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The Horribly Hilly ride report.

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I completed the Horribly Hilly Hundreds (HHH) 100K+ yesterday. The route is 72 miles long with 5,700 feet of climbing and takes cyclist through the hilly kettle moraine country in southwestern Wisconsin. The HHH is one of three cycling events held in this area, the Dairyland dare and the Insane Terrain Challenge are also held every summer. The HHH is considered to be the most difficult century ride in the Midwest, but the other two events are also very difficult. Most people would agree that all three rides are both beautiful and extremely challenging.

 

The HHH 100K ride for me started with my alarm going off at 2 a.m. on June 19. I was apprehensive about what lay ahead of me that day despite having ridden 5000 miles in 2009 and improving on my fitness this year. I had ridden in this area three weeks prior and exhausted myself completely and had to shorten the ride. The prior weekend I rode with a HHH veteran who encouraged riding as slowly as possible on every incline. Using my heart rate monitor, I would make every effort to keep my heart rate low on the flats and not exceed 160 bpm on the climbs. A perfect pre-dawn morning greeted me when I opened the door and climbed in my car for the three hour ride. Around 5:30 a.m. I arrived at the parking lot at the top of the Blue Mound.

 

Many riders had already arrived and some were even leaving before 7 a.m., probably to avoid the mass start. The sight of cars, bumper to bumper, entering the parking area and the sounds of bikes being unloaded and friends greeting one another gave me a real sense something special was about to happen. The popularity of this ride is truly amazing.

 

I started in a line of riders. I drifted towards the back of the pack to enjoy the colorful sight of the long line of riders ahead of me. The first big downhill on County Road K, north of Barneveld, brought everyone into Walnut Hollow at the base of Blue Mound. From here we climbed 620 feet up Mounds Park Road. The pavement is marked with the grade, 15%, 16% and other numbers, this was not what I needed to know. I followed my plan and stopped once my heartrate hit 160. I took pictures and waited for my body to recover. Other riders were walking it. How many of them knew that they would be climbing this one a second time at the end of the ride? Were many of them already wondering how they were going to respond to the challenge of the other 13 major hills ahead? Many of the early climbs were shaded, which kept them cool and quiet. At times the only sounds I heard were derailleurs downshifting and the soft chatter between riders, as they encouraged each other.

 

I think riders are drawn to the HHH for the challenge of climbing. But for every uphill there is a corresponding big downhill. At the top of many hills there is a panoramic view of the Wisconsin countryside. No better view and downhill can be found on the HHH than those experienced on County F at Brigham County Park. The view to the north towards the Wisconsin River valley is inspiring. And the downhill, which follows shortly thereafter, may be the best descent in the state. Descending 760 feet over four miles can trick some riders into thinking the HHH isn’t so challenging a ride.

 

A right turn onto Blue Mounds Trail Road quickly brought back into focus the real test HHH presents. A climb up Sand Ridge started shortly after crossing Elvers Creek, rising 260 feet in the next three-quarters of a mile effectively taking back almost all of the altitude lost in the descent from Brigham County Park. Two high-speed descents and another long climb brought the ride out to State Highway 78, where a Dane County sheriff’s deputy was positioned to assist riders making the turn onto Moen Valley Road.

 

I climbed the increasingly difficult stepped hill on Moen Valley Road and enjoyed it. To be on this shaded climb on a cool, sunny morning with dozens of other riders has always given me a big shot of adrenaline, which has helped me look forward to the upcoming trials. I very attractive lady cyclist coached me up the hill: “make smooth circles with each turn of the crank”. I was a little too embarrassed to chat at that point. I kept telling myself “take it slow, avoid heavy demands, save yourself for the finish”.

 

The 1 1/2-mile stretch of riding on County Road KP after the Union Valley Road descent is the only truly flat section of road on the 100K route. I cannot think of any other ride where a flat section of road would be noteworthy.

