Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred

This is such an event, everyone should go ride it at least once. Wichita Falls really goes all out for it. There were apparently over 14,000 riders this year. I got there Friday afternoon and walked a few laps around the bike consumer show, after picking up my t-shirt and registration stuff. It’s always fun to wander through that much cycling stuff in one place.

The rec center outdid themselves again this year. This year, they added a pizza dinner Friday evening, and a breakfast with all kinds of choices for Saturday morning. The gym was cold, as usual, and I remember tossing the covers over my head a few times during the night, but I slept pretty well.

I took the usual 6:00 am route to the ride start, cutting across Wichita Street, which takes you to Scott Street in front of the start. There were no recumbents and tandems on the Wichita River bridge this year; everyone was lined up at the start line just before the bridge. As I approached the start from the front, it reminded me too much of a can of sardines, everyone was so packed in, so I turned around and made my start from Wichita Street.

This is a flat route and has great traffic control, so I always use it to try for my best century time of the year. I made it past the thickest bike traffic at the beginning ok, and settled in to see how fast I could finish the ride. I have been slower this year, and today was no different. The past two years, I made it past mile 90 before my average speed dropped below 20 mph. That happened today before mile 70.

But my real problems came at mile 74. I hadn’t made a stop yet, even though my arse had been hurting for more than a few miles by then. I think the filter foam seat cushion is completely worn out on the Roadster, and that may have a lot to do with what happened. At mile 74, I had the strangest muscle spasm I’ve ever had, such a serious cramp in my right arse cheek that I stopped. As soon as I stopped, a knot the size of a pear showed up, just beside my tail bone.

I layed on my side in the ditch with the ants and goatheads for 15 minutes, before a SAG vehicle showed up, policed me up, and hauled me back to the rest stop at mile 68. There, I was tortured by a massage therapist for 20 minutes or so, but the knot just wouldn’t go away completely. There was just no way I could sit on the bike, so I asked to be SAG’ed in, and was told a SAG truck was on its way, so I waited.

And waited and waited. Every 15 minutes or so, I would sit on the bike again to confirm there was no way I could ride it. Finally, at 12:45, after an hour and 15 minutes of waiting for the SAG truck, I sat on the bike and said, “Maybe”. So, off I went.

It’s a very different view of the ride that I got, riding during hours when I’m usually finished. I figured I’d better keep a moderate pace to better fend off further cramps, but even with a moderate pace, I was pretty much passing everything on the road. 6 hours after the start, it seems there aren’t too many racer types left on the course. Riding with the strong riders that I do, I feel pretty slow, but passing all these bikes today was a reminder that slow and fast are relative things.

And it’s a different style of riding at this time of the ride. Many riders just ride side by side, and are pretty much oblivious to anyone coming up behind them. You need to use the oncoming lane for most of the passing you do. And at every rest stop that I rode past, at least one rider pulled out directly in front of me.

By mile 98, I was starting to cramp pretty seriously again. When you cramp at mile 98, there’s only one thing to do. I stopped and had a free beer. Unfortunately, as soon as I stopped, the knot showed up again, and the beer wasn’t nearly enough to numb the pain as I took off again. But within a short distance, the cramp was better, and I was pretty sure I could finish.

When I crossed the finish line, I didn’t stop, for fear of a knot again. I just made a u-turn, and rode slowly back to the rec center. I ended up with 107.8 miles (rode from mile 68 to mile 74 twice), and a total time of 7:50. That likely qualifies this as the slowest century I’ve ever done.

The last few miles, there were more than the usual number of comments about how comfortable my bike looked, and offers to trade bikes. But they didn’t bring the smile to my face that they usually do, because on this day, my arse was likely hurting just as much as their’s was.

