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Conquering the Clermont Hills

by Meghann on September 11, 2011

I’m sunburnt. I’m thirsty. I’m exhausted. And I have a high that no drug could match.

Not only did I conquer the infamous Clermont hills for the first time today, but I also set a new PDR of 50 miles on the bike. Look out Augusta, here I come!

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Whoop! Whoop!

I ended up staying in Orlando last night and crashing at my sister’s place. She made a yummy lasagna and garlic bread for dinner and I promptly passed out on her couch at 9:00pm. Party. Animal.

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Not only was I exhausted from Rasa-Lila Fest yesterday, but my alarm was set for 5:30 this morning. Kelly and I were up before the sun and I had half a bagel with almond butter on the way out the door.

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Only it was missing something.

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Much better. πŸ˜‰

It’s amazing how quickly we can get a group of riders together in Orlando. Yesterday it started with my friend Danielle, my sister Kelly, and I trying to piece together a ride for the three of us. We wanted hills and miles, but weren’t terribly concerned with pace or the pressure of keeping up with a large ride group. Eventually our brother, Ben, decided to join us and then a late night tweet from another friend, Rachel confirmed her and her fiance Eric were joining too. All of a sudden – we had a party.

I <3 friends who are willing to meet you at 7:00am on a Sunday morning for a 50 mile ride.

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We started our ride on the West Orange Trail and relied on the experienced Eric to guide us through the hills. The roads were PACKED with cyclists, it was awesome to see so many out enjoying the beautiful day. πŸ™‚

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I’m used to the very FLAT trails of Tampa and have VERY limited experience on hills. Despite owning my bike for close to three years I’m still not 100% comfortable with gear shifts because I don’t have enough real life experience with changing them. True story – I completed my two solo 40 mile rides without needing to change my gears once – that’s how flat Florida is!

I’ve been dying to do a ride in Clermont because I’ve heard rumors that Augusta is a grade below how hilly Clermont is. I needed to get at least a little practice in so I would know what the heck I was doing come race day.

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Let me tell you, one day of Clermont hills and I have a new confidence on my bike that I’ve never experienced before. It took me a while to get in the groove of things, but -at one point – it all of a sudden clicked when I should be going into ‘easy’ gear and when I should be going into ‘hard’ gear. I could read the same book twenty times on how to navigate hills on a bike, but without actually experiencing them I would be lost forever. I’m so thankful I had the chance to come to Clermont and practice before Augusta.

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Ben and Eric were our bold leaders who – not only kept us from getting lost – but also put up with four girls constantly needing potty breaks, fuel breaks, and falling behind because we were having so much fun gossiping that we forgot we were riding. (oh, yeah – we’re hard core. not.)

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My favorite part of the day was riding up Sugarloaf.

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It’s apparently the steepest hill in Florida (I think?) and is famous among local cyclists. I knew it was going to be a challenge, but I was ready for it.

My main goal for Sugarloaf was to not stop and walk my bike up. I switched my gear into the ‘easiest’ they could go and just went for it. It wasn’t pretty, but I survived and made it up in one piece. Sure, my Garmin read 4 mph at one point and I’m pretty sure someone could have walked faster up the hill than I climbed, but I did it without getting off of my bike and I’m proud of that. πŸ™‚

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At the top of the hill there’s the sweetest house that offers free water to all cyclists who conquer Sugarloaf.

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I was tempted to run inside and give them a big hug. The water was cold and I was well due for a refill.

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Ben shared one of his Gu Brew tablets with me. It made the water fizz like alka-seltzer, but the flavor wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t mine having these on hand in Augusta in a couple of weeks.

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Going up the hills was hard, but going down was even scarier. The whole time I kept thinking about Ashley and the awful fall she experienced earlier this weekend. In her honor, we all carried out ids, wore our helmets extra tight, and took extra care when going down the hills.

Ashley was supposed to be racing Augusta with us on the 25th and was even planning on staying in the same hotel room. It breaks all of our hearts that she won’t be with us in Augusta in person, but we know she will be there in spirit. We plan to dedicate our races to her and do something special. Augusta isn’t for us anymore – it’s for Ashley. πŸ™‚

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We miss you girl! Get well soon! πŸ™‚

Fueling for 50 miles in Clermont, is a LOT different than fueling for 40 miles in Tampa. In Tampa my rides are flat and take minimum effort to ride through. I can survive on minimal fuel because I’m not exerting myself. However, Clermont is hilly and tough. My heart rate was getting pretty high and I was pushing myself harder on a bike than I’ve ever pushed myself before. I ended up drinking three times as much water as I normally do and consuming three times as many calories.

I started my ride with a half mix of gatorade/water in my water bottle and had to be creative on where to put my fuel on my bike.

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Alright, I’m convinced now – I really need to invest in a real cycling jersey ASAP!

