June 2013 Archives

Way back in February or so, a coworker of mine suggested that we register to ride "an early summer charity ride." I foolishly committed to the ride without asking for more details about the event. When I learned he was talking about the Horribly Hilly Hundreds, my knees grew weak.

The Horribly Hilly Hundreds is not to be taken lightly. There are three distances offered - 100K (67 miles), 150K (~100 miles), and 200K (~122 miles). The ride takes place in and around the Blue Mounds area, which for those not familiar, offers incredibly challenging terrain - primarily in the form of long, steep hills. The 100K ride nets 7,500-feet of elevation gain; some of the hills are wickedly steep and quite unforgiving.

The ride limits entry to 1,300 people and is so popular, that they hold a lottery for entry. We all registered, paid the entrance fee and waited to see if we made it. Well, we did. Joy. That meant it was time to train...

My coworker mapped out some training rides so that we could practice on the tougher parts of the course. I started riding those routes a few weeks ago, and that's when I really started to regret my decision to enter this ride. His routes had us start at the highest point of the ride, in a place called Brigham park. To give you an idea of how hilly the course is, we'd leave Brigham and ride downhill (at an average speed of 40-mph) for 5 miles. Yep - 5 miles of constant descending at a high rate of speed. That first 5 miles took less than 10 minutes to cover. We'd then spend the next three hours climbing our way up and around the roads back to Brigham park. And that training course represented just one segment of the Horribly Hilly Ride. Told you it was fun.

Smash-cut to Saturday, June 15, 4:30am.

The alarm clock goes off, and I slap myself (again) for registering for this ride. I throw in an extra slap when I realize it's raining cats-and-dogs outside. Oh, and the temperature showed a balmy 54F. Wonderful.

I drove the hour or so from Madison to Blue Mounds State Park; I drank a coffee and had an energy bar along the way. When I arrived to the park at around 5:45am, things were hustling and bustling - the lots were filling up quite quickly.

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Thankfully, it wasn't raining heavily in Blue Mounds, but it was misting, and it was a bit chilly. I made the decision to wear my Gore raincoat; it's lightweight and compact enough that if I decided to shed it, I could easily roll it up and fit it into my bike bib's pocket. After airing-up my tires, donning my gear, and double-checking the mechanicals on my bike, I met-up with my coworkers and the rest of our little group. A fellow rider was kind enough to snap a picture of us, pre-ride, smiles-and-all. I had a feeling we might not be smiling so much after a few hours.

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From left to right, that's: Jon (coworker), Scott (coworker), Me, Christina (Jon's friend and semi-pro triathlete), and Daniel (old coworker).

We hit the road at approximately 6:15am. 25 miles and 2 hours later, we were at our first rest stop. The race organizers did an excellent job with the rest stops - there was plenty of food, drink, and mechanical support. I grabbed a pickle and a corn-tortilla with some peanut butter, topped-off my water bottle, and hit the road again. I believe we were at the stop for around 10 minutes.

The second segment consisted of approximately 20 miles and took about 1.25 hours. It was relatively flat, save for one fairly impressive hill near the end of the segment. Despite the relatively easy terrain, we did suffer one minor casualty - Christina's bike got a flat tire in the middle of the big hill... Apparently there's a back story from previous training rides where Jon made Christina fix one of his flat tires, so he repaid the debt by fixing her tire. Here they are working on the flat:

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And here's Scott helping by holding Christina's pink bike.

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After fixing the flat, we hit the road for the remainder of the segment. Thanks to the flat tire, we spent about 20 minutes on the side of the road. So, while we had ridden 3.25 hours, we were nearing the 4-hour mark for our total road/out time. We pulled-in to the rest stop, and again, the food/water/support were all great. The volunteers were friendly, the food was tasty, and the support was welcomed.

This particular stop offered Honey Stinger energy bars, GU energy gels, trail mix, beef jerky, pickles, hard boiled eggs, various sandwiches, chips, pretzels, granola bars, and plenty of water and electrolyte drinks.

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Erik's bike shop had a nice little mobile shop set-up at the stop. We used their services to top-off the air pressure in Christina's bike tires. I believe the shops all volunteer their time and services for the event - many, many thanks go out to all of the shops, volunteers, coordinators, vendors, etc.

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With our bikes set and our bodies refueled, we hit the road for the final (and toughest) segment. 24-ish miles of super hilly road, culminating in a climb up into Blue Mounds State Park. I had been riding faster than the group, but for some reason, on the last segment I really managed to "drop" them.

At one point, I turned around to see how far back they were; I rode back toward the group for about 10 minutes or so before deciding to turn back around and finish the ride ahead of them. Apparently Daniel had dropped some items and had to stop for a bit, so that slowed them down.

70-ish miles on a bike is never all that easy. 70-ish miles with unforgiving and neverending hills is not fun. The final 5 miles or so are all uphill, and man, my legs made sure I knew how unhappy they were. I'm happy to report that I didn't walk any hills, but wow - it was tempting to do so. I saw tons of people walking, crying, vomiting and tipping-over on the final stretches... it truly is Horribly Hilly.

I arrived into the park just around noon. My Garmin GPS watch showed that I had ridden 70.43 miles in 4 hours and 31 minutes, for an average speed of 15.33 mph. It recorded 6,033 feet of elevation gain. My PowerTap meter showed that I averaged 265-watts of output, with a peak of 898 watts. My top speed was 44.8 mph. My peak heart rate was 191 bpm; average was 154 bpm. I burned 4,314 calories.

I packed-up the bike, changed my clothes, and made an improvised clothesline so that my bibs could dry out. I'm pretty sure no one would've wanted to steal them...

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Jon and the rest of the gang made their way into the park, packed-up and posed for a group photo with me. Shockingly, we're all smiling.

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We hung out at the park for a bit. They had a DJ, a bunch of vendors, a complimentary beer tent and free food. My post race feast consisted of a grilled chicken breast, some Viking goulash (a mix of pastas, bulgur, beans, and veggies), a pickle, and two cookies. I may or may not have also enjoyed a Capital Brewery beer or two. ;-) I also apparently agreed to do the 150K version of the ride next year, so yeah - I must have had a Capital IPA or two.

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After hanging out at the park for an hour or so, I ventured back to my car and headed home for the day. Liz had a roller derby bout that night, so I showered, took a very quick nap (about 15 minutes' worth), and then went to the bout. She was part of the demo group (they demonstrate the rules/strategies prior to each bout) - it was good to see her out on her skates. Her ankle has been healing really well.

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The bout was a ton of fun, as usual, and I got to also hang out with a bunch of my friends - Paul and Sallie were there, as was Tony, as well as Kelly and Ryan. It was great to see all of you - thanks for coming out and having a great time.

On Sunday, we rode bikes to the Memorial Union, enjoyed the weather, and then had dinner at Forequarter. If you've never been to Forequarter, it's amazing. Truly unreal food; the menu changes every few weeks or so - it never gets boring.

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Enjoy the nice weather and the rest of your week!

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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