2014 Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred

I traveled to Wichita Falls yesterday and rode the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred today. This was the eighth straight year I’ve done the 100 mile route at HHH. I finished the route today, but it wasn’t easy. With the miles I’ve been riding and my fitness level, I had no illusions about being able to challenge my personal best time at HHH, but like always, I did hope to make it around the route in less than six hours. I didn’t accomplish that this year.

I stayed at the Lamar Baptist Church recreation building again this year. As always, the hosts there did a great job for the riders. And I enjoyed my visiting with friends last night, most of whom I hadn’t seen since last year’s HHH or longer. But, just like last year, there were some cancellations by riders, and there weren’t as many recumbent riders as many previous years. The bike show was great fun as always, too. The weather at Wichita Falls was trying to live up to the ride’s name this year. It was 103 degrees this afternoon.

Things didn’t start out smoothly at the ride. A quarter mile after the start, my Garmin quit. Apparently, its battery has reached the age where it won’t hold its charge overnight, and you need to leave it on the charger until right before a ride if you want it to last out the ride. Since I always have it on the charger at home, I had no idea this would happen. I really missed the heart rate monitor. With the extra adrenaline a big ride like this brings, it’s easy to misjudge how much effort you’re expending, and that heart rate monitor is a good way to tell that.

But the first sixty miles of the ride were a blast. I rode with friend DJ Boyd, who I used to travel to HHH with every year, while we only lived five miles apart. Now I only seem to see him at HHH. His riding mileage was down this year, and he wasn’t sure how strong he would finish 100 miles, so we were both trying to draft some, and conserve enough energy to finish strong. At Burkburnett at mile 60, DJ stopped at the rest stop, and just like I had good sense, I rode on.

I don’t know if it was because I had misguaged my early effort from not having my heart rate monitor, or if I rode too hard after turning against the considerable wind later in the ride, but at mile 82, I cratered. I had leg cramps so bad I had to stop, and I was on and off the bike the rest of the way. I don’t have an official time yet from my timing chip, and of course my Garmin didn’t record the time, but I think I finished the 101 miles in something like 6:20. Not good, but like they say, sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug. I felt very much like the bug today.

Still, it was a fun trip, and for the eighth straight time, I completed the 100 mile route there. No small accomplishment for a lung challenged old f*rt, I’m thinking.

The sea of cyclists at the start.

Friend DJ at the start.

The HHH 100 mile route.

EDIT: Here is my timing chip result. It wasn’t too impressive this year, but I was still 17th in my age group, so I guess that’s something. That time is too low though, again this year. It makes me wonder if the chip ignores the early start we recumbents do.

Ride to Ben Wheeler

I took off on the F5 from the east edge of town and rode to Martins Mill, then on to Ben Wheeler. I had ridden as far as Ben Wheeler before, but didn’t like any of the roads I turned onto there, to ride further. That statement is still true. I tried several more roads from Ben Wheeler and still didn’t like any. Bicycle friendly roads are in short supply in this part of the state.

I made a stop at the convenience store at Martins Mill on the ride out, at mile 33, and coming back, at mile 65. I also made a stop the the Purtis Creek State Park on the way back. I ended up with 94.8 miles. It was 95 degrees when I finished, so I guess you could say I had a 95 and 95 kind of day.

I was running out of gas at the end, but felt a lot better than I did on the 100 mile ride I did a couple of weeks ago. The Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred is next weekend, and I’m ready for it, I think, as long as I don’t get carried away with my effort.

I had one 41.3 mile ride during the week, and I won’t be riding this weekend, so my total mileage for the week is 136 miles. I’ll probably just do one short ride in the early part of the week, next week, then wait until HHH to ride again.

Today’s route.

Martins Mill Ride

I took off on the F5 this morning from the east edge of Gun Barrel City and rode to Eustace, then to FM 2709 and on to Martins Mill. I stayed on FM 1861 more on the return trip. I finished the ride about 12:20 in the afternoon, and it was already almost 100 degrees. The heat has been tough lately. I ended up with 54.4 miles. I had ridden 90 miles during the week, so I ended up with 144 total miles for the week.

