Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Hilly Hundred 2007, Part II

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

This post covers Sunday’s ride in the 2007 Hilly Hundred. I wrote about Saturday’s ride in this post.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling pretty tired. It was hard forcing myself to wake up — I really wanted to sleep in. Nonetheless, I managed to get moving and got to the start point a little earlier than I had on Saturday. I was still a bit groggy when I arrived at the start point. Two short, steep climbs and a couple of good descents within the first few miles helped wake me up, along with some more beautiful scenery. We passed a cool limestone bridge off to the side and rode on some curvy roads for a while. Large, flat open fields surrounded by hills gave us a great view of the hills around us.

Riding through open fields. You can see more cyclists in the distance traveling from left to right

The ride to the first SAG stop was fairly easy, with only two short steep hills. The SAG stops were spaced better on Sunday, with the first at the 10 mile mark, lunch at 28 miles and the third stop at around the 39 mile mark.

Even though the first leg of the trip wasn’t very hard, I was ready for the first SAG stop. I was still tired and needed to refuel. Some police officers were directing traffic and stopped cars to let us cross State Road 37. I was thankful that we had people directing traffic because while you can always find a gap to cross 37, with 5,000 riders it’d become a bottleneck.

I was hoping for more donuts at the first SAG stop, but I had no such luck. I ate some muffins and a banana instead. I met a guy at this stop wearing a Bianchi jersey who was also taking some photos and we discussed our techniques for shooting while riding. We lamented the fact that the sections that would make for the best photos are also the ones where we don’t feel like stopping.

A rider leaves from the first SAG stop
Not long after the first stop, the route became familiar for a while, heading down Old 37 briefly and then turning onto Anderson Road. I have ridden this road many times before, but it looked different today with the leaves changing and the large number of other bicycles on the road.

A barn on Anderson Road

Another great barn

We turned onto Beanblossom Road, which has a big climb and takes you into Morgan-Monroe State Forest. I had ridden this road before, but only downhill, so I knew it was a long hill, but I had never climbed it before. There was a sign saying the hill is 2.0 miles with a maximum grade of 17.2%. It actually lets up a couple of times and lets you go downhill slightly on the way up, but it’s almost 2 solid miles of climbing and it starts with a very steep section. There was a lot of congestion during this climb and you could hear people huffing and puffing. Everyone I saw was really struggling with this climb. I saw a guy riding a fantastic Rivendell Romulus on the way up and would have struck up a conversation about his bike but we were both too focused on climbing.

Approaching the Beanblossom Road climb

Still approaching the climb. I didn’t get any shots during the climb.

A lot of people, including myself, stopped at the top of this hill to catch our breath. It was possibly the hardest climb of the whole weekend for me. Fortunately, I’m good at hills like this which are for the most part not too steep and you just have to keep spinning until you reach the top. Still, it was pretty difficult. I need to climb this hill more often as a training exercise.

Next we spent a few miles riding through Morgan-Monroe State Forest. It’s an easy ride, flat and gently curving for a few miles. A car got stuck behind the big long line of bikes and didn’t know how to pass us. I waved it past me when it was safe, but then it stayed behind a group of cyclists up ahead for a few minutes, one of them riding a fully loaded touring bike attempting several times to wave the car past. During this time things got a little congested as it wasn’t safe to pass the car and it was holding everyone up. It was funny that the only time I really got held back was when there was a car up ahead. Eventually the guy on the touring bike convinced the car to pass him and it ended up far ahead, no longer holding us back.

I sped up and struck up a conversation with the guy on the loaded touring bike. He had a GPS on his handlebars and was traveling with a friend of his. I complimented him on getting that car to pass and we talked a bit about the ride. I sped up a few minutes later to go at a bit of a faster pace.

The route departed from the roads that are familiar to me and turned north on Old 37. I had never ridden on this part of Old 37 before, but it was fantastic. All that climbing really paid off and we were treated to an incredible descent, gradual at first and then getting steeper and faster, out of the State Forest and toward State Road 37.

Another police officer was directing traffic when we reached 37. We had to wait for a few minutes and then he stopped traffic to let us pass.

Waiting to cross State Road 37

Once we crossed the highway we had some climbing to do. It wasn’t a huge climb but the miles were starting to add up and people were tired. I sluggishly climbed up the hill, passing many who opted instead to walk it. It wasn’t a huge climb though and once we reached the top we had fantastic views of the surrounding valleys and big hills in the distance.

View from Turkey Track Road

It was flat for a few minutes and then we had a great descent into a valley. It was steep at first and I picked up a lot of speed and went flying into a twisty part of the road, getting into a good rhythm of leaning into the turns and throwing my weight into them. It was an exhilarating section with all these turns. A few miles later we reached lunch, and I sure was ready for it.

I ate way too much, eating more fried chicken this time but also lots of fruit and vegetables and a few cookies. I knew I was eating too much, probably, and that I’d be sluggish after lunch, but I didn’t care. I was hungry and needed to refuel. I was really amused at the hats worn by the people serving the food and beverages. There was no apple cider at this stop, and I was a little disappointed about that.

