Seven Mountains – 4,000 burning legs. It all adds up to Central Florida’s Toughest Ride
Sunday morning 5:30 am: packing my helmet, beef jerky, CamelBak, bike shoes, gloves, visor, sunscreen, bike and out the door to McDonalds to meet some friends and grab a cup of coffee before starting the Horrible Hundred, a 100 mile cycling journey.
Yummmm – good coffee, conversation and a bit of apprehension. I’ve never done the Horrible Hundred before. I rode 100 miles on my own last weekend to be sure my mind could get around it, but why, oh why, did I run 12 miles yesterday? The day before this big ride! I know it’s a mind game and I know how to get my head around it but you have to choose to do it and now I had to work on my mind.
Coffee finished, bathroom check and off to the starting line. And oh what a start. The speed-crazies ride fearlessly, zooming by at 30 mph, so close you might even feel them brush your hand for the first 15-20 miles or so, but then it thins out and I am able to make it my ride. Some leave us at mile 35 and take a shorter course. At mile 70 you have another option to take another shorter course, but oh no, I HAVE to conquer this and do all 100 miles. So, on I go.
I take some time to think about how pretty this world is. How lucky I am to be able to take a day and ride, how many shades of green are in the trees and how beautiful the sky is. I love to see the cows, the lakes and look at the colorful jerseys the other cyclists are wearing. I nibble on the beef jerky and and enjoy a good time with friends. For the entire ride the stresses of business and daily life are erased and filled with fun, laughter, sweat, hard breathing, achy quads, and finding a mindset that knows I’m going to finish upright. Stroke by stroke, peddle by peddle, digging in. At mile 80 we make the LONG climb up SugarLoaf Mountain then only one named hill left… Citrus Tower and it’s down hill to the finish line.
Though it took me 10 hours to finish, I climbed seven hills (mountains in Florida), the steepest with a 30% grade, burnt over 3,500 calories, took only four rest stops, and proved to myself once again that the mind conquers all. Now, that’s a good day.