They don’t call it the HILLY Hundred for nothing.

August 26, 2014

I had nothing else to do last night so I wrote this for TriRudy ( Thought you might like an advance copy. It should show up in tomorrow’s TriRudy listing.

Race Report [NOT!] Hilly Hundred cycle tour, Bancroft, Ontario Saturday, September 7, 2013

It is not really a race report because, as we kept telling ourselves at the base of every hill, it’s not a race, it’s a TOUR! That was our excuse for not working too hard.

The short version:

Event link:

It is aptly named “The Hilly Hundred”.

I recommend this ride. Strong, local community with great volunteers and good support. The inexpensive registration includes pancake breakfast, a really nice shirt, chili and deserts upon return and en-route support similar to the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour (RLCT) with lots of snacks at the checkpoints.

Went up Friday night, came back Sunday. Wish we had planned on staying longer. It is beautiful up there.

The verbose (really verbose) version starts here, in the form of anecdotes, some slightly humorous, I hope. (you know where the Skip to next link is):

Don’t let my foolish anecdotes dissuade you from this ride. It is a class act with great support in a wonderful community. And there are a variety of ride distances which can accommodate all.

I did the 175 kms with two friends. We can refer to them as “Asthma” and “Sinus Infection”. I was “Tight Muscles and Sore Knee”. My wife did the 70 km. We can refer to her as “The Smart One”.

Sinus Infection went to the bathroom so we left 5 minutes behind the main group. We never saw them again. But better to go pee before we leave than stop 10 minutes into the ride! And even if we had left with the main group, I am pretty sure we would have never seen them again anyways.

Asthma had to walk up many of the steeper hills in order to keep breathing. Now THAT is tough! My Tight Muscles and Sore Knee didn’t bother me at all but I had to have a pre-stated excuse to fall back on if things went wrong.

We left the Curling Rink, went around the corner and … there was the first hill! Nothing like setting us up for what we were in for for the rest of the day!

Going up the hill I saw a car coming down with a Vermont licence plate and two bikes on top. I thought “why would cyclists come all the way to Bancroft from Vermont and NOT do the Hilly Hundred?”. When the two cyclists caught up with us at Barry’s Bay I found out why … we weren’t the only ones late leaving the start! And it turns out they were the very same cyclists we were supposed to meet on the trip!

A friend once did some work at the Radium Hot Springs in relation to radiation. I asked: “is there really radiation there?” His reply: “They don’t call it the RADIUM Hot Springs for nothing, Chris.” I now know: They don’t call it the HILLY Hundred for nothing.

I have done RLCT for about six years now. I was thinking: it is the same distance and only one day of it! This shouldn’t be too hard! I didn’t realize the flat part between Ottawa and Westport doesn’t exist in the Bancroft area. I suggested they rename it “The Hilly 98.2” because I am sure there were about 2.5 kms of flat in there somewhere, although I am not sure where. Last year I was able to finish RLCT in about 7.5 hours each way. It took us 9.5 hours to complete the Hilly Hundred. They don’t call it the HILLY Hundred for nothing. And, oh yeah, I found out it is 100 MILES, not kilometers. A true Century Ride which I had to complete in order to earn the very nice jersey I wanted to buy.

Sinus Infection had studied the elevation profile before the ride and said it didn’t look too bad and there were only a few steep grades with about a 2% climb. We came to realize the 2% was an average. The average of 0 degrees and 90 degrees is 45 degrees! I will occasionally do the Gats loop without changing my front ring. On this ride I frequently used my front ring. It became more frequent towards the end of the ride. They don’t call it the HILLY Hundred for nothing.

I shifted my front ring while going uphill. The chain came off. I got my right foot out in time. But I fell to my left. Didn’t land too hard since the slope was such that it was like falling against a wall : ) But the back of my helmet “snapped” into the pavement. My seat had turned about 10 degrees but I was unhurt (I know, I know … my pride was hurt). Much later in the ride I took my helmet off at a stop and the ratchet strap popped open. It was broken! Time for a new helmet anyways.

[Funny aside: And I don’t feel as silly as my friend who was on a recent ride outside Ottawa and turned too quickly from a paved road onto a gravel road. He wiped out and didn’t get his foot out in time. Lying UNHURT on the ground he had one foot out but not the other, so he thought: “The best thing to do here is to roll over across my back, bike in the air, and unclip on the other side.” That’s when he found out he was lying next to a cement culvert! His riding partner saw him disappear. When she looked down in the ditch he was hanging onto a skinny tree. When he got out she asked him if he knew he was bleeding! NOW he was hurt! But, in the end, it was just enough road rash for us to make fun of him.]

They had been calling for some rain and possible thundershowers. It was cool but I rode with a short sleeved jersey (TriRudy jersey!! Represent!) and cycle shorts. Slightly cool but better than being warm on these hills. There was a slight, misty rain for the last 10 minutes of our ride. What a great day! I burn thinking about the sun so the cloud cover was excellent for me.

The scenery on this ride is wonderful.

The volunteers on this ride are wonderful. Many of them are from the local Broken Spokes cycle club or family members.

The routes are well marked.

Only one numbskull honked in anger at us. The roads were relatively quiet traffic-wise and the few drivers we did see were cautious when passing, even slowing down and waiting patiently until they were sure the way was clear. Wow!

There were families with children helping out at some of the checkpoints. All friendly and encouraging.

Some “encouraging” homemade signs were found along the route towards the last 30 kms. I won’t tell you what they said, you will have to do the ride to find out.

One of the checkpoints (and sponsors) was the Madawaska Kanu Centre. It hasn’t changed since my wife and I took a weekend kayak course there about 15 years ago. I recommend it. It is a fun weekend way to learn kayaking basics. And, as some of you may know, there is a Nakkertok connection. I had heard there might be soup at one of the check points. It turned out to be this one. I thought: who would drink hot soup on a hilly ride? I did. It was great and came just at the right time since the day was a little cool. Riding was good but when we stopped we would cool down a little.

