Yesterday I rode my Cannondale road bike 170 miles coast-to-coast across the state of Florida in 11 hours and 1 minute. It was harder and easier than I had envisioned.
This would not have been possible (for me, anyway) without the dynamic, organic teamwork that occurs within a cycling group. It would have been unthinkable in the mid-90’s heat and 40 miles of hills without roadside encouragement and support from my wife and others. They provided water, food, fresh electrolyte-laden bottles, cold towels, and lots of smiles urging us to keep pedaling.
We rolled out of Cocoa Beach on the east coast at 6:30 a.m. sharp. Only 72 riders registered – 69 men and 3 women. The entire group moved at a good pace during the cool morning hours, averaging between 21-22 mph. Our first stop was at 46 miles. That’s when the faster riders broke away.
At 85 miles Todd and I were in a nice paceline with a dozen riders hitting about 20 mph. The sun was up and it was getting hot. I found myself thinking “We’re halfway done. I think I might make it.”
At 120 miles we had lost a few to heat exhaustion. I saw one rider with an IV hooked up in the back of a van. We were still optimistic, though we were about to enter 40 miles of hills. Ouch. On some climbs we averaged 5-7 mph hitting 37 mph coasting down the backside.
At 150 miles my right thigh began to cramp and lock. Ann noticed that I wasn’t emptying my water bottles as quickly as I had been and urged me to drink more. I began opening up Endurolyte capsules and taking the salts straight on my tongue with a water chaser. “Only 20 more miles – I don’t want to quit now!” I backed off the group’s pace and went solo for awhile. I rode on. Rather than stopping to rest, I tried letting my left leg do 3/4 of the work while I did deep tissue massage on my other thigh with my right thumb. I also prayed: God of the universe who created the stars, can you prevent these muscle fibers from locking up for about one more hour?
After a few miles, my good friend Todd circled back to pull me in for the final 10 miles. Zach and Bill joined up after fixing two flats and we picked up one more stray rider. The five of us rolled across the finish line on the west coast at 5:31 pm with nearly three hours to spare before sunset. Stopping felt great. So did the dip in the lagoon.
Thanks are due to my Creator, Ann, Todd, Zach, Bill, the Eastside Cycling Club and the Spacecoast Freewheelers. I couldn’t have made it without your help.
18 replies on “My Ride Across Florida 2010”
Also, you have way too much fun down in Florida. If I ever put a bucket list together, “epic bike ride” would be pretty high on the list.
Way to go, Ken! And great retelling of the story.
Great job, Ken, on a fantastic accomplishment. You’ve inspired me to ride this next year with the ESCC!
Love the narrative. I felt the pains of my first marathon (in 2001!) from your great description. Congrats on a great feat!
Congrats! There are a lot of lessons for leadership packed into this journey. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for all the encouragement, friends. What’s your next endurance challenge?
Ken, I enjoyed reading your account and understand why you said it was harder than you envisioned. How was the ride easier?
How was the ride easier? I finished it! My original personal milestone goal was 120 miles.
so awesome ken! way to persevere!
Loved the story. SOunded alot like my story when I first did this ride many years ago. I also was there this year and I was one of those riders that broke away. I was the rider in all white. We finished at 3:03pm. Was hot and hard but a great day !!!!!!
Hello, do you have more pictures from this ride, the SCFW hasn’t post any in their website.
Or if you know any link to see other pictures please contact me.
am tyring to obtain information on ride across florida-is there one from east coast to west coast? our group would be 2-3 adults and a pre-teen; any recommendations for training, etc thanks
For info on this ride, Latroy, check out the SpaceCoast Freewheelers site here:
Next year’s ride is on April 3, 2011.
Awesome job! It seems that from what I’ve read, east to west is how most go. Is there any particular reason for this I need to know about? I think I would like to ride from west to east finishing closer to home. Plus there is no way I could do it in one day.
Hello to all. I did this ride in 2010 and it was fun. I finished in 3rd although not a race still competetive amoung the front guys. I would love if we could get a double on the same day. I was thinking about doing it on April 3rd and after finishing turning around and doing it again back to Coco. Anybody have the desire out there for pain?????????????????????? I am training for the RACE ACROSS AMERICA (RAAM) AND would love some company other than my support car in back of me yelling for 20 hours.
I had signed up for the Ride across Florida in 08. It was cancelled. Already commited to go I did it on my own pulling a trailer with supplies and wheels etc went to Chrystal River, spent the night and got up and rode back to my car parked at the Atlantic . No sag, no drafting. Now thats a ride…..
I am planning on a bike like this one. Can you provide me with a map or guide for what you rode I would GREATLY appreciate it! Thanks!
@SaRah – you can check out this site for details and map:
and this link for a cue sheet:
This year’s ride is April 1 – next weekend!
Ride well, Ken