Around the world in two months, apparently... - Across America - 70 years ago - CycleBlaze

Around the world in two months, apparently...

Heart 0 Comment 0

DAYTONA BEACH gave more than a hint of what could be expected as Highway One unrolled its final miles. I stayed a night there, but not until Had cycled many miles along its roads trying to find something a little cheaper than four dollars for bed and breakfast. I was out on the famous sands at sic the next morning and found the gleaming expanse of Daytona Beach a wonderful sight. For twenty-three miles the smooth carpet stretched and I could not resist the urge to ride a "private time trial." Not that it turned out at all private, for dozens of brown-skinned boys were careering around and, when they saw the British bicycle, so unlike their own mounts, they suspected my intention and clamoured to participate.

Quickly handicaps were arranged, not without protest by those who thought themselves unfairly treated (their remarks made me feel downright homesick for similar grumbles on the "North Road"!) and Heat One was under way. Considering the heavy bicycles the youngsters were using they skimmed over the firm sands at a surprising rate, but I won my heat and the semi-final with ease. There was quite a "gate" to see the final run-off. My chief opposition was good, there was no doubt of it, and had he been mounted on a cycle similar to my own I am under no illusions as to what he would have done to me. As it was I crossed the hastily made finishing line (880 yards from the start) less than half a wheel ahead of my Florida-born rival.

I resisted a similar temptation to show off when I passed Ocean Beach later in the days, and even passed through a place called "Cocoa" without waiting to query it! Palm Beach was an eye-opener to one whose experience of exclusive seaside resorts had been hitherto limited to Torquay and Boscombe. On every hand glaring instances of profligate spending were apparent; luxury cars of English make rolled along, beautiful young women by the dozen, many slowly riding bicycles of absurd design, looked at me curiously and disdainfully, and a number of rickshaws added to the scene of indolence and idle living.

Next came Hollywood, a modest little place of fewer than three thousand people, but it served cheap and tasty meals, and the waitresses had to be seen to be believed. Perfectly-fitting uniforms, corn-coloured hair plastered into a mould-like effect, with shoes, stockings, and hands all bright and expensive looking. "What more would that other Hollywood, in California, offer?" I asked myself.

It was noon on a roasting hot day when my long journey ended. Miami struck me as Palm Beach all over again, but I spent only an hour there before riding away from the sea to the alluring Everglades and the Okaloacoochee Slough. Here, beside a peaceful Indian Reservation, I made contact with the Fort Kent firm's manager, and he was astonished to hear that a British cyclist had ridden from Maine to Miami in twenty-six days, seven days under schedule and looking as good an advertisement for cycling as he was ever likely to see!

The whole district was stirred by the story of my ride. Before dusk "Maine to Miami" had become "all round the world in two months," but I toned down all the exaggerations I could hear. A local "big shot" was so "tickled" that he offered me the equivalent of a hundred pounds if I would arrange to ride back to Fort Kent in the same period of time. I could have used the money to great advantage, but I declined on the grounds that, enjoyable as the experience had been, once in a lifetime was enough.

In any case, I had other ideas. A railway running over the ocean to Key West was not far away, and I had hopes of slipping over to Havana for a day or two, for my hotel clerk had boastingly talked of cycle races being held in Cuba at the week-end, and he was sure no Britisher would stand a chance!

THE END

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Jeanna & Kerry SmithWhat fun to read! Thanks for posting.
Reply to this comment
4 years ago
Leo WoodlandThanks, Jeanna. It's interesting how different even the fairly recent past could be... but also how little has changed. I'd take credit for the story but it's not my work, of course. Where in the world are you?
Reply to this comment
4 years ago
Leo WoodlandI've just looked at your profile and found out! Florida... that explains some of your interest; - happy days, léo (leowoodland@neuf.fr)
Reply to this comment
4 years ago