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Indiana’s Hilly Hundred Bicycle Tour

Amanda hopes to help people find unique places to visit in the United States as well as provide travel tips.

Up to 5,000 cyclists would pass our house on the day of the Hilly Hundred.

Up to 5,000 cyclists would pass our house on the day of the Hilly Hundred.

The Hilly Hundred

It was early one October morning, we were warming ourselves by the wood stove when the first cyclist rode past our house. It would be a long day as there were roughly 5,000 more cyclists to come. Each year, since 1968, Hilly Hundred bicycle tourists spend two days cycling over winding country roads in south central Indiana. They cover roughly 50 miles of hilly terrain each day. Cyclists come from all over the world to participate in this event. Since it is close to Halloween, some cyclists ride in costume and there is a contest for the best one.

During the event, flag cars drive back and forth along the route to pick up any cyclists who are injured, have a broken bike, flat tire, or are too tired to continue. Official rest stops along the way provide food, medical aid, bike repair, and live music. But we decided to have an unofficial rest stop in our front yard.

Our Unofficial Rest Stop

We learned pretty quick not to try to go anywhere on Hilly Hundred day. Driving carefully among thousands of cyclists for miles, means that it takes forever to get anywhere! We considered ourselves housebound on that day. Since we had front row seats for the action, we decided to make the most of it by serving water, Gatorade and cookies to the cyclists. Our home is at the top of a rather long hill, so many cyclists appreciated the chance to take a breather.

Meeting the Cyclists

The first year that we offered refreshments, it got pretty warm in the afternoon. Many cyclists stopped to take a break under our shade trees. We visited with people from all across the country and even some from Europe. Some needed directions or asked about area attractions. Others had trouble with their bikes, so my husband got out his tools and helped. One couple asked if they could take some pictures of our alpacas. We brought the alpacas into the barn so that they could see them up close.

Years later, I did a google image search for alpacas. I noticed that some of the images looked exactly like my alpacas. Then I noticed that they were in my barn! They were not pictures I had taken. I followed the link and found a blog post by this cycling couple, talking about how much they enjoyed their visit to our farm.

A Family Tradition

Grandma flew in from out of state to be here for the Hilly Hundred. She enjoyed waving to the cyclists and visiting with the ones who stopped. On years when the weather turned cold or rainy, the cyclists peddled on by, eager to finish the tour. But we clapped and cheered for them anyway. We stayed outside until the last cyclists came up the hill and we cheered and clapped loudest for them.

Cute Kids Collect Money

We did not charge for the refreshments, as we intended to provide them for free. However, cyclists kept giving my children money. We insisted that everything was free and they insisted that the kids keep the money. By the end of the day, my kids had collected a fair sum. We decided to donate the money to a worthy cause. That is when I found Trips for Kids.

Trips for Kids

“Founded in San Rafael, California (Marin County) in 1988, social activist and cycling legend Marilyn Price pioneered the practice of bicycle trail riding to deliver lessons in personal responsibility, achievement and environmental awareness through the simple act of having fun.”1

“[Today, their] programs are helping to combat the physical inactivity crisis, promote equitable access to safe places to play and exercise, provide opportunities for physical activity in and out of school, and build self-esteem, personal skills and learn environmental stewardship, thus mentoring youth to achieve better life outcomes.”1

We doubled the money that we collected from the cyclists and donated it to this cause. In subsequent years we put out a can for donations, but never received as much money as we did that first year.

indianas-hilly-hundred-bicycle-tour

Unfortunately, our new family tradition was short lived. Just when we were really getting the hang of serving refreshments and anticipating what the cyclists might need, road conditions forced officials to change the route. The Hilly Hundred cyclists no longer pass our house. We miss watching the them peddle by. But we are happy for the memories we made.

References

  1. Trips for Kids. Retrieved on October 29, 2019 from https://www.tripsforkids.org/our-story

© 2019 Amanda Buck

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