Ride report: 2015 JHOP 100 Century (with pictures)
The 4th annual JHOP 100 Century ride and race was held this past Saturday, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be: Fast, fun, fast, safe, fast, scenic and FAST.
This was the first time I’ve participated in the JHOP 100, and it was easily the most anticipated century I’ve done during this year’s busy “century season”. Why? How about a full police escort, rolling SAG support and a reputation for an extremely fast front group.
I registered for this ride with one goal: completing my first 4 hour // 25 MPH average century. My fastest century before the JHOP 100 was done at this year’s Horse Farm Hundred: 4:14:16 total time // 23.6 MPH average speed (no stops/SAGs).
Unfortunately I woke up on Saturday morning feeling under the weather. My lungs and throat were itchy, I was aching all over and feeling a little weak. Wonderful. There was no way I was going to bail on the ride, though, and so I dutifully loaded up the truck, picked up my friend Hector and set off for St. Cloud, Florida.
We assembled at the starting line shortly before 8:00 AM, where Ken Junkins (Junkins House Of Pain–JHOP) gave us pre-ride instructions and information. Safety was stressed, and I especially appreciated that Ken said anyone who crossed the double yellow line (apart from being briefly forced over by another rider) would be disqualified. Ken also said that anyone caught littering would be disqualified, which I thought was awesome.
Here we are just before rolling out (click to enlarge):
There was a neutral start with controlled speed for the first mile or so. After that the pace lifted considerably, and it never let up (click to enlarge):
I was not feeling great early on, and my lungs were really burning, but as the ride progressed and the endorphins kicked in I started to feel pretty darn good!
The course was, more or less, an “out and back” affair. We enjoyed a tailwind (mostly) for the first half of the ride, and endured fairly brutal headwinds and crosswinds the entire way back.
At the 50 mile/halfway point, just before we turned around, our average speed in the front group was a very speedy 26.8 MPH (click to enlarge):
The extremely fast pace caused the front group to grow smaller and smaller as we approached the halfway point. Added to that, the cyclists doing the 70 mile ride turned off at about mile 38, further shrinking the group.
As we turned around at the halfway point and started riding straight into a stiff headwind, there was almost an audible collective sigh. Time to work.
Even though our average speed to this point was nearly 27 MPH, I was concerned that the wind, which was growing stronger with each passing minute, could derail my 4 hour century goal. I got up front and did quite a bit of work on the return trip, doing everything in my power to keep the pace as high as possible. There were a handful of others willing to do time in the wind (and one guy in particular did a few absolutely monster pulls) but a large part of what was left of the front group were sitting in.
There were a few attempts to get a rotating paceline going, but only about 8 or 10 of us were active. After a short time, each attempt was abandoned. I saw a couple of the guys who were doing solid work shake their heads in frustration.
Typically when I do no stop/no SAG centuries, I have to meter my fluid intake very carefully. I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to consume fluids without concern. At about mile 65 or 70, I flagged the rolling SAG motorcycle, and within a minute or two my empty water bottle was filled to the brim. This was extremely nice, and definitely helped my performance.
Towards the end of the ride I was afraid that the ride average was going to slip below 25 MPH. The wind was really kicking our butts, and the pace was slowing a little more than I liked. I totally understood that a lot of people were conserving for the sprint to the finish, and that’s cool. We were all out there for different reasons and with different goals. That said, I didn’t care one bit about a top 5 finish: the only thing on my mind was burying myself chasing that 4 hour century! 🙂
So I did. I repeatedly pulled, then dropped back for a short time to recover, then went back to the front giving everything I had.
As we approached the finish line, several cyclists began positioning themselves for the final sprint. My work was done. I sat in for the final mile or so, and crossed the finish line with the front group of, oh, I’d say maybe 20 cyclists or so.
My official time was 3:58:14 (click to enlarge):
Garmin Connect and Strava, with their slightly different ways of computing moving time and so forth, had me at 4:00:26 // 25.0 MPH ride average. I’ll go with the official time. 🙂
In addition to accomplishing my goal of a 4 hour century, I also set a new 4 hour power output personal record. This new PR was largely due to the pulls I took during the second half of the ride. My average wattage output on the second half of the ride was actually 25 watts higher than the first half (196 watts oubound vs 221 watts coming back).
You can check out the full ride with all data on Strava if you like.
A big “Congratulations” to my friend/KBS teammate Jose, who had a strong sprint finish and took 3rd place, just behind two local pros. Way to go, Jose!
My buddy Hector flatted with just 8 miles to go. I was absolutely gutted for him, as he would have finished with the front group, and probably would have sprinted to a podium spot as well. That flat was just terrible, terrible luck. Sorry, dude. Still, a great ride.
Folks, this ride was a blast! There’s no question I’ll be doing it again next year. The entire experience was top-notch, and very professional. I can’t thank Ken, the staff and all the volunteers enough for all their hard work. Your efforts were noticed, and appreciated by everyone who took part.
Oh, one final thing. I’m editing a video from the in-ride footage I shot. Garmin Virb Edit is, as usual, being an incredible pain in the butt. Hopefully I’ll be able to dodge the bugs and crashes long enough to get something rendered out soon.