Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein
I never much thought about this biking quote until this weekend. But then Marie, Donna, and I headed out to ride the Clermont course. The course is 95% street riding and once again, conditions were not ideal. The wind was strong and the rains came about half way through the ride. It was a cold, slippery, half blind sprint to get home. I wish my glasses had wipers. Instead I found Humility Hill, Mount Mercy, and Wisdom Wall. I offer a course review.
The Super Sprint Course: If you are riding the super sprint course, it is 8 miles of pretty much flat around Lake Minneola, just as advertised. The rolling “hills” are only hills in the sense there are almost none of them in and around Orlando, so you will notice, but can manage them without much trouble.
The Sprint Course: The 12 mile course is the first 4 miles of the super sprint course, 4 miles of hills in the middle, and then the final 4 miles of the super sprint course. Thus it is divided in thirds and it is only the middle third that I need to comment on.
The middle 4 miles are really a two mile out and back. Every hill is ridden both up and down. The ups are really up, hard rides that REQUIRE changes in gearing. The downs are fast, fast, fast downs that REQUIRE careful riding and braking.
The first hill comes right at the start of the out and back. You make a sharp right turn onto Jalarmy, and it is an immediate hard up. I turned onto this road in the wrong gear today and was unable to downshift fast enough to get up this hill. It stopped me dead in my tracks, and I was forced to dismount and walk up. (Not speedy Donna… she rocked it!) It is vital that you anticipate this first hill as best you can. This hill will be forever in my mind, Humility Hill, for I was nothing but humbled by its challenge.
Humility is attentive patience. ~Simone Weil
The second hill is right at the left turn onto Cherry Lake Road. This is a LOOOOOOONG downhill and you will build up considerable speed. Be careful! You can take advantage of this coasting to catch your breath and prepare for the next uphill. For me, this hill is Mercy Mountain, for it comes at a moment when I needed some mercy.
We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy. ~Shakespeare
A sharp right onto Wilson Lake Pkwy takes you to the third hill. Again, there is not much time to downshift, and again, because you must turn right onto the hill, you really cannot build up a lot of speed. Some better gearing got me to the top of this one, but it required some hard riding. This hill is Wisdom Wall, for it is here you will hit a wall and discover if you learned anything on Humble Hill.
A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew. ~Herb Caen
The turnaround is just past the top of Wisdom Wall so at this point you do everything in reverse. The steep uphill climb of Wisdom Wall becomes a steep downhill glide with a sharp left at the bottom. You MUST slow down to take this turn. The LOOONG downhill of Mercy Mountain rises up before you in a terrifying splendor, but once you’re on it, you realize that Mercy Mountain truly is merciful. It looks far worse than it is, for it trades steepness for length, a LOOONG but not terrible rise to a sharp right back onto Jalarmy. A downhill glide on Humility Hill will again require hard braking to make the sharp right turn at the bottom, and from there you are back on the flat for the final four miles.
For all of us who have very little opportunity to ride hills, the course will be a challenge. The two steep ups do not allow us to build up speed in preparation and the steep downs cannot be ridden out to our advantage, for they end at sharp turns. I hope you will make every effort to head out to Clermont in the next few weeks and ride these hills yourself. There is no substitute for personal experience. Because of the relative inexperience of all the triathletes in this race, everything you can do to prepare and remain safe is to your advantage.
Knowledge is power, community is strength and positive attitude is everything ~ Lance Armstrong
Train safety, eat well, sleep, stretch, hydrate.
Safe Journey. Wind at your back.