Adventures on the HORRIBLE 100

SEPTEMBER 12, 2009

Last week we received an e-mail listing the 3 routes for the Horrible 100 coming up in November, sponsored by the Florida FreeWheelers here in Orlando.

I decide to take my bicycle, and ride the route, as I really had never ridden in that area north of Clermont before.

Bike on back of car

So last Friday, while it was still mostly dark, I parked the car at the Lake Minneola Park, and with Horrible 100 map in hand I headed out. (well, in knee, tucked in my bike shorts, because the velcro that I had attached to my laminated map was just NOT working out.

Looking for 561A, I blew past the right turn (actually 561), and ended up at Hwy 50! (darn, that’s an extra 4 miles, as if I needed to add miles to this excursion!) Ha!

Finally found the right road, and cruising along the north side of a foggy Lake Minneola, snapped this gorgeous shot:

From NW corner of Lake Minneola
Sunrise on Lake Minneola

After going around the Lake and “wheeing” down Pitt, came to the Northridge Blvd ascent…..whew! THAT was a toughy. Had a couple other bikers pass me on the way out of town, but I was just toodling along, enjoying the pretty day. Ran across some tough hills north of Ferndale, and soon realized that I was going AROUND Sugarloaf Mtn.

THEN, going south on 561, the “route committee” decided to take you past the bottom of Sugarloaf. So you SEE it, and then you realize that for the next 60 miles you’re going to have to THINK about going up that hill, before the route actually brings you back to attacking that ascent. CRUEL, guys, cruel….HA!

Sugarloaf Mtn NW slope with clouds
THIS is what you have to ride past, and think about for 60 miles!

The next surprise was a Scrub Jay Road – just an innocent right turn, and up a little, okay – not so little, okay – kinda steep, okay – where did this pile of dirt come from!!! (I understand it used to be called Grassy Lake, but no flat water here!)

By the way, hills are not the only tall thing on this route – found this on Scrub Jay Road:

Scrub Jay electrical tower
See my tiny little bike way down in the lower right hand corner?

I don’t know what Citrus Grove Road is called, but that was a tough climb, too. By the time I got out on Cherry Lake, I was about 40 miles out, and I was out of water, and out of gas. Lunch time!

The next 20 miles or so are a fairly level, pleasant ride around Mascotte and Groveland, something that the other two, shorter routes won’t have.

And then, on Sloan’s Ridge, it happened.

PFFT! Whup, whup, whup, whup…..

A flat! I had never had a flat on this bike, and, dummy me, hadn’t even packed a patch kit this morning, let alone a spare tube.

ACK!

What to do? Nothing I could do, except examine the tube….just a little tiny, pinch hole, I’ll call it. On the INSIDE of the tube. Here’s where I had the flat:

Flat tire middle of NOWHERE
Out in the middle of NOWHERE!

Only choice was to walk into town with the bike (add ANOTHER 3 miles to the route!)

Walked alongside the bike, with the front flat tire straight up in the air. Had quite a few caddy’s and trucks pass, but no one offered to help. No one. Hmmmm.

Finally got up to Hwy 50 about an hour later, stopped at a few places, discussed ideas. One car dealer had a little patch kit, but his rubber cement tube was dried out. Finally found a patch kit at the Sunset and 50 convenience store. And then the REAL adventure started. The patches were big, and thick, probably for a mountain bike, and my tube, well was not.

After 3 attempts to get the patch to hold, was FINALLY successful. And off I went (back to where I had had the flat, and continued south on Bay Lake. Nice ride. Lots of “moo-moos.”

Moo-moos
MOOOOOO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!

Headed back toward Groveland, thinking about how I’m going to have to finish this in the dark, when “whup, whup, whup, whup…..” Hmmm….a familiar sound. Aaarrggghhhh! Same hole – patch let loose.

Tried about 3 times to re-patch, but it wasn’t holding. Outta patches. By now it’s around 6:30. and the shadows are getting deep. Resigned myself to calling Earline, who was actually going to be passing by not too far away on her way back from Gainesville. So I called her and arranged a rendezvous.

But OBVIOUSLY, I HAD to complete the mission….so early the next morning, checked out the Ocoee Wal-Mart, and DID find some presta valve tubes – yea! And “kinda” the right size…..hmmm. Didn’t get 2. Big mistake.