I really like to start most of my rides from my driveway. That’s been a challenge ever since I moved here. There are really only two roads out of town, Main Street in Gun Barrel City, and CR 4006. I have occasionally ridden Main Street when I start a ride early, but traffic gets too intense on it any other time. So, that leaves CR 4006. It’s always been rough. The part of it that’s within the Mabank city limits is kept in a decent state of repair, but the last mile of it, which turns off just a mile from my house, has been very rough ever since I’ve lived here, and the number of deep holes in it more recently has had me thinking about giving up starting my rides at home.

But it wasn’t that stretch of road that finally became the deal breaker and had me start loading my bike on a rack on the back of my truck, and starting my rides elsewhere. After spraying sealer on a couple of miles of CR 4006 past the roughest stretch, road crews spread massive amounts of gravel on it. It’s far too much gravel for me to tackle with the road tires on my F5, so for the last week, I’ve been driving to a better place to start my rides.

For the three rides I made during the week, I drove to the Mabank city park to start the rides. This morning, I drove Main Street to the east edge of Gun Barrel City, and started there. The supreme irony of it all is that even after all the gravel has been spread, no road crew touched the roughest stretch of CR 4006 at all. It still has all the bicycle-eating holes it had before (see photo below). Thanks for nothing, Kaufman County.

County Road 4006, one mile from my house.

Today’s route.

Martin Mills Metric

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Martins Mill. It was misting a bit as I took off, but the roads were dry, and weather.com was only calling for a ten percent chance of rain, so I figured it wouldn’t amount to much. By the time I got through town, it was a steady rain, and it rained for the next 20 miles. So much for the forecast.

By the time I got close to Martins Mill, the roads were dry. I was glad to see that. I don’t like riding on wet roads. I never got any sun on the ride, but the stiff north wind had dried the roads pretty well for the return route.

My chain had gotten a bit noisy lately, and I was surprised to find that it needed replaced, when I checked it last night. I borrowed the chain off the Corsa to use until I get one. It’s long chain, 11 1/2 feet, 276 links. It should have lasted longer than the less than 2,000 miles it did.

I ended up just short of a metric century, with 61.6 miles for the day. I had already ridden 90 miles this week, so had 151.6 miles for the week. I finished July with 630 miles for the month. That’s more like the mileage I need to be doing this time of year. The Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred is this month, three weeks from now. I need to get in another century or two between now and then.

Today’s route.

Martins Mill Century

I did my first 100 mile ride of the year today. I hadn’t gotten to do a bike ride all week, so figured this was a good Saturday to get in that first century. I need to get in a couple more before the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred at the end of next month.

I took off from home on the F5, rode out to Eustace, then on to Martins Mill, then on to Edom, then south almost to Brownsboro. I rode back to Martins Mill, then took a different route home. I ended up with 100.7 miles.

I struggled mightily at the end, and had to stop several times to rest and cool off. I kind of expected that. I’m dragging around an extra 10 pounds, and hadn’t done a century since last year. Plus, it was almost 100 degrees this afternoon. The heat index got over 100. Hopefully, this will have me in a little better shape for the next century.

Today’s Martins Mill century route.

155 Miles on the Bike this Week

The last few weeks of hot weather have reminded me of how much better the air is here in Gun Barrel City, in the middle of nowhere, 60 miles southeast of Dallas, than it is in DFW in the summer. That better air quality is definitely appreciated by a lung damaged cancer survivor like me, especially when I’m riding.

Before I moved here, the exercise induced asthma I acquired after my lung surgery was already getting better. It has now improved to the point that I don’t use an inhaler any more at all. I still wheeze some during and after high intensity riding efforts, but not to the point where I ever feel I need an inhaler.

My rides on the last couple of days have been a nice break from the summer heat, with temperatures in the 70′s both days. I ended up with 155 miles on the bike this week. The week’s longest ride was a 53 mile ride on Wednesday, out to Eustace, then a loop out to State Highway 19, then back to Gun Barrel City.

Wednesday’s 53 mile route.

140 Miles on the Bike This Week.

I settled for an easy pace 30 mile ride out to Purtis Creek State Park this morning. That was my only ride of the weekend, but I rode 110 miles during the week, so I ended up with 140 miles total for the week.

A 53.1 mile ride on Thursday morning was the longest ride of the week. It was a bit different route than I normally ride. I got an early start before there was much traffic, so rode out Main Street in Gun Barrel City all the way to US 175, then took the 175 shoulder to Eustace, FM 2709 to CR 2911, then onto CR 2900, left on FM 1861, then a loop out to SH 19, and a more normal return with a stop at Purtis Creek State Park.

My Monday ride got aborted at just 17 miles when I couldn’t stop getting flats on the rear tire. It turned out that my rim tape had moved a bit, and kept moving. With the Velocity A23 offset wheel I have on the rear of the F5, the rim holes are so close to the edge of the rim that rim tape can’t move at all without exposing a hole. I replaced the rim tape with Velo Plugs. Velocity says not to use them on A23 rims, but they seem to work fine on these offset rims.

Thursday’s 53 mile route.

Saturday Ride to Martins Mill.

I took off on the F5 yesterday morning and rode to the Purtis Creek State Park, then on to Martins Mill. I did a loop past it, east on FM 858 almost to Ben Wheeler, then south on FM 773, then back west on 2339. I rode a bit different route coming back, heading south on CR 2900 (where I hit the dog a few weeks back), then west on FM 2709. Then, I rode through Eustace and onto US 175.

I ended up with 73.2 miles. I’d already ridden 70 miles during the week, so had 143 miles for the week. I had a total of 461 miles in June. That’s not nearly as many miles as I should be getting this time of year. I need to kick that mileage up in July.

Yesterday’s route.

Martins Mill 80 Mile Ride

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Purtis Creek, then on to Martins Mill, then to Odem. Then, I took a more southerly route back. I hadn’t ridden this far east before, so was trying out some new roads. Most were ok, but the stretch on FM 279 from Ben Wheeler to Odem had a bit more traffic than I like. I may modify that part of the route next time.

I ended up with 80.4 miles. With all the longer rides I used to do, it’s hard to believe, but this was my longest ride since a 200k last October. I seem to just do lots of short rides from home these days. But, with the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred coming in two months, I need to start doing some longer rides to get ready for it. I also need to drop seven pounds or so. Maybe some longer rides will help with that.

I had ridden 40 miles on Monday, so ended up with 120 miles on the bike for the week.
Today’s route.

The New RailGun Seat, Part 2

I talked about the new RailGun seat I installed on the F5 in this post. It took quite a bit more work to get it the way I wanted it, so I thought I would tell the rest of the story here.

I raised the safety triangle up higher and bought some small automotive door molding to go around the edge of the seat. The carbon fiber was a bit ragged/sharp around the edges. This molding really looks nice on it. I then added two bottle cages to the back of the seat.

I used the three items below to modify the headrest.

With the hacksaw, I sawed about a half inch off the top of the headrest plate. So, instead of being round, it’s now mostly round, but with a flat top. This 3/4 moon shape seems to fit the back of my upper neck/head better. Next, I followed Kent’s suggestion of putting a pocket microfiber wax applicator pad over the headrest. Finally, I stretched a fabric eyeglass case over everything.

I never thought I would ever use this plush a headrest. All the years I rode the Euromesh seat, I only occasionally used the headrest. But, the RailGun demands more recline than the Euromesh. It just doesn’t feel right unless you recline it a lot. With this much recline, I find myself using the headrest most of the time. Combine that with the rough roads I ride, and this plush headrest seems to be just the ticket.

Several years ago, I had bought a cover for the Euromesh pad. I liked it so much, I decided to make a cover for the RailGun pad. I bought 3557 Athletic Mesh from Seattle Fabrics to make the cover from. It seems very similar to the material used on the Euromesh cover, except it has bigger holes.

I traced the pad shape onto newspaper, and used that for a pattern. The RailGun pad is bigger at the back than the front, so I put the zipper there, rather than on the front where it is on the Euromesh cover. I got a friend to sew it for me. I think it’s going to work great; no more scratchy filter foam to deal with.

This really is a nice seat.