Horribly Hilly Hundreds

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The Horribly Hilly Hundreds is a popular epic riding event best known as the toughest one-day challenge ride in the Midwest or the best “sufferfest of the year.”

This ride takes place in Blue Mound State Park and is an important fundraiser for the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. The brave participants can choose between the 100k, 150k, and 200k routes.

This was the 17th year of this ride and my fourth time here; I can assure you it never gets easier. This year my girlfriends and I decided to coordinate matching cycling kits, so we picked our Do Epic Shit kit (seemed appropriate) and we got a lot of compliments over the many suffering miles we endured on Saturday.

I have been looking forward to this ride for months and was excited to take on the challenge. The weather became a constant worry for many people the week prior, as a chance for thunderstorms is not what you want on the radar for this already challenging event. Fortunately for us, it turned out to be a beautiful spring day, overcast with cool temperatures. In hindsight, it was a perfect day for riding.

This year I did the 100k with about 5,700 feet of elevation gain over the 66.5 miles. There are four major climbs: Mount Park Road, Blue Mounds Trail, Barlow (my worst nightmare) and Zwettler Road. This ride not only requires physical strength but mental toughness; the endless climbing can take you to some very dark places as the day goes by and you prepare for the next climb.

My biggest accomplishment of the day was not getting off my bike even though my quads were screaming in pain on the last few miles. My average speed for the day was 13.9 mph (that was so painful).

The event had two rest stops with food, water, coke, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, fruit, pickles, and so much more. The ride is fully supported with sag wagons, medical support, and repair trucks. The people of Blue Mound are amazing supporters of this ride which brought about 1,500 riders. I must admit, there were points on those climbs where I could not pedal anymore but I kept telling myself “you have done this before” and “keep moving,” because if you stop, you will inevitably go down.

The ride is very well organized and supported, and the roads this year had significantly more gravel than in years past. Unfortunately, we saw a fair amount of riders getting into crashes specially coming down too fast at some of the descents. This is by far one of the most technical courses I have done and you have to be strategic about how to approach each climb and each descent. Overall, it was a fantastically rewarding day for bike riding, socializing with other brave athletes, and celebrating accomplishing such a magnificent endeavor.

Since this is a lottery event, I have plenty of time to recover and forget about how hard this truly was. Plus my quads should return to normal soon. Next year is 200k for me!

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