36 – Key Largo to Marathon – 52.6 – 1810

Getting out of Miami was a bit of a hassle, what with a bit of stop and go traffic and busy intersections with right-turn-on-red Florida drivers, riding past downtown and onto into the Keys was a dream on old Cutler Road and into the Biscayne Trail. However, back onto the north toll bridge into Key Largo proved quite stressful with no shoulder and one way traffic in each direction, with drivers overtaking each other headed with and against you, most likely extra stressful because of the serenity of the trail just prior.

In Key Largo, I spent the evening in an RV overlooking the water, surprised by the ease of access to electricity by simply plugging a wire into a regular outlet. After settling in, my host, Johanna, and I picked up Brett, a veteran that lives in The Long Walk Home, a veteran outreach community that a man by the name of Ron created, after walking 3,400 miles across America, barefoot, raising awareness for post traumatic stress disorder among veterans. We drove over to a friend’s place for pot luck dinner, where we enjoyed veggies, chicken and soup, and settled down with a guided group meditation session.

The session lead you into a landscape of your choice, with a force and an energy that was meant to answer questions you hadn’t been able to answer without meditation techniques. Clarity is sometimes difficult to come by when one is busy with stresses of a demanding career or challenging circumstances; with meditation, the idea is that it is possible to clear your mind of external distractions and focus on your inner soul, opening up your pineal gland, or third eye, which may be the strongest organ you have.

We shared where our meditation took us and what we asked ourselves, common themes among us varied from patience, acceptance, peace, love and happiness.

Now, there is no way of proving what belief system is right or wrong, but attempting to answer that question defeats the purpose of what all belief system share in common and attempt to answer: that bigger than this question of who is right, is the ability to find patience, acceptance, peace, love and happiness from those you surround yourself with.

A friend brought to light to me once, that western knowledge is based on science, by experimentation and trial and error,  and that to overcome this standard procedure for seeking answers, we must believe, in a way, that true knowledge comes from a method of transcendence, only made possible by believing in your technique of finding those answers, usually, through meditation.

Sounds like a bunch of mumbojumbo but anyway, be open to others’ feelings and beliefs is what I got out of it.

After a morning swim, I departed Johanna and her beautiful home and RV in Key Largo, where I met a fully loaded touring couple from France and slowed down to chat with them. Another cyclist pulled up to us and started chatting, by the name of Leelu. We both acknowledged the fact that we wanted to move a little faster than the heavy tourers, so we took off and chatted about our journeys. Turned out, Leelu had flew from her home on the West Coast to Maine, and departed southbound on November 16th, and 33 days later made her way to Key Largo! I learned more about her as we stopped to snack, and found out she’s training for the Trans Am, a 4,300 mile race across the U.S, with a course record of 17 and a half days, completely self supported, meaning no support crew, no outside assistance and no drafting. The more we spoke, the more inspired I was by her story, her energy, and her determination not just in this aspect of her life, but in the countless others we discussed about what drives her and what inspires her.

Since I was planning on riding from Key Largo to Key West as my final day, about 104 miles, and we were making such good time, about a 20 mph average, we both felt inclined to stick together and finish side by side, however, with her own host organized in Marathon Key, she gave him a call, where we learned he was happy to host us both, that we should relax and join him for lunch! We met Mike, had an all you can eat Chinese buffet for 8 bucks, went out kayaking, upon which we stumbled upon an injured sea turtle, rescued, called the Turtle Hospital who sent over an ambulance, we christened the turtle Kevin, and will be kept in touch about his condition. He was, sadly, missing his two front flippers, seems as though lost to some kind of tumor or barnacle growth that he had throughout his body and over his eyes. Kevin, get well soon!

The three of us stayed up late; Mike, with his positive energy and simple outlook on the acceptance of life, provided us both with a deep lesson to think about for the last day of our trip.