Motorcycling In The Keys

Motorcycling In The Keys

As interesting a place to visit as Florida is, most of it is nowhere close to be what you would call a motorcyclist’s paradise. For starters, the state is flat. Really flat. The whole southern third of the state is or was Everglades and the Everglades have been described as a river 50 miles wide and 6 inches deep.

And when the terrain is flat that means it lacks those obstacles such as hills and rocks and river valleys and such that are usually the reasons that roads bend. Well, the Florida Keys are flat, too, but we were down there recently on a rented Yamaha Royal Star Venture and I’m here to tell you, it was a fun ride.

After picking up the bike in Miami we headed toward Florida City and the road to Key Largo, U.S. 1. Of course this road was straight and flat until we reached the end of the mainland and a high, arching causeway carried us up and over the water and dropped us down on the key. Key Largo, like so many of the keys along this road, is long and narrow. The road runs straight down the middle and at times the Atlantic is visible on the ocean side and at times the Gulf of Mexico is visible on what the folks down here call the bay side. In fact, for a little less than half the distance to Key West, it is in fact Florida Bay on that side, before the bay opens out into the Gulf.

On Key Largo we quickly had a taste of both old Florida and modern Florida. Modern Florida is exemplified by construction of the sort that would look equally at home in Omaha. Old Florida was represented by lodging establishments where, with just a small sign by the road, you turned off down a gravel road through a canopy of palm trees through a cluster of cottages converging on the shore and a pier. This is the kind of place where one of the biggest attractions is to sit on the pier with a beer and watch the sun set into the water to the west. We followed tradition every night we were there.

It should be no surprise, but if you’re riding the Keys, you should be prepared for wind. Sea breezes sound balmy and romantic when you’re sitting on the beach, and much of the time they are. But they can also mean that a motorcyclist gets blown around a lot. We had some of both while we were there.

Island hopping our way down the keys, we sometimes crossed a short causeway between islands just a modest height above the water, while at other times we ran up and over more of those high, soaring ones that brought us onto Key Largo. The reason they go so high, of course, is to allow boats to pass underneath.

On some keys there was dense housing, with seemingly every house alongside a man-made canal, offering every resident access to the water by boat. On other keys there was nothing more than some vegetation and sand beaches, sometimes no wider than perhaps 150 feet. With the road maybe 4 feet above sea level.

Along parts of the ride the old causeway was still standing. Closed to motorized vehicles, the old sections are given over now to fishermen, though some parts are closed to everyone. In the places that are closed, neglect has reduced the structure to broken chunks of concrete and exposed, rusted iron work. On Bahia Honda Key, however, where nearly the entire key is given over to Bahia Honda State Park, the old causeway rises up high to allow boat passage and then is severed entirely from the rest of the route across the water. From here the view in every direction is truly spectacular. It’s the only place on the entire chain where you can actually spend time at height and get a good look. Worth the stop.

We finally made it onto Key West and made our way through this dense city to the old part of town with its fabled Duval Street, the center of nightlife. We took the mandatory photos of ourselves at the monument marking the southernmost spot on the North American continent, watched with amusement the chickens that roam free all over Key West, and went to find our accommodations for the next few days.

For a New York Motorcycle, visit Island Powersports at www.IslandPowersports.com or call 516-795-4400. We have rock bottom pricing, outstanding customer service, and knowledgeable staff to satisfy your thirst for fun. Schedule an appointment today to get out and ride!

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