2015 Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred

For the ninth straight year, I rode the one hundred mile route at the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred today. I was concerned about how many miles I’ve gotten in this year, but my weight was much better than last year, just about where it should be, and I knew that should help. I wanted to finish the ride in less than six hours, and figured I should be able to do that.

I started out trying hard to keep my lizard brain in check, and not ride too fast. Every time I’ve cratered at HHH, it can be blamed on riding too hard early. I tucked in behind some tandems for the first few miles, but ended up all by myself much too early. The group I was with was faster on the hills that start around mile 15, and I knew better than to try and keep up with them. I rode mostly by myself for the next 7 miles.

I finally got behind a group doing a reasonable pace, but they stopped at the Electra rest stop, so I was on my own again. By the time I make Electra, the faster pacelines are starting to catch and pass me, so here and there, mostly when it was a flat or downhill, I would join them for a short time. Just like two years ago, it was around mile 47 when I realized that my legs were getting crampy. I had ridden too fast early again.

Nothing to do but ease up the pace, and I did. I had a 19.6 mph average at that point, but it started to fall quickly. I would still tag along with some faster groups for a short downhill stretch, but did lots of miles alone. It was shortly before 10:00 am when I passed Hell’s Gate, still with a 19.1 mph average, but by the time I had ridden up the long hill right after that, it had fallen to 18.9 mph. My legs felt bad enough at that point, that I thought I would keep losing average quickly, and might not make the six hours.

But at mile 62, something happened that had a major effect on the ride’s outcome. A fast group passed me at the top of a hill, so I jumped onto the back of the group, knowing that once the downhill was done, I would need to drop off. But, at the bottom of the hill, they passed a sizeable, slower group. I moved over and joined the slower group. This group was averaging 19 to 20 mph, and not hammering up the hills at all, exactly the kind of group I needed to be with at that point. I was able to ride with much less effort, and by the time the group stopped at the rest stop just short of mile 78, my average was back up to 19.1, and I felt much better. I knew then that I was going to finish the ride in less than six hours.

I rode on alone when the group stopped. I made two very short stops for my bladder, at mile 47 and at mile 94, and those are the only two stops I made. The last 23 miles of the ride are tough, mostly uphill and against the wind. I watched my average dropping again and rode mostly alone. By the time I finished, my average had dropped to 18.4, still not a bad average for me for a 101 mile ride. It’s better than I thought I had in me.

And once again, the timing chips don’t quite seem to work right for the early starting recumbent riders. My official finishing time was 5:14, when it should have been closer to 5:30. At 64 years old, and 7 1/2 years after I lost half a lung to lung cancer surgery, I’ll be happy with the 5:30, and smile at the 5:14. With the 100.7 miles of the course, and a 4.5 mile ride to and from the church where I stayed, I ended up with a total of 110 miles for the day. My legs are telling me about it, too.

The 100 mile (actually 100.7 mile) route at HHH.

My official timing chip results from Cadence Sports.

90 Mile Ben Wheeler RIde

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode out to Ben Wheeler. I did some extra miles on State Highway 19, and turned the route into 90 miles. I got an early start to avoid the 100+ degree afternoon, but it was still 95 degrees by the time I finished the ride. It’s just hot in Texas right now.

Most of the ride went smoothly, but as I was making my loop through Purtis Creek State Park at around mile 76, I was stung on my leg, through my shorts, by a wasp. I’m used to wasps and such hitting me as I ride, and am very quick about brushing them off of me the instant they hit, but I wasn’t quick enough to stop this one from stinging. Better a sting on my leg than one on my face, I guess.

I got in 30 mile rides on both Wednesday and Thursday this week, so ended up with 150 miles for the week. I was able to do both of those rides in the morning, so today was my only riding in the heat of the day this week.

A 90 mile version of my Ben Wheeler route.

Ben Wheeler 85 Mile Ride

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode my loop out to Been Wheeler. I did a few extra miles in Purtis Creek State Park on the way back, and ended up with 85 miles for the day. I had ridden 40 miles Monday afternoon and 30 miles Tuesday afternoon, so had a total of 155 miles this week.

I was really feeling the heat this week. I rode in the afternoon on both Monday and Tuesday, days that were both 100+ degrees in the afternoon, and worked in two very hot machine shops on Wednesday and Thursday, also 100+ degree days. A cold front came through yesterday, and it only got up to 98 degrees this afternoon (some cold front). Of course, I got an early start today, and was finished with my ride before the hottest part of the day.

My bathroom scale showed my weight as 187 pounds all week this week. That’s only two pounds over my goal, but it’s a false reading, because of dehydration from being in the heat every day this week (I weighed 181 pounds right after today’s ride, a reminder of how much water we lose on a long and hot ride). Still, I believe I’m making progress. And I was stronger on today’s ride, feeling better at the end of today’s ride, even though I had better than a 1 mph higher average speed than on last Saturday’s ride. Hopefully, I’ll gain some more before the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred.

Here it is, August already. I ended up with just under 600 miles for the month of July, not a bad mileage month at all.

Today’s route.

Ben Wheeler 80 Mile Ride.

I took off on the F5 yesterday morning and did a different route out to Ben Wheeler, then back through Martins Mill and Purtis Creek State Park. I kept a bit easier pace in the early part of the ride than I did last week, and felt much stronger at the end. I’m still not where I need to be for next month’s Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred ride. I finished around 12:40 in the afternoon, long before the 100 degree afternoon high temperature showed up, but it was still pretty hot. I ended up with 80.2 miles.