And this was the checkpoint where someone saw Asthma and said: “there’s the other lady doing the 175 kms”! She received a few cheers from the ladies at the check point. So … ladies … there’s the challenge! It sounds like the Hilly Hundred 175 route doesn’t get the female representation it should! And since many of you easily shoot past me on the Gats loop, I know there are plenty of contenders who would enjoy this ride.

We had been warned at the mandatory morning briefing that there are some steep downhill grades with turns at the end (a la the infamous WestPort Hill). It was emphasized to be cautious on the hills, and especially the ones with extra caution signage. We met a rider near the top of one of the marked hills who warned us about the turn at the bottom and to take it easy. I don’t like steep down hills. I always go cautiously. As we approached the turn at the bottom I shaved off lots of speed but thought “that’s not a bad curve”! Then I got around the curve and saw THE TURN with the black and yellow sharp corner signage, still on a downhill and, even at my slower speed ended up over the yellow line by a few inches. Pay attention to those mandatory briefings.

Checkpoint 5, the last checkpoint, 30 kms to go:
We were warned by another rider that at checkpoint 5 the worst hill would appear before us and we would have to spend our brief time at the checkpoint looking up at the daunting task ahead of us. I saw the hill which kind of disappeared around the trees. It didn’t look that bad. They don’t call it the HILLY Hundred for nothing.

I was getting pretty hungry. The checkpoints were all well stocked with delicious choices: bananas, fruit, nuts, jelly beans, chocolate bars, chocolate coffee beans, pita sandwiches, etc.. This one had cut up chunks of apple fritter and doughnuts. And jars of peanut butter and jam. I wanted to put the PB on something but didn’t feel like bread for some reason. So … I looked at the little girl behind the table, smiled and said “I would never do this at home”. I put peanut butter and jam on the apple fritter chunk and thought “this is a bad idea”. Wow!! It’s like discovering peanut butter and chocolate, or the Cadbury secret! I made and ate three more before I finally felt guilty. I didn’t tell the little girl, but maybe this is something I WILL do at home!

SPOILER ALERT! If you like hills to be a surprise, don’t read the next couple of paragraphs. This hill gets TWO paragraphs! They don’t call it the HILLY Hundred for nothing.

We had dawdled enough. Asthma had gone ahead to work her way up the hill while Sinus Infection and I delayed as long as we could. Finally, it was time to start the climb (which still didn’t look as bad as described to us earlier). I got going, got around the tree line, and my heart sank. ARE … YOU … KIDDING … ME!!! That is not a hill, that is a MOUNTAIN!! My thighs were burning just looking at it. But … if Asthma and Sinus Infection can do it, I have no choice. Pretty sure I saw guys in climbing harnesses belaying near the top of the road. Maybe saw a mountain goat, although it could have been a cow. Couldn’t tell from that distance.

Start the climb, visualize the top and just get there, one pedal stroke at a time. As I neared the top I thought … I can do it! And then I saw the unexpected … that wasn’t the top. It was an illusion, there was another top! What the … ! So I focused on that top … and … YES! … that wasn’t it either, I got a little closer and there was ANOTHER TOP!! But there, at the top, was Asthma, looking down at myself and Sinus Infection, waiting patiently at the 90 degree turn in the road. So I made it to where she was waiting and looked to my right and … WHAT!! ANOTHER TOP! There, about 100 metres down the road, was ANOTHER climb. And funny enough, Asthma had been so focused on watching us climb up that she HADN’T EVEN LOOKED down the road. She was blissfully unaware of our next challenge until she heard some sweet expletives burst out from my peanut butter and jam, apple fritter filled mouth hole. As I had started up the hill I was wondering what the strategy was for having the checkpoint at the base of a hill rather than the top. Now I knew. You would die of starvation if you didn’t eat immediately before an attempted summit on this thing. I wondered if we should have brought oxygen for the final summiting attempt! I was looking for the dead, frozen cyclists lying on either side of what should have been a snow-capped peak. If I had a flag I would have planted it at the top. They don’t call it the HILLY Hundred for nothing.

But then we were there. It was the most challenging climb of my ride and now it was done. And the remainder of the ride, although still tough, just did not seem that tough any more.

My wife, The Smart One, had texted much earlier that she had finished her 70 km ride in 5 hours. She rides easy, takes stretch breaks and walks hills when she needs to. And she was solo. The Smart One. I was tempted to call her and tell her where to pick us up but we decided to soldier on.

The last 5 kms or so are relatively easy, with a lot of slight, gradual, thankful downhill into Bancroft. Past Trips and Trails, the local bike shop, and no traffic lights until you get to the final turn. Around the corner, up a very small incline and then the last few metres downhill to the finish line. Done. Delicious chili and deserts in the Curling Rink. About 30 minutes later or so the 240 km guys rolled in! Smiling!!

A thought for someone energetic: There should be a “wrap-up” comedian at the end of these tours who does a stand-up act by reflecting on the various things that happened during the day. As riders come in they could provide their anecdotes to the comedian. (Should someone arrange a Comedy Night aimed at Triathletes and Cyclists, I would go).

The dilemma:
I now have to decide each morning for my ride to work: do I wear my Hilly Hundred jersey or my TriRudy jersey?. This is a tough choice.

The advice:
Go ride around Bancroft. You don’t even have to wait for the Hilly Hundred. It is less than a 3 hour drive from Ottawa. It is a beautiful area. And I am sure the local shop, Trips and Trails, can give good advice on the local routes.

P.S. They don’t call it the HILLY Hundred for nothing.