Flatter Than Saskatchewan?
Have you ever ridden in Florida? Well, up until last week I hadn’t….but I’d heard a lot about it. The one constant theme that would echo whenever I’ve heard people talking about riding here is “It’s really flat”.
Hey, I grew up in the Prairies of Canada and I know all too well what the definition of flat is. Saskatchewan is about as flat as they come. So flat that the running joke about the area is: “If you live in Saskatchewan and your dog runs away from home….two days later, you can still see him running”. Yeah, it’s that flat. So I’ve always wondered how flat Florida can really be.
After a week of riding the area and cycling miles and miles in every direction, I think I’ve a new flat terrain champion. Now, I can’t speak for all of Florida…but the Davenport area is officially flatter than Saskatchewan.
Okay, So How Do You Make Flat Terrain More Challenging?
Bridges – For as long as I’ve been hearing people tell me how flat it is in Florida, I’ve also been hearing about how the locals ride bridges to get in some climbs. I have ridden over a few bridges, but the steepest incline so far has been 6%. There might be steeper ones around, but I have a feeling they don’t compare to the hills and mountains found in other parts of the Country and the World. But, if you’re looking to mix up the monotony of flatness and get in some inclines…..search out the bridges.
Time Trial – A great way to train on flat terrain is to schedule in a few time trials to your riding routine. Find an area that is flat and not overly full of traffic…and ideally, without any stop signs or traffic lights. Map out a section that would take you about 45 to 60 minutes to complete and use it as your TT training ground. Clock yourself and try to beat your time each and every time you get out for a Time Trial session.
San Antonio – No, I’m not talking about giving up on the flatlands and heading to Texas. Florida also has a San Antonio, and I’ve heard that it’s got some hilly areas. I haven’t been over to check it out yet, but it goes to show that a little research and asking around might turn up some unexpected climbs if you find yourself riding flat terrain.
The Horrible Hundred – If you’re cycling in a flat area like Florida, check out and see if they have any exciting rides that take place. I just heard about The Horrible Hundred from @CyclingNirvana and it looks to be a nice challenging ride. Odds are that there is a challenging ride around whatever area you find yourself in.
Wind – Although Saskatchewan is flat, there is no shortage of wind….and I’m finding out that Florida has quite a breeze as well. If the wind is strong enough, it can make you feel like you’re climbing some massive hills. So if you’re looking for more of a challenge, map out your rides so that you’re head on into the gust when on your way back home and feeling tired.
Bike Set Up– Another thing to consider when riding flatter roads is the set up of your bike. Jamie from Lake Travis Cyclery says “running standard chainrings instead of compact is a good idea. Reason being is it give you a 53 big ring and 39 small ring compared to a compact which has a 50 big ring and 36-34 small ring. Rear cassettes are recommended to run 11-23 or 11-25. This is coming from my personal experience growing up and training in Houston which only consisted of parking garages for our hill climb workouts. Since climbing isn’t an issue, anything to go faster.”
Maybe the flats are themselves enough of a challenge for you….nothing wrong with that at all. If you are looking for a way to make the flatlands more challenging try these ideas out. If you have any other ideas to help make riding flat terrain more interesting, please let us know.