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January 27, 2011

(Note – this is part of an ongoing series from a 2009 two month long trip around the Southern USA)

KEY LARGO – I awoke the next morning a crumpled mess.  The room just about had frost on the walls from an air conditioning unit that apparently had one setting – Artic Circle.  It is never a good idea to combine a sun burn, six hours of salt water immersion and alcohol loaded rum punch drinks, loud music and questionable surroundings with  four hours sleep in sub zero temperatures.  You tend to wake up badly.

I rousted myself and went out to the Caponord to adjust the chain and drain off some engine oil.  The one problem that the 1000 cc Rotax engine tends to have on Aprilia motorcycles is that it is very easy to over fill the oil tank.  The manual does you no favors by suggesting you ride the motorcycle for 10 minutes before checking the oil.   Also, there are about 50 different suggestions on how to check the engine oil.  The manual says shut the bike off and hold it level.  Micah at AF1 Racing in Texas says to look at the oil level at about 4000 RPM while the bike is running.  The internet is filled with a variety of differing advice.  Anyway, the bike was overfilled with oil and I removed the plastic bash plate, got a plastic cup from the dumpster and drained about a cup of oil out of the sump.  I checked the level and buttoned the bike back up. 

I then moved around back and went to adjust the chain as it was very loose.  The one thing that the stock tool kit does very nicely is absolutely destroy the rear axle nut.  It is just about impossible to loosen the rear axle, adjust the chain and re-tighten the whole assembly without:

I: A great deal of cursing.  I believe I have mastered a new skill set of combining foul language sentences and paragraphs into veritable arias of filth.  

II: Threatening to fly to Italy and have Don Carlo put a hit on the engineer who designed this  (the wrench) piece of crap and;

III: Hoping that the file on my Leatherman will sharpen the destroyed nut’s edges enough to get the nut tight again.

Finally I got the chain tension adjusted correctly and the nut tight.  Time to ride to Key West!

The nice thing about the ride down US1 South is that you simply cannot get lost. You don’t need directions, a GPS or a compass.  Just follow the road.  From Homestead, Key West is about 130 miles.  It’s a significantly longer ride than the distance suggests just because the speed limits go from 50 to 30/25 in some places and every Key seems to have it’s own police force bent on collecting revenue.  We stopped in Islamorada at The Moorings to visit a girl Fred knew.  The Moorings is very nice, bring your wallet.



Snow in December?  HA!   Cruising down US 1 SOUTH in mid December.  YAHOO!






So, what to do in Key West besides drink?  Fish….. and drink.  Fred and I got on the boat and you can see the rest.  Almost There is a fantastic fish charter company.  

Almost There Fishing Charters

After making friends and doing our part to decimate the South Florida fish population we headed to Duvall Street for some cigars, and drinks.  Most of what follows is light on text and picture heavy.






Sweet scenery!



This guy sells magnifying glass art.  He sits in the sun with a big magnifying glass burning patters in to cardboard.  It was pretty good. He’s wearing the equivalent of welding goggles.


Key West would not be complete without a visit to see the “King” Bobby J.


What to eat at Sloppy Joes?  Why, Sloppy Joes.


Back in Key West – for the second time this year.



Heading north.


Stopped at Bahia Honda State Park for a quick swim.  It’s a beautiful place.  You can camp there – IF you can get a reservation.  Reservations are made through which totally, and completely sucks for more reasons than I care to elaborate here.  The $8.00 booking fee for a $12.00 campsite is only one……





The banzi run back to Key Largo.  Impending storm clouds over head.  The weather looked awful but it never rained.  I was thankful for that.


January 27, 2011 – STOWE, VERMONT

I’m sitting at my computer finishing this trip report and looking out my window at snow.  Ug.  How many months more until I can get back in the saddle?  Two?  Three?  Awful.  Until then I’ve got re-runs of The Long Way Down and The Long Way Round and monthly trips to the book store to buy every motorcycle publication I can find. 

It’s a year later and I’m still not even close to finishing all the trip reports from my 2009 ride around the United States.  Hopefully, I’ll have time over the next week to get started writing again  I’d like to say 2010 was a fantastic year but ultimately it was not.  Still looking for an interesting career move and finding the right geographic location – one where I can ride year long and use my car as a secondary means of transportation. 

On the positive side I’ve applied to be an MSF Rider Coach and hope to begin training in the spring.  I’ve had an injury free (so far) ski season and recently drove through five states to pickup a BMW F650-GS for a friend who will be learning to ride it this spring.  I’m always happy when I can spread the motorcycle disease to someone else. 

What’s next?  My 2010 Year End Review.  Next to the Harley Davidson story, the review was just about the most popular posting on my blog.  Check back soon!  Until then keep dreaming about the road.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Roger permalink
    January 27, 2011 2:52 pm

    Just keep doing it, my only form of escape is watching your travels

  2. January 29, 2011 9:04 pm

    Personally, I like where you are; even with the few months of no riding each year. Maybe you should consider northern AZ or NM, if you can make a living out here. Year ’round riding nearby in one direction, and good mountains and skiing in the other direction. None of the thick green foliage of New England, though.

  3. sleazy rider permalink
    March 19, 2011 4:05 am

    Heh, I’ve sit at that very table in Sloppy Joe’s a couple years ago. The ride down and back is not to bad if you’re not in a hurry with lots to see. Sometimes it’s good to flower sniff on a ride and this is one of ’em. We’re just getting back to riding mode over here in Michigan too.

    • James Springate permalink
      March 27, 2011 8:39 am

      Left the name of your site as the reason I stayed at Value Place in Homestead. I saw your review of the one in Texas, and made my reservation for Homestead. Then saw that you stayed at the same one! I liked it and will stay again. Should have gotten a hotel for one night at Key West. I was in my BMW convertible instead of my motorcycle. Same concept; a little easier to deal with.


  1. That's a lot of Keys. Riding to and from Key West - - The Ultimate Ducati Forum

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