The Horrible Hundred occurs over two days if you include the Saturday orientation rides. Those are delightful and, like group rides, occur under adult supervision. Not so the Sunday ride.
I stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Clermont, a four-mile ride from the hotel to start. With chilly temperatures (low 50s) I was unsure what to wear. I was also checking out of the hotel so I was a few minutes later leaving than I had planned to meet John Dockins at the start.
This would also be a test of the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, a new bike computer I bought in Jacksonville on Friday. I decided to mount both computers as a test.
I downloaded directions to the start on my Garmin and followed those yesterday. I didn’t load the route today thinking I would retrace yesterday’s route by memory. I was wrong. Normally with a keen sense of direction, the fully gray skies gave me no directional bearing. I had gone three miles and was literally, just feet from the hotel where I started and never noticed that until viewing my route hours later.
I wasn’t getting closer to Waterfront Park. A message appeared on the Bolt. “Where are you?” It was from John Dockins. Messages on my bike computer, pretty cool.
I called him and told him I messed up. I was two miles away and would be there in eight minutes but he was raring to go. I realized I was on course and told him I’d ride back to meet him.
There was one problem with my plan. Although I was two miles from the start, the route would circumvent the lake first before climbing up the hill to our meeting location. I rode back. I waited. And waited. And waited some more.
Eventually, I was convinced John had ridden by and we missed one another. John had suggested meeting at Rest Stop One. At this point, I figured I had missed him so I rode ahead to Rest Stop One.
As I approached the rest stop I thought back to the map I had looked at before the ride. Only then was I pretty sure they went around the lake. I had cut off eight miles. But it’s a ride, not a race, and I was adding four to and from the hotel to get the same mileage.
At the rest stop, I called John. He was five miles behind me. I told him I’d ride back for sure this time. And I did.
The first segment to Rest One was not fun. This is a big event and mob mentality takes over. At two red lights, I was the only cyclist to stop. Even with cross-traffic tens of cyclists went by me, sometimes flew by me, through the intersections. I thought I might be hit by someone flying by.
Another time I was on the shoulder – to the right of the lane line and a cyclist flew up the gutter passing me. This was unsafe and not fun. And another group came by so fast and so close I jumped on the parallel bike path to avoid them. I hadn’t remembered such aggression before but will now consider this my last Horrible Hundred.
John and I stopped at Rest One. The stops were well stocked with food and big lines. Not a complaint, just an observation. And great volunteers.
John and I stayed together mostly. I let him go ahead on Sugarloaf Road but caught him on the climb. I set a PR on Sugarloaf on a day I was determined not to try. And sometimes when we try we go into the red and blow up. Slow and steady set my PR. (And now am in 5200th place.) This was ironic because I was thinking this was my last hill climb of 2019 and to enjoy it, not go out to set a PR.
As we came back into town we were on the last hill. It had probably a 12% grade. A few feet in front of me I thought a rider was doing a track stand (balancing the bike while stopped). I wondered, briefly, why he was showing off this skill. Then he stopped and fell over very hard. And yelled. Very loudly.
He had cramped badly and could not pedal nor could he unclip from his pedals. I stopped along with a woman. We tried to get him help and a SAG ride for the final two miles but he said: “I must finish this.” It’s a man thing. I understand. After five minutes I helped him to his feet then rolled on. The Bolt had a message from John: “Are you OK?” If it can respond I don’t know how to do that so I ignored it. (Note: It can’t.)
It was a chilly day. We had some very light rain in the beginning but mostly it was cold (low 50s) and windy. The phone was in a jersey pocket under my vest. Using it meant stopping and unzipping the vest. Maybe removing a glove too. So I didn’t take pictures on the road or try to call or text John (using Siri).
We went to lunch then said goodbye. I had to find my way back to the hotel. I noticed the mileage was different between the two computers: 73.0 and 72.9. I thought they would be perfectly equal. I have more testing to do.