Thursday, October 25, 2012

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas.

We needed new scenery. We craved a bit of a change. The voices were whispering, "We need hills."

Running about 150 miles down the center of Florida is the Lake Wales Ridge. This area was a series of sand islands long ago during the Pleistocene. The rest of Florida may be pretty flat, but this area has actual hills. Hills of all configurations. The southern part of the ridge is flatter. The northern part has the most interesting hills for cyclists, mostly around Clermont and Mt.Dora. The best climbs have even been given names. Sugarloaf Mountain. The Wall. Buck Hill. Hospital Hill. Northridge.

We threw the bikes on the car bike rack, dumped the suitcases into the car, and drove 2 hours north to Clermont, Florida. We'd stay a couple days and have fun. It was windy, too. Double fun.

Day one we headed out to a great climb, Hospital Hill. We circled the area, enjoying the back roads through a subdivision built in terraces up a hill. The streets connecting the terraces were steep and happily devoid of traffic. We had a wonderful ride, delighted to find that our climbing skills were in good shape. At the top of our final big climb of the day we stopped at the traffic circle at the top. A high school age boy walked passed. He looked down the road we had just climbed up, looked at us panting and making jokes, shook his head and smiled at us before hiking off down the road. It was less than a mile of climbing, but that road was as steep as many climbs in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia where we used to live. Fun.

Day two we headed out on the bike trail network, a large series of connected trails spanning the area from Clermont to Orlando. Being a trail network the climbs are tamer, but the effect of rolling hills was a wonderful contrast to the flats and mystery inclines of our home rides.

Trees in bloom along the trail in Lake County.

The trail skirts farms and pastures.
These cows were used to people riding past them on the trail.
When we woke up on day three, we discovered the weatherman had missed with the forecast. Instead of a cloudy morning, it was a cloudy rainy morning. We snuffed any thoughts of a morning ride. Instead we had a long, leisurely breakfast, talked for a while over coffee, then packed and drove home, very glad we'd listened to the voices and spent time with some hills.

A rainy ride home.

Happy to be dry in the car instead of wet on a bike.