"NO SHIT! Average...?"
"That's right..." responded the
bicycle shop owner and turned back into the darkened recesses of the
maintenance room. There was an almost smoky aura to the sun speared
air that quietly surrounded him and the cyclist he had taken time
out to help. It was a typical scene, in which an already busy owner
puts aside pressing tasks to help a desperate rider get back on the
road while at the same time fielding questions from people off the
street or on the phone. These bicycle shop owners are national
I walked out shaking my head. When
I reached the car my wife (The Black Widow) asked, "So what
did he say?" I had to tell her, "He said the ride averages 30 mph."
She snickered, "See I told you that you were going to get dropped!"
So that's what brought me three
years later to my present situation: totally dropped, long forgotten
and riding alone along the squared off patches of road meandering
through the orchards. It is the high plateau between Montgomery and
New Paltz with the typical repeats of long relative flat stretches
then a tight bend right, a tight bend left onto another long flat
stretch. There's often a fast downhill to a challenging uphill, then
back to the flat where the road is flanked both sides by row after
row of short pruned fruit trees bound by perimeter pines and
hardwood. A bright clear blue sky drapes above incredible whiffs of
flowering fruit in a close and warm 75?. I could swear in fact that
I really am nearing New Paltz, if not for the palm trees, plus the fruit
trees are orange (not apple), and it is late January not July.
Actually I'm just outside San Antonio, Florida, and did I mention
That first meeting with the
bicycle shop owner, Ted Potyka (aka: national treasure) of Trail
Sport, (727) 395-0509, did not lead me directly to this ride. He
was telling me about the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club rides.
Later that year my sister-in-law showed me an article (Confessions
of a Hairy Legged Wheelsucker, by Dan DeWitt) from the St.
Petersburg Times about this ride in San Antonio?attended by the
TRULY hard core.
Then I kept hearing faster riders at the St. Pete
rides mention San Antonio.
It is a famous ride and that article is
my favorite article about bicycling and the odd people who do it. It
also proves how cyclists are the same everywhere.
You can read it yourself by
searching for "wheelsucker" at
http://www.sptimes.com. If you like my articles...go read this
one. It is better than any of mine, and if you DON'T like my
articles...well go read this one. It is better than any of mine.
So after thoroughly dis-enjoying a
number of meager "30 mph" rides with the St. Pete Club, and being
thoroughly pumped up by the "wheelsucker" article, and continually
hearing the fast of the fast mention San Antonio, I was of course
attracted to the ride like a moth to flame.
I was not disappointed. I got
burned and dropped just like I hoped. The ride is incredibly
beautiful and, although there are no four-mile climbs like OCBC'ers
are accustomed to, there are plenty of challenges along both the 40
and 62 mile loops.
My favorite stretch is marked JJ's Climb.
You might call it Ridgebury on a Stick. It is also similar to
Dog Hill but with longer (though less severe) climbs, and
four peaks (instead of two).
At the approach all four peaks can be
seen lined up along a gentle curve and looming in the distance. I'm
at a loss to describe it, but spinning into that first rise, while
gazing up along the gentle curve past three swells and on to that
final peak gleaming above the horizon, well it can really grab you
by the heart and squeeze you into excitement.
You can just feel the long history
of paceline dreams that have surely been dashed on each peak. Since
I'm at a loss to describe it, here's how to find out for yourself.
Glenn and Sarah Weber own the
San Antonio Cyclery. The Cyclery is a world class bike
shop in the diminutive San Antonio where the also diminutive
Pasco County Park
is the start of the rides. I can't believe anybody would waste their
time in Orlando and those
overcrowded Disneyworld type tourist fiascos when there's true
adventure to be had just a few degrees west, so I asked them if
there is any local tour group/instructor that handles
excursions/training along the San Antonio routes. They said no but
mentioned there is a Bed & Breakfast just down the road from the
bike shop, and they've been thinking about it. I'm sure if somebody
calls them with an interest they will figure something out. [Here's
ride cue sheet and
The Weber's are all about service
and glad to help. I had Glenn work on my Serotta with excellent
results. I needed to set up an appointment, because he was
frantically working on seven Christmas bikes that were in for their
new-bike set ups, but he first confirmed my problem wasn't an
emergency then apologized for the delay saying, "I told everyone to
bring their bike in any time. This is the first time so many have
come in all at once, but I promised, and I'm keeping that promise."
That statement pretty well sums up Glenn and Sarah's character and
explains why their little shop way out in the boondocks is always
packed full of riders and activity whenever we show up. We also have
never arrived at the Pasco County Park without seeing one or
a few scary-fast riders setting out for a ride.
If you get sick of
the snow, and can figure out how to wrangle a little time off to
take advantage of cheap fares to Florida, you can reach Glenn and
email@example.com or (352) 588-2453.
At minimum they can
provide cue sheets, a map and service your bike.
Be sure to ask Glenn about the day
a group showed up for the Wednesday morning ride and pulled
everybody along at 30+ mph...prompting him to wave his aero little
white flag while desperately calling for a time out. Turns out it
was a pro team from Belgium, which is not so
strange for this famous ride that has been going on for 40 years or
Dr. Art probably has some bikes in his museum that have been
Also be sure to let me and The
Black Widow know if you are going to be riding in San Antonio.
We would relish the chance to show up and kick your ass on those
hilly roads (in Florida no less), or hear about your ass getting kicked by
someone else, or take an easy ride with you if that's your
We should always be available, because I never did
provide a segue in this article which would take me off that ride, so I must still be somewhere along
the course in paragraph four above.
Riding the San Antonio ride like a ghost ship, forever, and ever,
With the hills, the scenery, the
light traffic and the weather (did I mention it is 75? here today?),
the San Antonio rides are as good as it gets. Plus they are only about an hour away
from the St. Petersburg
I'd wager there is no better place on the planet for cycling
than San Antonio, except maybe Orange County (and environs) in NY...