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The 2013 Horrible Hundred: post-ride report

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Because a large crew of plumbers had taken over my home, for the second week in a row last week I was not able to get much riding in. Despite the lack of saddle time, I had a fantastic ride on the previous weekend’s 100-mile Warrior Ride; by the time this past weekend rolled around I was more than ready for yet another long ride…

My freshly tuned Madone the night before the Horrible Hundred.

My freshly tuned Madone the night before the Horrible Hundred.

Sunday, November 17, 2013 was the 34th annual Horrible Hundred ride, and I was very excited to finally experience this infamous event firsthand!

The Horrible Hundred is known as one of the toughest century rides in the state. Most people think of Florida as very flat, but there are some extremely hilly areas, especially in Lake County. With about 5,200 feet of climbing, The Horrible Hundred route hits pretty much all those hilly areas, but it goes a step further by putting almost half of that climbing in the final 30 miles.

Here’s the route (click to enlarge):

The 2013 Horrible Hundred Route

The 2013 Horrible Hundred Route


Here’s the elevation profile (click to enlarge):

The 2013 Horrible Hundred Elevation Profile

The 2013 Horrible Hundred Elevation Profile


As you can see, the ride starts off with a fair bit of climbing in the first 40 miles, then there’s about 30 miles of comparatively flat terrain and the final 30 miles is more less one climb after another.

The scene before the start of the ride was absolutely incredible! There was no mass start this year (riders were free to start the ride anytime between 7:30 AM and 9:00 AM), but the crowd just before 7:30 AM was a sight to behold (click to enlarge):

I took this large panorama photograph just before the start. This photo didn't even capture everyone: there were more than 2,000 cyclists participating in this year's Horrible Hundred!

I took this large panorama photograph just before the start. This photo didn’t even capture everyone: there were more than 2,000 cyclists participating in this year’s Horrible Hundred!


Somehow I found my friend William Cruz in the crowd, and we rolled out together along with a couple other riders from our club (“We Must Be Crazy”) and some of the Winter Springs Cycling gang. My friends Mike Simmons and Jim Beyer were there, but they decided to do the 100 miles on their mountain bikes! I think they started early, shortly after 7:00 AM.

There were so many riders at the start that it was difficult to ride at my preferred pace. At around the 30 minute mark I checked my Garmin and my average speed was just below 17 miles per hour, and I was getting a little impatient.

Riders of all skill levels were in attendance (there’s also a 35 mile route and a 70 mile route), and so the congestion at the beginning was not unexpected. On one of the early climbs–I think it was Northridge–one poor woman was struggling to make the climb and she simply fell over, still clipped to her bike. Thankfully she was okay, but she was very emotional.

Things finally started to spread out as we tackled some of the early climbs, and I was able to open the throttle a bit. Unfortunately I lost William and the others around this time.

A short while later I came up on Mike and Jim. It was great seeing those guys doing this tough 100-mile course on their mountain bikes! We greeted one another as I passed, but due to the pace difference (I was on my road bike) we didn’t stay together.

I didn’t want to stop at the first SAG, but I had to urinate badly. The bathroom line at the start of the ride was ridiculously long, and so I decided to hold it. It was a good decision, as the SAG had plenty of bathrooms: I was relieved and back on the road in about 3 minutes. I was captured by someone shooting video at the first SAG:

At the first SAG, bladder finally relieved (I'm center, about to pick up my bike)

At the first SAG, bladder finally relieved (I’m center, about to pick up my bike)

About to depart the first SAG stop (I'm in the Pearl iZumi jersey at center)

About to depart the first SAG stop (I’m in the Pearl iZumi jersey at center)


When I left the first SAG I was riding solo. There were always riders in front and behind me, but it was tough to find a group riding at my pace. So I settled into a comfortable solo pace for me, right around 20 MPH. I was feeling really solid, but continued actively attempting to find a group I could join to share the workload. Even though I was feeling good, I knew the final 30 miles were going to be extremely tough, and I wanted to conserve as much energy as possible. Unfortunately I wound up doing 80% of the ride solo, and I paid for that later on!

