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Roughin' It and Lovin' It

Tyson finally reaches Key West, the southernmost point in continental U.S.A. Copyright Tyson Brooks.Five thousand miles and four days later I arrived in Key West. The bus was hell: rude employees and very dirty facilities, so dirty I didn't even want to use the bathroom. The bus seems to attract the strangest people in America: one of the ladies played with her false teeth, searched through garbage bags for food and insisted she wanted to be dropped off at a hospital for more medication. The Amish, however, seemed to enjoy the bus. They admitted horse-drawn wagons are often slow and dangerous on the highways, so they tended to opt for bus rides on longer journeys.

Key West was nice but not fantastic. It was very touristy and very hot – much hotter than I was prepared for. The first day of riding my bike was torture. I foolishly crossed the longest most exposed bridge (seven miles long) at noon. It took me over 30 minutes because of a very hot, strong headwind. My first night of camping, I was attacked by sand flies that not even heavy deet repellant repelled. At midnight a raccoon tried to steal my food.

The second day was better. I traveled a few exposed sections of the Everglades, but all in all I enjoyed it. Reaching the hostel some 130-plus kilometers later, I still had enough energy to go canoeing. The third day I rode into Miami along beautiful palm tree-lined drives. As I left the hostel, I encountered seven police cars slowly driving up the road with officers running alongside, trying to catch whatever villain had escaped. I stopped dead in my tracks and watched them come towards me.

The police officers apprehend the villainous emu. Copyright Tyson Brooks.A block before they reached me, I saw an emu dart out with the officers in hot pursuit. All that effort for one large escaped bird.

South Beach was a disappointment. The Art Deco District is rundown and not as full of life as I had hoped. The hostel was pleasant, complete with pool and movie theater at no extra charge. I moved on, past beautiful scenery, to Fort Lauderdale. Huge hotels and condos lined the beach and the canals as far as the eye could see.

A Florida local cycles his bike along the boardwalk. Copyright Tyson Brooks.Hollywood, Florida has an incredible boardwalk to cycle. I frequently stopped in for a swim to cool down. The temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) and even the nights were hot. I am slowly adjusting. The farther I cycle, the more excited I get. The sights are incredible and the best is yet to come.

Next month, watch for Tyson "Adventure" Brooks' update from the road as he cycles his bike into the heart of the Southern United States.

When you go:

For more information on Florida, visit their Web site at www.flausa.com or call them at 888-735-2872.

Find out more about Miami by visiting www.miamicity.com.

Visit the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau site at www.co.broward.fl.us/sunny, call them at 800-22-SUNNY (78669), or e-mail them at gflcvb@broward.org