2014 Cross-Florida (170 mile/270 kilometer): post-ride report (Part I)
The 33rd Annual Florida Spacecoast Freewheelers ~170 mile/270 kilometer Cross-Florida Ride was held over the weekend, and it was an amazing day of fun, food, friends and cycling!
Hundreds (perhaps more than 1,000?) cyclists attended this epic ride. Some chose to split the long ride over the two day weekend, but the group of 30-ish cyclists I rode with all did the big ride in a single day.
On Saturday afternoon a group of us rode over to the east coast on Lou Ann the bus. Lou Ann was not just our transportation, she also provided our group with our own private SAG stops along the ride. In typical Lou Ann fashion, these were not your average SAG stops. We were privileged to enjoy what was easily the most delicious and amazing spread of homemade foods and snacks on this ride. Lou Ann made us feel like cycling royalty. So, first and foremost, I’d like to thank Jeff and Laura Stephens for providing Lou Ann the bus, the incredible food and drink, the support and basically just being all-around awesome people. You folks made a great ride AMAZING.
Here is the “Lou Ann” group in Mount Dora. This was on Saturday afternoon, just before we set off for the east coast of Florida.
The ride to the coast on Saturday afternoon took a couple of hours, but the time passed quickly.
The night before the ride our group went out to eat with carbs on our minds. We went to a great place called Kelsey’s. Most had various forms of pastas, but I elected to consume an entire pizza with tomatoes and garlic. I thought about increasing my carb intake with a beer, but considering the heat and distance of the ride that lay before me, decided it would be best to avoid alcohol entirely on this trip.
I slept poorly the night before the ride. The motel I stayed in was a total dump: the room smelled, the air conditioner didn’t work well, the bed was lumpy and the pillows absolutely sucked. Every time I managed to drift off, I was awaken by the loud drunks in the parking lot and the surrounding rooms.
When I woke up at 4:30 the next morning, I guess I had about 4 hours of very broken sleep. Apparently I slept just long enough for the crappy pillows to work a bad crick into my neck.
I stumbled out of the room and over to Waffle House, where I met Dan and Eugene for breakfast and lots of black coffee. We were later joined by Ed, Dan’s brother.
By the time I lined up with my friends for the mass, police-escorted start, the adrenaline and coffee had more than offset the poor night of sleep. I was ready to rock!
The pace out of the gate was strong, and it didn’t let up once the police escort dropped off. When I reached the 120 mile SAG stop, my average speed was right at 20 MPH.
In somewhat of an odd reversal of fortunes, not a single cyclists in our group suffered a flat or serious mechanical, however Lou Ann the bus had a flat at the 120 mile SAG stop:
After a wonderful lunch at the 120 mile SAG, we rolled out for the final 50 miles. Unfortunately Jeff had to remain behind to secure repairs for Lou Ann. Thankfully Jeff was able to get someone to come out and get Lou Ann back on the road. During this time Eugene rolled in to the SAG, and so Jeff and Eugene were able to ride together and complete the full ride! Way to go, guys!
After the 120 mile SAG, the heat was getting pretty serious, and the winds began to really pick up.
Very deep into the ride I was still feeling incredibly good. All that hard training I did leading up to the event was paying off! My legs, cardio, stamina and energy level were never issues throughout the entire ride. My lower back, which I injured in a recent training ride wreck, didn’t give me even the slightest amount of trouble. I experienced absolutely no cramps during, or after, the ride.
As we approached the west coast of Florida, the strong sea breeze punched us right in our faces and didn’t let up until we reached the finish line. The hills (most of the elevation was in the final 50 miles), heat and wind slowed our pace somewhat for the last part of the ride, but we all finished strong!
My saddle time was 8:43:04, for an average speed of 19.2 MPH over the 167.1 mile (269 kilometer) total ride distance. A big day for sure, and my new single-ride distance personal record. Here’s my complete ride with all data on Strava.
The only pain I felt on this ride was saddle pain. My ass was killing me. The saddle sores I was dealing with last month were not the problem: it was just general saddle pain. I suppose any time one cycles 170 miles the ol’ butt is going to hurt, but I was feeling this saddle pain less than halfway through the ride. Saddle pain 80 miles into a 100 mile ride is not such a big deal, but 80 miles in with another 90 miles of cycling still to come? Well… it pretty much sucks. Sometimes the pain would dull a bit, but other times it was so excruciating that I had to muster all the strength I could to fight through it and keep riding. Good thing my legs felt strong the whole way, because I was out of the saddle a lot.
Apart from the saddle pain there’s no question that I could easily have gone on for a much longer distance if I wanted to. I am going to start looking for a new saddle. I won’t dive into that today, but in an upcoming blog I’ll get into that subject.
To close Part I of this blog, I’d like to thank everyone who made this incredible weekend possible. I enjoyed the challenge, the comradery with old friends and new, and–yes–the suffering. 🙂