Tons of bananas and apples

More live music

Great hats!

I’m pretty sure that the people serving the food, in the chicken hats, were high school students. Whoever came up with theĀ  idea to put a bunch of awkward teenagers in embarrassing chicken hats, my hat is off to them. They were nice but obviously not amused by their hats. I was plenty amused.

After eating way too much, I hit the road again and almost immediately came to a big climb. I could really feel that fried chicken slowing me down now. But I made it to the top and that half-mile climb more than paid for itself, with the next 8 miles or so being mostly downhill.

A rider from Indianapolis struck up a conversation with me as he noticed that our bicycles are almost identical. Mine is a little newer and actually one model up from his, but they are very similar. He said when he first got his the first thing he did was ride into the back of a parked car. Fortunately, the bike shop was able to replace his frame almost for free even though things like running into parked cars aren’t covered under the warranty. He also said he’s a mountain biker and I told him about the Brown County Breakdown and that he should do it the next year. He seemed like a pretty cool guy, but he ended up passing a bunch of people while I stayed back and I didn’t catch up with him later on.

A rough road

More power lines

There were small ups and downs that were a lot of fun for a few miles, and then the steepest climb of the entire weekend: Mount Tabor Hill. This is a notorious hill and while it’s only 0.2 miles long, it reaches a 20% grade and then turns and gets steeper, reaching a 23% grade during the turn. I was a bit worried about this hill as it had been described to me as being not quite as steep as Boltinghouse, but longer. I found that not to be true, I think this was both less steep and shorter than Boltinghouse and it was difficult but much more doable than Boltinghouse. Once again other riders became obstacles and everyone had a hard time with this climb. One guy said “to hell with it!” and put a foot down right before the turn. The poor guy didn’t know (and neither did I until a few seconds later) that once you make the turn and go up that very short 23% grade, you’re at the top of the hill.

Finally we enjoyed a blistering descent toward Stinesville. This was particularly fun since the road curves back and forth very sharply during part of it and it’s a good test of your bike-handling skills and your traction. I had a lot of fun with it. The final SAG stop was in Stinesville at the Victor Oolitic Park.

There was another band, and I enjoyed this one the most, I think. One song they played reminded me a bit of T Bone Burnett, whose music I really enjoy. Looking at the information now I think the band was called Blackberry Jam.

The band at the final SAG stop

Everyone was looking pretty tired at this point, almost 90 miles into the two-day ride and just having climbed a really steep hill. I had another banana and some apple cider and tied my jacket to the rack on my bike since it was getting warm. I didn’t stop for too long, though, as I knew if I did it’d be hard to get rolling again.

Almost immediately after the SAG stop, there was a long hill to climb and I was really feeling sluggish. I spun up it very slowly and then the course turned, taking us straight into a tough headwind for the last 10 miles of the ride. Some riders ahead of me formed a tight paceline and I joined it to help beat the headwind. But the guy in front of me was riding erratically and ultimately I had to drop off the back because of the way he was riding. A few minutes later, I caught up with the paceline, but that took a lot of effort because of that wind and the fact that they were keeping a pretty good pace.

I was relieved when I did catch the paceline because things got a bit easier for a few miles. Things were fairly flat for a bit and while that made the headwind more of a problem, my legs didn’t need a bunch of huge climbs at this point. Finally, around 48 miles into the ride, we hit another big climb, and it was the Watertower Climb from the day before. Frankly I could have done without making this climb twice but of course we had to get back to the start point. It was harder today than it was before, but after that there were only a few much easier hills left.

We were almost done at this point

I rolled back to the high school around 1:30 pm. I was tired but felt surprisingly good given all the riding I had done — 100 miles in two days, with over 6,000 feet of climbing. It was a fantastic experience and while I normally ride alone, it was great to ride with thousands of other cyclists. The Hilly Hundred was great and I can’t wait to do it again.

6 Responses to “Hilly Hundred 2007, Part II”

  1. Pete Says:

    Sounds like a great ride, glad to hear you had fun!

  2. furiousball Says:

    how the hell do you remember all of this? or do you have a laptop on your handlebars – either way, i’m impressed

  3. John Says:

    It doesn’t take long for the legs to losten up in the morning. Was that jello shots they were passing out at the sag stop?

    During my tour last week I found that after a very difficult day of riding, ApfelStrudel did the trick.

  4. Apertome Says:

    Thanks Van, a lot of it is based on impressions of certain sections and sometimes I’ll look at a map and my photos to help piece things together later. This page also came in handy on this post.

    That said, some of it’s subjective and I may be off on some of the specifics. I try to convey the experience more than each individual hill.

  5. Dan Says:

    I can ride all day, but hills kill me! I’ll have to get training before I tackle the HH.

    Sounds like you had a great time. I love big groups of cyclists; there’s always something to talk about.

  6. Apertome Says:

    I definitely felt lucky that I get to ride (“train”) on these hills on a daily basis. It put me at a big advantage, but also, it’s just a great area to ride. Sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective to remind you of that.

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