The Horrible Hundred is an annual organized ride that takes place each November in the town of Clermont, Florida, just 20 miles from the major US city of Orlando.
This area of Florida is known for some of the best cycling roads in the state with lots of steep little hills on relatively quiet roads and scenery that resembles Tuscany at times. The Horrible Hundred route covers many of these short steep climbs and the dreaded Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest climb in South and Central Florida, coming at just under 20 miles from the end.
Even though this event is truly a ride and not a race with no official results posted and each cyclist responsible to obey traffic rules and navigate the ride directional arrows, it always turns out to be an unofficial race.
Leaving the start for the 100 mile ride the nervous energy was palatable. In the opening miles a few close calls and the resultant distinct smell of burning rubber did nothing to calm the nerves. The wind was blowing hard on this edition with gusts of over 25mph. These windy conditions combined with lots of short, steep climbs and frequent turns made it important to ride near the front at all times. It was not long before the strong riders took advantage of the conditions by forcing the pace and creating a front separation of 25 riders, among them many local Florida racers. I made the front split with two of my Florida Velo teammates. Together we helped drive the pace hard to establish a clear separation over the rest of the riders. My NeilPryde Alize equipped with carbon tubular wheels, was making its advantage felt on these fast and windy roads by slicing through the wind beautifully.
By the 60 mile mark the two bottles I started with had long been empty. The 70 mile sag stop was calling my name with its selection of cold drinks and delicious snacks but stopping would mean losing the front group who were still in full race mode. I skipped the sag while the thought of a drink became ever more prominent in my mind.
The strength in my legs suddenly vanished as I went from being one of the driving forces in the front group to barely hanging on. I finally had to stop and get some water, letting the front group disappear into the distance. I was a sorry sight as we hit the hardest climb of the ride – Sugarloaf mountain, which climbs for about ½ a mile (800 meters) at a gradient ranging mostly between 8-14%.
Thankfully the 80 mile sag stop was not far now, and this time, I made sure to stop and enjoy ice cold water, Gatorade, fresh oranges and freshly baked muffins. This ride is known for its great sag stops manned by friendly volunteers.
I now rode towards the finish at a leisurely pace, this time taking time to enjoy the scenery. In the final 10 miles I joined up with a small group which included fellow front group strong man Gary Stern and a few others. In the final 5 miles an unintentional wrong turn shaved 2 miles of our total distance. I was not complaining and happy to get back a little sooner to the finish area at Waterfront park in Clermont.
My total ride time was 4 hours and 29 minutes for 97 miles covered (to see the Garmin Connect file click here). My Garmin read: 4250 feet of elevation gain (1300 meters) which was impressive for the “flat” state of Florida and confirmed why the Horrible Hundred is known as the toughest century ride in the State.