Assault on Sugarloaf
A flat ride until you have to tackle Sugarloaf and "The Wall", two of the most challenging hills in FL.
I just had to see what Sugarloaf was all about. And, I decided to do this ride on my own - no drafting. Better to simulate triathlon conditions that way. ;) So I spaced myself in between groups and mostly rode on my own. I even pulled a group with me for a few miles, and then let them all pass when we hit some congestion. There was a 3.5 mile stretch where I did draft, right before Sugarloaf - I came to a crowd of bikes and couldn't get around them to go my own pace, and the road was fairly busy with car traffic.
When we came to Sugarloaf, the group split up. Some sprinted to the hill, others took it easier... I took it easy and then turned it on at the base. Not that we were competing for the polka dot jersey or anything ;) but I was the 3rd person to the top out of more than a dozen - some folks went a bit too hard and I passed many, spinning along in my 34x23.
Sugarloaf is a respectable hill, I would compare it to Slater north of NE 124th St in Kirkland. Yeah, not a deathclimb but it is a challenge. At the top there were about 50 people congregating around the water/food stop, and I got off the bike for a bit to stretch and reload a few items before taking off.
After a nice long gradual descent, I started to think of the next hill, "The Wall". I thought I found it just after mile 21, but the real Wall was at mile 23 of this ride. I'd compare the Wall to a longer version of the Lake Washington Technical University hill in Kirkland, also known as NE 120th St.
I made an elevation profile, through Sugarloaf and "The Wall". I didn't do the other 16 miles back to Mt. Dora. I pushed on this ride, and did 39.3 miles in 2:07, averaging 18.6 mph. I'm pretty happy with that, given the hills, and of course the fact I only drafted 3.5 miles of the route. It was a tough pace for me, and I was beat afterwards. I can't ride the Florida Challenge like this since I'll need to leave something in the tank for the run.