Parking will be an issue here, even when you arrive early. I did a test run/ride yesterday so I thought I was prepared. I arrived before 7:00 a.m. for the Horrible Hundred bike ride. Even as I drove in people were parking a mile or two away and biking in. I thought from scouting this yesterday that I could find even parking near the start. And I was right.
It was cold. It was just 48 degrees at start but I refused to wear my 3/4 bib tights. And why would I unless I would wear knee warmers all day? I did wear knee warmers of the removable kind. And arm warmers. And long finger gloves. And a vest.
I met my friend, John Dockins, at start and we were off and rolling. We rode at our own pace for a mile or two and then were passed by a group of guys from Team New Tampa Velo Club. We jumped in a rode for nearly 20 miles, well, ultimately to the first aid station. But group riding was sketchy. I got boxed in by them on one climb and there was severe yo-yo-ing in their paceline. One rider came dangerously close to touching wheels and crashing. I’m not saying the guys from NTVC were sketchy because they experienced it too. Once we reached the aid station we let them go.
Horrible Hundred? Hills in Florida? Yes. In this area there are hills. No mountains, at least by my definition, but most of the day was spent on rollers. Not much flat, just lots of ascending and descending.
The ride was well supported. Very well although I cannot account for the SAG support. Thankfully. The intersections were all manned by police and I never had to stop for traffic. There were aid stations at Miles 20, 40, 60, and 80. The course was well marked but to view it on a map it is probably the weirdest course of cross overs and pipe stems.
Riding with John, I was more interested in talking and enjoying the ride. I didn’t want to burn too many matches in the interest of shaving off some time time. It wasn’t my goal not to breathe heavy but almost. I didn’t attack any hills but chuckled when I heard riders worry about “Sugarloaf” or “The Wall.” My Garmin recorded over 7.000′ of climb, and while I don’t think there was that much, it was probably 6,000′ of climb over 100 miles.
Before Sugarloaf, I stopped at the bottom and removed all my cold weather gear. The temperature reached the mid-60s and it was comfortable especially since we were doing some moderate climbing.
As far as riding, this was the sketchiest I have been in a group ride. I noticed it within the first 20 miles when we decided not to ride in a pace line any farther. But it continued. On one right hand turn I was side by side with a rider. I was on the outside (left side) and he was on the inside. He went wide and just missed pushing me off the road.
It was strange. It was the most uncomfortable I was all year in a massive group ride or any ride. Many riders were just hard to read. Couldn’t quite figure it out.
Two other times while descending at more than 40 mph I went to pass slower riders who inexplicably moved into my passing lane forcing me to go over the yellow line. This while yelling “passing left!”
I had to constantly be vigilant of all riders around me. This was in contrast to our group yesterday where 40 people stayed together in a tight pack with no issues. Yesterday’s ride was sweet!
At the finish was a full meal: BBQ, Chicken, or Vegetarian. And for desert: ice cream.
For a $45 fee we had a fully supported ride, T-shirt, fully stocked aid stations, and a full meal. You really can’t beat that. And at the end of the day I had a good ride with a good friend. It was windy and hilly but it wasn’t horrible.