I had a total of 150 miles for the week. I did 30 mile rides on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a 10 mile ride on Monday. 10 miles is a shorter ride than I ever normally do, and this one wasn’t intentional. I had installed tubeless tires on the bike last Sunday, and the tire on the rear wheel just wouldn’t quit leaking around the bead on Monday’s ride. I finally had to give up, cut the ride short, and install a tube in the tire. The Velocity A23 rims on my wheels are supposed to be tubeless compatible, and the front rim is working perfectly, but not the rear. I’m thinking I’ll just run a tube for a month or two, giving the tire bead some time to better conform to the shape of the rim, then try tubeless again.

Today’s 80 mile Ben Wheeler route.

Tubeless Tires

At best, I seem to get around a year of service from bicycle tires on my main bike. Replacing tires has become a summertime ritual. But this year, I decided to do something a bit different. I converted the F5 to tubeless tires. With the rough roads I find myself riding since my move to Gun Barrel City, tubeless tires sounded appealing. You can run them at a lower pressure for a smoother ride, without having to worry about the pinch flats you can get with tubes. And sealant in them gives them flat protection.

The wheels I built for the F5 last year have Velocity A23 rims, which are already tubeless tire compatible, so it was just a matter of buying tubeless tires and the other components that go with them. I bought Schwalbe One tires, the Velocity valves and 21mm Velotape that are made for the A23 rims, Stan’s Notubes sealant, a sealant injector, and a presta valve core remover. Today was installation day.

Research had told me that inflating tubeless tires for the first time can be tough. That proved to be true. I’ve ordered a presta chuck for my compressor that should make it easier next time. We’ll see how the tubeless setup does.

The tires are now installed.

They are Schwalbe Ones.

Ben Wheeler 86 Mile Ride

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Martins Mill, then on to Ben Wheeler, then a few miles more. I’ve finally found a good road past Ben Wheeler. County Road 4714, south of town, is a quiet little road that’s not too rough. On the days when I still want to ride further when I get to Ben Wheeler, this is where I’ll go. I may work out a loop that uses this road.

I had a very unusual sighting on today’s ride: other cyclists. I met several other riders at the store in Martins Mill. They were leaving as I arrived, so I only got to talk to them for a couple of minutes, but it turns out they belong to the Athens Bicycle Club. I had no idea there was a cycling club this close to me. I’ll probably join them on some future rides.

I had intended to ride 90 miles today, but I was so wiped out when I arrived at Purtis Creek State Park at mile 74, I just rode straight home from there, rather than doing my usual loop through the park. I ended up with 86.2 miles. My weight is getting closer to where it needs to be for the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred next month, but as today’s ride reminded, I’m definitely not ready for it yet, fitness-wise.

I managed early morning 30 mile rides out to Purtis Creek State Park on both Tuesday and Wednesday morning this week, so ended up with 146 miles total for the week.

Today’s route.

Ben Wheeler 80 Mile Ride

It was a busy work week this week, and I didn’t get a single mile on the bike until Friday. But I got in 50 miles on Friday, and today, I rode out to Ben Wheeler and a bit beyond for 80 miles, so I have 130 miles for the week. The same thing happened during the holiday week last week, and I only got in two rides for 100 miles total. Today’s ride left me as wiped out as I’ve been in quite a while. I still have much to do to get ready for the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred next month.

Today’s route.

Martin Mills Metric, again.

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode my Martin Mills Metric route. I was finished before noon, so the heat wasn’t that bad. That 60 miles, added to the 40 mile rides I did on Wednesday and Friday, gave me 140 miles for the week. Both of those 40 mile rides were done in the afternoon heat, and I’m obviously still not used to this summer’s heat and humidity.

I rode 130 miles last week, 135 miles the week before last, and now have 525 miles for the month of June. I’m hoping to get another 30 mile ride in on Monday or Tuesday, so it won’t be a bad mileage total for the month. I’m still behind the pace I need to be on to make my mileage goal for the year.

Today’s Martin Mills Metric route.

Martin Mills Metric

I took off on the F5 yesterday morning and did my Martin Mills Metric route. That 60 miles gave me 130 miles for the week. Every year at this time, the first hot weather arrives, and it takes a body a while to become acclimated to that heat. This week’s rides were tough. With the record rains of May, there’s so much water still on the ground that the humidity is really high. That, combined with the ninety-something degree days we’ve been having, make for a tough bike ride.

I ended up with a total of 401 miles ridden in May. That’s way too low for me. The record rains made it tough to get in my miles. I’ve said this before here: I really don’t like riding in the rain, and with the 19 inches of rain that fell here last month, it was hard to get in a ride between storms. There’s nothing to do now but get myself acclimated to the heat, and try for a good mileage month this month.

Yesterday’s Martin Mills Metric route.

Ben Wheeler 80 mile ride

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode out to Martins Mill, following my usual 60 mile route, but then on to just past Ben Wheeler. In this spring of seeminly unending rain, I only got a few sprinkles on today’s ride, and ended up with 80 miles. There haven’t been may days lately where you could ride that many miles without hitting some serious rain. I had ridden 40 miles Thursday afternoon, so ended up with 120 miles for the week.

Last week, between work and all the rain, I didn’t manage a ride at all until Friday. But, 40 miles on Friday, 40 miles on Saturday, and another 30 miles on Sunday gave me 110 miles for the week. Near the end of Friday’s ride, I hit some hard rain for a short stretch, but managed to stay dry the other rides. The forecast of rain every day continues for next week, so I’ll again be trying to dodge storms long enough to ride.

Today’s route.