Tour de Blood, Sweat and Rain

Pain is only temporary. Pride is forever....as well as the nice scar this will leave.
With my wife and son out visiting the grandparents, I planned for a casual “half century ride” on my own. My original plan was to fit it in on Friday morning, but mother nature tossed a rain curveball, so I switched it to today. With two days of rest, the 50 miles would be a good test to see where my legs are in regards to high mileage rides.

A good nights rest and a quick check of the go-cart Mozart weather charts to see if it was safe outside (sorry Manfred Mann), showed clear skies with no appreciable weather. So I had a nice high carb breakfast, prepared all my water bottles (strictly electrolyte replenishment drinks for this ride), gave my bike a quick once over, and started off on my half century.

The weather was hot and humid with little to no wind. Pretty much perfect for a nice extended ride (ok heat and humidity suck, but you get used to it). I was at my short ride return point in no time, all the while being careful not to press too hard from the get go, after all, this ride was all about distance. My 30 mile turn point came and went with no appreciable effort. My legs were feeling great. Sure I was riding a lower cadence than normal, but it was a higher gear. I decided to toss in a little climb (ok it’s an overpass…what did you expect from Florida), and climbed over the I75 overpass, again with little effort. My legs were really fresh and perhaps a little too gung-ho as I failed to clip in correctly when racing off from the stoplight at the base of the bridge resulting in my first ever “chain ring bite” as my right ankle impaled itself on the big cog of my crank, resulting in six bloody gashes. No real damage, so I pressed on.

I ventured into the “unknown territory” of my last long ride. This time I had a clear grasp on the route and there were no Germanic Cyclists around to get me lost. So I plowed on to my designated 25 mile turn point. My hydration was running a bit low at this point, so I decided to swing the ride out to Coconut Point for refills as well as a refill of my tank (I need to find better powerbars).

Service with a special smile from Johnny Rockets.
Since it was lunch time, and I really needed to clean up those lovely gashes, I rode up to Johnny Rockets and had a seat at one of the outdoor tables. The poor waitress was a little shocked when she saw all kinds of bloodied napkins on the table and asked if I needed anything. I just asked her for a big cold drink as well as a burger and rings. She came back with not one, not two but three cokes with tons of ice. I guess an extremely sweaty and bleeding cyclist merits special attention. She also promptly delivered my meal with a special smile.

As I sat there eating, I had a nice conversation with another waiter who used to ride quite a bit. Unfortunately he jinxed the ride by mentioning that it may start to rain. Sure enough, by the time I had finished, a large black cloud was hovering above, just waiting for me to start riding. A quick check of my weather app showed it was a small system which looked to only provide a welcomed drizzle. Boy was I wrong!

Soaked and waiting for the rain to pass.
About a mile or so into that delightful sprinkle, it started to pour in the classic cats and dog, end of the world, biblical flood style cloud bursts Florida is famous for. I quickly found shelter at a Sweetbay Market, but not before I was soaked through and through. In typical Florida fashion, the shower ended as abruptly as it started, with only a lingering light drizzle, so I pushed on.

I was rudely reminded why I choose not to ride in the rain. The actual rain is not that annoying, in fact on a very hot ride, a light drizzle is welcomed and feels great. It’s the standing water filled with all kinds of road schmutz, particularly the one tossed up on you by every passing car as well as your own tires that I hate, not to mention that a road bike in the wet is about as maneuverable as a hippo on an ice rink (ok I’m reaching, who knows, perhaps hippos are elegant skaters, after all they made for great ballerinas in Fantasia), and your brakes are pretty much worthless.

...and yet another wall of water approaches
As I approached the I75 underpass on Corkscrew Road I saw another wall of water heading towards me, so I stopped for a bit under the overpass to let this soaker pass by, all the while being serenaded by the mesmerizing rumbles of the cars overhead.

The rain passed quickly. Good thing too as the three cokes I had at Johnny Rockets combined with the cold wet cycling kit was making my bladder scream for, as the ever proper English cycling announcer, Phil Ligget says, a “natural break”. Miromar was not far away, so a quick ride in a sprinkle provided some badly needed relief.

The rain was just a very light drizzle by now, so I just rode through it, knowing there was shelter to be found about 5 miles ahead at GCTC. Luckily the rain jinx looked to have worn off and curiously the roads here were absolutely dry (again classic Florida weather…it can be raining in your front yard and absolutely dry and sunny in your back yard). I was finally able to concentrate on the ride, which by this point was already ticking over 40 miles. My legs and I were surprisingly fresh, albeit wet and covered with lovely bits of road debris, sweat and blood.

Approximately 6 miles later, the ride turned into a mini time trial-like sprint as a dark, ominous, lightning filled cloud was quickly bearing down on me from the east. So head down, hands in the drops, the race was on, as this looked much more substantial than the previous two cloud burst, and there really were no more safe havens from the elements on the remaining route.

I beat the storm home by literally seconds as it started to pour while I stowed my geared in the garage. Both me and the bike were quite the mess, but I was surprisingly still very fresh after this event filled half century. Sure my butt is a little sore, but I’m sure I could have easily ridden another 20 miles. The finally tally was just shy of 54 miles, with 107 ridden in the week. Definitely a week of cycling to remember…and I even have 6 gashes as a souvenir.

Activity: Casual Half Century
Started: Jul 16, 2011 9:37:21 AM
Ride Time: 3:42:30
Stopped Time: 1:11:28
Distance: 53.56 miles
Average Speed: 14.44 miles/h
Fastest Speed: 23.80 miles/h
Ascent: 531 feet
Descent: 454 feet
Calories: 3676
Official: No

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