Along the way I had a couple Fig Newtons

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A Clif Bar

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And various bites of other people’s granola bars (downside to duct taping your fuel to your bike is the not-so-easy access to it, stealing food just seemed more logical πŸ˜‰ )

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It took a while, but we eventually wrapped up our 50 mile ride in a little less than 4 hours.

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Like I said above, time wasn’t important to us. Having a fun, safe ride and just getting the miles in was our top priority. I <3 these guys!

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After our ride we headed straight to downtown Winter Garden for lunch at a cute little restaurant.

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FOOOODDDD!!!!

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I started with a piece of cheesy flatbread (that went in my mouth faster than my camera could take a photo of it) and had a side salad as my main meal.

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JUST KIDDING!!!! Though, when they set the salad in front of me, I was getting a lot of stares from those believing it was. Heck no! The salad was just part of my meal.

The main dish was actually a chicken avocado club.

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Which I devoured in a little less than 1 minute. I was HUNGRY and it tasted sooooo good. πŸ™‚

The ride home to Tampa was short and sweet and I’m currently cuddling with Maddie before wrapping up my weekend errands. Man – this weekend flew by!

1 River September 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Yumm, the chicken and avocado club looks amazing!

2 Shaya (Eye Girl Eats) September 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Glad you were safe and had a lovely ride!! 50 miles– BIG accomplishment!!! You’re going to ROCK Augusta!!
Shaya (Eye Girl Eats) recently posted..Study Sunday(s)

3 Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope September 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm

That looks like so much fun! If you ever come over to Pinellas for a bike ride, let me know because I would love to tag along!
Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope recently posted..My Welcome Home Surprise!

4 Sana September 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Yeah, Ashley’s fall looked super scary! becareful!!!!
Sana recently posted..My Saturday.

5 Army Amy* September 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Sounds like a great way to spend the day!*
Army Amy* recently posted..Remember

6 Meghan September 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

O my the hills in Clermont kill me! You were close to my house when you stopped in Winter Garden but I can’t place the restaurant? It must be somewhere we need to check out.

7 Cait's Plate September 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Congrats!! It’s so incredible to me to think about working out for nearly four hours…that must just be the best (and tiring!) feeling ever!
Cait’s Plate recently posted..Never Disappoint

8 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife September 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

NICE job on the PDR! I bet that feels amazing. I LOVE conquering hard things πŸ™‚

9 Lisa (bakebikeblog) September 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm

what an awesome EPIC training ride!!!!! Congrats πŸ™‚
Lisa (bakebikeblog) recently posted..A long Italian lunch…

10 Keelie (SweatEqualsSuccess) September 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Gorgeous shots of your ride! πŸ™‚
Keelie (SweatEqualsSuccess) recently posted..One by One

11 Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio September 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Great job today!! Congratulations!
Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio recently posted..A Little Punkin’ In My Life

12 amanda September 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm

omg I saw the salad and was like WTF hahahaha I am glad you had more too

13 Samantha September 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I read daily but rarely comment…but wanted to tell you to check out teamestrogen.com for a jersey. You can get great deals and if you sign up for their e-newsletter they’re constantly sending coupons and codes. REI.com ‘s outlet section is excellent too. You might have one nearby but I’ve lived outside the US for the past 3 years so websites that ship to FPO’s are a bonus!

Congrats on conquering a challenging ride and snagging a PDR!
Samantha recently posted..Sorry kids, Can’t afford college for you!

14 Meghann September 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Thanks!

15 Nicole September 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Gorgeous ride! Congratulations!!

16 healthy ashley September 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Thank you <3 This holds a special place in my heart πŸ™‚
healthy ashley recently posted..The Fall

17 Carissa September 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Every time I see your posts I’m so inspired to go out and conquer a new workout goal for myself! I love the positive energy a long run/bike/workout brings!
Carissa recently posted..GalTime TV – 3 Leg Toning Exercises

18 Nikki September 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm

This got me excited for my 65 mile race next weekend! I have never cycled a race before…so I am just going for completion at this point! Oh, and I love your makeshift food holder! πŸ˜‰
Nikki recently posted..Seafood Saturday

19 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups September 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

That’s awesome that the house gives you water after the hill! What an awesome community. Congrats on conquering the hill!
Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups recently posted..9/11/11

20 Fit Chick Britt September 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm

I know what you mean about eating a lot on the ride. I’ve only done one 50-mile ride and I felt like I ate so much during and after it was crazy. Nice job on all the hills. Excited to see how Augusta goes for you πŸ™‚

21 Lauren September 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Congrats!!! That hill sounds killer but you did it!!! Way to go Meghann.
Lauren recently posted..Technical Difficulties: The Blog Must Go On

22 Holly @ The Runny Egg September 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Great job on your ride! I saw tons of cyclists this morning during my run — made me want to consider trying that out next summer.
Holly @ The Runny Egg recently posted..Proud to be an American

