Just wanted to share a somewhat different view on how the 242
Mile Fleche from Winter Springs via Inverness to Sebring ride went.
I am using Pseudo names that came up in my mind reviewing the ride, so that
there is no inference to any real person :-))
Team "Sore Caboose" consisted of:
Pack Rat, Sleeping Beauty, Dog Chaser, Big Guy and his
electronic friend Scout
In addition Ladyspeed and Impostor did support the team before and after the
Pack Rat and Dog Chaser did arrive Friday night and enjoyed the good food of
Ladyspeed. Saturday morning at 6:00 Sleeping Beauty was supposed to arrive. At
6:20 AM we were getting worried, but noticed a call on the cell phone. Sleeping
Beauty followed the cue sheet to our house and took the right turn to the other
right. Talking to her on the cell phone she knew exactly where she was: Hwy 426.
Good, more directions live on the phone to our house. 5 Min. later from Sleeping
Beauty: Hmm, I wonder why I am just approaching the intersection with Hwy 426. I
guess I haven't been where I thought I was. At this point the rest of team
decided not to depend on Sleeping Beauty for the Navigation. Nobody was really
up for a 1000 Mile, 5 day ride ...
Arriving our house just in time, I almost gave Sleeping Beauty the Pack Rat
title. The instructions where the following:
Please do not forget to check your equipment:
spare bulbs or lights
3 spare tubes
Of course essentials like food, drinks, hand soap and
rocks. Other things like bringing a bike could be a good idea too.
I guess she didn't know that I was just kidding when I mentioned to bring rocks
:-) Before the ride I also didn't know why she was bringing a pillow.
But then I realized that the Pack Rat title went to a different team member. His
trunk was bigger, higher, wider ... The specifications I gave up front where not
clear: A spare tire and 3 spare tubes where meant per bike not per wheel :-)
Clothing for all kind of weather: 100F down to below 30 F (freezing), Rain,
Ok, 7:00 AM and off we went. We rode a while until Sleeping Beauty mentioned: My
trunkholder is bothering me. Can we change this? Big Guy checked it out and made
the adjustments. First break gone by ...
During riding it was unusual quiet. We were used to the chatter of Sleeping
Beauty, but not on this morning. At the next stop at the store at Mile 32 she
mentioned that she is kind of tired and her legs hardly move. Ok, this is why
she was so quiet. She assumed that maybe even something could be wrong with the
bike. Ok, lifted the bike on the front, turned the wheel and surprise: Two turns
and it stopped moving. What is that?
The front wheel brake pads where adjusted so that they touched both sides of the
rim with the whole surface of the pads. They where heavily grinding/dragging.
You were cycling 32 Miles like that? No wonder, the legs were tired. Ok, give me
your allen wrench. Search, search in the bag ... Tooth brush, tooth paste, sun
lotion, hand soap ... somewhere must be the allen wrench ... mirror, make up,
pillow .... where is the allen wrench ... food, lip stick ... can we use your
allen wrench? So Big Guy applied his next break on adjusting the brakes.
When we left the store, Sleeping Beauty realized what a difference the bike
makes and how much better she felt. She now caught up with the chatter for
all the chatting she missed in the first 32 Miles. We had to let her know this
has to stop somewhat or we have to tie down the brake pads again :-)
Between this store and the Yalaha Bakery we saw lots of Florida Freewheelers
heading our way. They had their Yalaha bakery club ride.
We stopped at the bakery and enjoyed the great food they had. At the bakery we
met people from the Orlando Road Club and they asked how far we were riding. Our
Answer: 242 Miles. You mean 24.2 Miles? No, we said 242 Miles. I guess looking
at Team Sore Caboose those people are still not sure today, if we meant 242 or
24.2 Miles. Just as we wanted to leave this lovely place Pack Rat had a flat
tire. Good that he packed all the extra stuff.
OK, finally off we went towards Inverness that we reached without any problems.
At the store suddenly somebody walked in and immediately was interested in
Sleeping Beauty. Was he a prince? He worked for 70 hours this week and felt off
a tree. Just coming from the emergency room on his way to the pharmacy he just
had a couple of beers in between. Seemed not to be the right prince. Anyhow
after he left, he came back 5 Minutes later to give Sleeping Beauty the Princes
business card, just in case she wanted to give him a call and might have a ride
with him. Poor Sleeping Beauty, better lets get out of here.
Up and on the Whitlacoochee trail for the next 15 Miles. At least that's what we
thought. But here we go again. Sleeping Beauty not happy. My handlebar is to
low. This is has to come higher up. Our answer: Lets move forward ... This is
not a race, this a 242 Mile ride. I can't ride with the handlebar that low. We
know its not a race, but why is the handle bar in the race position? Ok, ok, we
will stop in 3 Miles at a store and look at it. How much further? 2 Miles. How
much further? 1.5 Miles ...
We reached the next store. Big Guy looks at the handle bar. How can we bring it
up? Hmm, it takes a while until it is figured out. Have to loose two screws to
bring it up and others to turn the bar. 20 Minutes gone by. No more time to get
drinks or food.
Actually Pack Rat and Dog Chaser had the time for food. It just seemed that Pack
Rat didn't like his sandwich. With 100 Miles cycled and 93 F the food seemed to
bother him. While he was suffering and slowing down, Sleeping Beauty was now
enthusiastic and picking up the speed: Trunk, Trunk holder fixed, brake pads not
dragging, handle bar up. What a different live! From now on, Sleeping Beauty was
one of the stronger riders of the team and pulled a lot.
