Hotter'n Hell Hundred
August 29, 2015
Wichita Falls, Texas
Almost 11,000 riders participated in this famous endurance ride. Behind the flags is the MPEC building where one picks up the registration packet and is engulfed in a biker's fantasy. Vendors had on hand just about any cycling accessories that a biker could possibly want, need, or just get an extra something to have on hand. And if hungry or thirsty that could be satisfied in the building also.
However, a group of us from San Angelo chose the spaghetti dinner over in the coliseum. Shown from left to right are Mel, Jerry, Jeffri, Christine, myself, and Brian. Liquids included water, tea, and not so secret free beer. Christine satisfied all of her carb needs. Jeffri was kind enough to give me some extra cookies so I replenished the sugar for my legs to burn on the big ride.
Before heading off to the hotel to switch tires that I bought inside the MPEC (yes, it was a need, not a want), we watched the criterion race taking place right outside the MPEC and Coliseum.
Most would ride the 100 mile race the next day. Hope they had their quota of carbs and sugar also.
Early Saturday morning rolled around and the line-up began.
Although I mentioned that 11,000 would ride, the number of participants was down in comparison to past years when 12,000-14,000 would try their luck.
Day break began to lighten the sky. Still not time to take off.
A chance meeting enabled us to talk with Mike who used to be from San Angelo. Of the thousands of parking places, Mike was about two cars from us as we were unloading. Good seeing you again, Mike.
Tony, from San Angelo, rolled up getting in line with the 100K riders.
Also in the 100K line up was Jerry.
Sunrise. About time for roll out.
Christine was all smiles. I think she had a premonition that she was going to beat me to the finish line this day.
As Christine was taking my picture for posterity, she said the low battery light was blinking on my camera. NO! We were still at the start and I had charged the battery fully just before we left home the previous day. I was going to have to be judicious in my picture taking. After the fact, Jerry took some nice pictures on the ride and forwarded some to me.
Jerry was riding the 100K and Christine and I were doing the 50 miler. As such, Jerry's pictures will be on the 65 mile route. Eventually the two routes merged so there will be a little continuity.
This "mob" is at Rest Stop 2 on the 100K route. I would have liked to have been there, too, but I couldn't ride two courses. (Inside joke for the San Angelo riders).
On a more serious note, see the pack on the far right starting to go down hill? There is an accident almost every year as the crowd goes too fast and someone clips a wheel. Jerry reported that this year a lady was pretty banged up but conscious.
Now this is a nice spread of riders.
Rest Stop 2 for the 50 milers, 30 miles into the ride. It is rest stop 4 (40 miles) for the 100K riders. The two routes merged at this point.
Rest stop at the "top" of the hill. To get here was a good two mile climb into the wind. The water mister, ice cold rags, and chocolate chip cookies were a welcome reward. They had some of the best pickle juice also. Not sure of the brand but it was good, especially over ice.
Among the many highlights of the 100k and 50 mile routes was the ride through Sheppard Air Force Base. On the right is an old B-59.
Various air planes and jets are lined up on display for the visitors. Pilots give up their time to stand there all day for photo shots and to answer questions. The editor's favorite is the A-10 (Warthog) bedecked in its traditional tiger teeth paint.)
This is the versatile C-130 transport plane.
Airmen formed sort of a gauntlet, but enthusiastically cheered each rider through. Their hospitality was greatly appreciated and we wish them the best.
After Sheppard came the finish line. Even doing just 50 miles, the end was a welcome sight, as the heat was nearing the upper 90's. We first rode the HHH in '07; this was the first year the temperature did not exceed 100 degrees. Even so, 125 to 150 riders were taken to the main medical tent, 15 were admitted to hospitals suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but four riders suffered from over hydration.
Christine and Brian with their medals. We enjoyed another great HHH. But the real reason for the smiles was that just behind them was the beer tent (no thought of over hydration was given). Now begins the training for next year's HHH.
It has been mentioned before that part of the fun of a tour is seeing new things. For several years a lonely church off the road has intrigued Christine so this time we pulled off to visit. The path to the church was an unpaved road so we figured it was no longer active.
St. John Catholic Church was indeed closed and vandals had found the structure and was breaking the stained glass windows among other destructive acts. A real shame as it is now a historical building. Established in 1910, the brick building was built in 1930. St John served the now almost ghost town of Bomarton, population 600 in 1930. Current population is estimated as 23. It would be nice to re-activate the old church, but until then it will stand as a testament of days past.