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Good 46 mile ride yesterday; Local paved trails; Weekly distance PR to fall?

Saturday, May 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve been in a roadie mood lately. I consider myself mostly a mountain biker, but sometimes I go through phases when road riding sounds more appealing. I think part of the reason I’ve been doing mostly road riding lately is because I’m trying to increase my saddle time and mileage.

I’ve mentioned in this blog a few times that I am not at all comfortable cycling on busy public roads (and I probably never will be), and that goes double when riding alone. I feel much safer and more visible when I’m riding with a large group–especially because we tend to ride on low-traffic roads out in Lake county. Lake county is about 100 times more bike-friendly than Orange county (where I live). So I’m mostly OK with group rides, but I try to avoid long solo rides on public streets.

Anyway, generally speaking I get up at 5:30 or 6:00 AM every morning, get in a few hours of work (I’m really productive first thing in the morning) and then I go ride. There’s usually a nice lull in my work day around mid-morning, so that’s a great time for me to break away and ride. Unfortunately if I want to do a long-ish road ride, that usually means riding solo…

I’ve rediscovered some of the excellent paved trail systems around here, and some new ones as well. When I’m riding solo I feel much more at ease on these closed trail systems than on the open road, so they are ideal for my solo rides. Also, during the week trail usage is very light, so I am able to ride fast with no safety concerns.

This week I’ve been putting in some good miles on the West Orange Trail (PDF) and the South Lake Trail (PDF). The West Orange Trail is 22 miles each direction, and at the Western end (at Killarney Station) it links up to the South Lake Trail. The South Lake Trail adds another 9 miles each way, plus it has some additional offshoots out in Clermont with some pretty nice little climbs.

At the halfway point of yesterday's ride. This is lake Minneola, which has white sand beaches.

At the halfway point of yesterday’s ride. This is lake Minneola, which has white sand beaches.

Yesterday morning I had time for a 40-50 mile ride, so I decided to ride both trails. I wanted to ride the South Lake trail all the way to the end, which is on the western side of Lake Minneola.

It was pretty windy, and I got caught in some rain, but for the most part the weather was quite nice for riding. I wound up doing 46.2 miles, 18.1 MPH pace and about 1,600 feet of climbing.

Once again on this ride I didn’t pay any attention to Strava segments, so I was surprised that I cracked the top 10 on a few and improved some PRs on others. On Fun woods section with uphill finish I placed 9th out of 359 riders/1,285 rides; on Mini climb, west bound I placed 6th out of 360 riders/1,217 rides; on Hancock Trail Climb (first time riding this section) I placed 14th out of 322 riders/1,180 rides.

Here’s the entire ride on Strava.

OK, at this point I’m aware of where at least some of the segments are, and so it’s tempting to want to go back and do a shorter 25-30 mile ride and hammer them for time. Maybe I’ll do that, but for now I want to keep riding longer rides and improving my average speed.

The person sitting at, or near, the top of just about every road segment in Central Florida is a guy named Tic Bowen. I don’t think Tic ever goes KOM hunting: he takes down KOMs while doing long-ass rides. The dude is a total beast, and even though we’ve only talked on Facebook (there’s no way I could hang with him on a ride), his riding inspires me to train harder. He’s one of the best around.

Well, so far this week I’ve logged over 135 miles. My single-week personal record is 161.6 miles, so if I can get in at least another 30 miles over the next couple days I’ll best that. This would be an especially satisfying PR, because apart from a 7 mile recovery ride all of those miles have been ridden hard.

