Long story short, after several years and several different routes and one or two rides across, I found a route I liked and decided that the Cross Florida Individual Time Trial, from now and forever more would go coast to coast.
I thought about it for a long time and I believe that is the most briefest synapses I have given of the process that took several years in the making. I was excited by the response and the amount of people that showed up that Saturday Morning to ride my latest creation, was flattering.
I have gotten pretty good at putting these things on. This time the only added stress was just the amount of things I needed to get done day before the event. The combination of helping Racers get to the start and take care of my kids, proved to be a Lil more then I had planned BUT, when I sat down late that Friday Eve and ate my meal with Edith, I felt content, not annoyed that I was losing sleep, figured it was a precursor of the night to come, to keep my sleep light that night.
3 hours later I am up, and hustling to the door cursing at myself for being late to my own check in on the coast of New Smyrna Beach. Thankfully everyone seemed in good spirits. I am like a a detective so I noticed the pavement was damp and the sand was tacky. I must of rained pretty good and the lightning flashing in the darkness behind the riders provided an Epic backdrop.
Edith helped me with the start. The plan was to let everyone go in 30 second increments to avoid the madness of riders being uber aggressive. LORD knows the start line was stacked with very fast people and strong Underdogs, people I had never seen race, but I had a feeling they were bad asses.
I really didn't let the fact that a Huracan and TNGA record holder was my challenger. I Am after all the fixed Gear CFiTT champion, that means something doesn't it!!!! At the last minute Markley had joined the party as well, Jeff T was there and Bryan Frantz too. It was like a Tempest of Beast Mode Fast people.
Regardless, my attitude was, and don't anyone take offense, remember I am a warrior, its not personal. This is MY HOUSE, this Is MY RACE...LOL...
I let everyone leave and I was the last one to roll out at 615 am. I didn't care that I would be last, in fact, I liked it just like that. I plan to leave last every race now. After all its a race against the clock not a race against everyone else.
The most complicated initial dynamic of this off road cross the state challenge is Getting to the Ferry. The ferry was an estimated 114 miles away, but it ended up being 117.. I had a solid plan. Pack heavy, ride straight. No store visits, no lallygagging, not chit chatting, no FUN, LOL.
Early I caught people as soon as I traversed the apartment complex, See ya Peter and Peter.... Then I caught up and passed at the 8 mile mark The Irish Turtle and BobE CaPers.... Love you guys,...DIng ding, ding ding...
I could see someone up ahead. Turned onto Volco. Was analyzing tire tracks, it actually looked one or two people wiped out. I gave myself encouragement, complimenting myself on how straight my lines were.
Then before I knew it there was Shey on the side of the road, I kept going. Got to pavement and Shey went on by. See ya later Shey, or maybe Never Again..... Caught up To Dave Muse and since the pace was at 17 mph, I stuck around and chit chatted (breaking my own fun rule already)
I don't remember what we talked about, but when I am out there I am racing, so I kept my pace high and then I look and Dave wasn't there any more. And I thought... Ok well Hope to see you later Dave, I got a boat to catch.
I passed Lynne we rode through the construction together, it got gnarly and it made me smile. Stopped across the street from the Osteen Stone marker. Now I told people get a pic of your bike and the object, but I didn't ever say it had to be your entire bike ( thank J Tommi for that one). And I took the pic right from where I was across the street. And passed a bunch of people. See ya later probably not, cause now I am going to go really fast.
I rode fast and when I roll up to the water fountain at Lake Monroe, there is Ruth, Kevin and Steven.
HI GUYS... I run in the bathroom to fill my bottles and for the most part they are all gone before I can top off my four bottles.
I get going again and was impressed I had not caught them. I made it through all the climbs taking me up to the blue springs basin without passing anyone and when I started getting closer to Dutchman's Bend I passed Steven on the side of the road doing something, He keeps pace with me for a long while, staying back and relatively close till I hop the fence like a track star passing Ruth in the process. Then on the service road I lose Steve and pass right by Kevin. When I pass Kevin all the while I wonder what he thinks of my baby, he did after all ride the entire Divide this last summer.