23 Hillary September 11, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I feel like a broken record saying this every time you PR, but you impress me more with each one! Fifty miles? Good golly, I haven’t driven that much in the last TWO DAYS!
Hillary recently posted..Secret Snacking Behavior

24 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen September 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Nice job on the ride! Riding 15 miles yesterday, I can’t even imagine 50! That’s super sweet of that house to put out water for everyone.
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..Philadelphia half marathon training plan

25 Allison September 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I know I’ve said it before, but I wish I had a bike and started biking long distances! Seeing all of your pictures and hearing your stories really inspires me…
Allison recently posted..Mighty Fine Food

26 Meghan September 11, 2011 at 9:14 pm

50 MILES! That’s amazing! You’re going to kick Augusta’s booty! It’s so awesome that you have so many like-minded people surrounding you to train with, must make it so much easier and more fun. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday πŸ™‚
Meghan recently posted..Weekly Run Down: 9/4/11

27 Carly (Swim, Run, Om) September 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Meghann, your enthusiasm is infectious and motivational … congrats on such an awesome achievement! πŸ™‚
Carly (Swim, Run, Om) recently posted..ten years ago

28 Coco September 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm

I recommend Nuun- they are amazing hydration tablets- and the flavors are super yummy.. They have strawberry lemonade, fruit punch and kola.. πŸ™‚
Coco recently posted..Carpet picnics?

29 Meghann September 12, 2011 at 6:19 am

Yes, I heard some fellow cyclists comparing the Gu Brew tablets to Nuun.

30 Jessica @ Bay Bay Bites September 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm

WOW! Those hills are impressive. Nice work!!
Jessica @ Bay Bay Bites recently posted..Long time, no post

31 Chuck September 12, 2011 at 2:01 am

Way to go on the ride! Those Clermont hills are some pretty good ones!
Chuck recently posted..If you don’t know who you are…

32 Lara @TresLaLa September 12, 2011 at 2:24 am

There are some pretty infamous climbs around here – one, called Rockstore, was the last leg of the Tour of California 2 years ago. I thought I was going to DIE, but eventually made it to the top (first try, but I needed LOTS of convincing). A fantastic feeling, so I can relate! Way to go!
PS: Check out getting a “bento box” for the top tube on your bike. Will hold a spare tube (or 2!) and some nutrition…
Lara @TresLaLa recently posted..A Day of Remembrance

33 Khushboo September 12, 2011 at 2:59 am

Hahah omg my eyes popped out when you said that was your main meal! That sandwich is exactly what I would have ordered!
Khushboo recently posted..Best salad ever!

34 Victoria September 12, 2011 at 8:21 am

50 miles – that’s amazing!

I never realized how hilly the West Orange trail was until I rode up in Lake Mary and the trail felt so much easier. I’ve never done Sugar Loaf – it looks like a beast of a hill!
Victoria recently posted..Rasa-Lila Yoga Festival

35 Nicole @ PancakesandPilates September 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Looks like a really amazing day! I love the opening paragraph πŸ™‚ And the first picture is SO bad ass. Congrats on conquering!

I’ve never thought to put chocolate on nut butter toast… what have I been doing?!?!?
Nicole @ PancakesandPilates recently posted..Running and Cupcakes and Cheese, Oh My!

36 Alaina September 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Congrats on the training run!! And that is so sweet that you’re doing the race for Ashley. I’m sure you’ll do a great job!! πŸ™‚
Alaina recently posted..5k’s and Pedicures

37 Cat Melnyk September 13, 2011 at 11:24 am

Was good seein you kick butt!!!!! Gu brew + gatorade is amazing by the way… I call it my athlete soda πŸ˜€

38 Rafael September 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm

This post was awesome I truly enjoyed reading it last night. I’m very serious about my workout (Juijitsu, MMA, and MuayThai) now so in a few months I am tackling bicycling when it gets cooler. There is a huge cycling group by my apts (Maitland/Casselberry) that I see every morning but on weekends that group is prob 15-20 people easy. take care! oh and this is Rafael from eSchool if you remember =D
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39 TheHungeredOne@MovingandMunching September 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm

nice ride the water thing is pretty cool… that hill looks awesome (and painful)
TheHungeredOne@MovingandMunching recently posted..Escape with a Big Fish

40 Sophie September 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Yay! What a great day πŸ™‚ Well done Meghann, roll on HIM!
Sophie recently posted..A Letter To My 20 Year Old Self.

41 Ali @ Ali Runs September 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

Awesome job on the bike ride!! I cannot wait to hear how you do in Augusta. πŸ™‚
Ali @ Ali Runs recently posted..Fitting It All In

42 Mercy Sanchez February 4, 2012 at 11:34 am

We are hitting the same hills route today again for the third time. This is always a great experience. We are glad you had a good time here in our beautiful city of Clermont!! O^O^OO^O^O^O^O^O so…Sugar Loaf, The Wall here we go again!!

Mercy and Jeff

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