Sunday, November 17, 2013

The 2013 Horrible Hundred

The Horrible Hundred is a day long romp through the best hills of Florida's Lake Wales Ridge. This is our fifth Horrible Hundred. It is pure unadulterated fun.

We woke early, dressed, and headed downstairs for the hotel breakfast. The breakfast area was filled with people in lycra. I was in a great mood because yesterday two lucky things happened. First, they actually had an extra small t-shirt for me at the Horrible Hundred early registration. (This flat out never happens.) Second, the hotel bumped us up to a wildly spacious suite. This much luck on one bike trip is simply unheard of. We rolled the bikes out to the car and headed to Waterfront Park. Like always, parking was a zoo. We were about 2/3 of a mile from the ride's start. We parked next to two young guys from Baltimore who kept saying (to themselves and us), "This sure doesn't look like Florida. It's all hilly." Poor things. Raised by wolves, I suspect, as they'd obviously never been brought down to Disney.

We were off to do the 70-mile route. The Horrible 70. For the first time there was no mass start. This was wonderful since mass starts are suicidal. The century people were told to head out first. We went out with the last of the century people. (OK, so we're not real good at following rules.) That let us get to the first big climb of the day a bit before the big horde of 70-mile folks. We climbed the hill, stopped to take a picture, and watched the 70-mile crowd begin cresting the climb. The first climb always calms them down enough to make them enjoyable to ride with.

All the climbs live up to their press. You start off with a 13 percent climb. After that there are some steep climbs and a lot of long not too steep climbs. Great sag stops. Nice riders to exchange a few words with. Finally there is Sugarloaf, a long steep climb that kicks the butts of a lot of riders. But, wait, there is more. The route of the Horrible Hundred is designed like a good horror film. Just when you think you are safe, you turn a corner just a couple miles from the end...and you face a short, ugly 16 percent climb, then a series of climbs and descents that refocus your reality, that is, your fantasies of riding like Quintana or Froome melt and turn into copious amounts of sweat.

But then, it's the end of the ride. Time for some food, a shower, and a nap.

But most of the riders, like us, are already starting to plan for 2014. It's the same every year for every rider: Yeah, this year was OK. Next year will be better...