I pass under the bridge and somehow miss the entrance to the bike path. I backtrack, get on track and go into maintenance mode, taking deep breaths, drinking, eating, stretching. I knew I had some hard stretches coming and I wanted to be recovered for it.
Paul stays close, then passes me on the pavement, then disappears when I stop to pick up a bottle, but then I see him again, and then next thing I know I'm behind him in Lake Woodruff and then He pulls away, and then In Chuck Lennon I pass him.
But from behind, here comes Shey passing me in Chuck...How did he get behind me? He had passed me on the road long time ago? O I thought... He must of hit the Hontoon store. He had a gap on me but it wasn't big enough to restock and still keep the gap... Aha, my plan was working...
I shredded the track. Got to the lot, filled up on water again, I was drinking alot and taking care of myself. Next thing I know, as I hit Tarmac and turn North, the wind says hi. At that point I had caught up to Shey and Bryan and Paul. But lost them all on the pavement. They rode away, and I was OK with it I had a plan.
I got low in the freddies intervals and kept my pace modest, 15 or so. Didn't want to make matchsticks of my legs before the big forest crossing.
I passed Aaron on the road and I was so confused cause last I saw him was at the stone marker and I had not deviated off course or stopped... We chatted and he agreed to send me his gpx file after the event and let me figure it out.
He rode away from me. LOL... I did my best to ignore when people rode away because it was hard to not get all cycling cannibal and start chasing and such. Paul somehow was behind me again and then he wasn't he stopped for snacks at the store, I rolled on.
The roads got bad, but I rode them all. I was happy I had a 24 middle ring on my 2 x 10 being able to spin a high cadence and pick good lines is the secret to riding and not walking even the deepest sand and getting through it quickly.
I got to the Ferry. Shey, Markley and Aaron were there. We crossed, I got my sodas ate some food. At that point, I knew it was time for me to stop and rest. So I made the call once across the river to let them go as I did a little more maintanence for the long haul. I got a report at that point too that Tom and T dog where gone. So it was looking like a top ten finish for me today not so much a top five or even a win. O well... 12 hours to go. While resting another two riders got across, Bryan and Paul. They rolled fast as well obviously everyone at that point had taken breaks and I hadn't, LOL.
I left alone, 10 minutes after them. Got to Salt Springs and restocked on my big macro nutrients and then hauled ass, only to be caught from behind by Paul and Bryan. Guess the other group was long gone. That was fine I figured. We rode together for hours. The road were fast and the avg speed was swift. Lake Eaton was so much fun as well as I made quick work of my three pics.
I really enjoyed Lake Eaton man that place was all shred. We stayed together and climbed out of the ONF. My goal was Santos by 10pm. I was told it was a lofty goal but I was determined. I rode the road alone as the guys rode away from me again. But in Marshall swamp I rode away from them and then later they came to visit me in the Santos Bathroom.
I had gone in, stripped to my shorts. Washed my face. The night had gotten cold but I lost one arm warmer so I rode with just a base layer up until I got there at 1021. After eating, and doing some yoga stretches, I took blue pills caffeine pills and put on all my clothes even my one arm warmer.
Paul wanted to stick together and I didn't mind either. He was outpacing me by a good 3 minutes or more on the road, but I was outpacing him by a good 8 min or more in the singletrack so it was an even race at that point. The only difference in our performance that day was that he left at 6am and I at 615am, so even though we had at times both took turns leading each other, by the clock I was still faster.
I was content, determined to keep the gap to less than 15 min at all cost. Bryan didn't rest and left before us. I broke up The Santos epic into mental segment and began taking it apart. I would intentionally ride some segments fast to have a chance to stretch at the end and wait for Paul. It worked well, but I got sloppy. I was tired and bouncing off trees. I ate, took caffeine, but I had horrible gut, felt gassy from eating junk food all day. It was truly an awful feeling, but together we pushed on. Even though everything seemed to last forever. We pushed on.
I sat in the bathroom after. Shey came and picked me up. Markley and him finished four hours earlier. Jeff was right on their tail.
When it was all said and done, it looks like a fourth place finish for me. Not a win, not top ten, but pretty darn close to the top and in excellent company with record holders and pure bad asses.
it was fun.
The NaKeD InDiaN