Friday, June 25, 2010

Horribly Hilly Hundreds

21:00 Rollout
- I hit the road for my 4th year at the Horribly Hilly Hundreds. I'm meeting up with some of the RVBR guys and an old friend in Madison. The event always delivers. Its roads are a bulk of the proposed 2016 Olympic course, part of the Madison Ironman, and were featured last year in a Rapha Continental ride. No one completes the course wanting for more, except a few Ironmen-to-be who feel compelled to swap shoes and eek out a run afterwords just to erase any chance of leaving lovely Blue Mounds, WI with a smile on their face.

22:00 Deluge - The threat of rain materializes into a traffic halting display of wind, water and voltage. I average 30 mph behind a semi for nearly an hour.

23:30 The Peoples Hotel - This year I try out a new travel/sleeping arrangement to ensure I arrive at the start on time and rested. I arrive in the parking lot of Mount Horeb High School where I intend to get six hours of sleep in my VW. In years past I tried various combinations of rollout times and sleeping accommodations and was never able to get more than three or four hours of shuteye before the ride. I thought I had a surefire plan to beat that measly record.

02:20 Fire Drill - I was in a deep, satisfying sleep in the back of my car - windows cracked, a cool 65 degrees with a light breeze keeping my three season bag comfy. When out of the darkness a huge blaring fire truck parks 100 feet from my car. Sigh. Apparently the fire alarm went off in the high school. An hour later it's quite and I'm asleep.

05:30 Damn it's Bright - The sun is up and so am I. Sigh. I think I got about four hours of disjointed sleep. Not what I wanted before a 68 mile ride in the hilliest corner or Wisconsin.

07:30 An Embarrassing Display - Mike and Chris of RVBR and our friend Randy drop into the valley from atop the 1200' peak of Blue Mounds State Park where the event culminates and our cars are parked. I know I picked on Ironmen earlier, but at least they're tough. A quarter of the way down the road from the peak there were two gravel sections, each about 100' long. Nothing treacherous, nothing step, nothing to worry about for anyone with enough experience to dare the Horribly Hilly - so how come 90% of the participants walked the sections?! Come on roadies, step it up a little. It was tamped down gravel. In half the world it would have been called a paved road. Is this acceptable roadie etiquette? I think not.

08:15 Lost No More - Last year my friend and I made every wrong turn imaginable. This year I was error free and got to ride the first nasty climb of the course. It felt good. I kept a solid tempo up the 700 vertical foot jaunt and wasn't deterred by the 18% gradient. It was going to be a good day.

09:00" Say Cheese Curds" - We stop to take a picture, l to r, Randy, Mike and Chris. After logging thousands of miles in and around Chicago it's always a treat to get out in the county.

12:00 Clear Signals - Unlike last year, as I approaching the final climb I was feeling good. No cramping, no excuses, just the will to clean the last three miles and 900' of elevation in one strong push.

12:?? Finish with Nothing - Back in the 90's one of my friends who had just started racing for the University of Missouri taught me to finish with nothing. Race or not - always finish strong. I've really taken this to heart. Every cross race, every Saturday sprint, whether I have much to give or not, I give it.

The beauty of riding the same route each year means now I can anticipate the most difficult sections. When I new I was entering the last 100 meters, where all the family members hang out to cheer you on over then last 23% pitch, I was able to drop a handful of gears. I flew towards the finish much to the surprise of the labored, red, sweaty faces of my fellow participants. 20 feet after the finish line I was laid out in the shade loving the euphoric emptiness in my body. I didn't leave a thing on top of that hill and it hurt so good.

Really? You Walked it Both Ways? - I'd venture a guess that a third of the participents walk a significant portion of the last hill. That's how it goes for a lot of us Mid Westerners who never climb anything taller than an overpass. But what struck me was all the guys who were riding the hill, had the capacity to clean the whole thing, but dismounted, and even shouldered their bikes to cross the gravel sections. These guys have probably been busy all week lying to their friends and saying they road the whole thing - they didn't. Am I'm making too big a deal out of this?

Nicest Ride Award - Someone showed up on this tricked out ride. I've got more detailed shots of the rack set up if anyone wants to see them. I couldn't tell if the rack was custom made or not, but it was dialed in. The fork and bars went 90 degrees clockwise and the front wheel mounted on the very outside. Trick, trick, trick.

03:30 BK N TIME - On my drive home last year I saw a jacked up Delorean. This year the highway freak show was a trailer with Shrinermobiles form the year 2020.

Word Up - A big thanks to the organizers, volunteers, and residence of Blue Mounds that make the Horribly Hilly Hundreds such a great event year after year. I'd tell everyone to register, but the 1000+ spots fill up in minutes and I don't want to be left out next year.

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