Since 2003, Horribly Hilly participants have enjoyed a day of riding that results in an awe-inspiring accumulation of 10,000 feet of elevation gain in the Driftless area of Wisconsin. As the event grew in popularity, second and third route options beyond the original course were added in 2005 and 2011. How hard do you want to push it? Choose between the 100K, 150K, and 200K routes. The day is capped with a meal featuring quality local food and beer.
In 1993, Blue Mound State Park manager Karl Heil rode Greg Krystek’s first Abomination ride, which started and finished at the highest point in southern Wisconsin, 1,716-foot West Blue Mound, the focal point of the park. This cue sheet ride was one of Greg’s famous super-challenging rides around southwestern Wisconsin that he previews every year with an article in Silent Sports magazine, followed by an informal group ride. Fifteen people showed up for the first Abomination; it was 117 miles and just over 10,000 feet of elevation gain.
Karl went on to ride the 200K Copper Country Color Tour in Houghton, Michigan, in 1997, and North Carolina’s challenging Bridge to Bridge ride in 1998. A longtime bicycle commuter and hill climbing fan, Karl began to dream that there were enough others like him to support a ride that would feature the fine climbs in the area, promoting both Blue Mound State Park and nearby communities.
In 2002, Karl approached the Mount Horeb Area Chamber of Commerce, which enthusiastically embraced the concept. He then recruited his friend Stuart, who had designed touring centuries, to help. Along with Abomination designer Krystek, they put together a fine 119-mile route — which was supposed to be a “long” 112-mile century, but that’s another story. Criminally sadistic it was.
Ride day came on June 14, 2003, and 400 people showed up. Karl got the shuttle buses loaded up, Stuart barked out directions on the bullhorn at the mass start, some people got lost, everybody got challenged, and everybody loved the Viking Goulash.
A good time was had by all, although fewer than 50 percent of riders finished the route. Tim Valley, an Ironman from Madison, finished the event first in 7 hours and 5 minutes. (He went on to place 16th overall in the Idaho Ironman competition two weeks later.)
The riders were happy, and went home talking about what they would do differently next year, who they were going to tell about it, and how to convince more of their friends to train with them. Karl, Stuart and the rest of the volunteers were thrilled. An event was born, one not to be missed by serious riders anywhere.