 

The reality of the HHH is quickly reestablished with the steep climb on Schebel Road up to the first rest stop of the ride at Festge Park. There hundreds of riders seek relief, nourishment and friends from whom they had become separated.

 

One of the most notorious climbs on the HHH is encountered soon thereafter. This section is just over a quarter-mile long, but in that distance it gains 240 feet with an average 13 percent grade. Again, I stopped and allowed my heartrate to recover. In the middle of this climb may be the point on the HHH where riders intending on completing the 200K route decide maybe 100K is enough. 200K riders who struggle badly on Barlow Road and on the next steep climb on Mineral Point Road are much more likely to get off the 200K route by continuing straight on County Road J instead of turning right onto Greenwald Road.

 

I took J and the 100k route, as planned. A 20 mph headwind was hitting us with full force, but this section is mostly downhill. I found myself passing riders and traveling in the 35 to 45 mph range. Several riders dropped in behind me and a small paceline formed up. At this point in the HHH there is only one steep climb on Zwettler Road to negotiate before Rest Stop No. 2 on County Road K. The climb op Zwettler has an 18% section. I surprised myself by completing the climb without walking. Noting my heartrate was above 160, I stopped again and took more pictures. I also ate and drank well. Feeling good, I was able to skip the second rest stop. My plan was working.

 

Every rider leaving Rest Stop No. 2 has a very important decision to make before continuing. If they decide to finish the ride as they set out to do, they will have to endure three major climbs over the next 15 miles before encountering the final climb to the finish. If they elect to take the shortcut, they will still have to survive the final climb, but the finish is only 3 1/2 miles away. I elected to finish the 100K HHH route as designed.

 

The first major climb on the last portion of the HHH is sadistically 1 1/2 miles from the rest stop. It is not a good idea to undertake this climb on a full stomach with muscles that have cooled down from a long rest. Pinnacle Road ascends 310 feet in a half mile at a 12 percent pitch. I knew getting to the top was just the start of the hardest part of courses.

 

Yet to come were 400-foot, three-quarter-mile climbs on Lake View Road, with a maximum grade of 11 percent, and County Road T into Barneveld. Fortunately, there are also a couple of very fast downhills on good pavement on Knudson and Bryn Gyrwen roads between all uphills. The downhills are nice rewards. The shifting routine was notable. With 30 speeds I would shift across the range and use a few of my lowest gears or a few of my highest gears. It became shift, shift of the front triple crankset and shift, shift, shift, shift, shift, shift, shift, shift, shift, shift at the rear. The two miles between Barneveld and the last downhill on Ridge View Road allows one to refocus in time to tackle the last difficult climb of the ride. Saving the biggest challenge of the ride for the end is devious but ultimately empowering.

 

When you turn onto Mounds Park Road after a short jog on County K from Ridge View Road, you can see the top of the Blue Mound looming on the horizon. Over the final 3.5 miles of HHH, 925 feet of elevation are gained. I believe this has to be the most difficult finish to any bike ride currently in existence in Wisconsin. When Mounds Park Road crosses Blue Mounds Creek, the grade increases to 11 percent and remains there for the next three-quarters of a mile, sections of this climb are 16%. A short 55-foot descent breaks up the climbing just before the ride enters Blue Mound State Park. The last half-mile of the HHH ascends 300 feet at a 12 percent grade bringing you to the highest point in southern Wisconsin.

 

I stopped before the 16% section for water and to get my heart rate down. I also stopped again in the middle of the climb, one cyclist was suffering from cramps that would go away, and another had simple fallen over and was bruised and bleeding. I made sure they did not need further assistance and waited for them to recover and get moving again under their own power. I was good for the next mile, keeping my speed to 4 -5 mph with a smooth cadence of 50 rpm. The last section as above 15% again. Most of the finishers were walking, I joined them.

 

Well, I finished! I felt better than many of my flat 200k rides last year. Like skiing, cycling requires technique and mental skill, not just athletic ability. Next year will be better yet. I’ll also do the Dairyland Dare in August. I must be a masochist!

 

I'll add pictures later today.


Edited by WILDCAT - 6/20/10 at 7:50am
post #2 of 21

SOunds "fun", next thing you know, you'll be doing the L.A.M.B. ride (google it).

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Up Blue Mound Park RD, It's 16% here;

 

HHH2010006.jpg

 

 

Up Zwettler, 18% here;

 

HHH2010001.jpg

 

And this is Lakeview...

 

HHH2010004.jpg

 

HHH2010003.jpg

 

HHH2010005.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

post #4 of 21

Sounds like it was a helluva ride!  Congrats on surviving - and thriving!

 

Not surprised to see the tri bike rider walking up the steeps.  Tri bikes lack the gearing and geometry to be conducive to good hill riding (unless the bike's owner has installed a setback seatpost and proper gearing, that is, but it's still far from ideal).

 

What's your gearing setup, Wildcat?  I notice you have a triple (30/42/42 or 30/39/52? Or something else?), so what's your cassette like?  It looks like a lot of folks in the crowd (at least per your pix) were running compact doubles, which are no guarantee of hill climbing success.

 

Next weekend is the Garrett County Gran Fondo in Deep Creek Lake, MD.  One of the options is the "Diabolical Double," and I hope to ride it (provided things line up "just so" with work).  Rode 84+ hilly miles yesterday in very hot weather to prep for it.

post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by songfta View Post

Sounds like it was a helluva ride!  Congrats on surviving - and thriving!

 

Not surprised to see the tri bike rider walking up the steeps.  Tri bikes lack the gearing and geometry to be conducive to good hill riding (unless the bike's owner has installed a setback seatpost and proper gearing, that is, but it's still far from ideal).

 

What's your gearing setup, Wildcat?  I notice you have a triple (30/42/42 or 30/39/52? Or something else?), so what's your cassette like?  It looks like a lot of folks in the crowd (at least per your pix) were running compact doubles, which are no guarantee of hill climbing success.

 

Next weekend is the Garrett County Gran Fondo in Deep Creek Lake, MD.  One of the options is the "Diabolical Double," and I hope to ride it (provided things line up "just so" with work).  Rode 84+ hilly miles yesterday in very hot weather to prep for it.


Hi Songfta,

 

The DD ride looks brutal. It must be murder on a hot day. My long term goal is to do the 200k HHH with 10,000 of climbing. Maybe in a few years.

 

I'm running a 50, 39 & 30t road triple and a 12-27 ten speed cassette on my Soma Double Cross. I could install a 28 or 26 granny gear and still be within the range of the derailleurs, as Mike has suggested.

 

I could also lose 30 lbs
 

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by WILDCAT View Post

The DD ride looks brutal. It must be murder on a hot day. My long term goal is to do the 200k HHH with 10,000 of climbing. Maybe in a few years.

 

I'm running a 50, 39 & 30t road triple and a 12-27 ten speed cassette on my Soma Double Cross. I could install a 28 or 26 granny gear and still be within the range of the derailleurs, as Mike has suggested.

 

I could also lose 30 lbs


The DD is tough - the Rapha gang found it insane, and they're all strong riders - though I think we'll get a break with the weather (forecast high of 78°F on ride day - it was 77-93° yesterday on my ride).  Still, it's a lot of climbing of a sort we don't get often in the Blue Ridge or Catoctins: a lot of drops into (and climbs out of) river gorges.

 

You'll get through the 200K version of the HHH sooner than you know.  The L.A.M.B. ride is a good tune-up (though its climbs are longer), as is Mountain Mama (in VA/WV).  You could also wrangle up some folks for a recon ride or two on the 200K course.

 

And trust me: once you do more of these longer-distance, hill-laden rides, the weight sheds itself.  

 

BTW: a 30/27 granny gear is low enough for 99% of the stuff you'll climb.  Your "HR ceiling" approach is a sensible way to approach your first high-intensity challenge rides, and as you get more attenuated to the effort needed, you'll find that your HR won't spike as much on the climbs (or if it does, that you can punch through it to make it over the toughest parts).

 

Again - CONGRATS!

post #7 of 21

Wildcat,

That is one impressive bit of riding! Great job. I think you need to be a cyclist to appreciate how much effort is required both in training and during the actual ride. My climbing skills just plain suck. That ride is just beyond my pay grade.

 

The Pro's were in Philly a few weeks ago and there is a section of the course known as the Manayunk Wall that is 17 degrees for about 3/4 of a mile. They climb it a total of 10 times in the 156 mile circuit. While TV mostly s shows the leaders, the guys in the rear struggle. If I do that one climb, I'm blown out.

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

 

 

post #8 of 21

 

Now this would be an entertaining ride profile to relive with HR, cadence, elevation, speed, grade etc [oh...with an added bonus of a power meter  ] all of which point-in-time interacting viewed on Garmin Connect.  Heck, if you don’t already have a 500 head unit we should start a drive and get you one before you ride this or your next gasser again.  Fantastic accomplishment!

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

Here is the elevation profile of the 200k HHH;

 

hhh_profile.png

post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post

 

Now this would be an entertaining ride profile to relive with HR, cadence, elevation, speed, grade etc [oh...with an added bonus of a power meter  ] all of which point-in-time interacting viewed on Garmin Connect.  Heck, if you don’t already have a 500 head unit we should start a drive and get you one before you ride this or your next gasser again.  Fantastic accomplishment!

That's a great idea.  I :heart: Garmin.
 

post #11 of 21

Amazing!  There really are hills in Wisconsin.

post #12 of 21

Fantastic profile, there!

 

And I second DonDenver's call for a Garmin: they're nice to have.  Saving up for a 500 head unit now, as my 305 is suffering from the typical bad battery contact issues that plague the 205/305 series.  The 500 seems like a step in the right direction, for sure.

post #13 of 21

Quote:

Originally Posted by songfta View Post

Fantastic profile, there!

 

And I second DonDenver's call for a Garmin: they're nice to have.  Saving up for a 500 head unit now, as my 305 is suffering from the typical bad battery contact issues that plague the 205/305 series.  The 500 seems like a step in the right direction, for sure.


Interesting Rudi…I thought a bit more about posting rides [via Garmin.connect in this case] and I’m wondering about revealing home location with google map and riding habits out on an open site esp if your start/stop is your garage door

 

E.g., Betsy and I had a great road ride last weekend with cgeib, lgeib and Bob Barnes in the Summit County area which included a fantastic day with some great rollers, climbs and subsequent fast descents.  I was just about ready to post a TR on that ride but after viewing the garmin mapping output I realized that the start/stop was right at cgeib’s front door   But trust me…the ride profile was awesome albeit without those nasty 16% pitches WILDCAT enjoyed  

 

Nevertheless, my edge 500 [neutral version] is a nice tool including some updates with size, screen displays, calculations, barometric measurement and quarter turn mount.  Still not perfect but as you say….a step in the right direction.

 

Oh…and using the 500 as a head unit my focus turns next to an affordable power meter such as:

 

http://www.metrigear.com/products/

 

So…for WILDCAT’s next big ride I say we chip in and outfit him with both products


* edit...fix vector power meter url


Edited by DonDenver - 6/23/10 at 9:16pm
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenverView Post

 

 

Oh…and using the 500 as a head unit my focus turns next to an affordable power meter such as:

 

http://www.metrigear.com/products/

 

So…for WILDCAT’s next big ride I say we chip in and outfit him with both products


 



I am willing to accept all modern advancements that do not make me feel any slower than I am! If it doesn't boost my self image, I don't want to know.

