Great to be back! It's been a few days since I've been able to sit down and write for fun. Work and all that jazz kind of took the drivers seat. Not to mention a little bike ride I did this weekend.
This marks my second year riding the Hilly Hundred Bicycle Tour in southern Indiana. It is a grueling, immensely fun, two day event covering 100.5 miles and 8,737 feet of climbing. To be honest, before I did the ride last year I had no idea Indiana even had any hills. Let alone the fierce climbs we faced during "The Hilly", as the locals call it. The Hilly is a bit of an institution I've come to find out. Some of the climbs are legendary. One "hill" in particular (we will call it a hill...but truthfully viewed from the bottom it appears to go straight up) reputably earns you "bragging rights" if you make it (on your bike, walking does not count) all the way to the top. Mt Tabor. I did not even get halfway up the infamous hill last year. This year I was determined I was going to make it. It would be mine. Not a shred of doubt.
A group of us met at the crack (of dawn) on Saturday, to caravan southward, as is the tradition. We are an eclectic mix of cyclists and triathletes who are also good friends. We did a little carb loading, then headed south.
It was a cold, damp morning. However, the weather forecast predicted sunny skies for the day, so we weren't concerned. We should have been. As sometimes is the case, the weatherman had the forecast slightly off. Okay way off.
We arrived in Elletsville, a quaint little town near Bloomington, IN. We got our gear ready, started out and almost immediately it began to drizzle. My glasses were covered in little polka dots of rain, and water dripped from my helmet. I was not adequately prepared, and was not dressed for wet weather. It was cold. However as usual, I was optimistic and was certain the clouds would clear, the rain would stop and we would be given a rainbow. Didn't happen.
To paint a little picture of the day, it was fun but dangerous. We were riding and climbing on wet, leaf-covered roads with 5,000 other cyclists. The downhills were especially treacherous. I had to be on constant alert. I think I must have said "passing on your left" a thousand times. But of course, all of this added to the fun. As you know, I love love love being on my bike.
Lunch was a time to meet up with the group, and other friends riding in the event. It was also a time to huddle up and catch some warmth. The Hilly lunch stop is raved about, and the traditional fried chicken is fabled as the best. Nonetheless, I opted for PB & J. We didn't rest for long, as we were all wet and shivering. After lunch we rode fast. Our main goal at that point was to get back to the hotel and take a hot shower. The rain did subside a bit after lunch, and we were able to take in some beautiful scenery.
That evening we all took part in another tradition....Nick's. Nick's is a bar in Bloomington, and is a favorite of Indiana University students and the like. More laughter and carb loading. Traditions are good!!
The next morning when I looked outside it was clear, and not a cloud in the sky! What a difference a day makes. It was cold, but we didn't care. Anything was better than the previous day. It turned out to be so beautiful and a perfect day for a ride.
The views were spectacular. Brown county is known for it's beauty in the fall. The views on the road were equally enjoyable, as there were cute cycling boys everywhere. It is one of the perks of my sport. It was fun chatting with others along the route and meeting new and interesting people.
I do have to admit, however that several times on Sunday I said to myself "you are freaking crazy. What sane person does this?!" The climbs were tough and my quads were screaming. My somewhat moaning exhales as I kept my breathing rhythmic drew a few interested glances as I climbed the Bean Blossom monstrosity and the torture that was Mt Tabor. I may have thrown a few people off a bit. Oops my bad. But I did it!! Climbed Mt Tabor successfully and am damn proud of it! Maiden of the Hill!
Lunch on day two was a party! I briefly contemplated the fried chicken, but again opted for PB & J. Peanut butter is my nemesis but today I earned it. There was a live band and we ran into a lot of cycling friends from Indianapolis. In a word, it was a blast.
The rest of the day passed quickly and we arrived at the finish line. It was bittersweet, as this ride marks the last of the races on my calendar (The Hilly is not a race to most, but to me it was! Riding fast is fun!)
Our discussion as we were packing up was 2013 and everyone's race/ride plan. I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that I already have my plans set for 2013. It's how I roll....what can I say?! No tears over the past, only looking forward to the next adventure(s)! My winter training begins next week. Can't wait!! Idle hands (arms, legs, etc.) have no place in my life. But it will be much more moderate and less structured for a few months. And of course I will make plenty of time for rest, and to stop and enjoy the view. Pause.