Rapha Festive 500 – Day 5

With ten days of contiguous riding…perks of Christmas vacation, and a 300+ mile week, it was time for a nice recovery spin, and there is no better place for that than…yep you guessed it, Flatwoods Park.

You might think that a seven mile loop of pristine, unidirectional, traffic free, tarmac in a secluded forest might get old, but it really doesn’t. Flatwoods is the perfect place to tuck into the drops and hammer away to set a new PR , or just spin easily and give your legs a good recovery. Heck even Alicia Searvogel, wife of Kurt “Tarzan”, the soon to be UMCA Highest Annual Mileage Record holder, mentioned to me that Flatwoods is the best place to ride in all of Florida. Sure there are many more scenic routes and more varied terrain, but if your your goal is to focus solely on cycling, there is no better place.


So a recovery ride was in order. If you know me, and/or follow my ramblings, you’ll know that I find recovery rides incredibly hard to do, particularly if I am riding solo…I have a pavlovian reflex to chase down riders, or latch onto fast moving wheels which I just can’t ignore, so I enlisted the aid of a few friends from the Island Riders to “maintain order” on the ride and cap it at 20 mph.

I’m ahead of my Festive 500 mileage by nearly 40 miles, so a nice relaxing 20-some mile long spin…or in Flatwoods terminology, three laps (everything at Flatwoods is based on multiples of 7 miles, plus 2 or 4 miles, depending on whether you use the Morris Bridge or Bruce B Downs entrance) would be perfect. Omar, Jorge, Angel, Sandro, and his son Jason, were on board and welcomed the recovery ride, as they had also been enjoying unlimited, dare I say excessive, riding time during the Holiday break.

Sandro and I took the lead an set the pace to a very recovery ride-like 17 MPH for the first loop while chatting away endlessly about all things bikes…you never run out of bike topics on a ride….NEVER EVER! We continued to pull for the second lap, while actually holding the speed at 18 mph. By the time we reached the first water station (there are 4 water stations at Flatwoods, spaced approximately 2 miles apart) we were all still deep in conversation and hadn’t noticed that our speed had crept up to 19 mph. By the second water station, and halfway point of the loop, we were cruising along at 21 mph…see the pattern here?


Upon completing the second lap, our speed had crept up to 24 mph, so Sandro and I pulled off the front and let Omar and Jorge take the lead and settle the pace down to 18 mph for the third lap…which of course lasted approximately 1/4 lap. Speeds were back above 20 mph, but holding!

The third lap finished with a little sprint between Sandro and his son Jason, and we stopped for a short water break at the crossroads. Bottles topped off, we headed back out for at least a couple more laps…so much for 20-some miles.

Sandro lead out the 4th lap keeping the speed right around 20 mph and turned the lead over to me two miles later. I held the speed between 20-21 mph for the next half lap, but the guys were starting to gap, leaving Sandro to come up and pull again pushing the speed well above 24 mph for the remaining two miles.

Jason, Omar and Angel stopped at lap 4 as Sandro, Jorge and I continued on with the 5th lap. We split the pulling duty evenly on this lap, keeping the speed between 21-22 mph, until Sandro sped it up again by the third water station. Jorge and I let him go when speeds exceeded 24 mph, only to quickly catch him again after he noticed that we were not following.

We pitted again after lap 5 at the cross roads, where I reminded them again that this was supposed to be a recovery ride, to which they all said that I was the one pushing the speeds above 24 mph, not them. Well not according to my Garmin, but then I tend to be a a wee bit liberal at interpreting the numbers on my screen…it may say 24, but I swear it feels like 20 😉


The guys were done for the day, but I still wanted, correction, needed a recovery ride, so I did one more solo lap keeping the speed under 19 mph! Thankfully there were no wheels to chase.

Ok, so my 20-something recovery ride turned into a 45 mile ride. I guess it technically was a recovery ride as my average heart rate was 118 bpm with a max of 131. Yep, most definitely recovery ride territory. Mission complete!

As for my Festive 500 mileage, I’m now at 389 km, so only 68 miles to go to complete the challenge, with 3 more riding days remaining. We are planning a long ride of 100 -150 miles on new years eve to help Kurt AKA Tarzan shatter the mileage record, and be a part of history, so I guess I’ll just put in some more “recovery spins” at Flatwoods in the interim…we all know how well those go!


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