2014 Seminole Cyclefest: Ride Report
Yesterday morning I attended the 5th annual Seminole Cyclefest, and it was a fantastic ride! This was my first year doing this ride and, overall, I came away very impressed.
What makes this 60 mile/97 kilometer ride unique (a shorter 25 mile route is also available) is the rolling escort provided by the Seminole County Sheriff Motor Unit:
There are two mandatory SAG stops, but apart from that the deputies provided us with a true rolling enclosure that allowed us to ride without stopping for lights or stop signs, and prevented motorists from impeding our ride. The deputies expertly closed down intersections as we rode, and we enjoyed a fun and safe ride.
Okay. I have to gush a little about the police escort. It was incredible. Being able to ride without worrying about motorists, lights, stop signs and so forth was amazing. People were standing on the side of the road watching the spectacle, taking pictures and shooting video. Some of the people clapped and cheered us on, even though they probably had no idea who we were. It was cool, damn cool.
If you skipped this ride because it was a little cold yesterday morning, you missed out big time.
Unfortunately there was some post-ride controversy about the pace of the ride–specifically the lead group on the “A” ride. I had an internal debate about whether or not I should even address some of the nonsense I read on Facebook. After giving it some thought, however, I decided that not saying anything would be a cop-out. I’m going to go off on a mini-rant now…
The 60 mile ride was divided into two skill levels: an “A” group for faster riders, and a “B” ride for less experienced riders or riders who simply preferred a more social pace.
I pulled for the first seven miles of the “A” ride, and I was side-by-side with John “JJ” Fermanis, who is the main organizer for the event. We were averaging a little over 23 MPH, but I wanted to pick things up a bit. I was not alone: a couple of riders who wanted a faster pace went up ahead (but still within the rolling enclosure). I really wanted to join them, but JJ was not happy, and at the first SAG stop he let those guys know it. I sort of felt torn: I wanted a faster pace, but since this was my first year doing this ride I didn’t really know what the protocol was. Because this was promoted as an “A” ride, and because we had a police escort, I was hoping for (and expecting) a very fast ride.
After the first SAG the pace began to edge upward, which pleased me a great deal.
Unfortunately during the first 25-30 miles there was a lot of “yo-yoing” going on, which is quite dangerous. A few riders said that the “fast guys” were causing this issue, but I totally disagree: the yo-yoing was caused by riders who were riding way above their skill/fitness levels, and were struggling to keep the pace. As we approached the halfway point of the ride, those people started cracking and dropping off. After that there was no yo-yoing at all in the lead group. None.
So here’s what really pisses me off: I’m sick and tired of some people saying that fast = racing, or fast = dangerous. No. Those terms are not mutually inclusive. I was with the lead group the entire way, and I never once saw anything that even remotely resembled a dangerous or sketchy move from those guys. Everyone in that group was strong, experienced and safe, and it showed.
The irony is unbelievable. Some of the same cyclists who blasted us for “riding dangerously” were on the rivet almost from the start (and some who lobbed insults on Facebook were NOT EVEN AT THE RIDE!), but they kept riding above their skill/fitness level because their egos couldn’t handle being dropped. That’s what’s dangerous, that’s what was causing problems. Once those riders cracked and fell off the back the lead group ran smooth as silk.
More irony: the only wreck yesterday happened with the slower group.
I’m going to say it again: Fast does not automatically mean dangerous. Fast means fast, and dangerous means dangerous. I can honestly say that the some of safest rides I’ve done were also some of the fastest. This year’s MDBF century? 23.1 MPH average, fast, safe. This year’s Horse Farm Hundred? 23.3 MPH average, fast, safe. There were wrecks on both of those rides, and guess what? Those wrecks were all in the slower groups.
I want to point out that not everyone who was dropped on the “A” ride acted all butthurt about it. In fact, one of my friends who got dropped wrote, “I had a blast flying along with you hammerheads for the first 32 miles. Next time I won’t lose that wheel!”
I can’t even begin to tell you how much respect I have for an attitude like that. In my opinion that’s the mark of a true athlete.
Just one year ago there is no way I could have hung with the lead group I was with yesterday. I wanted to be faster, and I suppose I could have whined about people who were faster than me, but instead I chose to be inspired by them. I trained my ass off, and I will continue to do so. Complaining doesn’t get you closer to your goals, hard work and consistency do.
If you see people who are faster than you as a threat, then that’s on you. You might want to think about why that is, but in the meantime knock off the bashing. It’s weak. Some people just like to ride fast and ride hard. It’s not an ego thing for most of us, it’s just a big part of what makes road cycling fun. Get over it.
I don’t mean to sound overly-negative, but I have been biting my tongue on this issue for quite some time and I’m tired of doing so. End rant.
Getting back to the ride…
As I suspected would happen, the last 10 miles were insane! The pace picked up, more riders were spit out and the lead group became pretty fragmented. With five miles to go a few riders went off the front, and I buried myself trying to bring them back in. I was not getting any help at all. A couple of guys were wheelsucking and not coming forward to help, which was the extent of the so-called “race tactics” I saw yesterday. Eventually those guys fell away, but suddenly a guy on a TT bike was with me. I don’t know who he was, but he and I took turns pulling until we reeled in the small breakway. Roughly a dozen riders also caught up just before the ride finish, and we all rolled in together. I think JC Figueredo of JC’s Bike Shop was off the front about 100 meters, and I’m not sure if he was solo or with one of his riders when he finished. Either way, it was an impressive finish. All of the JC shop riders are absolute animals.
My final ride stats: 59.6 miles, moving time of 2:26:35, average speed of 24.4 MPH. Yeah, it was a slugfest, and I loved every last second of it. 🙂 Here’s my complete ride with all data on Strava.
The Seminole Cyclefest really was a blast. It was an incredible experience to ride with a full police escort. Everyone involved did such an amazing job of organizing the ride, and I think most had a lot of fun. My only suggestion is that if an “A” ride is promoted next year, I hope that those riders will not feel pressured to mitigate their speeds. If a more social event is the goal, then simply bill it as a “B” or social ride. Problem solved. 🙂