Dog Chaser was pulling only rarely. Of course she just had ridden a 600k (380 M)
the weekend before. In one of the short moments it happened: Suddenly a large
dog came running from the right side and was heading towards the front rider:
Her! She drifted off more and more to the left with the dogs teeth just an inch
away from her leg. She rode into the left lane towards the upcoming traffic. The
car coming from the other side realized the situation and slowed down. The dog
seeing the car finally let go and went away. We all were somewhat shocked and
where happy nothing seriously happened. Now you also know how Dog Chaser became
her name, even so it really didn't look as if she was chasing the dog :-)
Further we ride. Sleeping Beauty looking for something in her Bento Box. Oh,
what is this. Isn't this a allen wrench? I knew I put it in a place, where it is
easily accessible. Good, that we know that now ...
Lets go on the General van Fleet Trail. Dusk in setting in. We have to cycle
around Turtles and Snakes. 2 Miles before the end of the trail, Big Guys rear
wheel feels funny. Short stop. It seems to have a slow leak. Let's head to the
end of the trail. To much mosquitoes here. At the end of the trail, decided to
pump it up and see if we can make it to the next store in 10 Miles. 5 Miles,
another stop to pump up the tire and we barely make it into the next store. But
much easier, to change the flat here than out in wilderness with snakes,
alligators and mosquitoes that wanted to have us for their dinner. Another
working break for Big Guy, this time on his own bike.
Heading towards Haines City to get a long break and some food. We are making it.
171 Miles done, 1:15 break, 7 more hours to go for 71 Miles. No problem.
Sleeping Beauty is spending her time in sleeping, eating, sleeping, drinking,
sleeping ... Dog Chaser is taking a short sleep break on the ground too. The
Gainesville Fleche team is arriving. Nice to see them, but they decide to have
their dinner at Taco Bell instead of Dominos Pizza.
At midnight we head out to our final 70 Miles, shortly after the Gainesville
team left. No more open stores, only a Police Station in Frostproof for a
control. Now the team seems to be really pulling off: After having some sleep,
Sleeping Beauty is quite strong, Pack Rat had Chicken Wings and he took the
lead, Dog Chaser as usually chasing one of the other rear wheels. We pass the
Gainesville team. Surprise, we are faster ...
Approx. 4 AM we arrive at the Frostproof Police Station. The guy on the night
shift is very friendly, pulls in chairs for us and the announced Gainesville
team, that arrives shortly after us. Interesting scenario: Riders all across the
room, on floors, chairs, sleeping, snoring and smelling. I am certain we left an
impression at the police station. Everybody on the team falls into a short sleep
besides Big Guy, who has difficulties to sleep and seemed also had the task for
the wake up call at 4:45 to make sure everybody is on the bike at 5:00 AM. Ok,
4:45 AM, get off. Really, do we have to go?
5:00 AM: Ready to go? No, wait a minute! Who is this? Sleeping Beauty? No, not
really? Oh, yes, I had to drink, I brushed my teeth and .... Mainly I had to
sleep. So we must understand that the batteries in the lights run out of energy
and had to be exchanged now. Grrrr, of course, yes, we do understand ...
5:10 AM: Heading out onto our final leg. 23 Miles to go. 1:50 hours time left.
Let's just hope we have no flat. Going towards Sebring. Dog Chaser seems to
really feel now that the weekend before had a 600k ride. Pack Rat is looking
forward to reach the finish. Only Sleeping Beauty seems that she could go twice
as fast as the rest of the group.
15 more Miles to go, 10 more Miles, 8 more Miles, buumm, what was this. The
whole team cycled through a pile of glass on the side lane. Immediate stop.
Thorough tire check. Puh, we are lucky, no one with a flat. I assume we earned
that luck at this time. Another 5 min. break, last Mile. We reach the finish at
6:57 AM, 242 Miles done, all team members made it.
It is nice to see Ladyspeed and Impostor at the finish and to have a room for a
shower. It was amazing how fast we had the smelling, sleeping and snoring in
this room again. Peter Noris, the Gainesville team and team "Heidi" from Palm
Beach where there also. It was great to see everybody and to successfully have
finished the Fleche.
We all had a amazing time and enjoyed the ride. A few dogs were chasing us, some
traffic on Hwy 19 and 48. Besides this were very nice and quiet roads. The team
did really good and worked well together. The weather was the best: Sunny, not
cold at night, low wind during the day, calming down at night. It was fun! There
was not whining or complaining. Big Guys friend Scout did a excellent job in
navigating. He did not get lost once :-)
Dog Chaser: Excellent job riding 242 Miles after a 380 Mile the weekend before.
Always finds a rear wheel ...
Pack Rat: Has everything on board that's needed. Suffering somewhat from heat and
sandwich. After Haines City quite strong to the finish. First Fleche ever ...
Sleeping Beauty: No whining or complaining with an overall strong impression,
especially in taking food and sleep. Her navigation, mechanical and organizing
skills left an impression too. First Fleche ever ...
Big Guy: More mechanical functions as usual. If the others wouldn't have stopped
him, would be probably still out there riding ...
Scout: Excellent navigation and organization skills ...
While last years Fleche was one of the hardest rides, this years Fleche was just
a lot of fun. With this team I would do it again at any time.
Especially thanks to Ladyspeed and Impostor, who drove freshly showered and good
smelling people home, while they were again sleeping and snoring .... You were a
great part of the success of the team.