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.