Florida (Keys)

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Starting on Monday, November 04, 2002, 4:32:06 PM

As I made my way across Interstate 75 to the Miami area I kept on going straight to highway "1" which takes you about a hundred miles, all the way to the bottom tip of the Florida Keys and to Key West. The sun was already beginning to set on me so I knew I wouldn't get to see much of the keys or even get to really enjoy seeing that seven mile bridge down there.

I did, however, get some real nice shots of the sunset on the water.

Then, later that evening I had an experience that would be the worst incident so far and the closest I have come to ending the whole trip and possibly more. 

Now the highway down the keys is pretty slow with most of it being only two lanes. However, just shy of Key West it turns into a large four lane freeway so I picked up my speed to around 75 so I could make before everything closed and I could get me something to eat somewhere. At about 8:30 PM I hit a pretty good bump in the road that shook everything up pretty good. Everything seemed okay so I just kept riding. Suddenly there was a quick screech from the back tire and the back of the bike came off of the ground for an instant and then slammed back down. The whole rear of the bike had locked up and I thought maybe that the chain had broke and wrapped around the rear sprocket somehow or that the transmission blew up. Wither way my main concern focused on keeping the bike upright while I went violently sliding down the road. The rear of the bike immediately started fish-tailing down the road. It would slide to the right and I would try to correct and then it would slide to the left and I would try to correct. At one point the bike was almost completely sideways and there were several moments that I thought seriously about jumping off of the bike. I surely didn't like the idea of getting tangled up in all this metal if I was to fall down. I'd take my chances on the pavement. It seemed like slide took forever and I was wondering how far a bike can actually slide down the road from 75 miles per hour to a complete stop. I still don't know how far it was but eventually the bike did finally come to a complete stop about three feet in the middle of the right hand lane. I jumped off of the bike, surprised that had ridden this bucking bronco for the whole ride. I still couldn't tell what had happened until I started looking around the bike. The sleeping bag was missing and I thought it must have fallen off from all the movement. Well, it actually did fall of but way back when I hit the first bump. A strap broke and the bag dropped down and into the rear tire where it jammed up in between the wheel and frame which is what caused the back of the bike to violently rise up and off the ground. At first I couldn't see the bag but then eventually found it. It had wrapped up so tight that it was only about the size of a small loaf of bread. I couldn't move the bike because the back wheel was locked up and it wouldn't roll so I immediately started taking all my gear off and dragging it to the side of the road. I got it all off and began to try to drag the bike off the road when I had to stop from time to time to wave the traffic to go around. At one point an elderly gentleman pulled up next to me and rolled down his window. He shouted out to me that I needed to move my bike off of the road. This really got on my nerves and I yelled back at him, "DO YOU THINK?!?!". Like I just decided to stop in the middle of the road to take a break or something. Sheesh!!

It was then that I physically picked up my whole bike off of the ground, myself and carried it off to the side of the road. It took me quite a while getting the sleeping bag out of the wheel but I managed to yank and jerk and get it out. I thought for sure that the bike was totally down and that I had ruined something. It wouldn't start at first but after I got the bag totally out it finally started and ran just fine. Everything else seemed to be okay except for the fact that I now need another back tire, as this one has an amazing flat, bald spot on part of it.

I obviously made it down to Key West and got there in time to get me something to eat and even treated myself to a nice motel room. I really needed to relax. I was still quite shaken.

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