Thursday, January 26, 2017

Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone. (Anthony Burgess)

Time to try riding in some baby hills.

The perfect place? Lake Placid and south Highlands County. It's on US 27 about 150+ miles northeast of Miami. It's on the southern point of the Lake Wales Ridge, a geologic feature that forms the spine of the Florida peninsula. The Ridge is what remains of a chain of ancient islands that existed when sea levels were much higher millions of years ago.

Hill blocks view sign
A huge weather system was moving through as we arrived. Bands of severe weather moved across the state. Behind them came wind. Big wind. Usually my allergies to certain pollens are a problem this time of year in Lake Placid. I was counting on the rain and wind to keep the pollen count bearable, so I wouldn't have a stuffed up head (with the resulting un-ladylike snoring.)

On our first day in Lake Placid, we went for coffee and breakfast. The wind was 20+mph with 30+mph gusts. Misty rain came and went. We sipped our coffee. Go out on our bikes? Don't think so. We drove to not-too-distant Arcadia and spent the day puttering around dusty antique and vintage clothing stores.

Misplaced hill blocks view sign (no hill!)
The next day the misty rain was gone. It was cold by Florida standards, but the sun was shining. The wind had gotten a little better. We set out.

We pedaled south along back roads to old state road 8. This is the best quiet road heading south. It takes you into an area of ranches, wildlife refuges, and orange groves. And there are road signs reminding motorists that "Hill Blocks View." My personal favorite is the misplaced one that warns "Hill Blocks View" on a pretty much flat stretch of the road. We've laughed about these signs for years. I even blogged about it once.

Along the way we stopped at the Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and the Archbold Biological Station. Archbold is a research facility. It makes a convenient stop for a snack and to refill water bottles.

We kept going to where old state road 8 ends at highway 731, another quiet two-lane road. We turned right and headed west. When we had reached the half-way point for our day, we turned around and headed back on the same route.

On the first half of the ride the wind was mainly a cross-wind with a tailwind in parts. On the way back, the tail wind was a head wind. In two lengthy segments, we had a long gradual incline with that strong headwind. I would trail farther and farther behind Al, then he would slow and wait for me. On one memorable stretch, I watched my power meter move higher, higher, and way higher while I moved slower and slower. In one half mile segment I was putting out the power range I normally only see during hard interval training. I cheered when we crested a small climb by the Lake Placid Camp and Conference Center and saw in the distance the Citrus Tower in downtown Lake Placid. Four miles to go! Four miles to hot coffee and a cookie. (Three miles.) (Two miles.) (One mile.) Then we were finally at the motel! We rolled the bikes into the lobby. No wind! Just the quiet sound of a TV down a hall. And the wonderful smell of hot coffee.

Lake Placid. Great area for cycling. And a good place to carry some extra treats for new friends you may meet along the way...