“Man it was hot out there today!”
“How hot was it?”
“Crotch Pot Cooking Hot!!”
Authors Note: I have NO idea what a “crotch pot” is, but I am sure if it was hot enough outside to cook it, it’s not a place I want to be …
Which brings us to training in Florida.
Those reading this who live and train down here can attest to what it is like. This is a place that from the time it takes you to get out of your car at 6 AM, walk to the back of the car, and take down your bike from the rack, you are sweating like you’ve ridden 25 miles. You read on Daily Mile and other Blogs about training in the “hills of Florida” and it always amazes me that some can maintain a 20+ mph pace on them along with the heat.
We all know that “Florida is Flat” (and if you think that’s true take a ride in the San Antonio area or saunter up Sugarloaf Mountain). Some I know will do 1900 feet of climbing and others will comment on social media “it’s nothing” compared to the 3000 feet they have done (I know it’s all done in good fun but I am making a point here, so bare with me). What is not mentioned is that these locals willdo that 1900 foot climb in 101 degree heat with 91% humidity. That is un-godly hot, especially maintaining an average pace of 22-23 mph. I don’t know how they do it. I will go to San Antonio in the same weather and after 32 miles I look like I was in a down pour (which is also another factor in this state …. storms that appear and disappear without rhyme nor reason). The other end of this spectrum, I think, is Leah on Daily Mile. She lives in Colorado and is doing elevation climbs in oxygen depleted air. I’d be falling off the bike gasping. Another bad-ass.
When I first wrote about this, more than 3 years ago, I had yet to try the hill rides. At the time I was barely able to maintain 15mph at Flatwoods, and God Help Me if there was a heavy head wind that day because I would reduced to 12mph quickly. I was riding my first (and only at the time) bike, a Scott Speedster (aka Mario) and in retrospect I think it helped develop my legs to where I can perform at now. I am still not nearly where I need to be, but a race at 17-18 is pretty standard now.
I currently ride a Litespeed, aka “Buzz” (get it?? Buzz Litespeed?? I think it’s funny. Don’t judge!). I got this bike solely because of the Augusta Ironman. After riding Gunner (my Tri Bike) the first year and having issues with control and my weight on the rear spindle I thought it might be best to turn in Mario (the Speedster) for a lighter bike and one that was a little more comfortable climbing and flying down hills at 40+ mph. I have been riding this bike exclusively since last October 2013, except for flat races. I have also since traded parts out for various upgrades (an 11-28 cassette, compact crank, 44 cm bar, 21 degree stem, etc) all with the intent of making the ride as comfortable as possible while still maintaining the ability to kick it in gear when needed.
So, while Florida offers many advantages (we do, after all, train where you vacation) there are it’s disadvantages too. High heat indexes and humidity always hovering in the 90% range can derail a long training quickly if not prepared or ready for it, and rain is always a threat at the end of the sessions, especially as it approaches the noon hour. But the advantage to living here, especially on the Gulf side, is the ability to train year-round, even in the open water because water temps can be 10 degrees warmer than the ambient air temperature (as evidenced by pictures of us during Crystal River 1 back in 2013, huddled in the water to stay warm).
I love Florida. Could not imagine living anywhere else to be honest, but I am a rare bird here … and actual native … born and raised in DeLand with the only time spent out of the state being a 4 year stint (out of the total of 10 years) stationed in Virginia Beach (a place I never want to see again … too many bad memories there).