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Ride Report: Hilly Hundred

Posted by Nikki on 11/8/2012 to Events
The Apple Cider Century went so well, so Kristin and I decided to do another hundred mile ride. Since Kristin is from Indiana she suggested the Hilly Hundred. Needless to say we signed up, not really knowing what to expect. Yes, "Hilly" is in the name of the ride; I envisioned beautiful rolling hills, maybe one or two steep climbs, but mostly rolling hills.…boy was I wrong.

Who knew Indiana had Mountains? Day one consisted of 5,202 feet of climbing in 57 miles, and because climbing 5,000 feet of hills isn't enough, let's throw in cold temps and rain. Climbing hills is hard enough, but when you have at least 20 people around at all times, climbing hills becomes menacing. Weaving in and out of climbing cyclists is an art form. First you have to make sure there isn't someone behind you, then you make your move and shout "On your LEFT", you then hope the person you are passing hears you and holds their line. 60% of the time they stay in place, but the other 40% of the time the person your passing starts to come at you, which means shouting "ON YOUR LEFT" all while climbing a mini mountain and gasping for air.
Hilly Hundred><br>

I couldn't wait for the downhill, you don't have to pedal, you can catch your breath, and it's fun. WRONG, the downhills were beyond tedious. Did you know that your brakes don't work too well when wet? Yup, learned that while going 20+ miles per hour only to have the cyclists ahead of us come to a dead stop. At one point Kristin started sliding sideways trying to stop, while I prayed that my bike would stop in time. The guy behind us was not so lucky; he lost control and wiped out (don't worry he was fine). When doing a ride like this you hope everyone else is as attentive, and overly cautious as you are. Four hours after starting Kristin and I crossed the finish line and made a beeline for the high school. We were freezing, wet, exhausted, in shock, and in dire need of stretching. After lying on the ground speechless, I looked over at Kristin and one of us started laughing
Sunday started off much better then Saturday, no rain, only sunshine and the beautiful fall colors. Plus there was only 3,535 feet of climbing over the course of 43 miles. We decided to start at 8am hoping the roads would not be as crowded. I couldn't feel my fingers or toes for the first 10 miles, but after settling in I started warming up and really enjoying the ride. The Central Indiana Bicycling Association took us on the most beautiful roads. The fall foliage was in full swing, there were hot air balloons, and it smelled like fall! Sunday's ride had some gnarly climbs, and two stand out. First is Beanblossom hill, 2 miles long with a 25% max incline, second Mt. Tabor .2 miles long with a 24% incline. Mt. Tabor was like climbing a wall, people would just fall over from lack of speed. I felt like I was having a heart attack while climbing both hills. After reaching the top you forget about the pain and relish in the joy of making it to the top, only to begin another painful climb.

Most of the time Kristin and I were rendered speechless. The Hilly Hundred did not disappoint, it was hard. Am I glad to have done it, yes. I learned that I am tougher than I thought. Even when I had no power left, I sat back in my saddle and pedaled to the top of whatever hill I was climbing.

So what did we take away from this ride:
  • An appreciation for the lack of hills around Kalamazoo
  • You can never be too cautious
  • Hilly Hundred, really means HILLY!
  • That over packing is a good thing! You never know what the weather is going to do.

A wise man once said that as your suffering up a climb look around, take in the beauty, "it's such a joy to be riding your bicycle". Maybe that's true when riding up R or S avenue.

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