1k Florida loop from Tampa to Key West

July 19, 2016

 

Let me start off by saying this was a hell of a challenge. A lot more difficult, and farther than one would think, and a lot farther thank it looks on those little phone map apps!

I've been following kyodt since their first year (before IG was alive), and happen to stumble across the 1k in a day challenge on their Instagram a while back.

A little about me:
Being a line of duty disabled retired firefighter paramedic since last year, a veteran, and also a cancer survivor I seem to look, and get my self into some things to prove or "hurt / feel like I'm still alive." Riding my Harley has always been very therapeutic for me personally.

Since I grew up on my parents Harley's, and got my own first Harley at 18 years old about 19 years ago, (a 79' shovel head), it just seemed natural that this challenge might be painful and difficult enough to make me feel alive again for at least a day.

Well, it definitely made me feel alive until it hurt like hell around mile 400ish hah ha... (but we kept throttling down, baby, pain and all).

Moving along:
When I found this challenge, I ran into another challenge- finding someone to do it with me. A lot of people were interested; however, had to work or couldn't make certain dates etc. Kevin and Evan were pretty much in from the get go!

Kevin, Evan, and I finally decided on a date, and made it final. No changing it, either show up, or don't. We're kickstands up at this date and time. If you're there. Great, if not adios, hefe.

I planned the route before knowing exactly who all was coming along, or if I was going to do it myself. I initially planned on talking my dad into coming with me. I tried, that wasn't happening. He's been there, done that. He's been riding home made Harley's since 1972, (still rides a 79' shovel, but also rides his 09' roadking).

Once Kevin, Evan, and I agreed on our route, and the date was set, we planned on a 0300 wake up and 0400 meet up at a truck stop in Tampa. We took a group photo, fueled up, and headed southbound and down on 75 through Miami, the Florida everglades, and alligator alley (where the first storm hit us hard), Key Largo, and many other popular cities and towns in Florida to Route 1 continuing onto Key West mile marker 0.

Let me add here that had it not been for the traffic in Miami, and Key West we may have finished a lot faster. The traffic in the Keys was crazy, and we were hit with a second beautiful refreshing rain storm here on the 7 mile bridge. It was cool watching it come across the ocean and riding right into it. Being from Florida I've done this a number of times; however, never in the Keys and this time it was truly a great view and beautiful "I'm alive" feeling.

The difficult part was the tourist going 30-35 in a 45 mph area looking at the water surrounding us. It was beautiful; however, we were on a mission and could have taken it all in while throttling down a little faster for our time sake.

The trip from Key Largo to Key West (a little over 100 miles) alone took us about a good 3 hours each way. This is where I began to worry about making our time frame.

Once in the Keys, we grabbed some chow, and located Mile marker 0, and then the southern most point land mark. After locating these marks, it was time to grip it and rip it back through the Keys and towards the famous Daytona beach Boot Hill saloon. But not before Evan noticed his throttle lock fell off (he didn't need it), and I noticed my check engine light was on. I checked the bike over, come to find out I had no turn signals. Good thing I spent a good portion of my life riding a shovel head  (still do sometimes) that don't even know what a blinker is.

We hit the Florida turnpike towards 595. Traffic on the turnpike was stop and go for a while, and heavy on 595, but moving and flowing good.

Once on 95 headed to the Boot Hill saloon in Daytona, the traffic was minimal, and it was strictly business, baby. We hit another hard rain storm on 95 and you guessed it, kept on rockin' and rollin while we air dried for a third time like a boss. It's good for the soul.

Once we arrived in Daytona Beach, we hit the world know Boot Hill saloon. Evan and Kevin headed inside while I laid on a bench outside feeling like I was gonna die.

The Boot Hill is a favorite of mine. I grew up going to bike week, and listening to stories from my dad about that place and bike week.

I finally got up and headed inside. When I got inside, the fellas were talking miles and our route. We were at about 869 on our miles. Our initial plan was to go north through the Ocala national forest; however, the map showed we could head back through Orlando, Lakeland, and Plant City all via I-4, to our finish point / starting point at the truck stop on hwy 301 in Tampa ahead of schedule.

The verdict! I-4 through Orlando knees in the breeze. We gassed up one last time across from the cemetery and Boot Hill, and ripped through Daytona to I-4 westbound and down.

We finished our challenge, adventure, jellybean (I call a day a jellybean, we only get so many), a lifetime memory, the 1k in a day, in about 21.5 hours. It was awesome, it hurt, it was fun, it sucked, it was beautiful, it was ugly, it was wild and it was crazy, it reminded us all we're still alive, and probably wouldn't ride that far in a day ever again. Haha.

With all that being said, I hope anyone out there thinking about doing this challenge does it. Sometimes you just have to jump, man.... We jumped, and It was worth it. A good jump, and a good ride. You got to live, man. Might as well live and feel alive while you're here and able too!

Put your knees in the breeze, rip your throttles, do what ever you got to do to feel alive while you can.

I'll wear my 1k patch proudly, hope you get a chance to too.

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