The Hilly Hundred started with a few riders in Bloomington, Indiana who got together to ride the hills of southern Indiana and enjoy the fall colors. Each year it has gotten bigger and better. More than 5,000 cyclists from over 40 states participate in it. Most of the hills are short but steep, with grades between 12—21%. This was the 45th year of the event. http://www.hillyhundred.org/
It is a three day event with riding on Saturday and Sunday. The route has changed the last few years. This year is was 57 miles on Saturday and 43 miles on Sunday. There is a morning break, a lunch break and an afternoon break. There is plenty of food and live bands at each stop.
With no exact starting time, the cyclists are spread out over the route, so it never is terribly crowded.
Chris has ridden in the event for the last dozen years or so. We always camp at a nearby state park. He is always accompanied by Neil Oslos, Melinda’s former brother-in-law, and Monte Stevenson, Neil’s brother-in-law.
Then there are always a few additional people that ride some or all of the ride. This year Neil’s wife Suzie joined us. She has listened to the stories for all these years and wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. She and Melinda drove parts of the route and encouraged the riders. Rumor has it they also went out to lunch and went shopping.
We were also joined by Greg and is son Graham. They acted as volunteers on Saturday and rode the whole route on Sunday. Good job for such a little kid. Chris was hoping to get a picture of them walking up a hill, but that didn’t happen.
Lots of locals come out and enjoy all of the colorful riders zipping by. We encountered a young family giving out “free cookies and water.” They were out there last year, but had told us that they were selling the farm and moving to Colorado. Well, their plans changed and they were back again this year passing out more free cookies and water.
They own several alpacas and invited us over to hand feed them. They were a lot smaller than we had imagined. One male and 11 females. They were very cute. You can buy one if you want. http://www.openherd.com/farms/1133/abounding-acres-alpacas-and-more
Along the route is the Greene County viaduct, also known as the Tulip Trestle, which we have been told is the third longest bridge of its kind in the world. We don’t know if that is true or not. What we do know is that it was built in 1906, is a half-mile long, has 18 towers as support and is out in the middle of nowhere. We stopped for a photo of Monte and Neil posing with it.
Continuing on, we ran into two girls playing with the pony and pet duck. Cute as buttons and happy to be in a picture. Scenes like this keep the ride interesting.
There were a few goats here and there.
Every year there are cyclists pulling or carrying a pet. You just never know what you will run into.
Sunday was much warmer, dryer and picture perfect. We were joined by Chris’ friend, Vincent Puccia. He was a stronger rider than us, but stuck with the our group for the entire ride.
Towards the end of the day there is a giant hill, called Mt. Tabor. It is legendary to the event and many tales are told about what prowess in requires to summit. It is a beast to get up, and you can stand at the top to watch people simply fall off their bikes as they progressively slow down on the way up. Eventually going so slowly, they simply topple over to one side or the other. Quite a few have to walk up the darn thing. Vincent was first up, so no pictures of him. He was followed by Chris, Monte, Graham and Greg.
Bringing up the rear was Neil. He had some excuse about having just returned from 2 weeks in China, still in the throes of jet-lag. He claimed that Saturday was his training ride. Tabor Hill came near the end of Sunday’s route . . . probably digging into his reserves by then. After all, how can a guy from Florida possibly train for the hills of southern Indiana? To his credit—he never walked!
Graham made it to the top, but was pretty tuckered out.
We stayed over Sunday night, and fixed a breakfast by the fire the following morning. Then we all hiked some of the trails in the park before splitting up. It was a good chance to catch some of that famous Hoosier fall color one last time.
And so we left the park in all its glory. This was our first Hilly event with the Airstream and it didn’t disappoint. Having its conveniences puts a whole new slant on camping out at the Hilly. Our companions proved they are made of tougher stuff, tenting it over the three days. Kudos especially go to Suzie, who seemed to take it all in her stride!
With two Fall seasons behind us, we now have one last destination. Will we still find some remaining fall color as we head for the North Carolina mountains with a couple of stops along the way?
Airstream Travelers in Southern Indiana,
Chris and Melinda