A Blog About Brian Albritton's September 2012 Cycling Ride Across Britain

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Am Ready for the Hills

After months and months of training, I still had some question about whether I was ready for the hills of Great Britain.  I can, of course, ride a long way and many hours  on "the flats" of Florida, but hills --that's a different matter.  Joel, cyclist guru in residence at Flying Fish Bikes, mentioned to me the other day that he thought I was ready:  "all that riding in the wind" he said "has prepared you for the hills."  By this, he meant riding against the wind, and yes these last few months I have done a lot of riding against the wind.  During the winter months, my friend Wayne and I used to ride up the Suncoast Parkway every Sunday, 60-70 miles, often with a strong cold wind blowing in our faces.  It was more like crawling up the Suncoast than cycling up it.

Based on my 5 hour ride last Sunday to Ft. DeSoto and back, however, I think I'm ready for the hills.  Last Sunday, Tropical Storm Isaac was off the coast of Florida.  We were getting a very strong wind out of the East. On my way riding to Ft. DeSoto, I was riding like Superman:  20+ miles an hour.  I flew over The Gandy and to the Park in record time.  On the way back . . . well that's a different story.

There was a sustained 20 mph headwind in my face for much of the ride back. You know the wind:  all the palms on the palm trees are horizontal, all flags are fluttering and straight out, long grass and trees bend against the wind.  Just getting off of Tierra Verde, for example, I had a strong cross wind and rain.  I pedaled at between 11-13 mph.  When I got to Gandy Blvd to go over the bridge, the wind was straight in my face.  I pedaled over at 12 mph.

In the past, I would have "blown up" or flamed out fighting the wind.  Stated another way, I would have exhausted myself trying to fight it and go faster.  This last Sunday, I didn't fight it; I just kept on riding.  I rode 38 miles in that kind of wind.  And, at the end, I felt fine.  Pretty good actually.  I think my coach, David Ertl, will be pleased, as he has been telling me: ride within yourself and you can't win against the wind.  He is right, of course.

And, that's what I plan to do on the End to End ride:  don't fight the hills, just gear down into my triple chain ring, and peddle.

I leave on Tuesday, September 4th.

A. Brian Albritton
August 30, 2012

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