The Horrible Hundred can be a full weekend of fun. On Saturday they offer “familiarization rides” which are group rides that cover some of the roads. This is followed by the main event on Sunday. So two days of riding.
The 8:30 ride on Saturday is listed as 17 mph and 50 miles. I did that one twice before. The last time was in 2018. On that ride, we seemingly had 100 riders and way too much testosterone. We had a bad touch of wheels and some riders hit the deck hard when one of the guys at the front braked hard to take a nature break. That would be the last time I would jump in with that group.
In 2019, I jumped in with a mid-ride group (16 mph) and had an enjoyable ride over 35 miles or so. And this weekend I would again find the 8:45 group. Our leader was Stacey (I believe). We had a great group that stayed together. Other than Stacey, maybe not the most friendly group but I didn’t ride to make friends. Nor were there any jerks. I told her that this ride was the best part of the weekend.
Officially the Sunday ride starts at 7:30 a.m. and I arrived at 6:30 a.m. I could not find a parking place at the official lots. Not to worry, I went another half-mile away and rode in. And there were many riders already on course at 7:00 a.m.
I was in line at the port-johns when I received a text from John D. He was two people in front of me. He had driven up from Sarasota but was unsure how far he could ride.
It turned out that John could only ride 35 miles, instead of 70. He had hip replacement surgery earlier this year and wasn’t back to riding many miles. We were passed by a couple of huge groups. They were very sketchy and I don’t join them because I am afraid of a touch of wheels that brings down a number of riders.
A few miles later we came upon a crash scene. Half the road was shut down and a number of cyclists had stopped although may not have been involved in a crash. But paramedics were working on one rider who was lying in the road. It was probably caused by a touch of wheels but you never know.
We came to Rest 1 and stopped to refill bottles and take on some food. Once on the road again, John was looking for the turn back to start. That was around Mile 30. He would have five more miles back to start and I would have a decision to make.
I was riding solo and catching people. Then I noticed I had someone on my wheel. He should have said something and even passed me and took a pull. But basically sat on my wheel for 3-4 miles until Rest 2 (almost). When he pulled in he came over and gave me a fist pump and thanked meme for the pull. He said I was a strong rider (sucking up).
Leaving Rest 2, I jumped on the back of a group from Clearwater. We were going into a strong headwind at 22-23 mph. I stayed with them for 2-3 miles then decided to let them go. I’m not sure if you say I got dropped or let them go but I’m going with the latter.
At Mile 54 was the moment of truth. If John had been with me I know we would have gone for the 70-mile route. But I stopped to check the weather because it had become gray. But the weather app showed 15% of rain for the next few hours so I decided to go for the 100.
From my first ride five years ago, and I may be misremembering, I was expecting a 30-mile loop. That would be the difference between 70 miles and 100 miles.
After a rest stop in Howey-in-the-Hills, the loop was completed in just 17 miles. And I didn’t mind.
I came to Sugarloaf Mountain with a wind in my face. I did not expect a PR and I did not disappoint. But I was only two seconds off my best on the lower portion. I had ridden this in March and set my PRs on that day. Today was not the day for it.
After I left the last rest stop at Sugarloaf, I saw that I had about 10 miles to go. I had ridden 80 and was happy to see that the shortened Howey loop apparently cut off 10 miles.
Likewise, when I came to the road back to Clermont, I saw that the 70-mile group turned while the 100-mile continued – apparently for a 10-mile loop or simply a different route. I decided to finish the 100.
I was in a group of four when we came back to the first rest stop. They stopped. I continued. I just wanted to finish.
I came to one more route marker for the 100-mile ride. I decided to turn and take the 70-mile route back. I thought it would be shorter and I did not care if I finished with 96 or 97 miles. There was a time I was anal-retentive that a Century ride must be 100 miles. Not today.
But the joke was on me. It was 100 miles.
The lunch was great although I was certainly by myself. Options were a pulled pork sandwich, grilled chicken breast, or a veggie burger (I think).
I had looked in vain from Stacey, the ride leader from yesterday, simply to thank her once again. But there were way too many people.
It was a good day. Afterward, I headed back to the hotel in Apopka. I washed all my kits from this trip to take home some nice-smelling clothes. And watch the Steelers vs. Chargers tonight.
DISTANCE: 101 miles
WEIGHT: 171 pounds