Refilling my bidons and grabbing a PB&J at the 65 mile SAG stop.

Refilling my bidons and grabbing a PB&J at the 65 mile SAG stop.

When I got to the SAG stop around the 65 mile mark I was still feeling extremely good. Still, I knew the toughest part of the ride was ahead, and so I took 15 minutes to rest, eat some food and fill my water bottles.

The last 30 miles were brutal. My average speed for the first 70 miles was 19.3 MPH, but when I finished the century ride my average had dropped to 17.9 MPH.

The American Way climb followed by the Buckhill triple climb definitely took their toll on my tired legs. Shortly after those climbs–about mile 78–was Sugarloaf Mountain (the steepest and highest climb in the ride). I’ve climbed Sugarloaf dozens of times (including more than a dozen back-to-back repeats), but after almost 80 miles I knew she was going to be especially tough. As I climbed I saw many cyclists pushing their bikes up the hill, and even several collapsed on the side of the road.

Sugarloaf hurt, but it wasn’t that bad. I elected to pass the water station at the top of Sugarloaf, as I had plenty of water and did not want my legs to cool.

After Sugarloaf the climbs kept coming for pretty much the rest of the ride. I have to admit, the last 15 miles were extremely painful. Along those final 15 miles I saw lots of riders walking their bikes and some collapsed on the side of the road–more than a few were crying out in agony and frustration from leg cramps.

When I finished the Horrible Hundred course my Garmin indicated 99.0 miles. I decided to do loops in the grass parking lot until I hit 100 miles. I really did not want to do that, but I felt compelled to see that “100” on my Garmin.

Thankfully I did not experience any muscle cramps on the ride, but when I got to my truck and dismounted both of my hamstrings instantly locked up! I’m glad that didn’t happen on the ride. I took another SaltStick cap and drank 20 ounces of water. Five minutes later my legs were fine. Those SaltStick caps are amazing (I shared a few with several cramping cyclists along the way, too).

Next year I’m going to do a better job of pre-planning. If I’d been in a paceline the whole way, I would have had a lot more left in me for the final 30 miles.

My total ride time was 05:35:42, and my average heart rate was 165 BPM during that time. That earned me my highest Strava Suffer Score yet, 357 (“Epic”). That was my 3rd “Epic” Suffer Score, and the highest of any of them. It truly was a tough day in the saddle, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Here’s the entire ride on Strava.

John Stone Fitness Comments

4 Responses to “The 2013 Horrible Hundred: post-ride report”
    • Sorry, excellent question and I should have explained it.

      This definition is spot on:

      A formation in which riders (especially cycle racers) travel in a line one close behind the other in order to conserve energy by riding in the draft of the riders in front thus enabling the group to travel at a faster rate than any of the riders in the group could do alone.

      When riding in a paceline the cyclists take turns “pulling” (riding in the lead position). It’s a very efficient way to ride, and it’s also a pretty amazing experience… you feel as if you’re part of a well-oiled machine. This is part of what makes group rides so fun and enjoyable.

      GD Star Rating
      • Ok, I gotcha. So the theory is that the rider pulling can set a pace that’s fast and difficult for a solo rider to maintain over a long period of time, and then that pulling rider switches out often with other members of the paceline so that the group as a whole can indeed maintain a fast pace over a long period of time.

        Do I have that about right?

        GD Star Rating
        • Yep, that’s pretty much the idea. Air resistance (above a certain speed, roughly ~18 MPH) is by far the single biggest slowing force cyclists deal with. Riding in a paceline cuts that force down considerably–up to around 40%.

          Riding closely behind others, especially at high speeds, can be very dangerous. Learning the rules/best practices of paceline riding is critical, and so is experience (especially as the speeds increase and the distances between riders decrease).

          Here’s some further reading if you’re interested: http://bccclub.org/documents/PaceLineBasics.html

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