Was able to get an early start, then, and parked back at Minneola, and biked ALL THE WAY back to where I had the flat south of Anderson. I’M ON A MISSION!

Had a WONDERFUL egg and cheese biscuit at Hardees in Groveland (the BEST biscuits!) and continued north back to the “mountains.” On Independence, the route takes you past a Dunkin’ Donuts distribution center. Another cruel twist by the evil route committee! (Actually, DD needs to have a booth set up for all the bikers going past in November….course, would any TRUE biker eat something so delicious, and bad for you??!! HA!) YBYSB.

American has a pretty steep incline on it, and a REAL nice sharp downhill on the other side! (Got to over 40 mph on this one.)

On 455, tell the map gods thank you that you don’t have to continue up this hill….Buckhill turns to the right:

Buck Hill
Buckhill turns to the right (thank-you, thank-you!)

Course, it IS BUCKHILL that you are turning on (UP and down and UP and down)….and, of course, you HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN that Sugarloaf is just around the corner, have you??!!

Finally got to the intersection. Gulped some water, gulped some air, and………THEY’RE OFF!

Puff, puff, puff. Inhale, exhale. Whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo.

Eeeeeerrrrrrr!

Yes, I made it up Sugarloaf (no standing on the pedals!), but I’ll admit I had to stop a few times to catch my breath – gotta work on that cardiovascular thingy!!

Here’s the view from near the top (yes, there were other gray beards out here abusing themselves):

From top of Sugarloaf

MADE IT!!!!

One house at the top had 2 coolers sitting in their driveway, with a sign that said “Help Yourself”…..much, MUCH, MUCH appreciated. I had JUST run out of water. The ride DOWN Sugarloaf was MUCH fun. Blacktop patch at the bottom of the first drop, but it was smoother than it looked going down….just be careful.

Getting near the end here, with Turkey Farm being a nasty little ascent. The map does a good drop of explaining the turns, and I understand there will be markers and helps out for the ride itself.

And then, it happened (again)….

PFFT! Whup, whup, whup, whup…..

WHAA-A-A-A-A-A-A??????

Going up that tough little Maple Forest ascent, my BACK tire sprung a leak! NO-O-O-O-O-O!!!!! Had a real hard time finding the leak. Tiny slit in a bad place – in the middle of some gridwork on the tire (tube was only a week old.)

NO SPARE TUBE……(I will NOT ever do that again)…..(EVER!)……AND, the patch wouldn’t hold. Third try, it held for a couple hundred yards. Fourth try, it lasted for about a mile….and I’m only, what 2 or 3 miles from the end???!!!???

Finally ran out of patches…..really frustrated.

The LAST patch
At the TOP of Northridge Blvd……ACK!!!

But God had the birds singing so sweetly [even my “special” owl!] the whole time I was struggling to fix the tire….it really helped.

SO…..will not stop here. And after riding UP ALL the hills, walking is NOT an option.

So, decided to ride the rest of the way on the FLAT tire (after changing it UMPTEEN times in the past 24 hours, I decided I didn’t like it anyway). But it did mean I had to go SLOW, VERY SLOW, GOING DOWN the Northridge Blvd…..really slow, like FIRST GEAR slow (now that was REALLY HORRIBLE!!!)

Finally got back to Lake Minneola – but it took a minute to find where I was parked, coming in the other way.

Final mileage:  about 115 miles. Flat count: 10. If you count the “patches-that-won’t hold-air-after-you-put-the-tire-back-on” as flats.

Now THAT’S horrible!

And only one thing left to do…..REWARD TIME:

Reward at DQ

SMILE! You deserve it!

Okay, so they looked at me kinda weird when I first went in, but I told them I wanted the biggest, baddest hot fudge malt that they could make me, so they laughed, and even took my picture. Thanks, Clermont DQ!

See, don’t YOU want to ride the Horrible 100???? [You can register at www.horrible-hundred.com/.] C’mon! You can do it!

PLUS, Tom B. says that no one in the 29 year history of the HOH has ever ridden a trike!! Hmmm.

Need to get a trike! Gotta get busy!!!!

jon

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