Events: Why You Should do the Hell of Hunterdon 2016
(2016) There are shop rides people seek when asked for a trustworthy cycling experience. There are roads people suggest when asked for a local color route by a visiting cyclist. There are even cyclist-friendly stops that come to mind if a rider were to inquire about a great cup of coffee. Those are the moments that define why people ride bikes. It’s a great day if a rider can incorporate all of those attributes into one day. But somewhere out there in the Delaware Valley region is a ride like none other, something a bit more. And it’s back for its eighth year.
I have ridden the Kermesse Sport’s Hell of Hunterdon six times. It is the very example of an event that gets better each year. Some of the most memorable moments on a bike have occurred throughout the sectors of Hunterdon County. This experience can only happen to those who are quick to register, and the alert email just came in today.
I still have occasional numbness on my fingertips from a Hell of Hunterdon ride I completed with teammates several years ago. We struggled mightily in extremely cold and rainy conditions. At one point I pushed my way past a gas station attendant to stand in his office and warm my hands by his kerosene heater. Had I held my hands closer I probably would’ve set the flesh on fire. All he said was, “Can I help you?” I’m sure my face betrayed a look of desperation and he left me alone, returning to pump gas for motorists. Even if he did suspect me of robbery, how far would my frozen body carry me down the road?
Other years I battled mechanical issues, owing to the fact that cobbles are to be hit hard and down the center. Emulating this force on gravel roads can have a different effect in the form of punctures. One year I cross-chained and snapped my Whipperman in two only to have the unbelievable luck of a support vehicle right behind me. It’s no wonder I have a pep talk with my bike before rolling away from the starting line. It’s a battle of man with machine looking to best the experiences of Hunterdon’s roads along with seven-hundred-plus riders.
There are relaxing moments, too, believe me. Climbing through small historical hamlets calms the nerves. Talking to the fantastic volunteers at the aid stations can give a rider some much needed inspiration. Making the final turn toward the Elks Lodge many hours after departing in freshly washed kits and on a shiny bike is an overwhelming satisfaction. Sitting in the Elks Lodge after the completion eating great food and drinking a victorious beer certainly cannot be beat.
These moments as well as the challenges among cyclist and mechanicals, rider and the elements, are going to leave each participant with satisfaction only the Hell of Hunterdon can create.
Imagine my giddiness when the Hell of Hunterdon and Spring Classic News alert graced my inbox this morning. It indicates so many things. It means the Spring Classics are coming back. It means the European cobbles will be the focus again. It means time to get ready to make deals with oneself and one’s bike to get over the next climb, through the next gravel section, and into the final miles of the events coming to this area. It is advised to be ready to register for the Hell of Hunterdon on January 27 at 7pm (EST). That recommendation alone should indicate that this is a serious event. There are so many Kermesse rides coming into town again. This is just the beginning.