What the hell is Tour Das Hugel?

A ride to Hell and back.  Does anyone have a roadmap to hell or a Garmin file? Das Hugel is at least 110 miles of Austin’s most brutal hills. (Some swear it’s up to 113 miles and climbing varies from 10k-13k, but who is counting?)

While the ride features some notable (and memorable) individual hills with steep gradients, there are also hills and more hills leading to those hills.

Take solace, however, in that most of the hills are very short in length, so this isn’t like many mountain rides with long ascents. The “course” is made up of two loops, one just short of 40 miles that returns to the starting point, before taking off again into the hills to the Mansfield dam and back.

Now in its 16th year (we think), the tour often draws hundreds of riders.

When and Where?
Saturday, Nov. 9, 7 a.m. we roll. (6:30 a.m. to 6:50 a.m. for T-shirt pickup) Park (or ride to, for extra miles) at the lot on Stratford Drive, just west of Barton Springs. http://goo.gl/maps/QcHg7

Should I ride Das Hugel?

Why shouldn’t I ride Das Hugel?
It’s extremely dangerous. Some of the descents are wickedly fast with winding turns. There’s grooved pavement, traffic, grumpy police, steep grades up that might leave you falling over in your clips, etc. Your doctor would advise against it unless your ticker is in top shape. Your spouse would force you to up your life insurance.

OK, it’s an unforgettable experience. Gorgeous scenery. And everyone is joined in the camaraderie of pain.

Is this a race?
No. Although Strava geeks often compete on segments. Novices (like this writer) should not play with Strava, however, since you end up with undeserved KOMs when the app is still running in your pocket and your car is zooming around town.

Are there any “course markers”?
Used to be, but not anymore. Bring a cue sheet. And for God’s sake, don’t make a wrong turn. It will just be an additional hill to climb.

What if it rains?
See “Why shouldn’t I ride Das Hugel?” above.  There is no rain-date make-up. So riders should use common sense and wait for dry pavement, particularly for descents or ascents where you might be doing wheelies. Tip, stay on the saddle if the pavement is wet going up!

What governing body sanctions this event?
Ha! None. This is not even a ride. It’s an informal gathering of riders who happen to meet in one place and follow a route that no one devised.

SAG and Party on Garth?
There is no formal support. Rest stops often appear out of the blue, a vehicle with supplies is rumored to be tracking the route, and numerous convenience stores are available for supplies. But obviously, bring a tube or three. Often, a number is published before the ride to offer limited help if needed. Most often there is one official rest stop at Sun Tree Cove that is stocked with all kinds of goodies.

Gatherings after the ride often occur to imbibe and replace the 6,400 calories spent. Stay tuned to the Facebook page to keep in the loop.

What do I get when I finish?
A T-shirt, when you pre-order, although we usually have extras.  OK, we’ll even give you a T-shirt if you don’t finish or just do the first loop. The shirt used to be a completion badge, but now it’s an acknowledgement for anyone who tries and has fun. (And a warning promo for those who ask you about it. See “Why shouldn’t I ride Das Hugel?“) And if you make it to the finish at the right time, a Pabst might even land in your hand.

Standard T-shirt donation can be made here, with proceeds above costs going to supplies, and if enough leftover, a local bike nonprofit. All shirts must be picked up on tour day, preferably before the ride begins.

What’s the hardest hill?
Beauford. OK, who knows? Everyone has a personal preference.

What’s the most discouraging hill?
That’s a surprise. But let’s just say there’s a big view both ways.

Do I need lights?
They come in handy if the weather is glum for the start. Don’t be such a weight weenie. And if you’re like this writer, they likely will come in handy when you’re still toiling on the course after dark.

What’s with the name?
Hügel is German for hill. We think it should be “Der Hugel,” but “Das” is how it started and “Das” is how it ends.