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!
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.
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.
Only it was missing something.
Much better. 😉
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.)
My favorite part of the day was riding up Sugarloaf.
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. 🙂
At the top of the hill there’s the sweetest house that offers free water to all cyclists who conquer Sugarloaf.
I was tempted to run inside and give them a big hug. The water was cold and I was well due for a refill.
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.
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. 🙂
We miss you girl! Get well soon! 🙂
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.
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
A Clif Bar
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 😉 )
It took a while, but we eventually wrapped up our 50 mile ride in a little less than 4 hours.
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!
After our ride we headed straight to downtown Winter Garden for lunch at a cute little restaurant.
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.
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.
Which I devoured in a little less than 1 minute. I was HUNGRY and it tasted sooooo good. 🙂
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!