We had another multi-option ride day on Sunday with not two but three long coastal routes scheduled. The short ride was a metric century (62 miles) and the other two were full centuries (100 miles) varying in route and pace (one was a more relaxed 18-20 MPH pace, while the other was 18-25 MPH). Having rested legs, and the right mindset, my elected option was the full century this time. Which one of the two, though would depend on weather and speed.
We all met up early morning at Bell Tower. The turnout was extremely good as over 15 riders showed up for the start…and we actually picked up a few more along the way. As we did the week before, the three groups would stick together through Fort Myers, over the bridge to Fort Myers Beach, and then head down Estero Island to Vanderbilt Road, where the three groups would split off.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one with fresh legs, as the large group reached the Matanzas Pass Bridge in short order. Regrouping after the crossing, we all spun up our bikes and blazed a trail down the coast, never dropping below 22 MPH, stopping only after a minor incident when Diana clipped a pothole sending her water bottles bouncing into the path of riders behind her. Luckily everyone was able to avoid them, but she did end up with a rare front flat giving us all some temporary road side recovery.
Once repaired, we reformed and obviously took advantage of that little recovery break as we sped off the island hitting speeds over 33 MPH! Needless to say this did splinter the group a bit. In fact I was so concentrated on maintaining the pace that I completely missed the turn off for the more relaxed century group and found myself with the quicker group. I really didn’t even notice it until we stopped to refuel at a convenience store on Vanderbilt…and I wasn’t the only one either.
The 62 milers split off at this point, and we, now a group of five, continued the quick paced ride down the picturesque, and over the top wealthy Naples coast. We actually ran into a slew of cycling activity as a triathlon was being held near the Naples Beach Club. It’s always great to see so many people actively involved in athletics…even if they are crazy enough to combine running and swimming with cycling.
We reached the turn around point on Gordon Drive and retraced our route back up the coast to Vanderbilt Road. The pace had remained quick, yet controlled, but I was longing for a stop for cold drinks…it was pretty much a scorcher out there. A very welcomed stop at a convenience store on Vanderbilt gave us the opportunity to refill our bottles and grab a quick bite, not to mention give us a little rest.
Refreshed, and restocked, we were back on the road starting our headlong assault of the wind, which by now had picked up considerably to 10-11 MPH with stronger gusts. This might not sound like much, but with 60+ quick miles already in the book, our legs were going to feel every gust. By mile 66 or so I started getting a high left hip cramp, similar to the one that affected me on the Immokalee ride a while back. I’m not sure if it was poor hydration on my part, or the unaccustomed quicker pace, but I knew I would have to drop it down a notch and try to spin it out.
The guys were all willing to slow down for me, but frankly I didn’t want to hold them back knowing well it would take at least a couple miles to spin out the cramp, so I told them to go on with out me. Angela kindly volunteered to stay behind and ride with me, and frankly the two of us had originally planned on riding the more relaxed century, so the little slowdown was welcomed by both of us.
As we spun into the wind, we decided to add another break to the route and turned off to Coconut Point for some ice cold acai berry tea at Panera Bread. By the Way, that acai berry tea is quickly becoming a personal favorite. Unlike flavored iced tea, it has none of that artificial syrupy sweetness. Acai is a purple berry that comes from the Amazon basin of South America and contains four times the healthful antioxidants as red grapes. It’s especially high in anthocyanins, which help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, plus it contains heart-healthy omega fatty acids, which is very unusual for a fruit. Best of all it’s light, refreshing and tastes great. Be sure to have some on your next Panera Bread break.
Refreshed, and with our bottles topped off with acai berry tea, we fought our way back the 20 some remaining miles to Bell Tower. Tired, overheated, yet with big smiles on our faces, we eventually pulled into the parking lot logging 92 miles in about five hours. Not a bad way to burn through 5,000 plus calories in a day! Hopefully I’ll handle my hydration better next time and keep up with the speedy gang.
Route: Coastal century
Started: Jun 3, 2012 6:49:25 AM
Ride Time: 5:01:25
Stopped Time: 1:42:53
Distance: 91.82 miles
Average Speed: 18.28 mph
Fastest Speed: 33.91 mph
Ascent: 892 feet
Descent: 975 feet