By David Cox, Capital City Cyclists
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The way Jennifer Koch sees it, what cyclist wouldn’t want a hot spaghetti dinner after 100 miles in the saddle to top off one of North Florida’s most scenic bike rides?
Koch and her team of kitchen warriors form Tallahassee’s Capital City Cyclists club makes sure the aroma of herb-filled tomato sauce, garlic and everything Italian greets the riders of the Spaghetti 100 at the end of their journey. She’ll do it again on Oct. 6 when the 29th edition of this classic bike ride takes riders through rural North Florida and South Georgia.
“The cyclists are so appreciative coming in from the century or the metric century and seeing all this food,” said Koch. “It gives me a real sense of commitment to our cycling community.”
The Spaghetti 100 began in 1983 when a couple dozen Tallahassee cyclists gathered for a 100 mile ride and a spaghetti dinner afterward. It has now evolved into one of the area’s most anticipated cycling events. As more ride options were added for both road and off-road enthusiasts, those initial few dozen participants has swelled to 400 riders expected for this year’s edition.
And more changes are coming, said Zach Finn, president of Capital City Cyclists. A 35-mile road ride has been added for riders new to cycling, but Finn’s most anticipated addition is the award for the Tallahassee World Champion rainbow jersey.
For years the first finisher of the Spaghetti 100 road century was unofficially dubbed Tallahassee World Champion. This year the first male and female riders of the road c
entury and the 65-mile dirt epic ride will be officially recognized with a rainbow jersey. While the competition is informal, there are no timing chips and the winners will be determined on the honor system, Finn is excited about this new twist.
“It is the Tallahassee World Championships, but there are going to be a lot of champions out there participating in the all the events,” Finn said.
Everyone who has ridden the Spaghetti 100 has a story.
Tallahassee triathlete Brook Pace rode her first Spaghetti in 2006. She had recently started cycling and some friends suggested doing the ride. “It was my first 100-mile ride. We did it really slow and stopped at every rest stop. I was wearing soccer shorts and a tee-shirt,” Pace said.
Now Pace is a contender for a women’s Tallahassee World Champion jersey. “It just seems like every time I’ve done it, it’s the hardest 100-mile ride I’ve ever ridden,” she said.
Beginning in the crossroads community of Miccosukee, about 20 miles east of Tallahassee, road and dirt road riders will be treated to the areas rolling hills, historic Southern plantations rustic country side and plenty of small town hospitality.
There are several rest stops stocked with high energy drinks and snacks along the route plus a sit-down (or fill up your jersey pockets and go) lunch stop in Boston, Ga.
Proceeds from this year’s event will go to support Capital City Cyclists’ bicycle advocacy programs, such as the Kids on Bikes Elementary Education program, Trips for Kids, and other regional youth-focused bicycle programs.
In the years since the Spaghetti 100 began, Capital City Cyclists added a metric road century to encourage more riders to participate. About 12 years ago possibly the most popular addition to the ride was the inclusion of two dirt road rides. The routes take riders through the heart of some of the area’s most beautiful plantations and forested areas.
Rick Ashton is a Tallahassee endurance athlete who got hooked on the dirt rides immediately.
“I can’t even remember the first time I did the Spaghetti,” said Ashton, 65. “I always did the road 100 before the dirt rides started up, but I’ve been doing the dirt ever since. It’s just so nice to get off the roads and into the woods. You don’t have to worry about traffic and you see a lot of wildlife. It’s just real cool back there.”
Enough, though, about riding bikes, let’s get back to that Italian dinner at the end.
In the past Koch has worked with a local culinary school the week before the ride to prepare the estimated 16 gallons of spaghetti sauce (meat and vegetarian) 30 pounds of pasta, 30 pounds of salad, and 30 or more loves of French bread needed to feed everyone.
But this year the school has an out of town commitment before the ride, and Koch is wondering how much of the dinner preparations can be done in her home kitchen. Still, she makes this solemn promise:
“I will make it, and the spaghetti will be there Saturday morning. It always is.”
*Since the article was written, Keiser University has stepped back up to continue to provided the Spaghetti & Sauce for Spaghetti 100!
Register Online Today: http://www.prerace.com/races/event/41886
Article Feature in Florida Cycling Magazine, September 2012 issue 2: http://www.floridacyclingmagazine.com/current-issue-1.html