The day that became Hell of Hunterton had its beginnings at SSCXWC13PHILLY. Two strangers, a Nebraskan and a Philadelphian, took part in the madness of junkyards and snowy CX races. They must have connected on facebook because their profile photos matched: leopard print racing in snow vs. orange onesie racing in junkyards. Twitter convos erupted over women’s bike advocacy, education policy, and kimche. So obviously when said-Nebraskan decided to sign up for Hell of Hunterdon, said-Philadelphian offered honorary club-status as riding buddy. True story.
It wasn’t without some trepidation that I offered to ride with Elisabeth Grindcore, seeing as how she was third at Bilenky Junkyard CX, completes century rides every month, and is generally a beast. In fact, every group ride I have done to this point in the new year has been painful: last up the hills, barely hanging on by the end. Let’s just say life gets in the way some times, and I’m still working back my fitness.
We hit the first gravel descent, and Elisabeth is literally gone – she is absolutely fearless on gravel! We had established earlier that if our paces were wildly different, we could just go our separate paths. So I rode until I found someone riding at a good pace – this is crucial for long distance rides (having had some experience with these in the past), which happened to be a woman from Stan’s NoTubes (thanks for pacing, lady!). But then remarkably, I must have found my legs (FINALLY), because I caught up to the Grindcore. Our paces matched enough that we rode the rest of HoH together.
There are many ways to ride for 5 hours: racing against the clock, “racing” other riders, always focusing on goals, workouts, and fitness. Or, you can ride at a comfortable pace that you can hold for hours and notice that the weather and scenery are amazing. You can share legends of 100 mile races in desert sand, discuss methods for making kimche, girl talk for serious, use systems thinking to break down the U.S. education system into its component-seemingly unrelated-parts, explain techniques of descending gravel BY A GRAVEL SS WORLD CHAMPION (pirate league, no less), demonstrate best lines in gravel, and generally have a chance to get to know someone you never would have encountered outside of cycling. Needless to say, we opted for the latter option, and we barely noticed the miles slipping by. Oh, and by the way, we weren’t riding that slowly either, but a solid 15 mph average.
In the mean time, it sounds like Kristie James, Lauren Buechner, the Todd, Sandy S, Mitsie, and occasionally Jules Benson and Jeff Goldstein had a great time as well. Kristie even managed to soldier through with maybe half a lung. Huge shout out to Jeff Goldstein who gave me and Mitsie a lift!
The course was well-marked, the volunteers were always super friendly at the rest stops, and there was beer and pasta at the end. Thank you to the organizers for all your hard work in putting together Hell of Hunterton! We had an amazing time.
The following photos are by Jules Benson of QCW: