On Saturday, August 21, 2010, I got a chance to ride my road bike in Clermont, Florida with members of my local Team in Training cycle team. I am currently training with the Palm Beach Team in Training cycle team for the Intracoastal Waterway Century Ride which takes place on October 31 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Team in Training is the main fundraising program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Above: Team in Training member Larry Goldberg celebrated his 50th birthday in Clermont. Delicious chocolate cake and photograph by team mentor Chris Maly. Don't ask about the banana, some team members act like they are 5 years old.
Team in Training Cycle Team
Clermont is located approximately 30 miles west of Orlando, AKA the home of Mickey Mouse. Ten team members made the trip up to Clermont, including Coach Bryan and Coach Rob. Coach Rob is my husband, and we carpooled up to Clermont along with Coach Bryan. We met team members Tina, Shanon, Andrea, Jen, Chris, Larry and Alex at the Holiday Inn Express hotel. Clermont is about a 3 hour drive, northwest, from Palm Beach county. Palm Beach county is flat-as-a-pancake, unless you count some of our larger bridges such as Blue Heron as "hill" training.
Clermont is sometimes referred to as the Florida Alps. Many people are surprised to learn there are actually a few hills to be found in Florida. Clermont has lots of rolling hills and a couple of pretty steep climbs. Quite a few triathlons occur in Clermont and it is also the home of the National Training Center. It was really nice riding in Clermont. We normally ride along A1A in Palm Beach county, which has nice ocean views, but WAY too many angry drivers. Most areas of Clermont had very little traffic and beautiful scenery including many views of the various lakes in the area.
Climb a Hill in Clermont
Due to some team members having to walk up a few of the hills, and taking a few breaks to fill up our water bottles and regroup with the team, it took us just over 3 hours to travel 40 miles. That seems like an awful long time to do a 40 mile ride, but those hills were brutal!
Above: members of the Palm Beach Team in Training cycle team taking a break after climbing up Sugarloaf Mountain. Photo by Alex Melkonian.
Thanks to Coach Bryan's research on bike rides in Clermont, through the Map My Ride website, here's a little bit of information on the major hills we climbed up during our 40 mile bike ride.
- 135' elevation gain
- 18% slope
- 0.21 miles
- 223' elevation gain
- 11% slope
- 2.5 miles
- 207' elevation gain
- 14% slope
- 0.73 miles
- 164' elevation gain
- 12% slope
- 0.6 miles
Not for the Faint of Heart
It took us quite a while to do our 40 mile bike ride in Clermont. The hills were a lot harder than most team members anticipated. I guess if you live in the area, the hills would get easier if you started training there on a regular basis. But for us Florida flat landers, dang if we didn't get our butt kicked! Many of the team members ended up doing quite a bit of walking to get over some of the bigger hills. And the only members of the team to make it all the way up Sugarloaf Mountain were Coach Bryan, Coach Rob and Alex. GO TEAM!
Above: the Bike Diva pauses in Clermont and wishes Coach Rob would stop saying "this is the last hill." Photo by Alex Melkonian.
Sugarloaf Mountain and Other Hills
Rob and I first went to Clermont about 3 years ago when we were training for the El Tour de Tucson 109 mile road bike ride with Team in Training. Neither one of us made it up Sugarloaf that trip, and I seem to remember having to walk a couple of the other hills too. So I was pretty happy making it up all the hills except Sugarloaf. I was having some clunky/slippy gear problems at the top of most hills, and took my road bike in to the Racer's Edge bike shop to get a tune up after getting back into town. I'm not sure if I would have made it up Sugarloaf even if my bike wasn't having problems, but it does make me wonder.
Above: Andrea filling her water bottle at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain Road. Photo by Jen Biedermann Coull.
Grab Some Water
For the past few years, the house at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain Road, has been placing out coolers of water and cups for cyclists training in Clermont that attempt the climb. There aren't a lot of places to stop for water along the way, it is a really rural area where most of the Clermont rides take place. So to have cold water available to fill our water bottles with after our assault on Sugarloaf was a welcome treat. Clermont residents Harry & Janice Fenstad place two large, orange coolers, paper cups and trash cans at the end of their driveway for any cyclists passing by that need a cool drink, and they aren't even cyclists!
Find a Ride in Clermont
If you are interested in bike riding in Clermont, visit the Map My Ride website. Map My Ride contains pages and pages of preplanned bike routes from a few miles up to 100 miles. Here is the link:
Above: team member Andrea Blair purchased a new Trek road bike the day before our Clermont ride! She found the bike at The Cycling Hub in Clermont, just down the street from our hotel and where we started/ended our 40 mile bike ride.
Although I wasn't quite so found of going fast downhill, as I was climbing uphill (I think I am the team mountain goat), I probably would go back to ride in Clermont. Some of the team members got up to 40 MPH going down some of the bigger hills! Dang, I was using way too much brake coming down the hills, kind of freaked me out going that fast on a bike. So I guess I really need to go back and conquer my fear of descending. And I would still like to be able to make it all the way up Sugarloaf Mountain without having to do any walking.
There is a nice multi-use trail, that we rode on for a little while, that connects with some of the rails-to-trails. I think you can do close to 60 miles on the multi-use trails. We rode part of the South Lake Trail, AKA Lake Apopka Trail. I also have to remember to take my Go Pro video camera with me the next time, that would have been some awesome video footage to upload to the Bike Diva blog.
Please note, I found the 3 photographs of the Clermont hills through a search done on Google images.
Lynn Smythe AKA the Bike Diva