We arrived at the Waterfront Park at 5:45 AM and already found some
of the other volunteers working. The same ones, that prepared this event
since days. But soon, trucks got unloaded, tables and signs setup. The
SAG stop crews loaded everything they needed.
At 6:15 we had the first people coming in for the day of event
registration. It still was quiet and the volunteers preparing for the
big storm. The masses came between 7:15 and 8:00 AM. Everybody was very
busy and tried to serve the many riders that came in at the same time
and avoid long waiting times. For the most part this worked very well.
Due to the good weather forecast for a while a line was building up at
the day of event registration. While they were waiting they could grab
some food and thankfully most guests were patient. At the end of the
registration at 8:30 AM we had almost a 1,000 people coming through.
At 8:30 AM the ride got started and the masses headed out. As the
sweep I started at 8:50 AM with my Mountain bike. Barb volunteered to
accompany me. I had my MP3 Player and a speaker attached to the bike and
we were planning for a good ride.
At Citrus tower we caught up with the first riders. While some of
them were walking, you could see that they enjoyed the challenge.
Shortly after that, we already saw the Mechanic working and helping. During
the day we basically didn't see him again. He was constantly busy
helping others. If people where on the side we stopped, offered help, a
short chat and made sure they had everything they need. Going slow,
stopping, going fast to catch up. Finding the last riders for the
century. This was the challenge of the sweep.
We arrived at the Oasis and still had many people here. We met Annie
and Tom. Her bike had a mechanical failure. She couldn't shift the front
chain rings. We found the last riders riding the century. The adjusted
the cable to keep the chain on the middle chain ring and she decided to
give it a try. Tom was riding with her and as we went uphill they passed
us, since she couldn't ride slow. In sympathy and sharing the pain, Tom
decided to also use only his middle chain ring. They successfully
finished the century.
At the top of Jalarmy we came into the second SAG stop as the last
riders for the century. This SAG stop was there for the first time and
we felt it was a very good addition at this point and heard that most
others felt the same way. Dear organizers, hopefully we can keep this
stop for the future.
Towards the end of Cherry Lake road we caught up with a couple that
mentioned that they are riding the century. We rode with them for a
while. They were riding consistent, but not fast. The average speed and
the remaining distance calculated a estimated time of arrival at 7:00
PM. I recommended at the split between the 102 and 74 to consider the 74
Mile option, since they would get into darkness and we couldn't support
riding in dark. But they did want to continue. They were dedicated and
motivated and wouldn't let anybody talk them out of their adventure.
They had lights and told me that they are aware of getting in at dark
and this wouldn't be supported and that's why they had their own SAG
vehicle that they were meeting every once a while.
At the next SAG stop we saw Tom and Annie again and also two Tandems,
who pulled out as we came in. This was the SAG stop of the Wizard of Oz.
Not just that they did a great job as all other volunteers to support
the riders, they also in my view had this years
costumes. What an amazing job! They were dressed up in mid
80's for hours working to provide food and drinks to the riders.
As we left, the dedicated couple came in and we saw their SAG vehicle
We headed out and picked up the speed. After 10 Miles we met the two
tandems that just took a break and enjoyed the nice weather. Until the
next SAG stop we cycled with them. They were riding quite strong.
Actually after all the slow, stop, taking pictures, fast, stop, slow and
fast to catch up riding, I felt my legs quite well and had to work hard
on the Mountain bike to keep up with them.
As we reached the top of American Way we were welcomed cheering at
the next SAG stop. The way they were dressed it seemed that we were in
Jamaica. Most of our friends were here and working, while I was cycling
:-) Jutta, my wife was there volunteering, too. They did a fine job at their SAG stop. They even had a elevation
profile of the ride posted (it looked like the Rocky Mountains). They
stuffed us and our bike bags with more food.
We were told that for the last 30 miles it will be 15 miles of
downhill. Off we went to enjoy the first down on American Way.
As we went up Buckhill at the middle of the steepest part we found a
rider on the side working on the bike. We stopped and the tandems
provided him the needed pump to pump up his tire, since he already had used
his cartridges. But it seemed not to work. The tandems continued and
impressed me that they were able to start cycling straight up Buckhill.
I called the SAG mechanic. He still was busy, but told me he would be
there in 15 min. to give this rider a hop back.
On Sugarloaf I caught up once more with the last riders. We were
going up very slowly. Finally we were on top of Sugarloaf and heading
down on the other side towards the last SAG stop. It was shortly after
5:00 PM and since officially the last SAG closes at 4:00 PM we expected
this SAG to be closed. But to our surprise they were still waiting
for us. Once more a great job from the volunteers, who had to open their
SAG stop first and closed it last. We were happy to see them and
thankfully took food and water.
Now we were on the last stretch to the finish. At the Montverde store
we found a rider that took a break and ate a ice. We waited for him, to
accompany him on the final stretch in. We offered the SAG, since this
was getting into dark and couldn't be supported. But people insisted to
finish on the bike. We had to stop in between since
riders were cramping. We went slow and consistently on the way back. We
were getting into dark. But Barb and myself had front and rear lights.
So as a group we were able to go.
The official supported time of 5:30 PM was long gone by and finally
we came to Clermont. But there was this huge hill between us and the
finish. Once more slowly, but surely we mastered this last challenge. We
reached the finish at 6:20 PM. As we came in people were cheering and
waiting for us. I saw known faces. The ride was over and I was once more the last rider in.
After we loaded the bikes, changed clothes and as we were ready to
head out, shortly before 7 PM, the couple with their own SAG vehicle
came in. Once more some cheering and we were glad to see, that now
really everybody was in. I have to give them credit for their dedication
to finish this ride, even knowing it will take a long time and will be
dark when they come in. But at the end: They did it,
the finished the Horrible Hundred. Congratulations!
This all was possible because of the amazing work of many many
volunteers. I want to thank all volunteers e.g. those at the
start/finish, SAG stops, Mechanic, Medic and SAG vehicles for their
tremendous amount of work and contribution to one of the best organized
centuries around and supporting the last riders. You all did a great job. Thank you.