Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Getting a Dose of Vitamin FLA

Today is my birthday. Congratulations to me -- I failed to die young.

Tomorrow, RandoGirl and I board a plane and wing our winsome way down to the land of sunshine and sharks: Florida. It's my birthday present this year ... a long weekend staying at a hotel right next to an excellent rails-to-trails, doing nothing but cycling and eating good food, and maybe not being forced to wear three layers of clothing (for the cycling, not the food -- since I never learned to eat any way other than by rubbing my face around in a bowl, I always wear a wetsuit to dinner ... it qualifies as black tie).

Of course, the real reason for the trip is the annual Cycling Sabbatical for Gran Fondo (a.k.a., the Greatest Bike Shop in the Universe). For the past few years, on the last weekend in January they close up the shop and head down to Inverness, FL. We stay at a hotel on the Withlacoochee Trail, so we have easy access to a 45-mile paved, flat, automobile-free road. Also, since we're in town, it's a short ride to the Little Italy of Inverness Deli, where we will have espresso every morning and panini most days for lunch, and then they will do a special dinner for us all on Saturday night.

Cycling, sunshine, warmth, and good food. Does it get any better?

Why, yes, it does. For I have planned an almost-200K for Saturday. This route will enable me to do my birthday ride (again, technically, since I rode twice my age this past Saturday) and burn enough calories that I can enjoy the huge meal that evening with no guilt. Well, not too much guilt; I am regularly quasi-consumed with guilt at any meal watching people shy away from my wetsuited food-smeared hideousness.

But, back to the route. It will give me a chance to see a bunch of roads that I used to ride regularly when I lived in Tampa during the first four years of this millennium.

The route has us going right past my old neighborhood. I miss it so ... particularly this time of year, when I compare temperatures (today's high here: 48; today's high there: 66).

Near the bottom, we will stop for lunch at Las Palmas, which makes a great cuban sandwich. (It's all about the food.)

Here's my route sheet for this, by the way. Feel free to use it the next time you're in Inverness and want to do a 200K ... or a 195K, really.

Withlacoochie Trail to Trilby Trail Head (store just east of here) 28.00 28.00
Head west on Co Rd 575/Trilby Rd toward Tavern Rd 2.90 30.90
Turn left to stay on Co Rd 575/Trilby Rd 3.10 34.00
Turn left at Blanton Rd 3.60 37.60
Turn right at Ramsey Rd 1.00 38.60
Turn right at Co Rd 578/St Joe Rd 0.80 39.40
Take the 1st left onto Happy Hill Rd 2.10 41.50
Continue onto Prospect Rd 2.20 43.70
Turn left at Co Rd 579/Handcart Rd 4.50 48.20
Turn right at Co Rd 579/Eiland Blvd/Handcart Rd -
store at Hwy 54 (road becomes Morris Bridge)
7.70 55.90
Turn right at Cross Creek Blvd (after about 2 miles pass Arbor Green - Robert's old neighborhood) 4.50 60.40
Turn right at Bruce B Downs Blvd/Co Rd 581 0.60 61.00
Stop for Lunch at Las Palmas
Turn right (north) on Bruce B Downs 1.30 62.30
Turn right on County Line Road 2.60 64.90
Turn right on Mansfield Blvd (becomes Strickland) 0.20 65.10
Turn left on Beardsley Road 1.70 66.80
Turn left on Meadowpoint Blvd 4.50 71.30
Turn left on FL-54W 1.10 72.40
Turn right on Curley Road 5.90 78.30
Turn left to stay on Curley/County 577 (thru St. Antonio) 4.60 82.90
Continue onto Jessamine Rd 3.00 85.90
Turn right on Blanton Rd 1.30 87.20
Turn left on Trilby Rd 5.90 93.10
Go north on Withlacoochie Trail back to hotel 28.00 121.10

This route goes through what we used to call the "hilly" part of central Florida, near St. Antonio and Dade City. This could drag our average speed down enough that it may take us seven hours to do this route ... including the stop for lunch.

Meanwhile, here in Nashville many of my fellow randonneurs will be doing the 200K that starts in Murfreesboro. I don't mean to rub it in, but they will be enjoying a forecasted high temperature of 31 F, and climbing just over 6,000 feet (if memory serves, and it should serve from the left). Meanwhile, I'll have a high of 67 F, and maybe 600 feet of climbing.


Anyway, I'll try to post some blogs from down there, but I wanted to warn my loyal readers. To those of you for which my blog posts are the highlight of your day: Get a life. Try oral surgery or something else that's about as much fun as my blog. To those of you who are already climbing the walls due to a desperate desire for sunshine and riding your bike in warmer temperatures, and for whom pictures of cyclists enjoying a ride in the tropics could push you over the edge: You may want to just read Fat Cyclist and Bike Snob NYC for the next few days.

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