Going into the Horsey Hundred, I was aiming to do something I had never done before: complete two marathon-caliber (or higher) endurance events in consecutive weeks. On May 21, it was Toughman Indiana-Noblesville, a half-Iron (70.3) triathlon, followed by the 102-mile Horsey Hundred bike ride on May 28.
My goal for the HH: take my time, and finish it. The weather forecast was for hot and muggy conditions, with a slight chance of afternoon rain. Temperatures were projected to be in the mid-high 80s, with high humidity.
For this reason, I took three water bottles with me: (a) an aero-bar-mounted Speedfil hyrdration system that allows me to drink while riding in the aero position; (b) a large Camelbak bottle in my main bottle holder; and (c) a regular water bottle to serve as my emergency hydration. Because the rest stops were spaced well–the longest ride in between stops was 18 miles, with most being closer to 13 and one being 11–I expected that I should not have to go to the third bottle.
Still, I planned to drink lots, in order to prevent dehydration. I also planned to put down between 300-400 calories–mostly carbs–at each of the rest stops.
We departed at 0635.
The first stage, which lasted about 16 miles, was relatively easy. It was muggy, but not hot. There was some cloud cover, and that helped keep things somewhat pleasant. We arrived at the rest stop before it was even open, but I had packed plenty of gels. I stopped to pee, refill my Speedfil bottle, and get some calories down. Then we headed back out.
The second stage was also uneventful. All the riders were somewhat comfortable. I refilled both my Speedfil and my Camelbak bottle, got some more calories down, made sure I peed, and headed back out.
The third stage was tougher, largely due to the long climbs at and around Peaks Mill near Frankfort. Still, while the climbs were long, they were not steep. I pulled into Frankfort (mile 43) feeling very good. I methodically downed more calories, refilled my water bottles, peed, and headed back out.
The 4th stage was easier, as we received a small downpour that lasted all of two minutes. It actually felt good, and gave some respite from the heat and mugginess. Pulling into Millville (mile 53), I figured the worst was over. There would be a long climb coming out of Millville, but, to my recollections, it was not as tough as Peaks Mill. With freshly-filled water bottles, I began the back half of the ride.
At about mile 55, we started to get more rain. It was steady and light, and felt refreshing. When that rain moved out, the sun also appeared, bringing plenty of heat to go with the humidity. We knew that the rest of the ride was going to be hard.
From then on, the brutality began.
Pulling into mile 65, I had gone through two water bottles in less than 12 miles! I also felt myself starting to get fatigued, which was highly-unusual at that part of a century ride. I was thinking that the after-effects of Toughman Indiana were starting to take a toll on me. Still, I refilled the water bottles, put down some more calories, and headed back out.
The stretch from 65-77 was, in a word, nastiness. The Dry Ridge Rollers–with which I was well-acquainted, as this was my fourth Horsey Hundred–were downright awful. The heat and humidity were adding to the troubles. I pulled into mile 77, having gone through all three water bottles in barely 12 miles!
From there, I made sure I had plenty in the tank for the 16-mile ride to the final rest stop: Bethel Presbyterian Church, where they were serving root beer floats. I almost never get one, but this time I would be ready for a treat.
Shortly after pulling out of mmile 77, I bonked at about mile 80. My legs were totally shot: I had next to nothing on the uphills. My aero riding was marginal at best. I would finish, but it was going to be a hellish 22 miles.
I proceeded to go through almost all my water bottles on the way to Bethel Presbyterian Church.
Pulling into that last stop, I was never so happy to see a cooler or Gatorade. I quickly refilled my bottles, drank some Gatorade, and then treated myself to a root beer float.
The final 9 miles were relatively mild, even if the heat was brutal. There were some hills, but nothing like before. Other than some potholes that were well-marked, the final stretch was uneventful. There were cops everywhere, on the lookout for drunk drivers.
I was dead tired at the finish, but happy to be done.
Other than the bonk, I had a good ride. I had minimal chafing; my hydration strategy paid off big, and I was methodical with calories. I attribute the bonk to the triathlon I ran the week before.
Even with that last 22 miles of misery, it was instructive. As Winston Churchill once quipped: “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”
Next stop: Bike Morehead on June 18, followed by Tri Louisville (a sprint triathlon) on June 19.