14,000 riders at the start.
the start

Rio Vista Rumble 200K brevet

31 riders turned out for this 200k brevet. We left out of Lynn Creek Marina at Joe Pool Lake at 6:30 am. The first 51 miles of this ride is mostly elevation gain to Rio Vista, and against the kind of south wind we had today, is really tough. I rode out with the intention of trying to stay with a group of riders for a little help in the wind as much as I could, but was dropped pretty quickly by every group, so was on my own for most of this stretch. You have to be able to hang onto a group on the hills, and I have a tough time doing that. Once I was out in the wind, there’s no way I was going to catch anyone.

I did manage to ride some with Steve, Peggy, Mark M, and a few others from before Venus to most of the way to Alvarado, but on the first hills of CR 401 after Alvarado, I was dropped and riding straight into the wind.

I was even more discouraged when I turned onto FM 916 at mile 37, and found it was new boulderseal all the way to Rio Vista. I slowed down on this stretch. Between fighting the wind and boulderseal, and thinking I had probably put out too much effort early in the ride trying to stay with other riders, easing up seemed like a good idea on this stretch. It’s really hard to ride an easy pace against the wind on boulderseal, though. You seem to be getting nowhere. I really felt slow, like I had no strength at all, and couldn’t keep up with anyone. Looking back, I think it was just the wind, and the fact that there were a bunch of strong riders on this brevet.

I didn’t make a stop until the first control at Blum, at mile 57. I left this control with a group again, but again was soon off the back. At Covington, mile 69, the route turns south on SH 171, and it’s a tough 4 miles to Osceola straight against the wind. It was on this stretch that I had started to crater the last time I rode this route, from too much effort with a low tire against the wind. Today, I paced myself on this stretch.

At mile 73, as I got ready to turn east on FM 934, I saw Steve, Peggy, and Greg coming from the opposite direction and also turning onto FM 934. I pulled up along side Steve and told him that if he would just miss enough turns, I thought I might could keep up with him. After Itasca at mile 78, it’s on to Orphan Hill. I took my time spinning up this hill. Rio Vista Rumble isn’t a route with a brutal amount of climbing, but the toughest hills are all after mile 80, and it was starting to get very hot. Managing my effort seemed like a good idea for these hills.

I pulled into the Maypearl control at mile 93 at 12:47 pm. In spite of my inability to keep up with anyone, and not feeling very strong, 93 miles in 6:17 isn’t all that bad, and the idea that I might be able to complete this 200k in less than 9 hours started to creep into my head. I had not managed a 200k in less than 9 hours since having my lung sliced and diced on, and this seemed like a worthy goal and accomplishment for the day if I could do it. But, there were tough climbs up Old Buena Vista Road and Singleton Road waiting, and I knew I’d need to not blow up on these hills to have a chance.

I needed a good cool off break at Maypearl, and some time with my shoes off, and it was 1:08 pm when I left the control. Still, if I didn’t completely crater on the last part of the ride, under 9 looked possible. Old Buena Vista Road is always tough for me, and when I got a hint of a leg cramp on the hill, in spite of how slowly I was climbing, I started to have my doubts about how much I had left. But after an also slow trip up the Singleton Road hill, I felt good, and I started making calculations about how much time it would take me to finish as I rode toward Midlothian.

On the downhill stretch toward Midlothian (I made it past that circle driveway without stopping this time, Nelson), I felt great, so I started to push a little more as I rode through Midlothian, still trying to ride within myself well enough to finish strong. As I approached the turnaround at Mt Lebanon Road, under SH 67 at mile 114, with only a short stretch against the wind remaining before an easy downhill then flat finish, I was thinking that I was going to get this done. As I rode under the underpass on the turnaround, I was surprised to find Steve, Peggy, Greg, and Mark stopped here.

I stopped for just a few seconds, then continued on to try and complete my quest. The rest of the group started up again just after I did. I really pushed hard against the wind on the short stretch before the turn onto Lake Ridge Parkway (Steve easily caught me, anyway), knowing that it was all big downhills and flats after that.