John Stone Fitness Comments

5 Responses to “Good 46 mile ride yesterday; Local paved trails; Weekly distance PR to fall?”
  1. I had no idea that the WOT started all the way up by Welch Rd. I always park at the Buddhist temple, ride up to Killarney Station, and head back. It’s about 30 miles, which is a pretty decent distance for me, while still leaving enough energy in store to go for broke on my favorite Strava segments. My goal is to beat at least one of my PR’s on every ride, which I’ve so far managed to do. The day you were out there, I came close to getting a KOM on one very fast segment, only to discover later that I’d seriously underestimated where the segment ends. Had I not stopped pedaling and maintained my 30+ mph speed, I might have pulled it off. Doh! I’m currently tied for the 4th fastest time on the one mile sprint at the E-center. All the people at the top of the leader board, with the exception of yours truly, are racers still in their prime, so I feel pretty good about that result. If I cut 9 seconds off my time, I’ll be in first place. Unless of course YOU go out there. 😉

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    • On Monday’s 63 mile ride (the day we passed one another) I rode the entire WOT from one end to the other, plus some more. A few thoughts on that…

      On Rock Springs Road there’s a bike lane that extends south from Kelly Park Road all the way to Ponkan. Once you pass Ponkan you have to ride in the traffic lanes until the WOT starts. It’s not too far, but RSR has a lot of traffic and riding on it is somewhat harrowing.

      The WOT actually starts a few blocks before Welsh, across the street from Lester Road.

      There are so many business driveway crossings in that first section of the WOT that it’s not at all fun, and pretty dangerous. You have to really be on your toes because there’s so much traffic.

      Then, once you go through downtown Apopka and cross over 441, the trail runs straight through one of the roughest and most impoverished areas of Central Florida. There have been several assaults with injury and robberies on this section of trail. When I was riding that section on Monday–acutely aware that I was alone, white and wearing Lycra–there were guys sitting on their back porches and wandering around the trail, and every single one of them mad dogged me when I politely nodded. Actually one guy smiled and waved, which was slightly funny to me because he was probably the biggest, meanest looking guy I rode past! There were also countless numbers of stray dogs and cats running around the trail, which was another source of stress. Oh, I almost forgot to mention all the broken glass. This is the last place on the trail you’d want to flat.

      I much prefer to start at the Temple if I can.

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  2. I know just what you mean about the bad section of WOT. I once started off at Horseman’s Park and decided to see where the trail led going in the opposite direction, and soon found myself in the ‘badlands’. It’s definitely a section of trail to avoid. Last year I’d heard talk about plans to expand the trail, but I don’t know whatever came of it. I’ve been on the South Lake Trail, but it seems rather barren and dull compared to the WOT.

    Yesterday I explored a section of the Seminole Trail I’d never been on, crossing over I-4, and following the trail to Lake Mary Blvd. and rode all the way up to Tommy’s shop and back. It was intended to be a recovery ride after a heavy leg workout at the gym the previous day, but I couldn’t help trying for another PR on the final stretch to Panera Bread. I wasn’t in top form, but I did manage to beat Tic Bowen’s and David Wood’s PR’s. I’m sure either of them could easily better that time, but I take encouragement anywhere I can find it. 🙂

    My one complaint about some of the Strava segments is that they place the starting and ending spots dangerously close to intersections. To get a good start, many riders cross the starting point at a high rate of speed, which requires darting across busy roads like EE Williamson. On the WOT, the segment called ‘Fastest Section’ ends just before the intersection with Ocoee-Apopka road, which is pretty heavily traveled. I don’t particularly like the idea of having to decelerate from 30+ mph to zero in just a few yards!

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    • Good work! Yeah, anytime I find myself close to Tic on the leaderboard I try to ignore the fact that he was probably cooling down after a 100 mile ride. That guy is a monster rider. I think he averaged faster than 22 MPH in the last Horrible Hundred. That’s insane.

      Some of the segments on the WOT and the S-W trails are ridiculous. Several of them actually cross busy roads, which is stupid beyond all comprehension.

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  3. Those high average speeds ARE insane. I have to say though that their level of performance isn’t as hard me to get my head around as they once were. When I started road riding a couple of years ago, it was a struggle just to maintain 17 mph on the flats. I climb hills now faster than I used to go down them. Last weekend I was even bold enough to pass a rider on a TT bike. I was sure he’d retake the lead in no time, but I managed to maintain 23 mph and stay ahead of him for several miles until we had to stop at a busy intersection. He may just have been taking it easy for all I know, but it sure was satisfying. 🙂

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