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Awesome 250 kilometers of riding over the weekend!

Monday, October 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


This is the time of the year when most cyclists are preparing their indoor trainers and cold weather gear for the long winter just on the horizon. Here in Central Florida, however, the next few months will provide a welcome respite from the stifling heat and humidity that we deal with most of the year. This past weekend was our first real taste of fall, and an absolutely fantastic preview of “century season” here in Central Florida.

On Saturday morning the cool front was pushing through, and so rain was a concern. I decided to do my usual Saturday morning group ride anyway. There was some early fog and some of the roads were wet and slick, but we were lucky enough to avoid the rain. Originally I’d planned to do about 80 miles (129 kilometers), but I was crunched for time on Saturday morning and wound up driving to the group ride start by automobile (I normally ride to and from the group ride meeting location, which adds about 25-30 miles). I still wound up with about 51 miles (82 kilometers), which probably wasn’t a bad idea since I had a hilly 103 mile training ride planned for Sunday… 🙂

Here's William ascending the "Skyline Climb". This is a short 1/4 mile hill with an average grade of 10%, and a few sections as steep as 16-17% (the photo doesn't do it justice). This little gem is tucked away in a subdivision, but the locals all know where it is.

Here’s William ascending the "Skyline Climb". This is a short 1/4 mile hill with an average grade of 10%, and a few sections as steep as 16-17% (the photo doesn’t do it justice). This little gem is tucked away in a subdivision, but the locals all know where it is.

While I enjoyed Saturday’s group ride, Sunday’s ride was the one I was really looking forward to.

My friend William came up with an absolutely brilliant 103 mile (166 kilometer) route with nearly 5,000 feet of elevation. This is the same distance (actually a few miles more) and nearly the same amount of elevation as the infamous “Horrible Hundred” ride, which takes place every November. William’s route was a perfect training ride for this event, and it also took us through some of the most beautiful and scenic areas of Central Florida.

The weather on Sunday was, without any exaggeration, perfect. There was a slight, but welcome, chill in the air (about 55° F) when William and I rolled out at 7:00 AM, but after a spectacular sunrise the temperature eased its way into the mid-70s, and went no higher. The skies were clear and sunny, and there was practically no humidity in the air.

Yesterday reminded me of why I’m so addicted to cycling. Everything I love about the sport was on display: beautiful scenery, incredible weather, exhilarating speed, fresh country air, good company and tough challenges. One of my top 5 days in the saddle, without question.

We did have to deal with some very strong headwinds during the second half of the ride. This is also where most of the climbing was (just like the Horrible Hundred), so that made for a powerful 1-2 training punch.

From a training point of view, the way I approached this ride was two-fold: average speed for the ride was not a concern, but make strong efforts on all the climbs. When I say “strong efforts” I mean I attacked the climbs hard, but I didn’t go all-out or redline. I wanted to sort of gauge how hard I could go, and how much was left in the tank at the end of the ride.

I was happy to find that I had plenty left when I finished the ride. Apart from a slight bonk (that happened to coincide with a flat tire at about mile 93, and was quickly squashed with a Clif bar), I felt great the whole way.

The cool thing is I finished this ride with an average speed almost 1 MPH faster than my 2013 Horrible Hundred performance, and I wasn’t even trying to keep my average up. Another interesting point of note is that at last year’s Horrible Hundred my average heart rate for the ride was 165 BPM, while yesterday it was just 144 BPM. Almost a 1 MPH faster average, and 21 BPM lower average heart rate to boot. Very happy about that.

I also destroyed ALL of my Horrible Hundred times on the various climbs (like, not even close). I wound up with with 9 or 10 new personal records for time, and two new power output personal records.

There’s no question that I’ve improved a lot as a rider over the past year, and I’m very excited to see what I can do at this year’s Horrible Hundred. Yesterday’s training ride was a good litmus test/confidence booster for that event.

This morning I can tell that I rode yesterday, but my legs feel surprisingly good. Still, I’m going to keep it light this morning and spin out any heaviness.

John Stone Fitness Comments

8 Responses to “Awesome 250 kilometers of riding over the weekend!”
  1. >nearly 5,000 feet of elevation…

    I didn’t know there ~was~ 5,000 feet of elevation in Florida.

    I didn’t envy you in August but I sure do now. I ended my ride last night be descending 1400 feet in about 5 miles at about 38 degrees F. Stood in the shower afterward to feel my toes again. Not even close to how cold it’s going to be a month from now. I hate winter…

    Maybe I’ll start a winter riding thread. “Ten tips for avoiding frostbite.” You can do “Ten tips for avoiding heat exhaustion.”

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    • We may not have any mountains or sustained climbs here in Central Florida, but we’ve got plenty of elevation if one knows where to look. It just takes a little creativity when planning routes. In fact, I’ve got a got a route that I’m planning to do that’s going to put me close to 10,000 feet over 100 miles.

      I don’t envy your winters. I don’t know how you folks up north do it.

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  2. Speaking of Clif Bars, I was walking thru Wegman’s on Saturday and came across three seasonal flavors that I didn’t even realize they made. Iced Gingerbread, Spiced Pumpkin Pie, and Pecan Pie. The Pecan Pie was dynamite, my fav of the three. See if you can track them down. Furthermore, Wegman’s had a sale on boxes of the traditional flavors for $10. That’s cheaper than my Amazon S&S prices.

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      • Iced Gingerbread (to my surprise) was my least favorite of the three. There was too much spice in it, whether it was nutmeg or I don’t know, but it was intense. I’ll give it a second try, but I was less than impressed with the first go round.

        Wegman’s rocks!

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      • Addendum:

        There are a few flavors of Clif Bars that I’d love to try but I never see them in the stores here and they are not offered on Amazon S&S. Carrot Cake, Maple Nut, Banana Nut Bread, and Chocolate Almond Fudge are all flavors I’d like to get my buds on. Have you tried any of those?

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  3. too bad the HH switched to that “wander off whenever you feel like it” format last year. It used to be a fun to stick your nose in that front group and ride hard, now you really can’t tell if you’re out with a fast group or not. It’s a bummer. I doubt I’ll bother to come down for it this year.

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