The Claymont 100 – November 14, 2015 – also known as the First Invitational Horrible Gravel 100, is a just under 100 mile ride – 93 miles / 149 kilometres to be exact, that benefits World Bicycle Relief – by way of donations and a raffle after the ride. The Claymont 100 starts and finishes at the Crooked Can Brewing Company in Winter Garden, Florida.
Organized by SRAM employees Carl Cheshire and Carlos Pereyha, the Claymont 100 features three course options of 25ish, 50ish and the Full Monty 93 mile route. Traversing roads seldom seen by most cyclists or vehicles, the course features plenty of rolling hills, punctuated by limerock, gravel and red clay roads.
While there are many paved roads along the route, a road bike is not the optimal tool for this ride – 35mm wide tires (tyres) are better, although if you’re like JOM of the the Gravel Cyclist crew, you busted out the Monster CX rig and rode the 50’s.
Ride leadership for the Full Monty 93 mile route was provided by local hardman – Tic Bowen – riding a single speed CX rig with a 53 x 17 gear – yes, you read that correctly. Jason Guillen, another Orlandoite, greatly assisted with the course design.
The Claymont 100 isn’t a race, but the pace was spirited for the length of the ride. However, in true gentlemanly style, everyone regrouped at the end of each section of dirt, limerock, gravel and clay, before pressing onwards.
After the initial cruise out of town, the group rolled along the Lake Apopka Loop Trail, which as the name suggests, rolls alongside the shores of Lake Apopka. Surfaces here were mostly hardpack and limerock.
The grassy surfaces near an area known as Clay Island made the group suffer a bit – if you’ve ridden a cyclocross bike across a lengthy grassy field, you’ll know what I (JOM) am talking about – resistance. Thankfully, the lads making the pace kept things pretty tame.
Ranch Road in nearby Astatula, Florida, signified the first of the red clay roads. The condition of these roads like most off-the-beaten-track roads is dependent on rainfall. Thankfully, rain had fallen in the days prior to the event, and for the most part, this road was in pretty solid shape. During a dry spell, this and any of the clay roads in the area would be a tad deep and sandy.
Approximately 31 miles / 50 kilometres into the ride, everyone stopped at the unmanned aid station, generously donated by the SRAM crew of Carl and Carlos – water, Coke, gels and bars came in handy for some. At this point of the ride, those following the 50 mile loop could turn for home. The Gravel Cyclist crew and at least 20 other riders were in for the long haul, Full Monty route.
Buckhill Road South is well known to many Clermont and Orlando area road cyclists – but not Buckhill Road North – because the entire section is dirt and red clay, with many loose and sandy sections – ill advised for a road bike unless you dig walking a lot. In JOM’s opinion, one of the most funnest parts of the Claymont course!
From here, the course ventured briefly alongside the Florida Turnpike (JOM has seen this road countless times, glad he finally got to ride it), before heading south around Lake Minneola, stopping for a much needed break at the Horrible Hundred Cycling and Fitness Expo – a 100 mile road ride happening the very next day.
HUGE thank you to SRAM for supplying hydration and snack items to all of the riders at their Expo booth. Keen eyed cyclists played with the SRAM RED eTap demo bike which happened to be laying around the booth. Shameless plug time – if SRAM employees are reading this – JOM is interested in testing eTap on a gravel bike – see here his sneaky video captured at the 2015 Tour Down Under before the system was publicly released
After the much needed break at the Expo, the group carried on towards the toughest part of the course – the loop of Shell Pond Road / 5 Mile Road – in all, just shy of 10 miles of roller hills, all of it on red clay – at approximately 75 miles into the course.
According to the local lads, the loop was in excellent condition. While a little loose on a couple of spots, it was no trouble for those running bigger tires. Mind you, many riders were feeling the pinch about this time, including yours truly (JOM – seen mostly hanging / dangling on the back).
Various photos from the Shell Pond Road / 5 Mile Road Loop.
Once the fun times and suffering of the Shell Pond Road / 5 Mile Road Loop were over, everyone regrouped, and rode as a collective back to the Crooked Can Brewing Company. There, everyone enjoyed brews, conversation and the M.C. / raffle drawing skills of Christian Carlqvist, a fixture in the Florida Cyclocross scene.
Overall, the Claymont 100 was a fantastic experience, and one the Gravel Cyclist crew plans to attend again in 2016!
Want a challenge? Think the Horrible Hundred road ride is hard? Try the Full Monty Claymont 100 and see roads you’d ordinarily never see from a bicycle… or a car. And, the ride supports a great cause.
JOM’s Strava stats (he only uploads dirt / gravel stuff).
Stay tuned, the Claymont 100 ride video will be online soon…
Thanks for reading!