But if I thought this was going to be an easy finish, I was seriously mistaken. At 30 mph going downhill on Lake Ridge at about mile 116, when I hit a bump, my seat reclined more. When I hit another bump, it reclined even more. I could hardly reach either the pedals or the handlebar. Steve and I stopped at the bottom of the hill, and I saw that my seat clamp had moved, but didn’t really find the problem until a stop a half mile further along.

My seat recline system on the rear seat stays had collapsed, and there was nothing keeping the seat from reclining onto the tire. I had always wondered if the little pneumatic cyclinders I had used for this were strong enough. This wasn’t exactly their intended application. They lasted for thousands of miles, but on this day, they were done. I didn’t see a ready fix, so I got back on the bike to try and finish the ride. The only way I could ride was by pulling myself forward enough with the handlebar to keep my back off the seat. I sat on the very front edge of the seat to help rock the seat forward, and thus take less effort to keep myself pulled forward. This is not an easy way to ride a Corsa.

Another mile or so down the road, Steve pointed out to me that my Fastback bag was rubbing the rear wheel. I instinctively reached down to feel the bag over the wheel. Let me take a moment here to recommend against doing that. I decided that it hadn’t been a good idea right after my left ring finger hit the spokes, which promptly lopped a small chunk off the tip of my finger.

Now, I’m hanging on for all I’m worth, trying to keep my back off the seat, while bleeding all over the handlebar. Yes, just another easy finish to a randonneuring ride. And finish I did. I ended up with 124.8 miles, and finished in 8:44.

One last thing: why is it that the guys using GPS’s to navigate usually seem to get more bonus miles than anyone else on these rides?

This is NOT what you want your seat stays to look like after a ride.
seat stays

Rio Vista Rumble route

Cleburne Goatneck 200K permanent

Steve, Peggy, Nelson, upright rider William, and I rode out of Cleburne at 7:00 am this morning to do the Cleburne Goatneck 200k permanent. This route is an out and back from Cleburne to Glen Rose, then from Glen Rose to Bluff Dale, then back. I knew this would be a tough ride. The roads from Glen Rose to Bluff Dale were already pretty rough, and quite a bit of the roads from Cleburne to Glen Rose have just been re-paved with new boulderseal. The route has 7,500 feet of climbing with some pretty tough hills. As the elevation chart below shows, there aren’t many flat stretches. Add all that to a 100 degree afternoon, and you’re sure to have a tough ride.

My plan was to stay with a pace I could sustain, and not worry about trying to keep up with anyone, or even stay close. Steve had said that he and Peggy and Nelson weren’t going to be in a hurry, so I figured they’d probably be waiting for me at most of the controls. We stayed together at the beginning until the hills started to get tougher at around mile 11. By the time I started down Goatneck Hill at mile 17, there was no one in sight in front of me.

The new boulderseal started at mile 9 and went most of the way to Glen Rose. We regrouped at the control in Glen Rose at mile 37, and left together for Bluff Dale. I had everyone in sight in front of me until the tough climb up Dinosaur Hill at mile 43, and I was on my own again after that. As the chart shows, the real climbing begins on the trek from Glen Rose to Bluff Dale. I made a point of spinning up these hills and not getting carried away with my effort, and still felt good after the fast descent into Bluff Dale, the turnaround point at mile 64.

William DNF’d at Bluff Dale. I can’t remember exactly what he said hurt, but he had an event coming up and didn’t want to take a chance on injuring himself before it. Steve, Peggy, Nelson, and I left Bluff Dale together, but with the big climb that starts instantly at that control, and goes on for a couple of miles, I was by myself pretty quickly.

There are some great views on this part of the ride. Tall, rolling hills are everywhere. You could see where a recent fire had charred a lot of trees on Chalk Mountain Hwy. I huffed and puffed mostly at 4 mph up Dinosaur Hill at mile 85. It’s even tougher on the return leg. It was getting pretty hot at this point, and I kept pouring water on my arm coolers. That did seem to help.

