Last year, my goal at the Horrible Hundred was to finish. I didn’t quite achieve that goal. I made it to Sugarloaf Mountain and found myself walking up the infamous hill. At the top I found a shortcut back home and ended up with 95 miles.
This year, after a successful Six Gap under my belt, I was not really worried about finishing. I’ve done a lot of training since then. Taught a beginner cycling course that helped many people complete a century ride or two. Helped my wife in the Florida Freewheelers “couch to century” program. Between the two groups, we helped nearly 50 people achieve that goal.
I decided I not only wanted to finish, but also to set a time record, and beat a few choice riders to the finish line. In particular, one of my “students”, Linda Babadelis, was starting to tear up the roads in her new Cervelo S5 with fancy carbon wheels. I was determined not to let her beat me.
So my goals were as follows:
- Finish in under 7 hours (total time)
- Only stop at 2 SAGs (Support and Gear rest stops)
- and above all, beat Linda!
It was cloudy, windy and chilly in Clermont on this fine November 18th, so I put on arm warmers and pulled up my socks all the way.
My plan was to park at the First Green Bank in Clermont (because they let me charge my Volt), ride down to the lakefront, and start the ride. When I got there I realized I had left my brand new Garmin Edge 500 GPS and my GoPro at home. I made a quick text to my wife Kathleen, who was volunteering at SAG 2, and we made arrangements to meet before the start.
Kathleen and I met up on Third Street, which is about 200 yards in to the ride. After retrieving my Garmin and GoPro I decided to start from there. Patrick Welch was with me, but he said he didn’t expect to keep up so just go on without him. That was a great relief, as I wanted to be free to go as fast (or as slow) as I wanted.
So we heard the announcer counting it down and for some reason we waited till he said “Go” – I don’t know why. It just made the leaders catch us sooner. I tried to stay with a few of them but they were moving pretty fast and weaving in and out like crazy people.
I was passed by Ted Hollander and someone I thought looked familiar. Later I realized it was Bob “Bobke” Roll from NBC Sports Network, former Tour de France sprinter.
Staying with the front pack helped though, as when I got to North Ridge there were no walkers. Walkers had been a traffic impediment the year before. I was able to go up North Ridge without too much effort, although my heart rate did approach max at the top.
This is a video by a couple on a tandem, who go by the handle pedalist53 on Youtube. I appear around 3:28 and stay with them until the bottom of North Ridge, at which point the lighter, single bike climbs away.
I skipped SAG 1, as both bottles were still pretty full and I wanted to keep on pace. The Wall was next, and the video below shows how much nicer it is to be near the front, as everyone keeps moving pretty well. Forgive the music, but this song got us warmed up for many a century this year.
After The Wall we headed down 561, over Scrub Jay and on to Cherry Lake. I caught up to Andrew Petty just turning on to the road before SAG 2, about mile 30. His freewheel hub had broken and he was done for the day. I stopped to hold the video-phone for him to prove he was broken. I felt really bad for him and he obviously felt bad himself. He finished The Horrible Thirty.
I did my planned stop at SAG #2 to say hi to my wife, as she was volunteering, and I just had to see the Elmo Pajamas in action. Video below:
Heading in to the Mascotte area I figured it would be a good idea to find some friends to draft with over the large, flat part of the course, and especially the return trip on Hwy 19 which would be right in to the north wind. I found two guys going roughly my speed, Greg and Kendall, from South Orlando. I stayed with them for quite a while. Probably a mistake. Kendall was a strong rider but Greg would fade on us and we had to wait for him several times.
Somewhere on the road in to Mascotte the unthinkable happened, Linda passed me. I was stunned. I thought I had been moving along pretty good. She and her husband Peter sailed right by, asking that I turn on the video camera. I didn’t have time to fire it up, so I missed them.
I tried pushing Greg and Kendall in to moving faster. Kendall was up for it but Greg was struggling. They insisted on stopping at SAG 3, which didn’t fit in to my plans at all. I stayed at the entrance to the SAG waiting for them to finish up.
Had a chance to speak to Linda and Jim Perry, who I caught up with at the SAG, see video below:
We did get out of the SAG before Linda but Greg was really holding us up. We would frequently hear “Greg is off” and we would slow up and wait for him. I was torn, because I didn’t want to leave the guy alone on his first organized century.
Unfortunately the unthinkable happened again. There she went, right on by.
I stayed with Greg and Kendall until SAG 4. I told them that very soon, I would be leaving them to go catch Linda.
I was worried I left it too late. Just before Buck Hill I began my push. I went up those hills, and Sugarloaf relatively smoothly but I still saw no sign of the white Cervelo ahead. Coming down Old 50 towards town, I saw a rider stuck at the side of the road with a flat. Turned out to be Michael Overman, and I helped him with my trusty pump, and got him on his way. Funny that he was left alone, as last I knew he was riding with Peter and Linda. Hmmmmm. I’m sure she knew I was trying to catch her.
I arrived at the lakefront at 2:55pm, making it exactly 6:55 for my ride, so I beat the seven hour goal. Unfortunately Linda was already there, finishing in 6:39. My Garmin shows me taking 11 minutes to help Michael. Not enough to make the difference so I can’t blame it on being a Good Samaritan. She beat me fair and square. I never did see Greg or Kendall again. I hope they finished without mishap.
It was a bittersweet finish, since I only accomplished one goal out of three but I have my goal for next year …