Autumn is Century Season in South Florida. It begins with The Tour of Sebring and ends with the Highlands Bike Fest. Unfortunately, I am in base building mode and just not ready to take on 100 miles at speed. So this year it will be Metric Century Season and begins this weekend with Mt Dora Bicycle Festival.
I have participated in this festival for the last three years. This year marks it’s 39th annual and is one of the best run, most attended bicycle festivals I have attended. For three days, hordes of cyclist of all shapes, sizes and speeds descend upon this quaint little town nestled in Lake County, Fl. Lake County contains some of the only hills in Florida of any significant grade so the festival has appeal to those looking to climb a little.
Friday’s ride is a nice warm-up for Saturday’s century. Some energetic riders itching for a fight are reeled in by the ride leader who reminds them of the weight of the following day’s labor.
Saturday’s century starts in the dark in cool temperatures and is an all out road race for anyone trying to stay in the lead group or groups. It includes a short steep hill affectionately referred to as “The Wall” which serves to filter out the pure flatlanders from the experienced hill riders. A true Grimpeur will scoff at the small climbs but in Florida you have to take what you can get. Cyclists who choose to ride the full century are rewarded with 15-20 miles of head and cross winds that will cause some to question their resolve.
Sunday’s ride will just take whatever energy or will you have left and consume it dry. Give it away willingly.
There are two or three alternative routes on Saturday and Sunday for those riders interested less in speed and distances and more interested in the pure love of riding, in a bucolic setting, free of automobiles, and full of joy.
Century season continues with the following festivals/rides:
October 20th Speedway Century
November 10th Miami Gran Fondo
December 6th & 7th Escape to Key West
December 6th -8th Highlands Bike Fest
Then there are those rock’ em – sock’em SAG supported century rides that Keith Harrod organizes from November through December. These rides will find you in a large group barreling down the highway at 22-26 mph while working in organized echelons against some serious cross-winds. If you are feeling Belgium, order the fries with mayonnaise and find Keith on Facebook.
So, if you are suffering with cabin fever in colder climes and praying for warmer days and short sleeve jerseys, sign up for one or all of these rides and change your latitude.