Last weekend Kurtis and I rode Day 1 of “The Hilly,” a famed southern Indiana bicycle ride now in its 44th year. We were rookies, and we loved it so much we’re certain we’ll do it again. We camped on the grounds of Edgewood schools. Many riders packed the schools’ gymnasiums, picture rows of sleeping bags atop air mattresses. Not that I’ve experienced Woodstock, but it felt a bit like that festival. Our Saturday ride traversed 57 miles throughout the Monroe and Green county hills, some rolling and flowing, some straight-up nasty. Our legs churned. They burned. 5,202 feet of climbing to be exact. And that, friends, really is fun.
Why, you might wonder? Well, simply put, we delight in a challenge of body and mind. It’s beating it with a few thousand (yes, like 5,000) others. If you’ve done the Mini, the buzz of the crowd felt much the same…and there are riders of all ages, shapes, sizes who ride all kinds of bicycles. Recumbents, tandems, parents towing kids, an older gentleman with his terrier whose head bobbed above a milk crate behind the saddle…there are costumes and crazy socks, hats and flashy cycling jerseys. We like the cyclist breed, and we fit in well.
It’s also the food. As the day went on, I began to think that people rode as much for the SAGs (or refueling stations) as anything else. There was entertainment in the form of live music at each stop, riders stopping to stretch, re-filling water bottles and stocking up on much-anticipated treats. Square Donuts anyone? Really? All you can eat muffins and bagels and trail mix? Bananas and pb&j sandwiches? Wow, and this was at mile 14.3! We each snarfed a Square Donut, then split a half-bagel. We were glad to have some carbs and patted ourselves on the back for not gorging.
SAG 2 – Mile 28.1 “Lunch” – Fried Chicken, raw veggies, chips and cookies. Heck, even the Schwan man showed up! One could fist a chicken drumstick in one hand, a chocolate drumstick in the other. Naughty, yes, but it’s possible at the Hilly (for the record, we did not perform this stunt). By the end of this SAG, we had ridden several miles with a couple whose wedding we photographed a few years back…we ran into one of our former brides and her children passing out the aforementioned Square Donuts (her groom was riding)…and after seeing the fanny flag (the name bib you wear on your backside) with Bowersock on it, a woman knowing Kurtis in grade school said her hellos. Really neat.
SAG 3 – Mile 44 The Last Stop – Apple Cider! Fruits and Nuts. Musgrave Orchard poured some 900 gallons of cider over the weekend. That’s incredible. We were feeling a little ragged at this point and were ready to pedal onto the finish. So we went, pumping our fists at the finish line. And what was waiting for us??? Oh yeah, a Ritter’s ice cream bar. All that riding and probably a net day for calories in/out?! But again, totally worth it.
We had to go home before Sunday’s ride, an optional 49 mile or 39 mile ride. I’m sure there were more goodies to be had and more leg busters. We’ll give that one a go next time.
All in all, a wonderful event. A must-do for cyclists. There are so many great sights, I hope to capture the event much more with my camera next time. We look forward to doing it again and hope if you’re planning on it, we can pedal together.
I didn’t pack my good camera for the ride, but I did grab it before we started. Here’s a view of the starting line of the 2011 Hilly, the moon backing off in the distance.