Day 158

Lover’s Key St Pk, FL to Sarasota, FL
9036 mi

I ride up to the gate as usual at 7 am, and surprise! It’s a full gate, I can’t go under. There are two gates, one on the bike path and one on the road, right next to each other. As I’m removing my panniers a car pulls up, a ranger gets out, and starts opening the road gate. I don’t know what to do, so I keep fussing with my bags. He drives in, gets out, and closes the gate again behind him. His shirt is unbuttoned and he seems to be in a hurry. I don’t know whether he doesn’t see me or doesn’t care, but he leaves me in the same predicament I started in. I’ve soon tossed the bags and bike over the fence, put them back together, and I’m off again.

It takes a lot longer than I thought it would to reach Ft. Meyer. I go through Ft. Meyer’s Beach on the keys, cross the pass, and then ride endless sidewalks through palm-studded neighborhoods. I pass Thomas Edison’s winter home but have no time to explore.

The bridge over the Caloosahatchee Inlet is hairy. I have to ride about a mile across on it on a ledge just barely wide enough for me, a low guard rail threatening my fingers on the right, traffic on the left, and topped off by high crosswinds. It takes a while to unclench my jaw afterward.

The road, 41, breaks west for Venice through glades, golf courses, clubs, and strip. That steady north wind ceases to resist me, and I put the miles back. 41 is generally decent, though the shoulder goes away now and then. Traffic is moderate.

After Venice it’s mostly strip mall to Sarasota. I scout for bike shops, but see none. By and by I roll up to Paul Sudermann’s house and find him about to give a piano lesson. He sets me up in an apartment upstairs where I relax, stretch, and clean up.

Susan and Jason Luciani

The family converges about 6 o’clock and takes me out for Thai food. I meet Susan, a petite Italian woman, but mostly I meet her son Jason who talks nonstop and is disappointed that I am tougher to stump with science questions than his mom and Paul. He’s in a similar situation to me at 12, only Susan doesn’t get along with his father anymore. He’s got some tough times ahead, but I predict he’ll pull out eventually with a good education and enough fire left to go places. Susan and Paul seem happy together. They enjoy good food and each other. They work hard, and are both very active in Jason’s life. They sqeeze orange juice from the tree in the back yard, and swim in their pool.

That’s about all I have time to learn at dinner. I make the mistake of mentioning the Thai restaurant in Greenville, which is impossible to compete with. Still, I enjoy the food and go to bed full and very tired.

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