I still felt good when I reached Glen Rose again at mile 91, although I did want to sit down long enough inside to get cooled off well. Steve, Peggy, and Nelson were already doing that, and said they didn’t mind staying longer while I cooled off. Everyone had gotten hot enough that when we left Glen Rose, the pace eased, and we rode together all the way to the New Hope Baptist Church, which was the starting point for past TTTT’s, and we stopped there for a break, at mile 110. Peggy was overheated, we were all hot and tired, with aching feet from all the rough roads.

It’s only 18 miles from the church to the finish, but it’s a tough 18 miles, with a climb up Goatneck Hill as soon as you leave the church, and mostly uphill riding to the finish. I still felt good at the stop, but knew my pace on all the climbing that was left would get me dropped, or hold up the group, so I took a shorter break than everyone else, and took off up Goatneck Hill, figuring everyone would catch me somewhere on the climbing.

With 5 miles to go, I was still riding alone. It seemed only fitting to finish together, and I started debating how to wait for everyone else. I was almost out of water, so stopping at a store had more appeal than just stopping in the shade and finishing my last bit of water. But the ride finishes on Nolan River Road, which really doesn’t have any stores before you reach town. I wasn’t sure if there was even a store before the finish. So, I just slowed my pace (pretty easily done, as tired as I was getting), and sure enough, just a couple of miles before the finish, Steve and Nelson caught up with me, and informed me that Peggy had had to give up on trying to finish on this brutal day, and stayed at the church (dangit, so sorry, Peggy!).

Steve, Nelson, and I pulled into the Cleburne control together to finish this epic ride at 6:13 pm, for an 11:13 ride time. Total miles were 128.5. Someone remind me again why it is that we like rides this tough…

From my Garmin:

Goatneck 200K

Mansfield Mambo 128K permanent

Greg and I left downtown Mansfield at 7:00 am this morning to ride my Mansfiend Mambo 128k permanent. It was obvious from the beginning that this humidity was going to have me wheezing more than usual, and I was slow right from the beginning. Greg said an easy pace ride was fine with him, so we took our time as we headed southwest toward Rio Vista.

We stopped at a store at mile 19 just west of Alvarado. The weather radar on their tv caught my attention. It showed a line of storms approaching Fort Worth and Denton from the west. It looked like we might be just south of all the rain, so we rode on, hoping to stay dry (at least as dry as a bike rider can stay on a humid day like this).

We turned onto FM 3136 at mile 20, and wouldn’t you know it, the entire 6 mile stretch of this road that the route travels is now fresh boulderseal. The closer we got to Rio Vista, the darker the northern sky got. There was obviously some serious rain north of us. We thought we might be able to dodge all the showers, but just 3 miles short of the Rio Vista control, the downpour started. We took shelter on a porch for a few minutes until the rain let up, then rode on.

When we left Rio Vista to ride 6 miles east on FM 916, we discovered that, you guessed it, that entire stretch is also now fresh boulderseal. If we thought our complaints with the condition of the roads were over, we were mistaken. When we turned left at mile 56 on CR 204, we discovered that it had had fresh gravel spread on it, but the new sealer hadn’t been applied yet. Right where the loose gravel was the worst, I encountered two large dogs who easily caught me, with my slow speed in the gravel, and seemed determined to dine on bike rider. I believe it was the first time I have ever stopped and charged a dog, brandishing my bike as a weapon, and it was an effective tactic.

At the next control in Venus at mile 67, we ran into Jerry Trimble and some FWBA riders having lunch. We chatted for a few minutes, then rode on against the north wind, noting how hot and humid the afternoon had become. We finished at 1:45, for a total of 79.8 miles, and total time of 6:45. After a very unhealthy lunch at a nearby DQ, I headed home. Despite the rain and road challenges of the day, it was a fun ride. Thanks for joining me, Greg!