BLUE MOUNDS — Hundreds of bicyclists from across the country, and across the world, gathered in the town of Blue Mounds early Saturday morning, June 15, to participate in what has been called “the Toughest One-Day Challenge Ride in the Midwest” — the Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike ride through the countryside of eastern Iowa County and western Dane County.

The 17th annual event saw participants from 25 states in the U.S. and 10 different countries, all finding their way to the small town of Blue Mounds for a painfully fun, must-do biking experience through the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. Cyclists had the option to choose one of three routes — 100K, 150K or 200K — with the longest ride of the three boasting an accumulation of 10,700 feet of elevation gain.

Participants have ample rest stops along the way and are able to enjoy an after-event meal featuring music, locally sourced food and beer, plus conversation with other like-minded athletes that take pleasure in taking on a good challenge like the Horribly Hilly event.

The popular bike ride is a fundraiser for the Friends of Blue Mound State Park, a nonprofit organization of volunteers working together to benefit the park by enhancing and preserving its natural resources while also offering activities and projects to improve the park guests’ visit. In the past, the Friends group has provided significant funding for a new pool, mountain bike trail improvements, trail signage, campsite updates, solar panels, winter trail grooming equipment and other park needs.

Think you could be up to the Horribly Hilly challenge? Because of its growing popularity, the event has been using an annual lottery system of registration to accommodate the increasing number of interested riders.

For more information, visit horriblyhilly.com.