign airline, where I would be away for 19 days straight, I will be bringing my S&S coupled bike. BTW, what kind of work does your boss do that requires that kind of travel?
    Ordered and Fitted for my Custom DEAN Titanium frame on Sept 17th, 2008. Finally got it in Oct, 2010!!!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cross Chained
    Nah, it's just me and him. I'm his personal assistant... which is why I get away with talking back.

    In that case maybe you can ingratiate yourself with him to the point that he'll include you into his last will and testament.
    Last edited by rocco; 06-25-2009 at 08:45 AM.

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