Well it happened again. A dear family member ask “Did you really ride 10,000 miles last year? Did you really ride 200 miles in a single day?” Knowing there was nothing I could say that she would except as a good explanation I just smiled and said something lame like ” Florida living is all about being outdoors. Some people go to the beach and look for sharks teeth, some guys fish,have a boat, some play golf, I ride a bike.” Like I said ……lame.
Charlotte Co. Florida is a great place to ride a bicycle. Lot’s of unspoiled country side remains to be seen while clipping right along on your 2 wheeled or 3 wheeled human powered conveyance. We’re flatlanders, at least a hundred miles from the nearest thing to climb other than bridges and overpasses. Some will say that our strong breezes more than compensate for our lack of elevation but I’m not buying it. I’ve ridden in the mountains and I can testify that climbing is a whole different kind of suffering. Georgia mountains offer better than 5 mile climbs and I was in granny gear under 10 mph all the way up some parts. Back home, Lancaster Pa, riding meant short steep climbs in every directions. Even in the toughest breezes, 20 mph with gust to 30, I can maintain a better pace than I can climbing a 10% grade of any length. I recently was able to affirm all this once again while riding in those windy conditions. The cross winds were scary, pushing me around to where it was easier riding into it. But unlike the mountains my speed never stayed below 10 mph for long. Yes you do get to roll down those hills which is a lot like jumping off a cliff, while flatlanders must always be pedaling. For me climbing all day is tougher. Riding the breezes is all about aerodynamics and drafting both of which are useless during an ascent. Descent yes go all out aero just like Peter Sagan. Tuck in, sit on the top tube and use those air brakes.
I do lament not climbing, I do miss those hills, until I’m there. Then I say to myself “who’s bright idea was this anyway!” If anything people from the hills are impressed with our total miles ridden and our average speeds and some do struggle with these things upon arrival here, but not for long. What we do have to offer is that almost everyday is a ride day. It does rain a lot and our winter time lows are in the 40’s but that’s nothing compared to having to ride the trainer during the winter. Okay, so that’s something anyway.
Good cycling roads abound, great ones everywhere but some are just premo. “Why!” I hear you ask (in my restless imagination). “What makes a premier cycling road.” Okay I’ll tell you. My definition of a premier cycling road is a wide open road with long stretches of good surface, very little stop and go, no molesting traffic, good visibility, plenty of room and a place to bail out like a shoulder. In other words a place that’s safe to let it all hang out, like Piper Road.
Piper Road also offers excellent roadway lighting for those hard working determined looking early birds who are out doing their thing before dawn. Anyway you can, find your way out to the corner of Henry Street and Piper Road. Just take off heading south and U Turn back once you hit Jones Loop Rd. Take a right onto Woodlawn Ave. and you are now entering the Bull Pen, Infinity And Beyond!! Take a left onto Duffy hit a tall gear and honker down for 2 miles of fast track. At the end it’s right back onto Woodlawn. You can go around as often as you like but beware of the stray bovine that may be on the wrong side of the fence, the grass being greener and all. Also know that pre-dawn Bull Pen riding will require good head lights ahh…..well………because of what the moo cows drop on the road . Out you go the way you came in and it’s a right back onto Piper heading north until the left hander onto Airport Rd. and the beginning of the 2 Bridges Diamond Loop. Hit it hard up and over the overpass but be careful of the right hand turn onto Florida Street. The inside of the corner is washed out and there’s often loose gravel in the turn. Take it up again once on Florida Street back to a hard right onto Henry Street, again loose gravel in the turn, up and over the Henry Street Bridge descending back towards a right onto Piper Road again and an all out attack back to Airport Rd. Repeat!
The course is loaded with Strava segments, The REAL Henry St climb + Piper, Piper South, Piper North, Hello Cows, Piper TT cat and mouse, Release the Hounds, Crit Loop, Retreat Retreat, and others. My favorite is The Two Bridges Diamond Loop. Good luck to you trying to take any of the KOM’s away from the locals. The fact that the course consist of loops keeps things honest head wind tail wind wise. What a great place to get your heart rate up, to sustain zone 4. The breezes seem to be everywhere blowing mainly from the northeast making the southern runs the downhill. Well you will need to pedal.
Whatever your cycling thing is this course will fill the bill. For me it’s a great interval that I can run in approximately 30 minutes. Other just prefer to ride away from traffic. ME TOO! Piper Road is also a main artery for all cycling roads south. more about those later.
FROM THE BOOK OF HEISEA
Verse I: FOR It is written that on or about the day that marks ones birth mankind is to ride his/her bicycle a distance measured in miles equal to their age measured in years.
So let it be written. So let it be done.