50 miles of riding hills in the heat…some people’s idea of torture and other people’s idea of fun. I am somewhere in between. Clermont is one of the few places in Florida where athletes can train on hills. I’ve tackled Buckhill and Sugarloaf “Mountain” several times prior to moving out west where there are mountains that dwarf the intimidating hills of Clermont. After a few months of training in San Diego I actually started to enjoy hill repeats…although I still felt my fellow triathlon friends were crazy for making this a weekly routine. Moving back to Florida should mean that Clermont would be a cake walk, right?
It took me almost two months from my return to Florida to actually venture a Clermont ride, therefore, I lost my hill strength I had gained in California in addition to having already lost my lifelong tolerance to humidity and heat. People flock to Florida for our theme parks and weather. Did you know that places actually exist where you can go outside during the day without having the life evaporated out of you? Incredible.
So, I am out of shape on the hills and a baby about heat but, I say yes to this fun-filled ride in Clermont. The first 10 miles into the ride my legs are feeling good and I’m enjoying the workout. Slowly my temperature starts to rise, my legs begin to feel tired, and my mind wonders to that awful place filled with excuses to turn around. At one point I was trying to figure out how to pop my tire. What if I just hung back until they lost me? I even contemplated telling the truth about being a wuss and not being able to handle the ride. I promised myself if I got to mile 20 I could use one of my excuses, but I didn’t. Once we finished the next series of hills I would tell my group to go ahead, but I didn’t. Finally before I knew it we were at Sugarloaf Mountain. For those of you from San Diego, Sugarloaf has the same grade as Soledad Mountain but is about 3 to 4 times shorter.
I resorted to a tactic that helped me when I first started climbing hills. I picked a spot on the road, a fence post, or a mailbox and focused on that until my bike passed that point. Right away I would pick the next marker until I was eventually at the top. That’s how I tackle any goal in life, piece by piece and mini-success by mini-success. At the top there one of the residents provides coolers of water for the cyclists. AMAZING.
We had 10 miles left in our ride and the excuses started to fade because I knew we were getting close to the finish. My whole body was exhausted, but I wasn’t giving up. Reviewing the workout, I wouldn’t have ever actually quit. My mind plays these games while I’m getting back into shape. Eventually the excuses to turn around become excuses to push harder and go further.