 

 

Michael


Edited by WILDCAT - 6/23/10 at 1:52pm
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by WILDCAT View Post


I am willing to accept all modern advancements that do not make me feel any slower than I am! If it doesn't boost my self image, I don't want to know.

 

 

Michael

 

Good one.  But of couse to that I say if we cyclists can manage a lycra/spandex self image we can certainly deal with sharing ride data...

 

 

post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 

Looking good and performing well are two separate qualities. Finding both took years of research.

 

I'm doing a 150k 10,000ft of climbing training ride this weekend;

 

https://www.trainingpeaks.com/sr/PGQH4KCTFMXIHK6ZXODO3QCFHA

 

Check out thier Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Dairyland-Dare-2010/245301726076

post #17 of 21

Yeah, Don, the whole "letting 'em know where you hang your hat at night" aspect can be off-putting.  Needless to say, few rides I log with the Garmin are started or stopped at my front door - and those that are tend to be privacy filtered or simply stay local (i.e. within Ascent or TrailRunner on my Mac).
 

I'm glad to hear that the 500 solves some of the biggest gripes I have with the 305.  I've been through two of the 305 units, each one developing the loose power connection that causes spontaneous shutdown when road surfaces aren't perfectly flat and barometric pressure very steady.  I haven't logged a ride with the Garmin in months due to this annoyance, and occasionally use my iPhone with iMapMyRide for rides less than 2 hours in length.  Otherwise, it's gathering data via my HRM and my trusty 'ol Cateye Strada Wireless.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post

Oh…and using the 500 as a head unit my focus turns next to an affordable power meter such as:

 

http://www.metrigear.com/products/

 

So…for WILDCAT’s next big ride I say we chip in and outfit him with both products


Mmmm.... nice.

post #18 of 21

Quote:

Originally Posted by songfta View Post

 

I'm glad to hear that the 500 solves some of the biggest gripes I have with the 305.  I've been through two of the 305 units, each one developing the loose power connection that causes spontaneous shutdown when road surfaces aren't perfectly flat and barometric pressure very steady.  I haven't logged a ride with the Garmin in months due to this annoyance, and occasionally use my iPhone with iMapMyRide for rides less than 2 hours in length.  Otherwise, it's gathering data via my HRM and my trusty 'ol Cateye Strada Wireless.

[Sorry Michael with my drift from OP] I’ve learn much Rudi spending some time in Garmin Forums regarding break fix issues getting some sense of what they’re trying to do.  That said, certainly there is no “perfect” Garmin product or for that matter, any other on the market…and I suspect…probably never will be with all the variables of the human body performing on road surfaces in all kinds of weather and topology.  Certainly the premium HRM strap, GSC 10 and new edge 500 help; but Kilojoules is where we’ll get closer [but still never spot on] to the truth.  Oh, and I also have not ebay’d away my simple, accurate, basic and easy to read Catyeye Strada Wireless just yet...when all else fails

 

Back to WILDCAT:  Checked out your training route and FB.  Some serious fun and riding ahead with that Dairyland Dare of yours

  

 

post #19 of 21

Michael

 

Nice ride!  You should definitely feel a sense of accomplishment for that.  The looks on those folks faces weren't exactly happy.  Looks like a really tough challenge.

 

Mike

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks Michael,

 

I've been riding this part of Wisconsin 3 of the last 5 weekends. Yesterday I completed a 100k training ride for the Dairyland Dare in August, I climbed 6500ft.

 

It's becoming much easier, completed the ride without needing to walk or to rest. I'll keep going up there this summer, it's better than the repetitive flat training I have been performing close to home.

 

Michael

post #21 of 21

It's tough to train for climbing when it's flat.  I really admire those folk from Florida and Houston that do the multiday mountain tours like Ride the Rockies and Bicycle Tour of Colorado.  It's great you're making the effort to find new terrain to challenge you!

 

Mike

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