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2013 Mount Dora Bike Festival: post-event report.

Monday, October 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


The weather for the 39th Annual Mount Dora Bike Festival was absolutely perfect: cool mornings and clear, sunny afternoons with high temperatures only reaching around 84° (F). Winds were also mild.

The first day of the festival was Friday, but I was not able to break away from work and attend that day.

My first ride was Saturday morning at 7:30 AM: The CPR Century ride. I was marshaling that ride (along with several others). Instead of the bright orange marshal safety vest supplied by the city, I elected to wear orange arm coolers. I lined up at the start, reached back to my jersey pocket to retrieve the arm coolers… not there. Oops. I left them on the counter at home.

It was quite a scene as all the riders lined up, laughing and chatting as we waited for the ride to start. While we were standing around tranquilo, an unfortunate rider crashed while he was lining up. I guess he had trouble unclipping or something. I’m sure he was already embarrassed enough–this happened right smack in the middle of all the other riders–but then the announcer called him out over the P.A. system: “We have our first wreck, ladies and gentleman!” Poor guy.

With the theme from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” booming from the speakers, we rolled out just past 7:30 en masse.

Being slightly competitive, I jumped in with the lead group, who quickly broke away from the main field. I guess there were about 25 of us. We were moving along at a good clip: my average speed over the first twenty miles was 22.2 MPH, and I reached top speeds over 40 MPH. My peak power output during that opening 20 miles was just shy of 1,300 watts.

I was witnessing some paceline behavior that was making me really nervous. My friend Jeff warned me that these events attract all kinds of riders, and he was right. Some of these guys were definitely not riding safely: riders were passing on the left and the right, crossing wheels, not pointing out hazards, not holding their lines, riding 5 or more abreast (even in the oncoming lanes), surging, “stomp, stomp, coasting” and basically scaring the crap out of me. Most of the riders were being safe, but there were enough yahoos that I was having trouble relaxing and getting into the ride.

Aside from that, I knew that I could not sustain a 22+ MPH pace for 100 miles. I decided to let the group go, and once I fell off the paceline I really started to enjoy myself.

The problem was I was sort of in a state of limbo between the lead group and the main group somewhere behind me. With no one to share pulling duties, I had to work harder than I otherwise would have to keep my much more sustainable 20 MPH pace.

I hit a SAG stop at about mile 45. I stretched, filled my bidons with plain water, ate a banana and some snack mix from the SAG table and resumed my journey. About 5 miles later–around mile 50–my stomach started cramping up. I have no idea what that was about, but at one point the cramps were so bad I thought I was going to have to stop riding.

I fought through the cramps, and about 30 minutes later they were pretty much gone. Occasionally I’d feel my stomach tighten up, but the cramps were not nearly as bad as they were at the onset.

My legs felt great, but I was hurting. The cramps had left me feeling drained, and I was worried that they would return. At this point I was approaching the end of the Metric Century route (100 kilometers). I honestly didn’t think I had another 35 miles in me, and so I made the decision to end my ride there. It wasn’t an easy choice to end the ride early, and I was second-guessing myself the whole way home–especially because my legs still felt very good.

Here’s Saturday’s ride on Strava.

By the way, as far as marshaling goes, I only saw two riders stopped, and they were not even part of the MDBF. Both riders were with their own groups, and when I slowed to offer help they waved me on and said they were just fine (changing flats).

When I woke up on Sunday morning and went out back with Loki, the second I felt the cool air I knew I was riding. The problem was I forgot to do the laundry the night before and all my bib shorts were nasty. I had just enough time to wash my stuff and make the 8:30 start of the 40 mile “Assault on Sugarloaf Mountain” ride.

I arrived at the start with just 3 minutes to spare:

Day 3, 2013 Mount Dora Bike Festival. Just before the mass start of the "Assault on Sugarloaf Mountain" ride.

Day 3, 2013 Mount Dora Bike Festival. Just before the mass start of the “Assault on Sugarloaf Mountain” ride.


The announcer made me cringe when he said (with a little street swag in his voice), “…and thanks to the ‘We Be Crazy’ bike club!” Yeah, we be crazy. Word.

Because I arrived just in time for the start, I was at the very back of the pack when we set off. I have to admit that I was feeling very annoyed with myself for cutting the century ride short, and that’s probably why I rode like a bat out of hell until I caught the lead group. Once I caught the front pack, I was feeling great so I worked my way to the front of the paceline until I was pulling.

This group was riding fast, tight and safe, and I felt much more comfortable with them than I did with the paceline I was in the day prior.

Sugarloaf Mountain comes about 15 miles into the ride, and when I arrived at its base my average speed to that point was 23.3 MPH. Not a bad average for the first half of the ride!

I hated to see our awesome group break apart, but Sugarloaf, of course, strung out the paceline. Not too long after Sugarloaf I was fortunate enough to hook up with two other riders, neither of whom I knew. Both these guys were strong, safe and obviously experienced riders. We remained together for the rest of the ride, even up “The Wall”, taking turns pulling and dividing up the workload. I didn’t get their names, but we thanked each other as we split apart. Guys, if you happen to see this great riding with you both.

I wound up completing the ride with an average speed of 21 MPH, with top speeds in excess of 42 MPH. Maximum power output peaked at over 1,200 watts.

Here’s Sunday’s ride on Strava.

When I was at the Chamber on Sunday and talking to some of the staff, they mentioned that they were a little caught off guard by the number of riders this year. I think there were some problems with not having enough food and water at some of the SAGs, and various other supply issues.

The Crazies (by the way, our club name is “We Must Be Crazy”… not “We Be Crazy”) have a good post-event discussion going, and many of the experienced senior members have made some excellent suggestions on how this event can be further improved. Mount Dora is lucky to have such an enthusiastic and experienced group of riders taking an active interest in making a great event even better.

Overall I felt like this was an extremely fun and well-organized event, and I had a blast. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. See you next year!

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