The girl had mentioned to me that I consider riding in Clermont while I was out here. So I filed that away and figured I'd try and look into it for my long ride on the weekend off between gigs down here. So last night I went onto http://www.garminconnect.com/ and looked up routes. The nice thing about the Edge 800 bike computer is that you can go the garmin website and see routes that other people have uploaded. If you like one, you simply download it right to the Edge 800 and voila! Turn by turn navigation in your bike computer. So I can be on the road travelling with work and look up routes from other cyclists and bingo! Its go time. No real research, no digging through maps and profiles and wondering if I've picked a major highway I have no business riding on or a dirt road. Which lets face it when you look at a map blindly its hard to tell what the roads are actually going to be like to ride on. But if someone else has ridden the course and felt compelled to upload it to Garmin its probably a good place to go and ride.
As I was looking around for routes in Clermont which is about 30 minutes north west of Orlando I came across the bike course for a half iron triathlon thats held in Clermont. Bingo! one 56 mile ride coming up! So I downloaded that to the edge and drove myself to the starting point this morning. As I was unpacking my car and getting ready to ride I saw three groups of about 4 triathletes each out riding and 2 good sized packs of roadies out riding. It was clear this was a popular cycling area and it didn't take long for me to figure out why.
A couple quick thoughts on navigating with the Edge 800. While the Edge is a very smart turn by turn navigation capable device with GPS in it (and a fully functional bike computer) it is a little bit different than a car style turn by turn navigation. It displays a moving map with an arrow that represents you on it and lists your next turn on it. It does not have voice that says "Turn Left" or anything like that but you quickly get used to it. It beeps once to let you know theres a turn coming with plenty of time to look down at the Edge and see which way your turning and onto what road. Then just before the turn it beeps twice to say almost time! and then beeps when you should be turning. (you can turn all the beeps off if you prefer). It definitely took a little getting used to, but 20 miles into the ride it was second nature. I had no problem staying on the route at all and never took a wrong turn. I've uploaded routes to my 310xt before which is much harder to follow as its just a line drawing with no street names on it and doesn't show the other roads in the area. The Edge was very easy to follow and fantastic for people like me who are so navigationally challenged. On top of that it did some other handy things. There was some event or other going on where I was supposed to park for the start of the route. So I parked much further down the street. The Edge also navigated me to the start of the bike route which was great. The end of the bike route was of course pretty far from my car. So to get back to my car I just put it in map mode. The great thing about which is that it tells you the next cross street you are approaching so I just kept going till I saw my cross street in the display, turned onto it and voila! There was the car. Very handy! Here's a quick pic of the display. Sadly its not a great picture... the display is very easy to read even in daylight.
If you are ever in central Florida looking to ride GO TO CLERMONT! Gorgeous smooth pavement just about everywhere, cyclists everywhere, rolling hills and challenging terrain, plenty of room for bikes on the road, sun, great scenery, and a fabulous rural area with not a ton of traffic on it. Other than the one stretch of "highway" I rode on for a while that had a couple of semis whip past me at 55mph traffic was minimal and not at all bad. What a fantastic area to go out and ride. Its extremely popular too as once out on the course I saw a ton of other cyclists. I stopped twice to take pictures and both times I got passed by a bunch of riders who would always ask if you were ok or if you needed anything. So they are even friendly too. On top of that on the top of the giant climb of the day theres a house with two huge coolers full of water with a sign at the end of their driveway saying "Free Water, Please Help Yourself!" How nice is that?
So yeah... go ride in Clermont! Its gorgeous!
Back to the ride... the course for this triathlon is very challenging! I would rate the FIRM half as a 2 out of 10 for being a hilly course with 10 being super hilly. I'd rate this course as a 6. Very challenging, always rolling, always going up or going down. Many of the climbs were short, but they were quite steep! There were several climbs between 7-9% grade. Brutal stuff! There was one section that was particularly challenging as you would climb, descend, climb, descend, climb, descend... over and over again. My legs were fried and I kept hoping there would be a break coming but it just never did till pretty close to the end when some flats showed up again. It was pretty tiring. I was pretty slow in the last 12 miles or so! Here's a look at the profile and the course map and a picture of one of the many climbs on the course. The profile is in green, and the red line is my heart rate.