Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saturday at the Hilly Hundred

What a great way to start
The Hilly Hundred 2010!

I meet up with Dan
from the Bike Ride Across America!

I've been with Dan
through rain and hail...

through tunnels...

and over bridges...

....and across all
this great country of ours!

So wonderful to see you again, Dan!

And to share
another great biking adventure
with you.

I start out early

this Saturday morning

while the sun is still rising

in Ellettsville, Indiana.

I enjoy spending a weekend
with lycra-clad fellows.

But something I really like
about the Hilly... that it attracts people

of all ages and sizes....

...from little Kyra
on the back of Mom's bike... little Dan

on his own silver steed.

We have a new route
for Saturday's ride this year.

My bike mechanic, Frank,
helped design the new route.

He told me
there are lots of new hills...

new challenges!

In fact, rumor has it
that three miles into the ride
is a killer hill -

- steeper than the dreaded Mt Tabor!

I get nervous
when I see "Cheers"
sprayed on the roadway.

Usually random messages
on the road
are bad omens.

I find a sign blown off the road.

I pick it up.

And read it with dread!

24% grade so early in the ride?

And sure enough,

many people start
their first hill of the day...

...with a walk.

To my surprise,

I make it up Mt. Farris without a walk.

And I coast
down the other side -


It's a beautiful day...

a chill in the morning air

and colors to warm the soul.

The gold of the trees

competes with the gold of the sunrise

for our attention.

As we turn to the west

the low sun

casts long shadows before us.

This new route
has one major change -

- there is no flat at all!

We are always
going up or going down.

I make it to
the first rest stop
in time to watch
the costume contest.

This young lady is amazing -
not for her roller derby wear
as much as for her height.

She is 6 foot, 6 inches
and carries her stature with pride.

Very impressive.

We have
the traditional witch costume...

...complete with broom.

My favorite costume
is Cruella De Hille.

Her bike is painted

I meet little Emily.

She is 14 and riding her second Hilly.

I tell her and her Dad how Al first rode the Hilly at age thirteen...

and now she has biked across America.

Gives Emily and her Dad something to think about.

Waiting in line
for the requisite
port-a potty...

I watch the jerseys.

We bikers give honor and respect
based on the jersey you wear.

The RAGBRAI is a huge party ride -
one week crossing Iowa
camping out

The RAIN ride  - across Indiana -
is a one day
testosterone event.

People wearing the RAIN jersey
stand tall with pride.

Then there are those of us wearing jerseys
that proclaim a ride all across America.

We are a special breed indeed.

After the rest stop
we're out on the hills again.

It's always surprising
to see how hilly southern Indiana is
since they didn't get flattened by the glaciers
like my corner of the state.

I'm amazed
that I can handle these hills.

They are tough, yes.

I pant.

My heart pounds.

But I make it to the top
of every hill
on bike!

And of course
the spinning fast ride
down the hill

is worth every minute
of the climb up!

And look at these fall colors!

The drought hasn't wiped out
our fall pleasures this year.

Thank goodness!

I meet up with another young biker with her Dad.

-Isn't this the best way to spend your fall Saturday? I ask

She doesn't look too sure right now.

But Daniel there
is leading the pace for his bike group.

Come on guys! he yells.

Let's go!

Not all the kids I see
are on bike.

Here's Eden.

She stands by the side of the road
calling out -

Free gatorade and cookies!
Free gatorade and cookies!

Who could turn down
that offer?

Mike here
turns around and goes back.

-I gotta have a cookie, he says.

Lunch time
and look at all the bikes!

This being Bloomington, Indiana
we get live music at every stop.

That, and as much food
as 5,000 hungry bikers
could want.

Once the food and music
have filled our belly and hearts...

we take off again!

Well fed and rested
we feel like we can handle

Then I see the trestle...

a high railroad bridge

connecting one high ridge to the next.

and I have to get up to that next...


The hill is long

with undulations of steep.

Sean needs to stop
to take a break
half way up
Trestle Hill.

Can we make it?

Pound those pedals.

Grit those teeth!

Finally I make it to the top of Trestle Mountain.

and collapse in a heap...

...right under two magnificent sugar maples.

I'm surprised Frank isn't here
to chuckle
to see how we like
his new route.

I see a biker sitting
buddha-like under a tree.

His ohm gathers energy
from the world around us.

After I click off a few pictures of him,
he asks me about my jersey.

Did you bike across America this summer?
he asks.
What route?

The North route, I reply.

You were with my girlfriend, Ellen - he says.

The Energizer Bunny of our Bike Ride?

She was always the last one to the hotel
But she never quit.
She just kept on going and going and going.

Isn't it amazing that Bob and I
ran into each other at this event.

Karma, I'd say.

I don't know how much farther
we have to go.

But it's gotten warm
and our legs are ready
for a good long rest.

We all get cheered up
by the encouraging balloons
for someone's Daddy.

And it's a relief to make it
to the last rest stop for water...

...the shade of the port-a potties...

...and a brief bit of collapse.

Little Jet here
seems tired, too.

Get up, Jet.

Just 12 more miles to go!

- Which way do we go? I ask a fellow biker
as I leave the rest stop.

Up the hill - he points with a rueful laugh.

Someone has a strange sense of humor.

Still another big, long hill.

Frank told me about Head-Scratcher Hill -
so named for the local fellow
who stood out by his mailbox
watching them map the route.

And he's still there!

I follow little Kyra and her Mom
the last few miles.

If they can make it up and down
all these hills,
surely I can, too!

And we do make it!

Over the last hill...

My bike leans gratefully against the Prius
as I load up to go...

....back to the Travel Lodge
for the night

...and to rest our weary gears.

Tomorrow's Blog: Sunday at the Hilly


  1. omg those fall colors are gorgeous! and yay for making all those nasty hills frank gave you =D

  2. Wait till you see the pictures I took Sunday!

  3. Beautiful fall colors...great pictures! Loved the ones of the kids and your fellow participants' various shirts; never realized they all had special meaning. I will definitely be paying more attention when I pass a biker on the road. :)

  4. Beautiful writeup and photos! I live in Bloomington, so a lot of those are my home roads. Glad you enjoyed my part of the state. I love the hills.