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Climbing in Central Florida; Single-ride elevation PR to fall.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


I’ve come to realize that I love climbing on my bike. I know, I know…

You live in Florida, dude. You don’t even know what real climbing is!

I can’t argue that point. The longest single sustained climb I’ve ever done was just shy of 1,000 feet–and that was on my mountain bike in Tennessee (at the Black Bear Rampage MTB race).

There are a few Categorized (Cat 4 and Cat 5) climbs around here, but they are pretty mild compared to the big stuff. I’m not even sure what the longest and steepest Central Florida rated climb is, anyone know? Sugarloaf is pretty steep, but it’s not long enough to be rated.

This is Sugarloaf Mountain. Average grade is about 8.5%, maximum grade is around 17%.

This is Sugarloaf Mountain. Average grade is about 8.5%, maximum grade is around 17%.

While we may not have any huge sustained climbs here in Central Florida, we certainly have elevation in some areas. The trick is to create a route that hits the hills in fairly rapid succession. For example, a recent ride I did netted 4,600 feet of elevation over just 90 kilometers/56 miles.

The “Horrible Hundred” ride, which I did this past November, included about 5,200 feet of elevation over its 161 kilometers/100 mile course. That was a single ride elevation personal record for me, and it still stands.

It’s time for me to break that record.

Tomorrow’s ride is going to be a hot and hilly. The goal is to not only smash my Horrible Hundred elevation record, but also to pack that elevation as tightly and relentlessly as possible. The planned route should give me more than 6,000 feet spread over 120 kilometers/75 miles. The high temperature is going to be over 90°, so it should be a pretty tough ride.

I’ll sign off with a cycling/climbing quote that my friend and JSF member Devery passed on to me recently:

Be a hill seeker!

Most of us try to avoid hills, but what’s so good about flat?

Think about it: flat tires, flat hair, flat returns and — the ultimate — flatlining!

Life happens on the hills!

There are opportunities to prove to yourself that you’re stronger than you ever imagined.

If you never attempt the ascent, you’ll never know the thrill of swooshing down the other side!”

Well said. Except the part about the flat hair. That was just weird. Anyway, I’m looking forward to a hilly and challenging ride tomorrow!

John Stone Fitness Comments

11 Responses to “Climbing in Central Florida; Single-ride elevation PR to fall.”
  1. Go get it!!! The hills are calling. I’m waiting for the blog when you are riding a cat 3 or higher. That will be a good read. It always fun to find the closest “HC” climb around on the map. North Carolina for me, yours might be the same.

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  2. Your mention of the Black Bear Rampage jogged my memory of the hilarious post report blogs you wrote about it. I wanted to ask how Mike Simmons is doing?

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    • Man, that was a great time. The Rampage trip was incredible.

      Thanks for asking about Mike. Unfortunately there have been numerous complications since the surgery. Mike has been in and out of the hospital many times over the past couple of months. Unfortunately Mike is back in the hospital again as I type this. I’d rather not go into details without Mike’s blessing to do so, but I just talked with him this morning and he’s hanging in there as best he can. The past few months have been hell, both on Mike and his family.

      When I took Mike to see his doctor last week we both committed to doing the brutal Leadville 100 MTB race (http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com/mtb/leadvilletrail100mtb/) together when he recovers. Completing that race under any circumstances is extraordinarily difficult (Lance Armstrong said it was the toughest race he’s ever done), but to complete it after everything Mike’s been through would be like spitting in cancer’s face while simultaneously falcon punching it. And cancer deserves a slimy loogie in the eye.

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  3. Climbing is what most I like about cycling. Nothing compared to the feeling of reaching the top of a mountain, no words to describe it, a feeling of being powerful.
    I live in the north of Spain, it is very mountainous and I do at least 2296ft in a little ride. My record is 15748ft in a ride called “Los 10000 del Soplao”, I strongly recomend all of you to do it if you have the oportunity once in a lifetime, it is epic. I think the elevation is quite similar to the Leadville 100 in Colorado.
    The hardest single climbing I have ever done is the “Angliru”, a mountain in a region next to mine, It’s totally insane and possibly the hardest climb in proffessional cycling, you can watch some videos of the “Vuelta a España” in youtube. Here you are the profile, it’s not a joke
    (the distance is kilometers and the altitude meters).

    Are there any climbing you dream about ride at least once in a lifetime?


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  4. Joaquín, I recently watched the entire Tour of the Basque Country, and was so blown away by what I saw that I instantly put northern Spain on my “must do before I die” list. The countryside was as beautiful as the climbs were brutal. I was so inspired that I have not been able to stop thinking about it since. I’m jealous, you live in amazing place!!

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    • That was an excellent account of what looks to be an insane climb!

      These facts equal parts impressed and scared me:

      Highest wind recorded 231 mph (372 kph) 12 April 1934
      Lowest Temperature -47 F (-43.9 C) January 1934
      Highest Temperature +72 F (22 C) August 1975
      Avg. Annual Temperature 26.5 F (-3.1 C)
      Avg. Annual Wind Speed 35.3 mph (56.8 kph)
      Avg. Annual Snowfall 256 inches (6.5 meters)
      Greatest Snowfall Season 566.4 inches (14.38 meters) 1968-69

      Maximum snowfall in a calendar year (1969) 495.2 inches
      Winds exceed hurricane force (75 MPH) on an average of 104 days a year
      The summit is in the clouds about 60% of the time
      Fog is reported (for at least part of the day) over 300 days a year
      Terminus 6288 ft. (1916.58 meters)
      Base (Toll House) 1565 ft. (477 meters)
      Elevation gain 4727 ft. (1440.79 meters)
      Length 7.6 miles (12.23 kilometers)
      Grade Avg. 12%, extended 18%, final 100 yards 22%
      Road Surface 87% paved, 13% packed gravel

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