2014 Cross-Florida (170 mile/270 kilometer): post-ride report (Part II)
I suppose distilling an epic 170-mile cross-state cycling adventure into a single blog of reasonable length is nigh impossible. Despite the long odds, I made an effort to do just that with yesterday’s article, “2014 Cross-Florida (170 mile/270 kilometer): post-ride report (Part I)“. It was a valiant attempt, however I inadvertently left a whole mess of stuff out of my recounting. I also received a number of questions by email/PM, and would like to answer those publicly. So, today’s blog will sort of jump around and attempt to fill in the blanks…
Several people inquired about my intra-ride and post-ride nutrition/supplementation. Here are the complete lists:
Food and supplements that I carried in my jersey and consumed along the ride: Clif bars (“White Chocolate Macadamia” is my favorite flavor), bananas, GU energy gels (I really dig the “Chocolate Outrage” and caffeinated “Espresso Love” flavors), GU chomps (Cranberry Apple is my current favorite), Salt Stick Electrolyte Caps (amazing, low-cost product that prevents muscle cramps; I take 1 capsule per hour of riding), SportLegs (“A good day in a bottle” sums this product up perfectly, helps prevent lactic acid buildup and really works; I consume 4 capsules every two to three hours of riding), Gatorade and lots of plain water.
Food/drink available at the SAG stops that I consumed: PB&J sandwiches*, homemade cookies*, homemade ham wraps*, homemade protein balls*, assorted chips, more bananas and more Gatorade.
*Graciously Provided by Jeff and Laura Stephens on Lou Ann-supported rides!
Post-ride/recovery nutrition: First and foremost, I believe a proper recovery must start with good intra-ride nutrition and hydration. So be sure to fuel while you ride, and stay hydrated. If you’re not urinating during the ride, you’re not drinking enough water. Be sure to consume plenty of electrolytes (Salt Stick capsules, energy gels, sports drinks)–water is not enough.
Post-ride I eat as much as I want, and whatever I want. I tend to crave protein and carbs, and so that’s what I go for. I also pound back the water and sports drinks. You know you’re doing it right if your urinating often, and it’s nearly clear.
Get a good night of sleep after a big ride, and go for an easy ride the next day. Seriously, I find that doing an easy spin the day after a big ride really helps with recovery and reduce soreness.
Getting back to the ride…
At this point it would certainly be germane to list the names of everyone with whom I rode, and all the new friends I made. However, because I’m feeble-minded, forgetful and exceptionally bad with names, there’s little doubt that I would accidentally leave someone awesome off said list, so I won’t embarrass myself and go there. Instead I’ll simply say I truly enjoyed riding with our “official” group of 30-ish cyclists, and sharing some miles with those cyclists our paceline absorbed along the long ride. I found almost everyone to be super friendly, supportive and positive. My kind of people.
In fact, I’d like to elaborate on that last note. Before I started road cycling and was a pure mountain biker, tales of rude and elitist roadies were rampant amongst some (not all) of my dirt-loving comrades. Fact is, I’ve found quite the opposite to be true. I’ve met and ridden with literately hundreds of roadies since I first swung my leg over a skinny-tired bike back in late 2012, and I can count on two hands the number of cyclists who I feel fit that unflattering description.
The cross-Florida ride was an awesome experience, but no epic adventure would be complete without a little drama. Not to be negative, but I would be remiss–and certainly disingenuous–if I didn’t provide some form of literary tension. 🙂
Bones were shattered. I didn’t know the guy, but we saw him shortly after his wreck. Apparently he hit a deep hole in the road, and went over the bars, breaking his collar bone. From what I learned, it was a pretty bad break (compound), and the rider blacked out. A short time after we passed the scene of the accident, we saw an ambulance heading towards the downed rider. Hope he is okay.
About 110 miles into the ride we began to encounter some of the most aggressive and rude motorists I’ve ever come across while cycling. Some motorists passed silently with their car mirrors mere inches from our bodies, while others revved their engines and/or blared their horns as they skimmed by our paceline. We were flipped off, cussed at, yelled at and called “idiots”. Some motorists coming from the opposite direction (who were in no way impeded by our paceline), even screamed at us as they passed. Several of the angry folks we encountered had air horns, and they leaned on them the entire time they were near us. One time a car passenger literally opened his door, leaned out and screamed at us…
Which brings me to my next point.
As the guy mentioned just above passed and yelled at us, one of the cyclists riding directly in front of me (I don’t know who she was–she was not part of our group, just someone who happened to be in our paceline at the time), screamed an explicative back at the guy.
No. Absolutely NO! Regardless of how wrong a motorist may be, you simply do not engage like that; nothing good will ever come out of doing so. Not only that, I strongly believe that the only way cyclists are going to improve relations with motorists is if we leave them with a positive impression. Be courteous, obey traffic laws, smile and wave if you want (never sarcastically) and, above all, if someone is angry or rude–no matter how wrong they may be–DO NOT ENGAGE. It’s just dumb. At best you’re confirming their negative beliefs about cyclists, and you are possibly putting yourself (and everyone with whom you’re riding) in danger.
At one point deep into the ride I was feeling good and broke away from my group in a hilly section. I happened to latch on to a small group of cyclists I did not know. These guys were riding two abreast, sometimes three, and taking up the entire lane. There are times when a double paceline is safest and appropriate, but this was clearly a situation in which singling up was the way to go. Motorists were becoming extremely irritated (and I don’t blame them), and these guys just kept riding along making no attempt to do their part in sharing the road. Once I saw how these guys were behaving, I quickly dropped off and waited at a traffic light for my friends to catch back up.
I have to give special mention to the worst road on which I’ve ever had the displeasure of peddling my bike…
A section of a road called “Old Tampa Highway” came about 70 miles into the ride, and it was several miles of bad asphalt, sand, cracked bricks and deep holes. As I rode along, teeth rattling out of my skull as I attempted to dodge the non-stop barrage of hazards (some of which, not surprisingly, included cyclists replacing punctured tubes), I tried to block out the mental image of broken spokes and–worse–broken collar bones.
When I finished the ride I noticed that my front brake pad was slightly rubbing. I have no doubt that Old Tampa Highway is what put my wheel out of true. Perhaps a local bike shop or Park Tool has something to do with the inclusion of this road in the XFL route? 😉
Here’s another picture of the bad road (from Google Street View):
I certainly do not want to end my recounting of what was an amazingly fun and challenging ride on a negative note! To be sure, the events mentioned above were only a small part of an otherwise incredible experience. This ride allowed me to see Florida in a way most never will. Nearly all of the roads were lightly traveled, safe and very scenic. I would not hesitate to do this ride again next year, and would recommend it to any cyclist who is looking for a long, but satisfying day in the saddle.