Hotter'n Hell Hundred
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Wichita Falls, Texas
The extreme heat we had been experiencing in Texas prompted the HHH promoters to experiment by starting the 100 milers at 6:15 a.m., an hour earlier than the normal starting time. The official racers, Scorchers (fast riders), Keepers (people like I who have completed the 100 miles but not at bragging speeds), and Hopefuls (speaks for itself) lined up for the early start.
Oops. Four thousand riders took off early. It was reported that 100, 65, 50, and even 25 milers "took advantage" of the early start. Our group may have fudged a little ourselves. I had already decided that I would ride the 100K as the heat had been taking a toll on me this summer.
With 4,000 taking off early, that left 7,870 to start at the traditional time of 7:05 a.m. right after the jets from nearby Sheppard AFB performed a "fly over."
Although the promoters were a little disappointed that so many took off early, they did acknowledge that it reduced the congestion at the rest stops, and there were considerably fewer accidents in the first 20 miles.
Liz Rappe', Christine Jones, Roy Jones
The sun was still trying to come up and our eyes still trying to open by the time we arrived at the first rest stop.
Leaving civilization at Iowa Park was an easy task as the intersections were well manned to control traffic--and riders.
After miles and miles of rather flat terrain, one easily forgets that there were some rollers along the way.
The good part of the rollers was that my Garmin documented grades from only 3-5%...enough to make the flat landers cramp by mile 30, but I never saw anyone pushing his bike up a hill.
Bicycle tube manufacturers had a windfall on this ride. I saw more flats this year than the last two years put together.
Rest stop # 2 routinely wins the best theme award. This year it was obviously a Christmas theme.
The cool theme did little to assuage the sun from beating down. We started to notice the heat at about 9:30. And there were still plenty of miles left.
By rest stop 3, there were lines outside the tents just to get in line inside the tents.
Brian Backlund joined us at rest stop 3. He had waited for the traditional start time--and caught up with us after 30 or so miles.
My kit of the day award...the latest thing: compression socks.
I have nothing against compression socks as they are touted to
provide extra support, increase blood circulation, and reduce blood pooling in the legs that can cause fatigue and leg cramps. It is just that I wish they could be more color coordinated.
I think I mentioned miles and miles and miles.
Rest stop 4 had more lines to merge into other lines. This rest stop served the 50 milers and 100K riders as the two routes met at the intersection.
Pulling up at the rest stop was Stacie Doughty who was riding the 50 miles with her sister who had just begun riding. Stacie, I was miles down the road before it dawned on me that I should have taken a picture of both you and your sister. Sorry.
The sun was really beating down by this time (it reached 109 F), so Liz decided on double protection. Sun screen and reflector. The sun rays would just hit her face and be reflected away. Well, that was my theory.
We were, after all, in Texas. The pump jacks looked like giant praying mantises saluting the riders as they went past.
The communities really support the ride and riders. The locals were out to cheer us even at the 6:30 start. Here a group of small girls cheered riders as they passed their location. Next year if they set up a Kool-Aid stand, they would make a mint.
The neat ranch award. Note the two riders who sought refugee under the shade tree.
Miles, occasionally interspersed with an accident.
Rest stop 5 (or mile 50) anticipated the heat and took pity on the wayfarers. The spray was really refreshing.
Besides the spray, rest stop personnel were handing out snow cones. They forgot to tell Christine that hers was a pickle juice snow cone.
HHH volunteers really go out of their way to entertain and please the riders. If there had been shade and a fan, Christine and I would have over-stayed our welcome.
People were warned not to park their bikes in the "grass" on the right. Stickers abounded (we call them goat heads because the stickers look like they are covered with little, vicious goat horns), and there was a solid line of riders on the sides of the road with flats.
One of the many highlights of the day was the ride through Sheppard Air Force Base. It's difficult to tell how large the old B-59 bomber is.
Host pilots were happy to take the tourists' pictures so Brian, Christine, Liz, and I lined up in front of a missile.
Remember the warning about stickers?
Rita Whitby of Fort Worth experienced the damage from the nasty things. We pried out at least ten stickers from her tire. Liz gave Rita her tube because Rita had given her tube to a guy who had had about 6 flats.
The great A-10 "Warthog" tank killer.
Brian in front of a short take-off cargo plane, The C-130.
Oh yes, Sheppard was our last official rest stop.
Sheppard was our last rest stop, but first, one more picture.
Upon leaving the base, one gets to ride through a host of airmen all cheering us on--and they sounded genuine.
Got to admire the troops. It was well over a 100 degrees.
Tah Dah. Completed our fifth HHH!
There was live entertainment under the tent, but, boy, was it hot.
So, Christine had to partake of her favorite recovery drink.
And partake of her favorite recovery activity. I can tell by the satisfied look on her face that she is thinking of all the pleasant memories of the epic HHH ride. And already looking forward to next year.