Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Changes in Latitude.

Summer is a time for vacations, and my family is no different than any other.  Typically we take some time and visit our Family in Florida.  For the second year in a row, I've had a chance to bring my bike with me, and get out for a ride with a local bike shop near where we stay, as well as visit the other bike shops in the area.  What I've found is that location really makes a marked difference on your perspective, especially in an endurance sport like cycling.  While I can't say packing up and haul my bike gear 600 miles for a chance or two to ride by getting up extra early, especially on vacation, is a lot to pack in, I do enjoy the opportunities to ride outside of my comfort zone.

up at Sunrise for a group ride?

Cycling in the upstate of South Carolina is extremely varied, and in many cases challenging.  On any given day I can find a group ride of at least 30 miles with several challenging climbs thrown in.  Often times I have to make decisions on which ride I'd rather do (solo/small group/large group, pace, challenge, etc).  I work near enough to the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail that unless the weather is truly horrid I can always jump on the bike during lunch or after work and get in 20+ miles of riding.  There are massive amounts of country roads where you can just simply get lost and enjoy riding.

What I've found while planning my vacations in Florida is that the landscape is wildly different.  The number of "country roads" is more limited, as the nature of the environment is less accomodating to a larger infrastructure.  Lakes and swamplands determine where lanes can be created, and cars use many of them extensively.  While there are several neighborhood roads available, they are full of traffic hazards that need to be accounted for.  Where I have a comfort level with the drivers around my neighborhood at this point, I'm also more wary of attempting to go out on a self-made route in a new area.  

The other big difference to handle is the difference in ride type.  I'm used to rides that have at least "rolling hills" in them, such that you get an interval workout almost by default.  You get some rest/recovery on the downhill to prepare for the next uphill.  Wind is a factor, but seldom the defining factor of the ride.  While out with the LBS in Florida, the pace line really makes the difference, as the roads are mostly flat.  If you drop off the back, you are just doing your best to catch up at the next stop.  There is one decent climb that they feature in the ride (others that I know ride out there claim it to be "the hill in Brevard county") which is a little challenging, but short.  The sprints and overall pace really make the difference.

One of the big things I do like about riding away from home, though, is that it gives you a real marker for your progress.  Since it had been a year since I rode this route with the Revolutions folks, I got to really get a taste for how much stronger I had gotten.  Even in the Strava segments where I didn't set Personal Best's, my guestimated power and heart rate data showed that I wasn't working as hard. 

I continue to look forward to new chances to ride in difference areas of the country.  The experiences are definitely worth the efforts.