Ride report: 2015 Horse Farm Hundred (w/ photos)
At the end of my 2014 Horse Farm Hundred ride report, I wrote, “There’s no question the HFH will be on my ride calendar next year!” The date was not only on my ride calendar, it was in bold red. Yesterday I made the two hour drive north to Gainesville, Florida, champing at the bit (sorry, couldn’t resist!) for another fast ride through some of the most scenic horse farms in the state.
This year the ride started at a new location, the First Magnitude Brewery. The new start location was not too far from last year’s start, so this change was very minor. The rest of the route was the same as it was last year.
There were roughly eight designated parking areas scattered within a mile or so of the ride start location. I arrived about 45 minutes before the 8:30 roll out time, and easily found a parking place just a couple blocks away from the start.
Before the ride I went to the check-in table to pick up my packet. My name was on the list, but the person at the desk could not locate my packet. I said, “I only want the wrist band, I don’t care about anything else in the packet.” He gave me my wrist band, and I moved outside to the staging area.
I was doing the ride with a couple of KBS teammates, Jose Cabrera and Alfredo Figueroa. While I waited for them I saw my friend William in the crowd, and we chatted for a few minutes.
I knew the group was going to be huge, and I did not want to be caught anywhere near the back of the pack. The throng of cyclists assembling behind the start line was growing quickly, so I moved into position and grabbed this photo (click to enlarge).
We rolled out right on time, and once we cleared the first first few turns the pace lifted substantially. The fast past combined with the rollers starting at about mile 20 quickly thinned out the lead group.
Last year my ride average was 23.3 MPH, and so I knew going in this was going to be a fast ride. The early pace of the ride, even by last year’s standards, was insane. At mile 30.7 my ride average was 25.0 MPH (click to enlarge):
By comparison, at mile 30.7 last year my ride average was 23.4 MPH, so we were really cooking yesterday. With 70 miles yet to come, I began to brace myself for a very tough ride.
Last year we had exceptionally cool weather, which I personally prefer to warmer weather. When it’s cool I am much stronger and, of course, I require significantly less fluids. Because it was fairly warm yesterday, I knew that completing the 100 mile ride with just two bottles of water (I did not want to SAG), was going to be tough. I was very careful to meter my fluid intake.
Miles 20-80 are basically non-stop rolling hills. There’s nothing too killer in there, but you’ve really got to work if you want to stay up front. The scenery during this section is a big part of what makes the Horse Farm Hundred such a great ride: mile after mile of beautiful horse farms and lightly trafficked country roads (I have a bunch of pictures below).
The hills, of course, brought down our average a little, but not by much! Our average between miles 20 and 80 was 23.6 MPH. Last year our average between miles 20 and 80 was 23.1 MPH.
After mile 80 the roads flatten back out for the rest of the ride. At this point the lead group was much smaller, and we were fighting the wind most of the way back.
I’d estimate that at mile 80 there were only about 15-20 riders left in the lead group, including Jose, Al and myself. Jose, apparently half-camel, somehow had plenty of water left. I was down to one sip of water, and 1/4 bottle of Gatorade. Al had been out of water for, I believe, the past 10 miles and had no choice but to SAG at about mile 80. I must admit that with my water supply on “E” I was tempted to SAG as well, but I decided that I had to roll on.
We were all tired and thirsty, but we pushed each other right until the very end. I tried not to show my painface, but I have to admit that I came close to cracking a couple of times during the final 10 miles–mostly because I was so damned thirsty.
I crossed the finish line with Jose and about a dozen other riders with a time of 4:14:16 and a ride average of 23.6 MPH (Strava ripped me off a little there, Jose averaged 23.7 and we started and finished together.) This ride earned a spot in my personal record book as my fastest century ever. I’m glad I stuck it out and did the ride again this year without stopping. You can check out the complete ride with all data on Strava here.
Once again, the ride went off without a hitch (at least from my vantage point). The Gainesville Cycling Club did a great job again this year. Also, for the second year in a row, there were absolutely ZERO problems with motorists. In fact, several people in cars gave us thumbs up as they safely passed!
I can’t say enough good things about the locals we encountered. Their consideration for our safety was most appreciated. Gainesville, you rock.
Here are a bunch of in-ride and a couple post-ride photographs (with captions). Click any image to enlarge.